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MEDICAL MINUTE: Holiday Hazards

Physicians Premier Cuts Time to Emergency Treatment



Crash! The creaky ladder you were using to hang your Christmas lights cracked, sending you tumbling. How do you determine if more than the bulbs are broken? After carrying heavy boxes of decorations down from the attic, you feel short of breath. Just the result of too many helpings of pumpkin pie, or something more concerning?


Is your accident or troubling symptom worth braving the traffic and a potentially hours-long wait in a hospital emergency room, especially during the holidays? There’s a better option. Drive north just 15 minutes on US Highway 281 to Physicians Premier, a free-standing emergency room located west on Highway 46 near the HEB Plus. Physicians Premier offers all the capabilities of a hospital emergency room without the wait or the crowd. In an emergency, timing is crucial, according to seasoned emergency room veteran Dr. Lonnie Schwirtlich, Physicians Premier founding partner. He 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. “Falls are common during the holidays,” agreed Sebastian Cerna, M.D., an emergency medicine physician who’s worked with Dr. Schwirtlich since Physicians Premier opened their first facility in Corpus Christi in 2014. He recommends not using kitchen chairs (with their tendency to break) as stepstools. If you must get on a ladder, make sure someone holds it steady and stands ready to help if something does go wrong. If a slip results in potential broken bones or numbness in the extremities, call 911 for assessment and transportation. Physicians Premier can handle any type of traumatic injury or illness, both pediatric and adult. The facility includes on-site X-rays, CAT scans, a full laboratory and ultrasound. Broken bones, including ribs, can cause internal bleeding or puncture vital organs, Dr. Cerna said, and head and back trauma should be evaluated for concussion or spinal cord injury. Blood work can tell the story of whether shortness of breath is related to a cardiac problem. ​ “You only have a certain window of time to save the heart muscle,” Dr. Cerna added. Physicians Premier is staffed by board-certified emergency room doctors, unlike many urgent care facilities, and nurses with years of emergency training will immediately triage each arrival. “We’ve all worked busy hospital ER’s,” said Nurse Manager Aaron De La Paz. “Here we can look out for the interests of the patient and family.” Rather than spending time waiting, patients are seen, treated, and on their way. The physician-owned and operated facility accepts all insurances and commits to work with the patient to make sure charges are billed appropriately with the least amount of out-of pocket expense. They also offer a discounted self-pay rate. Physicians Premier has secured temporary authorization for Medicare and Tri-Care due to the COVID emergency. “We are proud to take care of our veterans and heroes in the military,” Dr. Schwirtlich said. 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.

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