Thanksgiving Day troubles, mishaps and illnesses: the top reasons for Thanksgiving Day medical help

    By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science and Technology

    While everyone has their own Thanksgiving Day traditions, hopefully a trip to the emergency room isn’t one of them.

    “The holidays definitely bring in more patients into emergency rooms and urgent cares,” said Jerry Power, FNP, Advance Practice Lead, Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care.

    Thanksgiving Day can be one of the busiest days for emergency rooms. As a Mercy nurse practitioner, Power said not all situations require going to the emergency room when urgent cares are open and ready to handle accidents and other urgent medical needs that can happen on Thanksgiving when families gather to cook turkey, eat, drink and play.

    “Certainly, as people get together and there’s more cooking, there’s more cooking-related injuries. So even minor cuts and minor burns are things that we’ll see increased frequency of in urgent care settings,” said Power.

    Mercy-GoHealth is growing in the St. Louis metro area, with 22 urgent cares now established. The 22nd location became the first Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care to open in the city of St. Louis.

    “Bringing convenient access to health care is vital to our community,” said Dr. Jaime Zengotita, Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care medical director. “We’re thrilled to bring access to our urgent care services into the city of St. Louis for the first time.”

    This newest Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care is located near Schnucks at Hampton Village in south city at 4260 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, 63109. Power explained the urgent cares are open every day and they are ready for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day travelers.

    “Many people coming in from out of town, they’re away from primary care and away from what they’re used to.”

    Experts say the top reasons why people suddenly seek medical care on Thanksgiving start with turkey troubles.

    “There’s certainly the risk of minor burns, but also the frying of a turkey out in front of the garage,” Power said. “And those can, of course, be dangerous. You’ll hear many a story of a firefighter who has responded to a house fire started by too much oil. When the turkey gets dumped in there.”

    It’s not just the incidents from cooking the turkey, it’s the carving catastrophes too! But don’t always blame the turkey.

    “A lot of it just comes with cooking the sides, when cutting potatoes for the mashed potatoes (for example),” Power said. “We’ll see people who are maybe not wielding knives as frequently as they do during the holidays, and so suddenly everyone becomes a gourmet chef and cutting themselves.”

    And for those people who don’t really cook all year and are suddenly in the kitchen, Power shared some advice to help keep your family safe and away from an urgent care or emergency room.

    “Preparing of the turkey, there is always a concern for increased GI (gastrointestinal) issues related to salmonella. So just proper cooking, proper food handling techniques.”

    Even if the meal is perfectly safe, overindulgence is a top reason for seeking medical care.

    “Any type of overeating for even the healthiest person is going to cause some problems. And so that can be everything from just indigestion and upset stomach to GI issues, such as diarrhea or constipation,” said Power. “For those populations of people who have diabetes, perhaps eating too many sugars, that’s certainly something we see a lot of in the holidays. With those folks who are diabetic or have congestive heart failure, the intake of salt just increased tremendously, because we use a lot of salt in our food over the holidays. So, with that comes an increased chance of illness.”

    And if that’s not enough pressure, which is plenty, there’s the in-law or family stress.

    “With the holidays and people getting together, it’s just a ripe scenario for bad interaction, some family struggles and drama that creates a lot of stress. That adds to things that can complicate your health. So, even people who have heart conditions are just more prone to having cardiac events in the context of stress.”

    Of course, there are the occasional accidents from being physically active on Thanksgiving, from things like a game of football in the yard.

    “The urgent cares are prepared to address minor to moderate injuries, sports injuries.”

    If the severity of the medical emergency is not obviously an emergency room visit, how do you know when it’s best to go to the ER or urgent care?

    “I think if you are really concerned, you should seek that higher level of care. You always have the opportunity to call either your primary care, or if you don’t have primary care, you can even call one of the Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care locations and talk to one of the clinicians, and they’ll direct you on the way to go.”

    Patients can walk into any Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care without an appointment, or they can save a spot online by pre-registering. The new Hampton Village location is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

    For more information about Mercy-GoHealth Urgent Care locations serving St. Louis, visit