Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 6–8 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Confusion over the pandemic isn’t new, but lately I’ve received a number of questions asking specifically about when to go to the emergency room.

I sought a wise colleague with 28 years of emergency department nursing experience to support my responses to these questions. Most of the young people who reach out to me do not have a primary care provider, or PCP, nor do some of their parents. It’s troubling when so many of us seem to use emergency services as a family doctor. If responding to these concerns in my column can ease the burden of overworked health care workers, I am happy to help.

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