LincolnHealth Reminds Community Members the Differences between 'Emergency' and 'Urgent' Care

July 16, 2018

Urgent Care Center TeamAlthough LincolnHealth’s Emergency Department and Urgent Care Center both provide high-quality, prompt care for sudden illnesses and injuries, understanding when you need to call 911 and go to the Emergency Department can be lifesaving. 

“The St. Andrews Urgent Care Center is the place to go for minor medical injuries,” commented LincolnHealth Emergency Department Medical Director Tim Fox, MD. “However, if you or someone nearby are experiencing symptoms that could be related to a stroke, heart attack, or other life-threatening injury, you should call 911 immediately and be treated by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals as soon as possible.” This helps avoid the unnecessary delay that occurs when you go to the Urgent Care Center, and then need to be transferred to the Emergency Department. 

Symptoms of a heart attack include chest discomfort (pressure, squeezing, fullness) that goes away and comes back; pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; losing your breath, feeling sick to your stomach or dizzy, and/or experiencing cold sweats. 

The warning signs of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and/or sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Another sign you should seek care at an emergency department is if you are experiencing blood in your stool. 

Urgent Care is for patients who need prompt (urgent) attention for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Often people who need urgent care find their own transportation to seek treatment.

Examples of minor emergencies that should come to the Urgent Care Center include: flu symptoms, joint pain, scrapes, sports injuries, sprains and strains, fractures (no visible bone), wound checks, muscle aches, coughs and colds, sore throats, and more. 

“One way to think of it is if you would normally go to your primary care doctor for your illness or injury, then the Urgent Care Center is most likely the best option,” commented Brenda Thompson, RN, Urgent Care Center Team Leader. “But if you think there is a chance you will need to be admitted to the hospital, you should go to the Emergency Department.”

“Patients can be assured they will receive high-quality care at either the Emergency Department or Urgent Care Center,” Dr. Fox commented. “But when it is an emergency, time is critical. Calling 911 and being transferred by ambulance to the Emergency Department allows emergency medical professionals to begin caring for patients as soon as possible.”

The LincolnHealth - St. Andrews Campus Urgent Care Center, located at 6 St. Andrews Lane in Boothbay Harbor, is open 8 am to 8 pm, 365 days a year. The LincolnHealth - Miles Campus Emergency Department, located at 35 Miles Street in Damariscotta, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

For more information about LincolnHealth, please call 207-563-1234 or visit