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Clinic makes for better nights

As I left Good Night Pediatrics in Henderson –– an all-night urgent care for kids at 2651 Green Valley Parkway –– I took a trip down memory lane, remembering late nights 30 years ago with my own children when they were little and hurting.

Dancing with a crying Sonja in my arms, trying to calm her stomach. … Calling the pediatrician at midnight asking for an answer to Tatiana’s unexplained fever. … Driving in a snowstorm to pick up simethicone drops that the doctor said would work on Isaiah’s gas pain. … Over the years, waiting for hours with each of them in crowded, disease-ridden hospital emergency rooms for five minutes of treatment that always consisted of a peer in an ear and the writing of a prescription.

Perhaps because I had my children later in life, I enjoyed trying to mellow them out in the middle of the night. It also didn’t bother me to drive through snowstorms for medicine. But I hated to take a child to a crowded ER, where adults coughed and moaned and looked like they might expire at any moment. If my child wasn’t very sick, I figured he or she soon would be. Me, too.

Given my mindset, it isn’t surprising I’m a true believer in the Good Night Pediatrics concept, where newborns to 18-year-olds can be seen by a pediatrician 365 days a year from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. –– when they can’t be seen by their own pediatrician.

It’s faster and has a kid-friendly environment with children’s posters, colorful exam table sheets and yellow stars dotting the floors. That’s not to say, of course, that you shouldn’t take an infant less than 90 days old with a fever greater than 100.4 rectally to the hospital emergency room. Ditto for children who’ve experienced poisoning, seizures, head trauma with loss of consciousness and severe burns, bleeding and broken bones. When my boy ripped open his hand climbing a fence and I took him to the ER, I couldn’t have been happier that a hand surgeon was called in to sew up his wound so he could still play piano.

Still, most maladies of children don’t require specialists who perform hand or brain surgery –– the commonplace cough, cuts, earache, fever, flu, rashes, and sore throats may make your kids cry and worry you, but a medical team and equipment that costs millions to run isn’t necessary to put a smile back on Bubba’s face when a penicillin prescription or two stitches will do.

When I visited Good Night Pediatrics recently to see how it operated, Frank and Sherese Nguyen were there early with their 3-year-old twins, Kason and Carter, who had sore throats. Robert Kuntz and Renee Lowe had brought in their 5-month-old son Alexander James, who had a cough. Closer to 11 p.m., swing shift casino engineer Stewart Lowe carried in his 4-month-old son Tyler, who had fever and vomiting earlier at day care.

What they said was essentially this: It’s too bad it took until the 21st century for something that made so much sense to take hold. Even without insurance the flat fee of $150 for a visit, which includes lab work that can tell in minutes whether your child has the flu, strep throat or mononucleosis, is about $600 less than an emergency room visit. If you do have insurance, the cost is whatever your co-pay is for an urgent care visit, usually less than $40.

On this night, these three children were seen by Dr. Claudine Aguilar Mendoza, who’s seen many of the 15,000 children who’ve been treated at the clinic in the three years it’s been open.

She found out Tyler Lowe’s discomfort was coming from an ear infection.

At midnight, about an hour after arriving at the clinic, Stewart Lowe left to go to a drugstore to have a prescription filled.

“We had perfect medical care,” Lowe said.

Mendoza, who generally sees 25 to 30 patients a night, faxed a copy of her treatment plan to Tyler’s pediatrician.

“We’re not competing with pediatricians,” she said of the clinic that includes two other physicians, medical assistants, radiologic technologists and administrative staff. “We don’t do immunizations or regular checkups, but I think we’re filling a valuable niche.”

So valuable that Larry Blumenthal, financial officer for the Phoenix-based clinics –– the five in Arizona and one in Nevada are the brain child of CEO Dr. Michael McQueen –– now says demand in Southern Nevada has grown to where it won’t be long before a Good Night Pediatrics clinic is opened around Summerlin.

Blumenthal says others also may be opened around the country.

Great. But I still I have a complaint.

You weren’t there when I really needed you.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@
reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

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