Commentary: Primary care needs a shot in the arm

As the omicron surge engulfs the nation, overwhelmed hospitals are asking people without serious symptoms to avoid their emergency rooms, leaving many unsure of next steps. If not the emergency room, where?

The short answer is primary care.

Primary care keeps people healthy and protected against severe disease and plays an essential role in public health emergencies. Yet primary care has been undervalued and underresourced both before and during the almost two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may explain why many patients are going to hospitals first rather than calling their primary-care provider to ask for medical guidance. Better coordination and support for primary care earlier in the pandemic might have helped us avoid this challenge, but there is an opportunity to address the issue now.

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