Emergency vs. Urgent/Primary Care: Guidance from Milford Regional Chief Medical Officer

By Peter B. Smulowitz, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer
Milford Regional Medical Center

As recent headlines emphasize, hospitals are extremely busy as the winter season ushers in increased cases of respiratory illness, notably influenza, COVID-19 and RSV. Similar to our sister institutions throughout Massachusetts and across the nation, we at Milford Regional continue to experience high patient volume and many sick patients. This high volume and acuity translates into longer waits in our Emergency Department, which can be especially frustrating when you are feeling unwell.

While we are unable to control many of the factors leading to these challenges, Milford Regional continues to make operational adjustments behind the scenes and at the bedside to meet the demand in our Emergency Department and ensure patients have access to timely care.

If you and your family need to seek care, the following information may help guide you to the facility most appropriate for treatment. First and foremost, we encourage you to call your doctor’s office at any time of day, any day of the year to get advice and to be directed to the right place for care.

Use the Milford Regional Emergency Department for emergency illnesses and injuries.

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Head injury: especially if you are older, on blood thinners, or lose consciousness
  • Multiple injuries/broken bones
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Severe bleeding
  • Unable to move or speak, or sudden confusion
  • Fainting or unconsciousness


Our 24-hour, 50-bed Emergency Department in our main hospital location (14 Prospect St., Milford) continues to receive and treat area patients, but capacity and wait times are an ongoing concern.


For urgent, non-emergent illnesses and injuries, use your primary care provider or one of our Milford Regional Urgent Care centers.

  • Non-life-threatening allergic reactions
  • Coughs, colds and sore throats
  • Fever or flu symptoms
  • Ear aches and sinus pain
  • Rash or other skin irritations
  • Sprains 
  • Minor wounds and burns
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Minor concussions
  • Back pain


Our Urgent Care centers, located in Franklin, Hopkinton, Milford and Northbridge, are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.


The centers may close early depending on the number of patients waiting for care. Check the Urgent Care website for specific locations, estimated wait times, and potential early closures for each. It is important and advisable that you check with your primary care physician first, as most medical practices provide on-call service for medical needs that occur outside of normal office hours.


We thank our patients for their patience during this particularly challenging time, as we continue to advance our mission to provide exceptional healthcare services to our community with dignity, compassion and respect.

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