Day, Night, Weekends or Holidays: How to Reach Me When You Need Me.
The other day a Mom in my practice asked me the following: “In the event of some kind of medical emergency here, if it weren't serious enough to warrant a call to 911, what would the protocol be (if we couldn't get hold of you e.g. it was the middle of the night, etc)? This is my first baby and I’m not sure how things work. A friend of mine recently had to take her baby to Urgent Care and I thought I should know what I would do in the same situation. Are there certain Urgent Care centers or Emergency Rooms that are particularly [appropriate] for infant care”?
These are excellent questions and worthy of reviewing with everyone. So here goes.
First of all, I want to remind you that I am available to you 24 hours a day. My patients can call me overnight, if they feel they have a concern that cannot wait until the sun comes up. I have even been known to respond to texts sent to me in the middle of the night; but remember, a text ringtone is not a phone call ringtone, so a call is preferred overnight if I am truly needed. If together we feel your child needs to be seen, I will come to your home unless together we decide that urgent care or the ER is the preferable choice. I am reachable even when I am out of town.
When I am briefly unable to answer the phone (weddings, medical conferences, etc) my voicemail message should indicate that fact and reference the phone number of a covering pediatric colleague who is available to take your urgent call. Please do leave a message for me, in any case, and I will call back as soon as I am available, even if you do call my colleague because of the urgent nature of your need. I should normally call back within an hour_that is my goal.
However, sometimes life intervenes, and acts of nature, e.g. ice and snow storms that down wires, and power outages can take out infrastructure. Very rarely, your call may not come through. If your gut tells you that I missed your voicemail message, and the message on my phone does NOT indicate a covering doctor, please call my practice manager, Shelly, on my general practice number, 404-654-0426.
Now, to answer your question about locations for care if I am out of town. If it is during the day, my voice message will give you the information identifying my covering pediatric colleague. If it is after hours, then urgent care or Kids Time Pediatrics will be where you would go to be seen. If it is late in the evening or the middle of the night, then an ER is your only option_preferably the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta ER at Scottish Rite or Egleston ER’s. Please take note of your nearest pediatric urgent care center. I’ve included a link for your convenience.
There are the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) Urgent Care Centers, the CHOA Scottish Rite Hospital & Egleston Hospital Emergency Rooms, and Kids Time Pediatrics, an after hours non-emergency facility staffed by pediatricians for non-office hour care.
I do not recommend your going to other Urgent Care Centers which are almost always not Pediatric oriented. I also do NOT encourage use of the CVS or Walgreen's Minute Clinics which offer nurse practitioner care, unless you are out of town traveling and have no other alternative.
CHOA Urgent Care Locations: http://www.choa.org/Childrens-Hospital-Services/Urgent-Care/Locations
625 Big Shanty Road NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144-6812
1001 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342-1605
Kids Time Pediatrics - Sandy Springs & other locations
5252 Roswell Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
Phone: (404) 943-1979
For general information even if you choose to call me, I recommend as a parent resource: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx
This web link is an excellent source of general information offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It has an excellent search window that leads you to valuable and credible information.
I hope this Blog post has been helpful. Please let me know if you have other questions about health care I can address in my Blog.