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April 20, 2014

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All-night pediatric clinic offers parents alternative to ER

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Paul Takahashi

Good Night Pediatrics, 2651 Green Valley Pkwy., is an urgent care facility for children that operates between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m., 365 days a year.

Good Night Pediatrics - Henderson

Site manager Michael Arausa holds a breathing machine that administers medications to children with respiratory problems. The machine is specially designed for children to play with while they are being treated under the supervision of the site pediatrician and parents. Launch slideshow »

Good Night Pediatrics

It’s 3 a.m. and your child is sick. Really sick.

Your family pediatrician’s office is closed for the night, and if you go to the hospital emergency room, you might be waiting hours before you get to see a doctor. Where do you go?

Good Night Pediatrics in Henderson has been providing urgent medical care for children between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. every night since it opened about a year ago.

To the relief of many parents, the valley’s first and only all-night pediatric clinic will stay open throughout the holidays.

“No one wants to come here (under the circumstances),” said Andrea Roach, a Mountain’s Edge resident who brought her 10-month-old son in on a recent night. “But it’s great there’s an alternative to the ER. Their waits are ridiculous.”

The 32-year-old mother’s toddler son, Benjamin, had a persistent cough and runny nose Wednesday night.

Andrea and her husband, Mark Roach, 44, made the half-hour drive to Good Night Pediatrics, 2651 Green Valley Parkway, to have Benjamin checked out by a pediatrician.

The couple said it took about 15 minutes to fill out the first-time paperwork, and they waited no more than 7 minutes to see a doctor.

“It’s a fabulous idea,” Andrea Roach said. “It beats going to a very crowded and sick ER.”

According to a 2010 report by Press Ganey, a health care research and consulting firm, Nevada ranked 37th nationally in ER wait times, even though it showed the most significant improvement in 2009. Nationally, the average trip to the ER lasts more than four hours.

“You don’t know who’s going to treat your child,” said clinic manager Michael Arausa. “And you could spend hours at an emergency room for a simple ear infection and come home with another illness.”

Since it opened in January, Good Night Pediatrics has treated about 1,600 patients, averaging about six patients a night. With the upcoming winter months being the clinic’s peak season, Arausa said, they are prepared for the influx of sick children.

The clinic is designed specially for children, with blue walls and yellow stars dotting the floors. The hallways and walls of the seven examination rooms have colorful exam table sheets and children’s posters.

Dr. Sandy Kalm, one of three staff pediatricians at Good Night Pediatrics, has a collection of 17 stethoscope sleeves, all various plush animals. On Wednesday night, she greeted a patient with her pet “zebra” who “likes to listen to hearts and lungs,” she said.

“I like having a relationship with families and patients, seeing them grow,” Kalm, 35, said. “To be able to talk to children and making them laugh and feel better, that’s rewarding for me.”

Although the self-proclaimed “night owl” may make her patients giggle, the work Kalm does is no laughing matter. The clinic is equipped for everything from treating the common cold and flu to dealing with respiratory problems and diagnosing blood disorders.

But children with more serious issues — such as seizures, loss of consciousness and head injuries for infants less than 1 year old — should still go to the hospital, Kalm said.

Arausa said that the aim of the urgent care facility is not to replace family physicians. The clinic doesn’t provide immunizations or conduct regular check ups, and any medical records generated at Good Night Pediatrics are automatically faxed to the regular family pediatrician, he said.

Still, the Phoenix-based company of pediatric clinics has found it is filling a crucial need.

“I have a lot of repeat patients. It’s like having two pediatricians,” Kalm said.

The company hopes to expand its foothold in the Las Vegas Valley and has plans to add another clinic in the north, she said.

“You have to see the transformation when patients walk in screaming to walking out no longer in distress and talking up a storm,” she said. “Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you’re not getting sick.”

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