What Happens at a Free Clinic

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It can be incredibly annoying that doctor’s offices and clinics shut down for the holidays. What are you supposed to do if you get sick? Go sit in the emergency room for hours and waste time that could have been spent with family? No! You have another option. You could visit a free walk in clinic. There are lots of urgent care facilities that are open year around. Now, there are not very many after hours urgent care centers but family health clinics like your doctor’s office usually close at five or six in the evening as well. So, what can you expect from a free health clinic? Here are a few things that are available to you regarding a free walk in clinic and what you can expect from a visit.

Online Check In
One of the best things about most free walk in clinics is that they have an online check in system. This is an appointment booking but merely putting your name in, ahead of time. You could also probably call and the staff at the center will put your name down as well. You’ll be given an approximate time of visit and then be told to get to the clinic 10 or 15 minutes before your visit time. It may be in a few hours, it may be in 20 minutes, depending on how busy the clinic is and where your name falls in line. There may be an option for you to receive an automated text message or phone call 20 or 30 minutes before you visit time to remind you that it’s time to go. You can usually set the amount of time that you want. You should set your reminder to give you enough time to get ready and drive to the clinic, getting you there 10 minutes before your estimated visit time.

Upon Arrival
Once you get there, you can tell the front desk clerks that you checked in online. They will probably have you fill out various forms, especially if you have not visited with them before. Now, keep in mind that the online check in times are approximate so you may have to wait 10 or 15 minutes past your the time you were given. The waiting rooms of free walk in clinics are usually much smaller than an emergency room because the patients are seen quicker, people checked in online and haven’t arrived yet as well as a myriad of other reasons. In the newer clinics, there might be a television to keep you occupied. There might even be an electronic ‘line’ of sorts so that you can see how long it’s going to be before they call you back. It should be no longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

The Nurse’s Station
The first place you will go after you are called from the waiting area is the nurse’s station. They will need to take your vitals which can be various things depending on your age. Height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels or any combination of these will be taken by the nurse. They will likely ask you to describe your systems and relay them in typed form into the computer. They will also probably confirm your contact details, insurance information and pharmacy location. Then you will be taken to another room to wait for the doctor to come in and see you, depending on what your issue is.

The Doctor’s Visit
Yes, even free clinics have doctors in them. In fact, most clinics are owned by doctors and they actually have a very vested interested in making sure that they provide a high level of care to the patients. You may have to wait a few minutes for the doctor to come in but once they do, the visit will proceed just like it would at your own doctor’s office. You’ll need to tell them the problem and then they will give you a physical exam, possible x-rays etc and then call in a prescription or take the necessary steps for your treatment.

The Discharge
The last part is basically what to do going forward. You’ll be informed of how to use your treatment and what to do when you leave the clinic.

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