When your child is sick after-hours it used to mean a trip to the emergency department. But pediatric urgent care centers are changing that. Seattle Children's newly opened Urgent Care Clinic in Mill Creek is the latest local site to offer care for young patients.
It was just after 6pm at the Seattle Children's Urgent Care Clinic in Bellevue.
"You got an owie?" Pediatrician Dr. Shelton Chapman quizzed the toddler. "Can you tell him what hurts?" asked Colton's mom.
When a child's pain happens after the doctor's office is closed, as it did with Colton, a trip to a pediatric urgent care clinic beats a trip to the emergency department.
"He woke up with a fever from his nap," Nicole Bienkowski explained.
"Has he had a lot of ear infections before?" asked Dr. Chapman. No first one," Bienkowski said as the pediatrician examined Colton's ears.
She said she got the referral to the Urgent Care Clinic from her pediatrician's office when she consulted with them late in the day.
"They had the phone number on speed dial for us and just gave it to me," she said.
Like an ER, walk-ins are welcome at Urgent Care. But unlike an ER, the wait is likely to be shorter. There's another advantage.
"It can be significantly less expensive if for instance you need stitches to have that done at an urgent care if that's appropriate for your child," said Pediatrician Dr. Rebecca Partridge.
Dr. Partridge is Clinical Director for Urgent Care Services at Seattle Children's. She said the clinics fill a gap for working families who can't bring a child in during office hours, but who don't need all the services of an ER.
"Urgent Care is really for a complaint that shouldn't wait until your pediatrician's office is open, but if your pediatrician's office were open, you'd feel comfortable taking your child there." To help parents sort out when to take a child to urgent care and when to visit the emergency room, Seattle Children's has a resource that offers some answers.
She said a call to your doctor can help sort it out. In the Harkins, family, fifteen year old Carsen had pneumonia as a baby.
"I had actually called the doctor's office and talked to a nurse, and described what was going on and they recommended the E-D," said Carsen's mother Michelle Harkins.
But for a painful bout of swimmer's ear one weekend, urgent care was the right choice.
"It was really nice having a doctor that was used to talking to young people," recalled Carsen.
"Having specific pediatric providers who are accustomed to dealing with children, and who know how to talk to children, who have the right size equipment and the right medications can often make that experience much less traumatic," said Dr. Partridge
And she said, a Popsicle or sticker at the end of the visit make the experience happier for kids too.
The newest Seattle Children's Urgent Care Clinic in Mill Creek is now open.