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Emergency clinic or health station?

Shortness of breath, chest feels tight. You find a tick in your armpit. Get an axe to the knee. Running a fever and feeling weak. Sudden diarrhoea, need sick leave. Hip hurts and walking is difficult.

When should you contact your health station and when should you go to the emergency clinic?

  • The rule of thumb is that health stations handle normal cases of fever and flu, prolonged hip and back pain and other long-term problems, prescription renewals and sick leave.

Health stations are open on weekdays from 8:00 to 16:00. The health stations in Nurmes, Lieksa and Kitee are also partly open in the evenings and on weekends, you can check the opening hours at the siunsote.fi website: https://www.siunsote.fi/en/web/english/health-stations-and-emergency-care. And you should always call before going to a health station because many issues can be solved over the phone, says Service Manger Johanna Ahvalo.

The Siun sote health stations use a call-back service. Customers are asked to wait patiently for a call back; waiting patiently is more likely to lead to faster service than calling again.

  • In emergencies, emergency clinic visits are preceded by calling either 112 or 116 117 and receiving instructions, or patients can receive referrals to the emergency clinic.

Do not come to the emergency clinic without calling first.

  • You should seek emergency clinic services for issues such as symptoms of stroke, decline of consciousness, severe chest pain, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory difficulty, a cut bleeding profusely, an accident, broken bone, severe nose bleed or abdominal pain, unbearable sudden pain, mental disorder, severe allergic reaction or sudden deterioration of a person’s general condition, Nursing Director Petteri Hakkarainen lists off.

He reminds that the nurses you reach by calling the Medical Helpline 116 117 are available for guidance and advice 24 hours a day.

Occasional backlogs

The joint emergency clinic sees about 60,000 patients annually, or about 165 patients every day. In 2020, the clinic received approximately 70,000 calls. Based on January-May, the predicted figure for 2021 is 109,000 calls. The need for emergency services varies daily and hourly, which may cause temporary backlogs. Waiting time at the emergency clinic varies depending on the number of patients and the urgency of cases. In 2019, the average waiting time at the emergency clinic was one hour and 20 minutes.

  • A triage nurse assesses the urgency of patients coming to the emergency clinic. The triage process separates patients into four levels of urgency. At the emergency clinic, patients are always treated in order of urgency, not in order of arrival. If necessary, patients can also be referred to another service that can address the problem better than the emergency clinic, Hakkarainen says.

  • Backlogs at the emergency clinic are also affected by factors such as patients being discharged and the availability of follow-up care facilities. From the emergency clinic, the patient usually either goes home, to the inpatient ward or to a health station. Especially now during the summer, some of the short-term care units in the region are closed, and some wards have a reduced number of beds. That slows things down at the emergency clinic and causes backlogs, says Petteri Hakkarainen.

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