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Express Care Center or Emergency Department – which is the right place for your illness or injury?

The decision of whether to head to a neighborhood express care center or an emergency department relies in part on an expectation of what is required to care for your problem.

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Express Care

A visit to a MetroExpressCare has the advantage of being convenient – there are many throughout the community. Also, there is usually a shorter wait and a lower charge than at an emergency department.

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Emergency Care

An emergency department has the advantage of having more robust services and equipment, additional medical staff for consultations and more diagnostic capabilities. Also, if necessary, you most likely would be admitted to the same facility.


How do you know which is the right place for you? The following will help you decide.


Twisted Ankle

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If you twisted your ankle playing weekend softball, at an express care location you can usually get an x-ray and a splint if needed. You would be referred to an orthopedic office if you need a cast.


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 On the other hand, if you twisted your ankle sliding into home base and now there is bone sticking out - that is something that requires the emergency department.



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Perhaps you developed a cough and now you are bringing up some phlegm. At at an express care location you could get a prescription, and an x-ray if they suspect pneumonia.

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If you have a cough and a fever, are short of breath and have sharp chest pain, going to the emergency department would be a good idea. Depending on your medical history, you may have to be admitted.


Bee Sting

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If you got stung by a bee and now have some swelling where you got stung, you likely can get appropriate treatment at at an express care location.


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If you got stung and now are swelling up all over and have difficulty breathing, you should go to the emergency room.



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We are heading into flu season and hopefully you got your flu shot. 


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The flu can be serious, especially for the young and old. Consider going to the emergency department if you are having trouble breathing, are continuously vomiting, notice a decrease in your urination or feel faint. If you have a history of complex medical problems and think you have the flu, you may wish to go directly to the emergency department.



Putting it All Together 

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Express care is a go-to for symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sore throat, earache or a sprain.



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If you have severe symptoms, have a complex medical history, require urgent extensive testing or are quite sure you should be hospitalized, head to an emergency room




MetroHealth Services Near You

Express Care

MetroHealth offers a family of express care options from walk-in primary care to MetroExpressCare

Emergency Rooms

The system also offers four emergency department locations in Brecksville, Cleveland (main campus), Cleveland Heights and Parma. 

For more information, visit