25 May 2016
I have a wonderful group of pediatric patients whom I attend to daily. Although I am part of Westchester Health Pediatrics, my practice has the feel of a solo practitioner’s office since I am the only physician in my location. However, part of my partnership with Westchester Health puts me in the position to take care of other patients in our group after hours and on the weekend.
After hours and on weekends, we are here for you and your child
This means that if you call your pediatrician’s office with a health concern about your child, you will be put in touch with one of us in the WHP group who will either recommend a medication or treatment to help your child until he/she can be seen by your regular pediatrician, or we will see your child in our own office, which if you are calling overnight, will be the next day. This means that we will see your child on a Saturday, Sunday or weekend if necessary.
If I am on call and see your child in my office, I have full access to your child’s medical record, including your pediatrician’s recommendations during his/her last visit, the list of medications your child takes, and any allergies. This means that, just like in your favorite restaurant, I will help you make a “reservation” (appointment), give your child the best quality care, and make sure he/she is on the way to good health.
Fast food, fast medical care: neither one is very satisfying
I can make my restaurant analogy in good faith because I worked in an urgent care center for a few years shortly after my medical training at Columbia Presbyterian Babies Hospital in Manhattan, and because, as a mom, I understand the convenience factor that draws people to fast food and fast healthcare. When you go to your own physician, you are essentially dining with the “head chef” who is concerned about your well-being for the present and in the future.
The fast food chain-style urgent care facility is simply trying to get you through the current illness of the moment…making you feel the equivalent of full and satisfied. They may try to help you “have it your way” like the popular fast food chain slogan goes…walk in, minimal wait, walk out with prescription in hand if you need one. You are then done and free to continue on with your day.
However, just as when you get a stomachache sometimes after eating too much junk food, going to the urgent care center can make you worse off and often requires a visit BACK to your primary care physician. Often, this is not because the urgent care physician did anything wrong. This “doc-in-a-box” must rely on your recall of medical detail. If I had a dollar for every time I asked for a medication list when I interviewed a patient when I worked in urgent care and heard, “some pink medicine,” “a white pill with some writing on it,” or “some antibiotic that I took for 10 days,” I would be able to buy a pair of fabulous shoes!! (In my office, it is not unusual for the parent who brought the child to call the other parent for vital information.)
Your regular doctor knows you and your medical history
All doctors, including those in urgent care, are trying their best, but mistakes do happen when the medical history is incomplete or worse, incorrect.
Your primary care physician has developed a relationship with you after many visits and is often keenly aware of your personal healthcare needs. Like the head chef who knows that too much salt or spice could ruin your enjoyment of your meal, your primary care physician will work with your needs and your personal situation to help you achieve good health.
If you value the quality of your healthcare as much as you might a fine meal…
…consider making the call to your primary care physician before running off in knee-jerk fashion to the urgicare center. Just as a fast food meal might be all you can get when you’re really busy and which is ok on occasion, you will always be better off with a healthy, nutritious home-cooked meal or a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant.