Updated July 14 COVID-19 Info for members, providers and resource center visitors.

Urgent Care

Health problems can come up anytime, such as in the middle of the night or on the weekend.

Where can you go when your primary care doctor's office is closed?

If your condition is life-threatening, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room. If you have something like a sore throat or a minor burn, you may go to an Urgent Care Center, a Retail Clinic or use telehealth.

 

What Is Urgent Care?

When you can't be seen by your primary care doctor, you can go to an Urgent Care Center, Retail Clinic or use telehealth for a condition that needs to be treated right away but is not life-threatening.

This includes common illnesses such as the flu, or having a low-grade fever or an earache. Urgent care is also for minor injuries such as sprains, back pain, or small cuts and burns.

The Retail Clinic that L.A. Care works with is MinuteClinic®. Telehealth is a new L.A. Care benefit offering members 24/7 access to a doctor by phone or video chat. Visit our telehealth page to learn the details about this urgent care option and our partner, Teladoc®.

 

Using Urgent Care

In most cases, you can see a health professional at an Urgent Care Center or a Retail Clinic the same day you walk in. You don't need an appointment, and wait times are not as long as they are in Emergency Rooms. With telehealth, you can either request a phone or video chat visit immediately or schedule a time best for you.

You do not need pre-approval from your primary care doctor to go to an Urgent Care Center, a Retail Clinic or use telehealth.

For urgent care, always call your primary care doctor first. If he or she cannot be reached and you need help finding an Urgent Care Center or Retail Clinic, call L.A. Care Member Services at 1.888.4LACARE (1.888.452.2273). Member Services is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. You can also use our Find a Doctor or Hospital tool to search for an Urgent Care Center or a Retail Clinic near you.

 

Deciding Where to Go

Below are some of the common conditions treated by each type of in-person care facility to help you choose. Knowing where to go for care can save you a lot of time. There are fewer services available at a Retail Clinic than at an Urgent Care Center.

You can always call L.A. Care's Nurse Advice Line at 1.800.249.3619 for help with your health concern. Tell the nurse your symptoms, and he or she can help you choose the best place for you to go for care.

The Nurse Advice Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can help you in your language.

Urgent Care Center

An Urgent Care Center provides care for conditions that are not life-threatening. Examples include:

  • A common illness like the flu
  • Minor fever or headache
  • Painful sore throat
  • Earache or sinus pain
  • Minor injuries like a sprained ankle
  • Back pain
  • Cuts or small wounds
  • Small burns
  • Rash or minor allergic reactions
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary tract infections​

 

Go to an Urgent Care Center when:

  • Your primary care doctor's office is closed or he/she is not available.
  • You need care for a condition that is not life-threatening, but needs treatment sooner rather than later. 
Retail Clinic

A Retail Clinic is for treating conditions that are not life-threatening. There are fewer services available at a Retail Clinic than at an Urgent Care Center.

Retail Clinics, such as MinuteClinic®, offer the option to view wait times and hold a same-day place in line. These walk-in clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners who can diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for minor illnesses, injuries and skin conditions. Examples include:

  • Cough and cold
  • Infections of the ear, nose or throat
  • Minor injuries like a sprain or strain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Minor cuts
  • Sunburn
  • Lice
  • Urinary tract infections​

 

Go to a Retail Clinic when:

  • Your primary care doctor's office is closed or he/she is not available.
  • You need care for a condition that is not life-threatening and is covered by your L.A. Care Health Plan (please reference our Retail Clinics page to see what services are covered and not covered).
  • You want to view estimated wait times and hold a same-day place in line.
Emergency Room

An emergency is when a person could die or be permanently hurt. The Emergency Room (ER) provides care for critical or life-threatening conditions. Examples include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe chest pain or pressure
  • A sudden, bad headache
  • Suddenly not being able to speak, see, walk or move
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself
  • Seizures (uncontrollable violent spasms)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Poisoning or drug overdose
  • Severe wounds or broken bones
  • Head injury
  • Eye injury

 

If you think you have a health emergency, call 911 or go to the ER immediately.

After Urgent Care

It's best to let your primary care doctor know about your visit as soon as you can as you may need follow-up care. Retail Clinics and telehealth will send notes about your visit to your primary care doctor at your request.