Where Should You Go?

February 26, 2019
Dr pointing two directions

When you have a medical question or problem, your first call should always be to your primary care physician. They know you and your medical history best and can help address any concerns.

Sometimes, however, connecting with your primary care physician is not possible. For example, you may have a medical problem when the office is closed, or you may need immediate attention. If this happens, do you know where to go? Do you know the difference between an urgent care center and an emergency department?

The difference

Urgent VS Emergency comparison

Middlesex Health’s Urgent Care locations treat patients who have minor, non-emergency medical needs. For example, you would want to go to an Urgent Care center for respiratory infections like sinus pain, if you have a sports injury, or if you have a rash. (View urgent care vs emergency comparison)

Middlesex Health’s Emergency Department locations treat more serious, life-threatening conditions, such as severe abdominal and chest pain; difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness; deep or large wounds; pregnancy-related problems and signs of a stroke.

The basics

All Middlesex Health Primary Care offices offer extended hours, meaning they are often open in the early mornings and early evenings. Again, you should always call your primary care physician first unless you are having a major medical emergency and need an ambulance. This is often your best, most cost-effective option.

You do not have to make an appointment when visiting a Middlesex Health Urgent Care location. Urgent Care centers are open evenings, weekends and most holidays, and they are local and convenient with access to labs and X-rays. Visiting an Urgent Care center is more economical than visiting the Emergency Department, and there are often shorter wait times.

Vita story on where to go if chest pains

You do not need an appointment to visit an Emergency Department. Most emergencies require at least one of the following: immediate blood work, an ultrasound, a CT scan or the placement of an IV line.

When you are faced with a life-threatening medical problem, be sure to dial 911. The ambulance will bring you to an Emergency Department.


Middlesex Health Primary Care has 12 office locations throughout Connecticut.

Middlesex Health has three Urgent Care locations: 1687 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, 146 Samson Rock Drive in Madison and 896 Washington Street in Middletown.

Middlesex Health also has three Emergency Department locations: Middlesex Hospital, 28 Crescent Street; Middlesex Health Shoreline Medical Center, 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook; and Middlesex Health Marlborough Medical Center, 12 Jones Hollow Road in Marlborough. You can check Middlesex Health Emergency Department wait times at middlesexhealth.org.

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