Health Help for Holiday Travelers
What to do When your Out-of-Town Guest Needs Medical Care
By Amy Morgan
There’s no place like home for the holidays. One of the great joys of the season is gathering with loved ones from far away. But what happens when cousin Zach twists his ankle during the not-so casual game of flag football? What if Aunt Cathy burns her arm taking the ham out of the oven or Uncle Mike starts feeling chest pain after a big meal? Their regular family doctors are miles away, and offices are closed.
What may seem like a minor problem can exacerbate quickly, says seasoned physician Lonnie Schwirtlich, M.D., the founding partner of Physicians Premier free-standing emergency room located just 15 minutes north on US Highway 281 at Highway 46 near the HEB Plus.
In an emergency, timing is crucial. Dr. Schwirtlich describes a “golden hour” — the first hour when treatment is optimized for best outcome. You don’t want to waste that time sitting in a waiting room away from the family you traveled to visit.
Physicians Premier can handle any type of traumatic injury or illness, pediatric or adult. The facility includes on-site X-rays, CAT scans, a full laboratory and ultrasound and is staffed by board-certified emergency room doctors.
This season Dr. Schwirtlich already has seen several serious cases of bacterial pneumonia secondary to flu. It’s common for someone to recover from a viral infection just enough they believe they are well enough to travel, he said. A few days later, they suddenly develop fever and chills and think they are having a relapse. Unfortunately, it’s something far worse – a bacterial superinfection. “This can be life threatening,” Dr. Schwirtlich said. “Bacteria looks for people when their resistance is down. They just crash. It’s really important to be aware of and get treatment fast.”
People may worry that their insurance won’t cover the cost of out-of-area emergency care. The prudent layperson clause states a patient has the right to obtain care if they believe their condition is life altering or threatening. Physicians Premier is an out-of-network provider for all health benefit plans. However, Federal law requires insurance companies to process your ER visit at the in-network level and guarantee coverage in a true emergency. The physician-owned and operated facility commits to work with the patient to make sure charges are charted and billed appropriately with the least amount of expense. They also offer a discounted self-pay rate and remain authorized for Medicare and Tri-Care.
“We continue to be able to take care of our military and vets,” Dr. Schwirtlich said.
When in doubt, call Physicians Premier at (830) 438-6911, 24 hours/7 days a week. The highly trained medical staff will triage your problem over the phone and help you decide if you should come in. They also can contact your family doctor back home to coordinate care and convey treatment information.
“We are glad to do that,” Dr. Schwirtlich emphasized. “We want to get people taken care of appropriately so they can get back to enjoying their holiday with their family.”
Physicians Premier allows patients to access the care they need when they need it, saving time, money, alleviating concern and allowing for a healthier patient and community. Find them at MDpremier.com.