ER or Urgent Care: Must-Know Tips to Help You Choose


Studies have shown 48 percent of people use the emergency room to get after-hours care for illness and injuries — not realizing they have another option. Urgent care is a great resource when you need care and may not be able to get into your doctor’s office. Luis Palacio, MD, with Renown Urgent Care explains when you should go to urgent care and some tips to make your trip as quick and smooth as possible.virtual checkin

Do you know the difference between when to seek emergency or urgent care? We asked Luis Palacio, MD, with Renown Urgent Care when you should go to urgent care versus the emergency room and how to make the trip as smooth as possible.

When do people need to go to urgent care? How do they know if they need to go to ER?

When it comes to cold and flu season, there’s an easy way to know if your symptoms are severe enough to go to the ER. If you are having uncontrollable diarrhea, nausea and vomiting and losing fluids — that is when you need to go to the emergency room to have your vitals checked and bloodwork completed.

If you’re having the aches and fever of a cold or flu and need relief but aren’t losing fluids, you can go to urgent care to be checked out.

Okay, say I need to go to urgent care. What’s the easiest process for me?

From your phone or computer, you can check urgent care wait times around our region. This lets you see if the urgent care by your office is busier than the one closest to home — which may help your planning.

Through our virtual check-in system, you can also join the line at a specific urgent care just as you would in person, allowing you to stay home or at work as long as possible so you are more comfortable and your appointment goes as quickly as possible

So walk me through what I do for virtual check-in. What are the steps?

First, go to to check in virtually.

On this page, you’ll get an explanation of what virtual check-in is all about: It allows you to stay where you are and receive text notifications once a care provider is almost ready to see you.

Click “join a line,” and we will ask you some questions about your symptoms to make sure you don’t need to call 911 or go to the ER. These include stroke, chest pain, severe shortness of breath, uncontrolled bleeding, seizures and severe allergic reaction.

If you answer “no,” you will see the wait times for each urgent care location. If you need to get in right away, you can pick the location with the shortest wait time. Or, if time is not an issue and you’d prefer to stay closer to your home or office, you can pick that location.

Once you’ve selected a location, you input your cellphone number, name and number of patients. As your appointment gets closer, the urgent care will text you updates to let you know how soon you’ll be seen. When you get the text message, you can choose to get “more time” and have your appointment pushed back or tell them you’re ready to be seen and on your way.

Is this available at all Renown urgent care offices if I need to go to a different urgent care by home or work?

All Renown urgent cares in the Reno-Sparks area have virtual check in, so you don’t have to use a specific one to take advantage of this system. Additionally, if you’re at work you can choose a location close to work or you can pick one closer to home.

Learn more about Renown’s urgent care locations and virtual check-in online, or see our handy guide below.

Renown Urgent Care Check-In Goes Virtual


  1. Thank you for all this great information about choosing your care facility. One thing that really stood out to me is that you can actually check the wait times of different urgent care centers from your phone! It would be nice to know that you will be able to choose the one that will treat you the quickest.