Night pediatrics treats after-hours illnesses

April 27, 1993|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

Three years ago, business at an Annapolis pediatric service for children who get sick at night started slowly, with maybe a couple patients a night. But times have changed.

On Saturday, doctors at Nighttime Pediatrics on Generals Highway saw 96 patients. On Sunday, it was 108.

"It's more common now to have two incomes, two working parents," said Dr. Robert G. Graw Jr., a Davidsonville pediatrician who started the practice with eight other pediatricians in December 1989. "Their children are in day care, where they are more exposed to germs. And since [the parents are] working, they may not be able to get to the doctor during the day."

The service, which is available after regular pediatrician's offices close, has become so popular that doctors are thinking about opening two new centers -- one in northern Anne Arundel County and another in Montgomery County.

The concept has taken off, Dr. Graw said, because -- short of hospital emergency rooms -- parents have few options for sick children after hours.

On Saturday night, the place was hopping, although a first-time visitor would never have known it. No long lines in the lobby, no room full of crying babies and stressed-out parents. In fact, there were never more than a few people in the waiting room at a time, although the parking lot was packed with cars.

The average wait to see a doctor is less than 10 minutes. The average for patients from start to finish is 30 minutes, including waiting and treatment time. The emphasis is on taking care of the immediate problem and getting the patient home as quickly as possible, Dr. Graw said.

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