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Can't get an appointment with your primary care physician? You have an option

Do not go to the E.R. for mild symptoms and injuries, Telehealth is still available.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Facebook post is going viral after the Memphis Fire Department tells people they do not need to go to the emergency room for every little thing, including your mild covid symptoms or testing.

Health professionals said patients are experiencing long wait times in the E.R. right now because people are crowding the waiting area for minor symptoms like a sore throat, cough, or headache. Many comments under the MFD post had people explaining they are going to the er for those symptoms because it's their only option.

Family nurse practitioner Collin Hardwick said some of those minor illnesses include coughs, headaches, rashes, or a sore throat.

"The ER's aren't meant for minor illness," he said. "The E.R. is meant for patients who are severely ill or require urgent medical attention."

But people commenting on the Facebook post said they don't have a choice. Some comments read their family doctor won't see them if they have COVID symptoms and other comments show it's taking weeks to get an appointment with their primary care physician.

"I do know a few doctors that haven't allowed covid positive patients into their office, but we are going on two-plus years in this pandemic, it's going to take primary care providers seeing covid patients to help," Hardwick said. 

Hardwick said patients also have to remember that primary care is seeing an increase in patient volume and just like every other industry, health care is experiencing a staffing shortage. For quicker and most of the time same-day services, Telehealth is still an option.  Hardwick said, you can ask your family doctor or go through your insurance company to see if a virtual doctor's appointment is an option for you.

"We can see them just like what we are doing on zoom except for its HIPPA complaint," Hardwick said. "We can see the patient, make a decision on should they need to go to the E.R., or if they really need to come to the office to be seen or we can we start them on some medication and get them treated."

Medical professionals don't want to stop people from going to the E.R. entirely if you are expiring life-threatening symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, or a head injury.  They want you to get immediate help.