#1: Do You Know Where To Go?

Blog 1:  Do You “Know Where to Go”?

You discover your child has a raging fever at 2:00 a.m.  What do you do?  Who do you call?  Where do you go?

Your child falls on debris in your backyard and gets a nasty gash in the fleshy part of her leg.  What do you do?  Who do you call?  Where do you go?

We never think we are going to face an emergency – until we are facing it.  Whether it is making a will, buying life insurance, or having an evacuation plan, some people take the time to prepare and others don’t – in spite of the fact that there might be dire consequences for not preparing.

Why should you know your options when it comes to healthcare in an unexpected situation?  Because the wrong choice can cost you hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars.

One of the fastest growing trends in healthcare[1] is the startling explosion of Free-Standing Emergency Rooms (FSERs) also known as Free-Standing Emergency Departments (FSEDs).  These are Emergency Rooms that are not physically attached to a hospital, although they may be owned by a local hospital.  They are popping up in strip malls and on corners in cities and suburbs.

That’s great news for ease and convenience, right?  But researchers at Aurora Health Access have consistently found that while this trend helps expand access to healthcare, consumers are confused or uninformed about what the financial impact of this might be on their wallets.

Based on our research, few consumers are able to distinguish the difference between retail clinics, urgent care centers, and FSERs.  Imagine how much worse their confusion might be in the midst of a health care incident that requires immediate treatment – at a time when it is difficult to think straight and keep your cool.

What we are advocating for is that you know the difference between FSERs and Urgent Care Centers, learn how to decide in advance which one to go to, and know where they are located before you need them.  In addition, know your insurance plan and what is covered where, and what your deductibles and co-pays are.

We hope you’ll come back to this blog often because in the subsequent posts  we will explain:

  1. What the difference between FSERs and UCCs is.
  2. How costs differ between the two facilities.
  3. Licensing requirements for each facility type.
  4. Staffing requirements for each facility type.
  5. Service requirements by facility type.
  6. Payment: What if you can’t pay?  (Refusal of Service:  Can these facilities refuse you service if you can’t pay?); Payment Options; In-Network vs. Out-of-Network; and Cost of Care.
  7. What if I make a mistake?
  8. Plan Your Visit and List of Facilities in Aurora, CO (because that’s the neighborhood we serve).
  9. List of Facilities in Aurora.
  10. A Glossary of terms.
  11. What to do in a Zombie Apocalypse!


You have a right to know your options in unexpected healthcare situations.  We hope this information will help guide you so that you “Know Where to Go” when the need arises.  In our next post we’ll discuss the difference between facilities.


These blog posts were written by Sharon Cairns Mann, mostly based on the white paper by Laura Ciancione, student intern for Aurora Health Access.  Laura was a Master’s of Public Health student at Indiana University and graduated in May 2016 with a degree in Behavioral, Social and Community Health. This report was developed as a part of her work as an intern for AHA. That paper can be accessed by clicking here.

[1] “How the Freestanding Emergency Department Boom Can Help Patients,” October 24, 2016, by Nir Harish, MD, MBA; Jennifer L. Wiler, MD, MBA; & Richard D. Zane, MD, FAAEM at http://catalyst.nejm.org/how-the-freestanding-emergency-department-boom-can-help-patients/


  1. Sunny St. Clair

    This is interesting! I look forward to learning more.

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