One question at the forefront of nearly everyone’s mind is, “How far to the nearest emergency medical care?” There are many reasons this matters to folks:
- Maybe you need to be close by to medical care because of age.
- Maybe you have a preexisting medical condition requiring ongoing treatment.
- Maybe the wife in your family is still having children and you’d like to know how far you’ll be driving in an emergency.
- Even if you’re a tough, single, independent man in the prime of your life ready to carve a homestead from the wilderness, accidents can happen. Maybe you’re getting ready to chainsaw some timber on your property. Despite taking every safety precaution, how far to the nearest treatment center in case an accident does happen?
Different Types of Treatment
There are three basic types of treatment you might seek out, depending on your individual or family needs.
[Note: We are not medical experts and are simply sharing advice on finding options for your own urgent or higher level medical needs. For questions about what treatment you ought to seek and when and where, your life is your own responsibility and you should consult with your own medical experts whom you pay directly or indirectly for such advice.]
- First, there are hospitals with their full ER suites and ability to perform major treatments and surgeries, especially in emergency.
- Second, if it’s not so bad to require an ER trauma team and it’s not on the level of a scheduled surgical procedure, but still pressing enough you can’t wait a month to see a doctor, there’s Urgent Care. These facilities are a step down from the ER. They can deal with many urgent medical issues at about the speed of an ER. These are not typically for your 911 call items. These are usually for things where its not bad enough to call 911 but is bad enough you can’t wait until your primary provider has a schedule opening.
- Third, if you are one of the few and proud who put your life on the line to protect our nation’s freedoms, thank you. You also have the option of using VA Medical Facilities, and depending on your particular situation you may require a VA facility in lieu of the options above.
Unfortunately, we’ve not seen a solid resource that hits all of these in a single search. But we do have a good resource for each. So with the brief info above, you can proceed with searches based on the type of facility you think you may need in your future.
Currently, a decent tool to get an overview of local hospitals is US Hospital Finder. It’s a fairly simple site which pulls public domain databases together with a map and lets you search by a locale or address or zip, or drill down from the state level. For example, if you were wondering about hospitals in Northern Idaho, you might come up with the following results:
It marks the locations with a red cross, lists the results below, and gives contact info, address, and directions. The only limitation appears to be that it only searches within 30 miles of you search criteria, so it may take multiple searches to find your options if you’re comfortable living further away.
There’s a great new resource for searching Urgent Care Locations, and that’s exactly what it is called: UrgentCareLocations. Not only do they offer the same sort of mapped locations with address, directions, and contact info; they also have a couple of FAQ’s to help you learn when you might be better off going to urgent care instead of the ER.
To show the difference in facility results, I have run the same search as I did for hospitals. Note that the results are a completely different set of facilities:
Overall, it’s a solid resource offering more search and filter options to zero in on your possibilities for a given location.
The VA doesn’t offer anything so polished as some of the resources above. Hey, it’s government work for the common man: functional, not flashy. We’re better off without them spending tax dollars like crazy, so long as the final product successfully does what it is supposed to.
Your best bet then is the VA site itself. The offer a directory of all VA facilities by state. This isn’t just the medical centers, mind you. It is ALL types of VA facilities: medical centers, outpatient centers, benefits administration, etc. The good news is that they are quite clear on what sort of facility is at each location. Depending what sort of support you need from the VA, this is the official resource to let you know how far you’ll be driving.
IDAHO VA Facilities
MONTANA VA Facilities
WYOMING VA Facilities
Don’t forget: The drill down is by state, so it may be a shorter drive to a facility on the other side of a state border than to the nearest facility int the same state. For example, if you are still looking at Northern Idaho like my examples above, the VA says the nearest medical center in Idaho is Boise. That’s a ridiculously long drive from Northern Idaho. However, there is also a full VA Medical Center in Spokane, WA, which is about 1-3 hours from most places in North Idaho; much, much closer than Boise.