September 29, 2022 by Peter B. Laird
Women’s Health: When to Seek Care – and Where
Because women have unique health concerns depending on their stage of life, it is important to seek care no matter how big or small something may seem, doctors advise. Patients often dismiss their symptoms – especially when work and family matters demand so much of our time and attention. But a short and simple visit with a doctor can provide immediate care and relief, or guide you to advanced, specialized care that can make all the difference down the road.
Resource editors spoke with Cynthia Heng, MSN, APRN, a nurse practitioner with Baptist Health Urgent Care Express, about some of the conditions she commonly sees, and how the pandemic has changed the way patients are seeking care.
Resource: First of all, please tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been working in healthcare? What do you enjoy most about your work?
Ms. Heng: I’ve been a registered nurse for 12 years, a nurse practitioner for six years, and I work at Baptist Health Urgent Care Express. I enjoy interacting with and learning about the patients who come through here, and I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I’m making a difference – no matter how small – in their health and their life.
Resource: What are some of the most common conditions that lead women to seek care at Baptist Health Urgent Care Express?
Ms. Heng: Some of the conditions we commonly see women presenting with include urinary tract infections, yeast infections and sexually transmitted infections, as well as kidney stones, back pain and adverse effects from prescription medicines, to name a few. We treat a lot of other conditions at Urgent Care Express, of course – that’s why we’re here – but these are some of the things that drive many women to seek care with us.
Resource: What if their condition requires next-level care?
Ms. Heng: At Baptist Health Urgent Care Express, we’re trained to recognize signs or symptoms that something potentially more serious is going on. Last year, for example, I treated a young, school-aged girl complaining of abdominal pain. As she was a child and a female, I considered the possible diagnoses – appendicitis, ovarian etiology or cholecystitis – and referred the girl’s mother to the hospital emergency room for further evaluation of her daughter. I learned later that the girl had right ovarian torsion, which required emergency surgery and close follow-up since then. Missing this acute issue could have affected her ability to have children later in life.
Once a patient is diagnosed, if it is appropriate to treat them here, we’ll do that. If additional, specialized care is required, we ensure that the proper care and follow-up is arranged before the patient leaves. After being seen here, a patient should always follow up with their primary care provider in case further monitoring is required.
Resource: How has COVID-19 affected you and your work this past year?
Ms. Heng: COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way healthcare is delivered. Telemedicine platforms such as the Baptist Health Care On Demand App have become very popular during the pandemic, and are a great convenience for patients and doctors alike.
When I started here last year, 98 percent of our Urgent Care Express visits were via telemedicine. It seems there’s been some sense of normalcy returning over the past few months, however, and patients don’t seem to be as concerned about coming to Urgent Care Express for non-COVID-related issues now. But because of its convenience, telemedicine is definitely here to stay.
Resource: How do you think COVID-19 has affected patients?
Ms. Heng: I think one of the biggest impacts we’ve seen with COVID-19 over the past year is that people have been foregoing urgent care and even routine check-ups, preferring to avoid hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices during the pandemic. We worry about what’s going undiagnosed or could have been easier to treat had it been detected earlier.