5 Ways To See A Doctor After You’re Discharged From A Houston Hospital
In this community resource, you will learn about three follow-up doctor options after you have been discharged from either Ben Taub hospital or some other hospital in Houston.
When you are feeling sick and feel that you have a medical emergency it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. Shortness of breath massive bleeding and chest pains or all reasons why you should try to get emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.
That being said once you are discharged, the hospital will release you with instructions to follow up with your regular doctor.
Continue reading to learn more about follow-up doctor options after you are discharged. This list will include options for individuals who are insured and have their own doctor and those who are uninsured.
What is the purpose of a hospital ER?
A hospital is meant to treat individuals who are in medical emergencies. The nurses and doctors at hospitals are there to help you get stabilized, create a discharge plan, and give you instructions on what your next steps should be to help you recover.
Hospitals are not places that you should go to for minor medical symptoms. The sniffles, a headache, or other minor medical issues are better treated with your primary care doctor. In addition, you don’t want to go to a hospital emergency room in the hopes of getting diagnostic tests performed. The hospital emergency rooms are simply too busy to perform tasks that are not emergent. They have to keep their beds open for individuals coming in with major medical issues like gunshot wounds, injuries from a car accident, or individuals suffering from heart attacks.
What should you do after you are released from Ben Taub or some other Houston hospital?
Once you are released from a Houston hospital you want to follow up with your primary care doctor. This is especially true if you went to the hospital for a chronic condition like high blood pressure, chronic pains, or complications from diabetes. As smart as the hospital doctors and nurses are they cannot provide you with a cure within the 30 minutes that they have to speak to you in the emergency room. Chronic conditions take years to develop therefore they can take many visits to your primary care doctor to fully stabilize you and review these medical issues. This is why it’s important to follow up with one doctor regarding any chronic conditions that you have.
In the next paragraphs, I will provide you with follow-up options with doctors whether you are insured or uninsured.
1.) Contact your primary care doctor (if you have one)
Once you are released from Ben Taub, LBJ, or any other Houston hospital you want to make a follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor. This follow-up appointment informs your doctor of your latest ER visit and allows them to provide you with a long-term care plan that will help you to avoid future ER visits for that chronic condition.
As aforementioned, it may take multiple visits for your primary care doctor to get the right prescriptions or medical treatment that is needed to resolve your chronic condition.
If you have health insurance and if you have a doctor you should definitely follow up with them after you are discharged from a Houston hospital.
Your primary care doctor can even refer you to a specialist if needed. This could include a Cardiologist, Pulmonologist, or some other specialty doctor.
2.) Apply for the Harris Health Gold Card
The Harris Health system is a network of county clinics in the Harris County area. Harris Health system was set up to provide affordably, and quality healthcare to individuals in the Houston area who are either uninsured, underinsured, undocumented, or even homeless.
Harris Health offers indigent health insurance coverage called the Gold Card. The Gold Card is the formal name however the official name is the Harris Health Financial Assistance Plan.
When you apply for the Gold Card you get access to 30+ healthcare clinics in their network. These clinics offer a variety of medical treatments like primary care, dental services, pediatrics, geriatric treatment, dental services, and more.
If you are uninsured you can apply for a Gold Card that will give you access to all of the aforementioned medical treatments. This complete guide walks you through the process of applying for the Harris Health Gold Card. You can get more information about Harris Health eligibility by dialing their telephone number at 713-566 5605.
3.) Find an FQHC clinic in Houston
Another option for uninsured individuals who need a follow-up appointment after being discharged from Ben Taub or any other Houston hospital is to get in contact with FQHCs.
FQHC stands for a federally qualified health clinic. This is a federally funded health clinic that is typically found in low-income areas where there may be a lack of quality healthcare.
These clinics will offer you adequate medical treatment whether you are insured, uninsured, or have zero dollars in monthly income.
