Urgent care centers provide affordable options

A crisp, fall day. The crackle of leaves echoes throughout the neighborhood. And there, on a broad carpet of soon-to-be-dormant grass, the annual tradition that pits brother against sister, and father against son-in-law plays itself out: The Turkey Bowl.

To the participants, each play seems to be punctuated by symphonic music highlighting the grandeur of the moment. In the backfield, the running back doubles as a play-by-play broadcaster, while a gray-haired quarterback draws comparisons between himself, Montana and Unitas.

Dinner on the table, the two-minute warning is given and a final set of plays drawn up. Several changes of possession and an additional ten minutes later, the end of the game is angrily announced from the sliding door of a split-level house. Score knotted up, a final play is called.

Dropping back, the old quarterback finds one last bullet and fires it deep along the fence line.

The receiver, himself barely younger than the old gunslinger, breaks for the football. He takes a false step, recovers and leaps with arms extended. He gets one foot down, and then a second, before careening over the wooden rails of the weathered fence – the most unmovable of defenders.

Makeshift medical staff floods out of the house to assess the arm injury. Bruised? No doubt. Broken? Possibly.

Suddenly the significance of the game gives way to the prospect of a very long afternoon in the emergency room, missed discounts at big box stores and cold gravy.

Orders are given to take the fallen weekend warrior to the emergency room, and a teenager’s 1994 Cadillac warmed for the transport.

It’s in these dark moments that legends are written.

With things seeming like a total loss, and tears filling his fans’ eyes, the sure-handed receiver digs deep to deliver one last time for his team.

There, at the bottom of his pocket, he locates a smartphone and uses his one good hand to type “urgent care” into the search box. A nearby facility is located and the rusty transport’s destination rerouted to the more cost-effective, appropriate access point.

A hushed dinner takes place while the family awaits news of the fallen wideout. Finally, just as plates are being cleared pumpkin pie placed on the table, the gameday hero bounds through the front door.

Arm in a sling, he recounts the details of his visit, and – imaginary symphony rising to a crescendo – delivers the silver lining. By redirecting himself from the emergency room to an urgent care facility, the receiver explains that he saved hundreds in out-of-pocket health care costs and hours of time that would have otherwise been spent watching King of Queens reruns in a dank waiting room. As he verbally spikes the football, the room applauds the gutty receiver’s know-how and the children begin arguing over how to best allocate the saved health care dollars on Black Friday consumer electronics.

The receiver struts off toward the leftovers, triumphant in victory both on and off the field, and with an entire year to heal up before the rematch.

If your Turkey Bowl results in more than a broken play, remember that bumps and bruises can be treated most quickly and effectively at an urgent care facility or retail clinic versus an emergency room. Urgent care centers’ hours may vary on holidays. It is advisable to call ahead and/or check schedules before seeking care at a particular location.

Dr. Michael Jaeger is the managing medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin.

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