Santa Cruz Center Urgent Care
The Santa Cruz Urgent Care Center of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) provides high-quality medical care expeditiously and compassionately for both children and adults. Physicians and nurses work closely as a team to care for each patient.
About Our Services
We treat patients of all ages and do not require a physician referral. Our services are available to:
- Everyone, whether you are a regular patient at PAMF or have never visited us before
- Area residents and visitors here for business or pleasure
- All patients who do not have a primary care physician
Santa Cruz Center
2025 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Department Phone: (831) 458-5537
Every Day, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
(Sunday through Saturday, including Holidays)
Approximate Wait Time in Urgent Care (UC):
*Note: Wait time is updated during open hours. Time is an approximation of the current wait time and is subject to change.
We accept cash, personal checks, Visa and Mastercard, and co-payments from most HMO, PPO and insurance plans, as well as Medicare and Medicare HMOs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an urgent health care need?
When a medical problem arises that requires immediate attention, it is often difficult to know if it is truly an emergency, or whether it is simply an urgent medical issue.
What is the difference?
Generally, an emergency is a condition that may threaten an individual's life or cause impairment. On the other hand, urgent care can treat medical problems, that while not emergencies, require care within 24 hours. Some examples of conditions that can be treated at urgent care include: accidents and falls, broken bones, breathing problems, abdominal pain, bleeding/cuts, fever and vomiting/diarrhea/dehydration.
If a medical problem is life-threatening, call 911 immediately, and care will be provided at the nearest emergency room (ER). However, ER visits should be reserved for true emergencies, such as life-threatening accidents or chest pain. A visit to the ER without an actual emergency can be costly and inefficient, and detract medical care from individuals who truly need emergency care.
For urgent medical concerns, patients should call PAMF first. Even if a patient's own physician is not available, physicians are always on call. If the medical problem is not life-threatening, but warrants immediate care, you may choose to visit any of PAMF's Urgent Care Center's in Santa Cruz (see specific location for times).
What happens when I arrive?
Upon arriving at the Urgent Care Center, you will sign in with the registration clerk, so that we may obtain the information necessary to treat you. As soon as an examination room is available, you will be called by a nurse or a medical assistant, who will take your vital signs and a brief medical history. A physician, physicians assistant or nurse practitioner will then see you as soon as possible.
How long will it take?
Patients that are critically ill or injured are triaged shortly after arrival in the Urgent Care Center. This means that their medical conditions are assessed, and they are seen first. This is likely the case if you see Urgent Care patients who registered after you being called first. Generally, all other Urgent Care patients are seen in order of their arrival time. Also, since we share a reception area and waiting room with other departments, you may see patients called for scheduled appointments in other departments.
All patients are seen without an appointment. This can make prediction of patient flow and wait times difficult and uncertain, and we ask for your patience if you are here at a time when many other patients have also dropped in to be seen. We realize that your time is valuable, and are working as hard and as fast as we can to take care of you quickly.
What happens next?
You may be treated and discharged shortly after being examined by an Urgent Care provider. You do not need to "check out," unless the reception desk has asked you to do so.
If your problem is more complicated, you may be asked to wait for results from laboratory tests, X-rays, or consultations. Blood tests generally take at least an hour to be run. X-rays are reviewed right away by your Urgent Care physician, and again by our radiologists within two days, when any new findings would be reported to you.
Medical treatments may be provided in the Urgent Care Center, such as medications and breathing treatments or intravenous fluids. This can take minutes to hours. If you need to be admitted to the hospital, we will take care of the arrangements. We will expedite any necessary follow-up referrals to other departments at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and its subsidiaries.
- If you believe your illness is serious, please visit us earlier in the day, so that we can take full advantage of our X-ray and laboratory departments on your behalf, before they close.
- Please bring in all your medication bottles, or a list of the names and doses of your medications.
- If you have a stomach problem, or think you may need surgery, please refrain from eating and drinking.
- If you have questions about what will happen next, or reasons for delays, please ask any of our receptionists, medical assistants or nurses.
- Feel free to use your cell phones in our exam rooms after the nurse and doctor have left the room.
- We welcome up to two visitors per exam room; one visitor if you are in the Observation Area.
- It is important to us that you fully understand any treatment or follow-up instructions given to you prior to leaving the Urgent Care Center. Please ask any questions you may have about them, and please call us for any questions that may arise later.