Pediatrician vs Urgent Care vs Emergency Room — Courtney’s Story — CMH

For many of us, one of the best parts of the holiday season is reminiscing over past memories with family and friends. The other day, I mentioned to my sister-in-law that, as part of my partnership with Children’s Mercy, I was working on an article teaching people how to know where to go when your kid gets sick or injured. Specifically, should you go to your pediatrician, an urgent care, or the emergency room? I could almost see Courtney shudder as she half-laughed and said, “Lucky me, we’ve done all three.” Thankfully, we can all laugh now, but looking back, she went through some pretty scary times.

A few years ago, my niece, Maura, started bruising incredibly easily. So easily that, if you would give her a hug, you would leave her with a bruise. While not overly concerned, Courtney did make a call to her pediatrician. Because her pediatrician knew Maura’s medical history, she agreed that something wasn’t right, and asked Maura to come in for blood work and an evaluation. According to the experts at Children’s Mercy, Courtney made the right decision. They tell us that your primary pediatrician is always the best place to start when your child is sick or hurt. They know your child’s health history, including any underlying conditions they may have.

Unfortunately, when the blood work came back, they realized that her blood platelets were crazy low. Normal counts are between 150,000 and 300,000. Maura’s were at a 12. Luckily, her pediatrician already had an established relationship with Children’s Mercy. She immediately gave them a call, By the time they arrived at the hospital, the staff already had a room equipped with everything they would need to start finding answers. (Maura’s little body was so fragile at the time that they made her wear a bike helmet on the drive in case of an accident. I’m pretty sure that was the longest and scariest drive of her mama’s life.)

Sweet Maura

Sweet Maura

Now, let’s move onto the Emergency Room. How do you know if you should go straight to the hospital? According to Dr. Gregory Connors and Dr. Denise Dowd –Emergency Department Pediatricians, emergency departments are the best place for treating children with serious or life-threatening injuries or illnesses. They also taught me that Children’s Mercy offers a Pediatric Level 1 Trauma center, the only one between St. Louis and Denver. It is specially equipped for children, and offers immediate access to a wide variety of highly trained and certified doctors, surgeons, nurses and other personnel. They treat kids using kid-sized equipment, and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Children’s Mercy also recommends that kids are always taken to a pediatric emergency department or urgent care facility vs. an adult ER or urgent care facility. At Children’s Mercy, faculty members are all specifically trained to treat children 100% of the time – after all, “kids are not little adults.”

Look at that sweet face...

Look at that sweet face…

So, when did Courtney get to experience Children’s Mercy’s Emergency Department? Well, about a year after Maura’s experience, Courtney awoke to the sound of her younger son, Gavin, struggling to breathe and gasping for air. Her mama instincts kicked in and she knew something was wrong. She immediately got dressed and headed to Children’s Mercy. (Probably second scariest drive of her life.) When they arrived, the staff immediately got him on breathing treatments. It turns out, Gavin has asthma. Asthma attacks can be minor, but they can also be life threatening. Again, Courtney made the right decision for her child.

Gavin at Urgent Care receiving treatment for his asthma.

Gavin at Urgent Care receiving treatment for his asthma.

As for the Urgent Care Clinics, this is the right choice if your child’s condition isn’t life-threatening, but needs to be taken care of right away. In most situations, you’ll also save time and money by going to urgent care instead of the emergency department. Now that Gavin’s asthma is mostly under control, Courtney takes advantage of the Urgent Care Clinics when she knows he needs a stronger treatment, but also knows that his life isn’t in danger. The Urgent Cares are also more convenient for many of us in the Kansas City area because there are more locations. (Here is a list of addresses for both the Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centers Children’s Mercy provides. Print this out and store it in your car so you’ll be prepared if an emergency strikes!)

Today, Maura and Gavin are happy, healthy and active kids. Because they were treated by experts trained specifically to treat small, growing bodies, they made full recoveries and suffer no lingering effects from their illnesses. While Courtney made it very clear that she has no interest in going back to Children’s Mercy anytime soon, we do agree that we both have piece of mind knowing that Children’s Mercy will welcome us with open arms if and when we need them.

You can find more inspiring stories on the Children’s Mercy Moms page, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for more everyday parenting tips and tricks. Stay safe and warm!

If your child has been sick or injured in the past, how did you decide where to go? What made you choose that location?

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