ER doctor Emergency Department or Prompt Care?

Learn Where to Go

Where do you go for medical care if you get sick or injured and your doctor’s office is closed? Or what if your regular health care provider is no longer available as a result of the Camp Fire, what then?

Understanding the services offered at Enloe Medical Center’s Emergency Department (ED) and Prompt Care clinics can usually save you time — and even your life — when immediate care is required. Here’s what you need to know when deciding where to go.

Why Does it Matter?


 We appreciate your patience and understanding if you find that wait times are longer than usual. We have been working to meet an increased demand for health care services since the Camp Fire," said Judy Cline, RN, director of Enloe’s Emergency Department, Prompt Care and Trauma Services.

The ED is for treatment of severe and life-threatening conditions. As one of only two designated Level II trauma centers north of Sacramento, Enloe offers the widest range of services for emergencies, including diagnostic equipment and high-level specialists to care for patients with severe injuries.

Yet more than 25% of people go to the ED when they could have gone to Prompt Care, said Judy Cline, RN, director of Enloe’s Emergency Department, Prompt Care and Trauma Services.

“These patients can be better served — typically in less time and cost — at one of Enloe’s Prompt Care clinics,” she said. “Enloe will continue to provide high-quality care as we have for 106 years, regardless of where we see you. We appreciate your patience and understanding if you find that wait times are longer than usual. We have been working to meet an increased demand for health care services since the Camp Fire.”

Enloe estimates it’s caring for about 19,000 more people since that disaster.

‘E’ Is for Emergency

If you experience symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, be sure to head to the ED, as these conditions are extremely time sensitive and require immediate care. If you can’t get yourself or a loved one there, call 911.

Patients are encouraged to seek help in the ED for:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden numbness or loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Serious head injury
  • Burns or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Need for emergency pediatric care

The ED sees all patients, regardless of their symptoms. Since there is no way to make an appointment there, patients who are the sickest or have the most urgent needs are seen first. Patients are not seen on a first-come, first-served basis. This is often why patients who have non-emergent needs wait longer.

Just look at these facts:

  1. It takes at least nine ED staff members to care for one major-trauma patient. If a traumatic accident brings multiple people to the hospital via ambulance or FlightCare, expect those patients will move to the front of the line, potentially increasing wait times for those with less emergent medical needs.
  2. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) is a federal law requiring anyone who comes to the ED to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.

For medical treatment after 9:30 p.m., the ED may be your only option until one of the Prompt Care clinics opens the next day at 8 a.m. You may also find when you’re evaluating treatment options that Prompt Care or an urgent care facility will be easier on your wallet.

Hospitals base their ED charges on the severity of the condition they are treating. Your costs will depend on your insurance coverage.*


 Enloe’s Prompt Care clinics are best for treating minor injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening. These facilities offer the same quality care available in the ED. 

*Consult your insurance provider or call Enloe Patient Financial Services at (530) 332-6700 for an explanation of your benefits coverage.

Prompt Care Is Best for Everyday Concerns

Enloe’s Prompt Care clinics are best for treating minor injuries and illnesses that are not life threatening. These facilities offer the same quality care available in the ED. Both are open in the evenings, and the California Park location is also open on weekends and holidays. View the clinics’ hours

People are usually seen on a first-come, first-served basis there, so wait times are typically shorter than in the ED.

You should visit one of Enloe’s Prompt Cares if you need care for a:

  • Flu, cold, sore throat or bronchitis
  • Ear ache
  • Cut that require stitches
  • Skin rash or infection
  • Sprain, strain or fracture

Learn more about Enloe’s Prompt Care clinics.

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