Having an injury or getting sick can be a scary experience. The pandemic has made it even more complicated than it was before. Unfortunately, there are often little things that we need to seek medical attention for that don’t qualify as an emergency but still need to be attended to by a physician. Getting an appointment can take a while for several reasons. Those who work long hours can attest to how difficult it can be to get in to see a doctor, even for the little things.

On the other hand, it can be the other way around as well. For example, walk-in clinics give you the perfect stopgap if your family doctor is out on leave and you need to be seen before they get back.

That’s where walk-in clinics come in.

So, What Exactly is a Walk-in Clinic?

Walk-in clinics are designed for those who cannot get in to see their regular doctor for one reason or another. They can also be referred to as urgent care facilities or rapid access clinics. Walk-in clinics are not for emergencies; emergency departments are still where you should go if you have something that is critical.

However, anyone in Canada who has a health card can be seen at a walk-in clinic free of charge. Walk-in clinics also take those who do not have a health card for some reason, though there will be some fee in those cases.

As the name implies, these clinics do not take appointments.

The walk-in clinic is where you should go for medical assistance if you do not have a family doctor. It’s also the place to turn if you cannot get in to see your family doctor for one reason or another. If they are unavailable or closed, you can turn to the walk-in clinic for help.

Occasionally these are the right choice for those seeking to see someone outside of typical hours. For example, suppose you have a work schedule that makes getting into a standard appointment difficult. In that case, walk-in clinics may be the best alternative.

Examples of When to go to the Walk-in clinic

Anything that could be considered life-threatening, like trouble breathing or in extensive pain, should always be attended to by the emergency department. Don’t ever take a chance when it comes to your life.

Here are a few examples of things that the walk-in clinics are ideally suited to handle.

General sprains. It’s easy to sprain an ankle or a wrist, especially when participating in outdoor or sporting activities. The walk-in clinic can deal with these types of minor injuries that need to be checked by a physician to ensure no further damage has been done.

Minor cuts, burns, and scrapes are excellent reasons to go into the walk-in rather than the emergency department. These can all be handled on-site. At the walk-in clinic, youget fixed up and are on your way without having to wait for an appointment. It also helps prevent clogging up the emergency department, which is needed for life-threatening problems.

Avoiding the emergency room for non-life-threatening issues is especially helpful. But, at the same time, the medical system is so overtaxed from the covid-19 pandemic. So, any little thing you can do to help relieve that pressure is going to be beneficial. It’s essential to see a doctor when you sprain an ankle to make sure there isn’t worse damage, it’s not something that needs an ER visit.

What Services are covered at a Walk-in Clinic

With benefits from universal healthcare, almost all services at a walk-in clinic will be covered for those with a health card.

Those who don’t have a health care card also benefit significantly from the walk-in clinic form of healthcare. The fees are generally reasonable and can be afforded where other options may not.

What if They Can’t Treat My Problem at the Walk-in?

So if your issues are beyond what the walk-in clinic can handle, they will most likely refer you to another doctor or service.

Typically if you need more services than the clinic can provide, it will also be covered by your health card. Some typical examples of this might include further diagnostic testing that they do not offer. Referrals can include things like lab work or, in some cases, even x-rays

For example, suppose your illness seems like something that needs to be more closely examined. In that case, the clinic doctor may refer you to a specialist. Examples of specialists include things like a cardiologist or gynecologists. 

Time Saving Tips

If you’re using the walk-in clinic to save time, you will want to know a few things before heading to the facility.

Walk-in clinics are generally on a first-come, first-serve basis. Generally, there is a self-check-in system where you enter your information and then take a number. You’ll find that you have to sit in the waiting room for a bit before being seen.

One important thing to remember, especially since the beginning of Covid-19, is to make sure you have a mask. If you don’t have one, most clinics will have a box providing one for you. Wear it, and even if you’re not usually a fan of masks, this is one of the most important places you can wear your mask. Someone may easily be sitting in the same waiting room with the flu or covid, and they aren’t usually very big spaces. Waiting rooms are precisely what the health experts are describing when they talk about a people-filled indoor space.

Also, be sure to bring your health card with you so that you don’t end up with a bill you don’t owe.

Walk-in clinics provide an excellent in-between for things that need to be urgently handled but do not require the seriousness of an emergency department. They are suitable for people who don’t have flexibility in their schedule. They are often open longer hours than a typical doctor’s office but will still offer you high-quality healthcare.