By Alison Stanton
As most parents know quite well, it can be very worrisome when children are ill with a cold, flu, earache or other health issue.
It is even more difficult when a child is having symptoms like a high fever, vomiting or aches and pains in the middle of the night, long after their usual pediatricians have closed for the day.
This knowledge inspired Dr. Michael McQueen to open Good Night Pediatrics, which provides urgent care to kids between the hours of 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. The first of four Good Night Pediatrics clinics opened in the Valley in November 2004, and a location has been open in Gilbert since October 2006.
“After talking to families, pediatricians and staff at emergency rooms, I discovered the critical need for non-emergency, nighttime pediatric medical care,” McQueen said, adding that the clinic’s mission is to offer a “nighttime supplement” to regular pediatricians’ practices, not a competitor.
“After all, no child should have to go to the emergency room unless it’s an emergency. Good Night Pediatrics was a solution to that problem,” he added.
Dr. Sunday Bankole, a pediatrician at the clinic in Gilbert, said they are able to diagnose and treat a wide range of common childhood conditions there, including fevers, ear infections, strep throat, pneumonia, flu, vomiting and diarrhea and skin rashes.
The clinic also treats minor surgical procedures such as suturing of simple lacerations, incision and drainage of abscesses, reduction of common limb dislocations and evaluation, diagnosis and splinting of common fractures.
As Bankole noted, there are a number of benefits to using an overnight pediatric urgent care as opposed to taking an ill child to the emergency room or maybe trying to tough it out until morning, when the regular pediatrician is open.
“Our Nighttime Pediatric Urgent Care model offers several advantages compared to the Emergency Department and other urgent cares,” he said, adding that they are devoted to offering a family-centered and friendly service, which makes the experience as pleasant as possible for kids.
“We have experienced pediatric specialty providers seeing the sick kids, and we offer shorter waiting times. Also, our services are by far more cost effective, and we accept all insurance plans, including all AHCCCS plans,” he added.
Good Night Pediatrics also has X-ray equipment on site, which is managed by qualified radiology technologists and is read at the time of service by the pediatric provider before being reviewed by a radiologist the following day.
“Also, we maintain electronic health records with electronic prescriptions as needed,” Bankole said. “Visit records are sent electronically to the child’s primary care providers in a timely manner, to ensure appropriate follow up and continuity with the PCP management.”
Good Night Pediatrics also offers an innovative and convenient eVisit application, which provides “telehealth” visits. The program is available at 5 p.m. when the clinics open. Telehealth visits allow patients to skip the line and get direct access to treatment virtually from anywhere in the state.
While the eVisit is very similar to using Facetime and Skype, Bankole said the application includes a few extra features that make the system HIPAA compliant and help keep medical information safe and up-to-date.
“To participate in a telehealth visit, all that’s needed is a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a strong and secure internet connection and a built-in microphone and webcam,” Bankole said.
The clinic is open every day of the year including on special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. According to Bankole, a large pool of established patients routinely return for services, and the clinic also treats several new patients on a daily basis.
Angela Smith is a parent who appreciates having Good Night Pediatrics as an option.
The Gilbert mom of four – 5-year-old Isabelle Smith and 17-year-old triplets Nicholas, Noah and Miranda McGill – has taken both Isabelle and Miranda to the Gilbert location for care.
“The first visit for Isabelle was due to a high fever of 103.5 around 11 p.m., and for the second visit, she woke up screaming in the middle of the night complaining about itchiness and pain,” Smith said, adding that she took Miranda in once at 10 p.m. when she had chest congestion and a fever.
“The office was able to give Miranda a breathing treatment and prescribe the medicine needed to allow both of us the peace of mind to get some sleep,” Smith said.
She said it is “a great idea” to have an urgent care that specializes in the care of children and that operates after hours.
“I wish there had been a place like Good Night Pediatrics when my triplets were younger. The care there was exceptional, and it was so nice to take them into an office that didn’t have a three-hour wait with a doctor’s office environment and friendly staff that genuinely cares about each and every patient,” she said.