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Posted: Monday, January 15, 2024

Redefining Urgent Care

We've all faced that uncertain moment when illness or injury strikes, and we're unsure whether urgent care or the emergency department is the right choice. How does one decide, especially when new to an area, which urgent care facility can provide the necessary care? Enter the CareToday Clinic, situated within the East Tennessee Medical Group (ETMG) building in Alcoa, offering patients an extensive range of services.

While most urgent care centers in our vicinity handle acute illnesses like urinary tract infections, flu, strep throat, etc., CareToday goes beyond the basics. "What our community might not know is that we function almost like a miniature emergency department. We're equipped to handle a wide spectrum of cases, from upper respiratory infections and injuries to sutures, medication refills until a primary care appointment is secured, and more. Our facility provides X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasounds, lab work — our testing capabilities and staffing surpass those of typical urgent care centers," said Elizabeth Benton, nurse practitioner with CareToday Clinic.

Another detail that sets CareToday apart is its association with East Tennessee Medical Group and Blount Memorial Hospital. In critical situations where there are symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, visiting CareToday allows for rapid evaluation. Should the need arise, patients can bypass the emergency room and be directly admitted to the hospital when the transfer is initiated by a CareToday provider. Benton explained, "In emergencies, we liaise with the ER, sharing scans and labs conducted here, avoiding redundancy upon hospital arrival. We can even facilitate a 'direct admit,' expediting the process, saving time and money for the patient, and ensuring a swift transition to a room without the ER detour. While we'll never turn away anyone seeking help, in cases of chest pain or stroke symptoms, we'll provide immediate care, rule out other conditions, then arrange ambulance transport and direct admission to the hospital."

Further enhancing its value, CareToday collaborates seamlessly with ETMG providers. "Being part of the same health system with numerous specialties nearby allows us to quickly access electronic health records. Prompt communication with primary care providers, imaging or specialists, enables us to provide comprehensive treatment until patients can see their designated provider or specialist. With our array of resources, I believe we deliver superior, comprehensive patient care," added Benton.

CareToday has streamlined processes to ensure efficient patient flow, aiming to treat patients within a 50-minute window whenever feasible. "We strive to minimize waiting times as much as possible," Benton emphasized. Located at 266 Joule Street in Alcoa, CareToday operates Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., excluding Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

For more information, contact the CareToday Clinic at 865-983-0093. In case of emergency, call 911, or proceed directly to the Blount Memorial Hospital emergency department.


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