Parent and newborn talk to doctor virtually.
Advice From Our Experts

After-hours Illness or Injury? Advantages of Choosing Pediatric Urgent Care

In-person and virtual urgent care provides convenience, child-centered care and peace of mind.

It can be upsetting when your child gets hurt or doesn’t feel well. But if it happens when their pediatrician isn’t available, the situation suddenly becomes much more stressful.

The good news is that pediatric care is available after hours, and getting it doesn’t have to entail a trip to the emergency department. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers pediatric urgent care in person and virtually.

“All the elements involved in urgent care—gathering a health history, the examination, the diagnosis, the treatment plan and prescription medications—should be uniquely tailored to children,” says Ameer Mody, MD, Associate Director of Emergency and Transport Medicine at CHLA. “And seeing pediatric specialists improves those aspects of a child’s urgent care experience.”

There’s a reason you rely on a pediatrician instead of a general practitioner for your child’s well-care—you want someone who specializes in children’s health. Dr. Mody says your thought process should be the same when choosing urgent care.

Benefits of children’s urgent care

The health care professionals working at urgent care clinics are typically trained in family or emergency medicine. They see everything, from rashes and viral infections to fractures and sports injuries.

But pediatric urgent care takes specialization one step further. The entire staff—including nurses, receptionists, technicians and physicians—work exclusively with children. That expertise can make a difference in your child’s experience, diagnosis and treatment.

“The care of a child is different from the care of an adult,” Dr. Mody says. “And when a child is scared or hurting, it’s important to have someone who knows how to examine the child in a way that puts them at ease, gather the information they need and prescribe treatment tailored to children.” That specialization and experience can reduce the need for additional testing, lab work and imaging down the road.

When (and why) to use pediatric virtual urgent care

CHLA’s Virtual Urgent Care allows you to see those same pediatric emergency specialists, but from the comfort of your home. The service is available weekdays, nights and weekends, with appointments offered in 15-minute increments.

“A virtual appointment can be a source of medical advice or work as a triage tool,” Dr. Mody says. “A video consultation with a pediatric specialist can help you determine whether it’s necessary to head to the emergency department. But for many illnesses and issues, virtual care provides children of all ages with the care they need, when they need it.”

Pediatric specialists can virtually manage many common childhood ailments, including:

  • Allergies
  • Cough, sore throat, runny nose, congestion and other flulike symptoms
  • Fever unaccompanied by other alarming symptoms
  • Insect stings and bites
  • Minor injuries such as bruises, cuts and mild burns
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Pediatric virtual urgent care offers the same specialization you’ll find at pediatric urgent care clinics. It can also provide:

  • Reduced anxiety and exposure to new germs: Emergency departments and virtual care clinics can overwhelm a child. If their ailment doesn’t require in-person emergency services, virtual care may be a good option. Your child can wait comfortably at home, avoiding a busy waiting room and exposure to additional germs.
  • Less absences from school and work: Knowing whether to send your child to school with a rash or cold symptoms can be tricky. Research  shows that access to telemedicine can cut school absences—and missed workdays—in half. Consulting with pediatric providers after hours can help you make the best decision for your child while keeping their classmates healthy.
  • Peace of mind for new parents: It’s challenging as a new parent to know when to head to the emergency department and when to wait for an appointment with your pediatrician—especially when you are dealing with concerning symptoms such as fever, vomiting or rash. A virtual exam allows you to discuss your concerns with a pediatric specialist. A visual assessment of your child can help clarify your next steps.
  • In-home follow-up: A virtual visit can be beneficial as a follow-up to an initial in-person evaluation. You may have additional questions or want someone to assess new or changing symptoms to ensure your child’s recovery is heading in the right direction.
  • Access to CHLA care while traveling: Virtual urgent care allows you to connect with the CHLA pediatric specialists you trust when you are far from home. A video consultation allows an urgent care provider to gather information, visually assess the situation and advise you about the next steps. (Note: the patient must be located in the state of California at the time of their virtual visit.)

Specialized pediatric care around the clock

Children’s injuries and ailments rarely follow a clock and don’t always fit into office hours. But you don’t have to compromise on their care.

“Our same pediatric emergency specialists see patients virtually, in a community-based urgent care and in the emergency department,” Dr. Mody says. “That combination allows us to offer an entire spectrum of after-hours and acute care to meet parents where they are.”

Learn more about CHLA urgent care offered at Arcadia Urgent Care and virtually.