Where do I go? Your options - Washington State Local Health Insurance - CHPW
Community Health Plan of Washington Apple Health Medicaid Plan Community Health Plan of Washington Apple Health Medicaid Plan

“Where should I go to get care?”

When you or a loved one has a medical issue, you can get care in many ways. Learn more about your options below.

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

Are you a CHPW member with a medical question?

If you need medical help right now, call our Nurse Advice Line at 1-866-418-2920 (TTY: 711). Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for CHPW members.

Call Nurse Advice Line  1-866-418-2920 (TTY: 711)

On this page

Nurse Advice Line

CHPW’s Nurse Advice Line is staffed by professional nurses who can help you make sense of your symptoms and decide what to do next.

The advice line is offered free for CHPW members, and available 24 hours a day. You can reach it at 1-866-418-2920 (TTY: 711).

Click for an example of using the Nurse Advice Line

Anya and Phillip are worried about their 3-year-old daughter, Mary. She has a fever of 102, and they aren’t sure what to do, as it’s past midnight.

They call CHPW’s Nurse Advice Line. The nurse tells them to give Mary some over-the-counter medication and monitor her fever.

They’re told to go to the emergency room if her fever gets worse, and to call their regular doctor’s office in the morning if her fever persists.

Emergency Room/Hospital

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Care in the emergency room is for serious injuries and symptoms. Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day and usually connected to a hospital.

They offer more care options than an urgent care center but wait times can be much longer depending on how serious your medical condition is and how busy the emergency room is. An emergency room does not manage chronic problems.

Some examples of issues that need immediate care are:

  • Severe burns
  • Serious accidents
  • Suicide attempts
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Bleeding that won’t stop

Click for an example of using the emergency room

Heng slips and falls off their porch at their home. They land on their arm and hear a snapping sound. They ask a friend to drive them to the emergency room.

Heng is immediately given a room and the evaluation is started, though they have to wait an hour to see a doctor. They are then given X-rays and are admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery for their broken arm.

They go home the next day with a splint. Heng will need to follow up at the surgeon’s office to monitor how well they are healing.

Urgent Care Center

Urgent care centers are for health issues needing immediate care that aren’t serious enough for the ER. They are usually open evenings and weekends, as well as during work hours. Some are open 24 hours a day.

They tend to have shorter wait times than the emergency room, but also have limited care options for more serious conditions.

Some examples of when you might go to urgent care:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Stomachache or stomach upset
  • Small cuts that might need stitches

To find an urgent care center near you, please visit our Find a Doctor tool.

  1. Put in your location or zip code
  2. Set Provider Type as “facility”
  3. Set Specialty as “urgent care center”

Click for an example of going to urgent care

Pete has a painful rash that’s keeping him from sleeping. He doesn’t have a fever, but also can’t wait three days for an appointment with his primary care provider. He decides to go to urgent care.

He waits for 20 minutes and is seen by a doctor. She prescribes medication for the rash that he can pick up at his local pharmacy. She recommends he make an appointment with his regular doctor if his symptoms continue.

Primary Care Provider (PCP)

Your primary care provider is who you see for your routine care and management of chronic problems and prevention.

They may be a doctor, nurse practitioner, or another type of medical professional. PCP offices are usually only open during work hours but some have extended evening or weekend hours.

At CHPW, your PCP is your first stop if you have a medical complaint that isn’t urgent. They have your medical history and know more about your overall health needs than urgent care or emergency room providers.

Some examples of when to visit your primary care provider:

  • For routine care, like checkups, immunizations, and cancer screening
  • Managing a chronic illness like diabetes or arthritis, or chronic problems like back pain or headaches
  • New medical problems that are not causing severe symptoms
  • For advice on mental health treatments
  • If you need a referral to see a specialist

Click for an example of going to a PCP

Hector pulls his shoulder playing basketball with his friends. It’s not getting better, but the pain is only moderate. He schedules an appointment with his primary care provider to ask about treatment options.

After examining his shoulder, Hector’s PCP recommends physical therapy. They refer him to someone near his home.

Hector goes to physical therapy and his shoulder heals.

Telehealth (CHPW Virtual Care)

Sometimes it’s easier to speak to a doctor without leaving your home. Medical appointments held over the computer or phone are called telehealth appointments.

Your regular provider may offer telehealth visits. CHPW also covers telehealth services, called CHPW Virtual Care.

Virtual Care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For minor illnesses that don’t need to be diagnosed in person, or recurring symptoms from a known condition, a telehealth visit may be right for you.

Some examples of health issues that can be addressed with virtual care:

  • Cold and flu
  • Sore throat
  • Pink eye
  • Rash
  • Bladder infection

Click for an example of using telehealth

Denise has been feeling pain in her right ear for over a day now. She has a fever and nausea.

She’s had an ear infection in this ear before, and it’s on record with her PCP. She checks with her clinic and is able to make a telehealth appointment through them.

On the video call, she explains her symptoms. Her doctor agrees it’s likely another ear infection and prescribes medication. Denise picks it up at her local pharmacy and will follow up if she doesn’t feel better in a few days.

“I’m interested in virtual care, but I don’t know how to start.” Check our Virtual Care webpage for step-by-step instructions.

You can also get help using technology for your health through Link to Care WA.

Additional Health Resources

If you would like to have a printed version of the information on this page, this flyer is for you:

➜ English | Spanish  | Chinese | Russian | Vietnamese | Arabic | Somali | Dari

If you’re experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis, call 988.

For more information on mental and behavioral health resources, please visit:

➜ Behavioral Health Resources

➜ Crisis Helpline Contact Numbers


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