The Emergency Department and Urgent Care facilities can be essential when your child has an acute illness or injury. But what about the rest of the time? What are the benefits of seeing a single physician for the child’s entire life vs. going to a walk-in clinic or a clinic based out of a store or drugstore? As pediatricians, we strongly encourage families to take their children as often as possible to their primary care pediatrician to establish a medical home.
A medical home is not a place or a building but a way of providing care. In a medical home, a trusted pediatrician partners with a family to provide regular, ongoing care. Through this partnership, the pediatrician serves as the gatekeeper to other pediatric specialists and other services, such as therapy services or educational resources which are important to the child’s health. Providing a medical home means addressing the medical and non-medical needs of the child and family.
What are the benefits of a medical home?
There are many! The first is that having a medical home improves family-centered care. The family trusts the pediatrician as a constant in their child’s life and feels more comfortable being an active participant in their child’s healthcare as well. Having a medical home also provides more clarity to the family about healthcare decisions that are being made.
Having a single provider to follow a child throughout their life also assists with making sure that basic healthcare needs are all being met, including but not limited to breastfeeding management, immunizations, growth and developmental assessments, appropriate screenings, health care supervision, counseling about health, nutrition, safety, parenting and psychological issues. By having a single provider see the child for all of their well visits, certain delays or other concerning physical signs can be picked up more quickly.
Another benefit of a medical home is that the primary pediatrician can arrange all subspecialty care for the child instead of the family trying to arrange testing, treatments, or outpatient visits. In addition, the pediatrician can coordinate care between all subspecialists and service providers and arrange a specific care plan for the child as an organized team.
Having a medical home also helps with clearer and more concise record-keeping. If a child does move to another area and requires a new pediatrician, the prior pediatrician can easily transfer all primary and subspecialty records to the new provider.
We all want a place to go where everybody knows your name and where your medical records are complete and accurate. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a medical home for all children with accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective care. It should be delivered by well-trained physicians who provide primary care and help manage and facilitate all aspects of pediatric care. The pediatrician should be known to the child and family and able to develop a partnership of mutual responsibility and trust.
With a medical home, the pediatrician, patient, and their family all benefit!
If your child has mild symptoms and your pediatrician’s office is closed, After Hours is available for walk-in treatment of many common respiratory viruses, including RSV. Patients will be seen in order of arrival time unless emergency care is required. However, you may schedule your arrival time online to reduce your wait and help us prepare for your visit.
In case of a medical emergency with a child, determine where the nearest accredited, Level I pediatric trauma center is located. St. Louis Children’s Hospital has six pediatric ER locations across the St. Louis and southern Illinois region, including St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Belleville, Children’s Hospital at Memorial Hospital Shiloh, Children’s Hospital at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, Children’s Hospital at Northwest HealthCare, and Children’s Hospital at Progress West Hospital.