Having a medical concern outside of your doctor’s office’s hours of availability can most certainly be a stressful thing. After all, finding care outside of the typical doctor’s office is not something that everyone will have experience with. For many people, the only other option will seem to be the emergency room. But this is far from ideal for a number of different reasons.

For one thing, going to the emergency room is expensive, with the average visit to the typical ER now costing more than $1,000. And healthcare costs are only climbing in the United States, likely inflating this price in the years that are ahead of us. Even apart from this, lost time is a serious issue for emergency room patients as well. If you enter the emergency room for a problem that is less than emergent, it is likely that you will spend a good deal of time just waiting. After all, the average wait time for the typical emergency room is now up to one hour all throughout the country. Again, this is a number that is only likely to continue to grow.

But when a doctor’s office is closed, what presents a viable alternative? In many cases, it is the local urgent care center. An urgent care facility has become a common staple in many places throughout the country. After all, it has been found that around three million people go to urgent care centers over the course of just one single week. And up to 20,000 different doctors and other such medical professionals are now employed at one urgent care facility or the other as of the current date. With up to one quarter of the population (of the United States) having attended an urgent care facility over the course of the last couple of years, it is clear that more and more people are seeing the benefit of the typical medical clinic.

After all, there are many benefits to urgent care locations, including the wide variety of medical help that can be obtained at the average urgent care facility. For one thing, more than three quarters of all urgent care facilities actually are even able to provide fracture care. Fracture care will be much less expensive and much less time consuming in an urgent care facility. And since more than 80% of all urgent care facilities are open each and every day of the week, it is likely that access to such care will be readily available whenever it is needed.

In addition to this, the typical urgent care setting will be able to provide a certain level of preventative care as well. STD testing is one example of this, as too is flu shot administration. After all, the flu is a serious illness, and one that should certainly be avoided as much as it is possible. Unfortunately, as much as one fifth of the total population will contract the flu during a particularly bad flu season – and around 5% of the American population will be sick with the flu during even a mild flu season.

And the flu can have serious ramifications. For a larger number of people than you might think, the flu can lead to complications like pneumonia and even sepsis. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to life long impairment and even death. Such risks are particularly high for certain populations, such as the very young as well as the very old – and anyone who has a suppressed immune system. But getting your flu shot can help to mitigate the harm caused by the flu – even if you still get it. And while flu shots are not fully effective in any given year – though more effective in some years than in others, to be certain – it’s true that having some level of protection is certainly far better than having none at all.

The average urgent care facility is ideal from a time perspective as well. An urgent care facility is likely to be open earlier in the morning and later into the evening than the average doctor’s office would be. In addition to this, the waiting times for any given urgent care facility are also better.