FQHCs value is based on a payment system called the sliding scale. A sliding scale determines how much you will pay for medical treatment. If you have no job or if you’re homeless that scale can slide down to zero dollars for treatment. Some people refer to FQHC clinics as the “free clinics” however this is not necessarily true. The cost of healthcare can be zero dollars at FQHC clinics but you should not make an appointment with the belief that you will pay zero dollars for treatment. Again zero dollars or treatment is based on a sliding scale and they will take many things into account like your monthly income and any expenses that you have.
I will however tell you that FQHC clinics are your best option for healthcare if you are uninsured or have no monthly income.
4.) Find a doctor that accepts Medicaid in Houston Texas
If you have Medicaid health insurance, you have lots of options to follow up with the doctor after your hospital visit. Medicaid offers a clinic finder that can help you find a doctor in Houston to accept your health insurance.
Simply visit the Texas Medicaid website, enter your ZIP Code, and this tool will show you a listing of doctors in Houston who accept Medicaid.
You can also call the telephone number on the back of your Medicaid card and ask for a handful of doctors within your ZIP Code.
5.) Find a doctor that accepts your Medicare health insurance
If you need a follow-up with the doctor after a Houston hospital visit and you have Medicare this provides you with plenty of options. Medicare is one of the most accepted health insurance plans there is therefore you have plenty of options for follow-up after you’ve been discharged from Memorial Hermann, St. Luke’s, or another hospital in Houston.
To find a doctor that accepts your Medicare coverage you have two options:
- Your first option is to search online by visiting the Medicare website. You can type your ZIP Code and the type of provider you’re looking for into the search and you will be presented with a list of doctors who accept your Medicare.
- You can also call the Medicare 1-800 number and a representative can provide you with a list of doctors who accept Medicare in your area.
You can also call the customer care number on the back of your Medicare card to find doctors near you. If you have traditional Medicare you’ll want to call the number on the back of your red white and blue card.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan you’ll want to call the private health insurance company that you have. This could be Amerigroup, Humana, CIGNA, or some other private Medicare advantage company. Whichever Medicare Advantage plan you have the card will have a customer service number that you can call to get a listing of doctors in your ZIP Code.
The Houston Nurse Helpline: an alternative to visiting the hospital
If you are on the fence about whether or not you should be visiting a hospital ER you can contact the Memorial Hermann Nurse Health line to speak to a nurse about your medical condition. The telephone number for this Houston Nurse Helpline is 713-833-8383. You can call this number 24 hours a day to speak to a nurse.
If you have a medical emergency the nurse can help you to get to the hospital as soon as possible. If your situation is not emergent, the nurse will inform you of this and provide you with alternatives to visiting the hospital. You can still choose to visit the hospital however if the nurse and the nurse helpline do not feel your situation is urgent most likely the hospital will agree.
Bottom line is, that the nurse’s opinion on whether or not you have a medical emergency will likely align with that of the hospital.
Once you are discharged from Ben Taub, LBJ, or any other Houston hospital you want to follow up with your doctor. Your medical treatment does not stop in the hospital ER. Their main goal is to stabilize you. Typically they do not provide diagnostics testing or any long-term treatments. These things will come from your primary care doctor.
If you are insured you can use your employer coverage, your Medicaid, or Medicare to find a doctor and follow up. If you do not have health insurance your options in Houston are finding an FQHC clinic or applying for the Harris Health Gold Card.
If you have any questions about finding primary care following your hospital visit simply leave a comment below and I will provide you with options available to you.
Similar articles that may interest you:
- 15 low-cost Houston medical clinics that treat the uninsured
- How to apply for the Harris Health Gold Card
- How to find a doctor who accepts Medicaid in Texas
Nick Bryant is a Counselor with 11 years of experience working in community health. He enjoys concerts, walks with the doggo and wife, mocking Dallas Cowboy fans, and sharing community resources. Jump on the Houston Case Managers email list to receive weekly community resource guides delivered directly to your inbox.