Pediatric Urgent Care & Emergency Rooms

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Reviews  


Urgent Care Clinics

August 2009

Last night my 5 year old daughter got an ear infection at 7pm, which was unfortunately 2 hours after her doctor's office had closed. Luckily, I found a number for Night Owl Pediatrics, we got their 7:45 appointment, and were done with the appointment by 8:20! She even got a popsicle and a toy after the visit. They saved me a night of waiting at the ER cause there was NO way we were going to have any rest with my daughter's ear hurting as much as it was. It was worth the 25 minute drive into Pleasant Hill to see them. I was so thankful for them! I told them I'd spread the word. Aimee

Best ER for kids?

March 2006

After having an awful experience at the Oakland Kaiser ER, we are looking for a better ER (i.e., kid-friendly, adequate staffing, clean). We currently have Kaiser insurance, but will be able to change plans soon if necessary. Would like to hear about any good/bad experiences at other Kaiser ERs or other local hospital ERs (Alta Bates, Children's Hospital, etc.) mom of 2 active boys

We've taken our sons to Children's Hospital Oakland whenever needed. Always a good experience. One of our sons was recently admitted, when the Drs weren't 100% sure what the cause of his symptoms were. With pediatrics, they know not to throw caution to the wind. Children's Hospital of course has pediatric specialists, and are equipped and experienced to handle typical pediatrics emergencies. Don't judge the care by the waiting room. The facilities and staff are outstanding. My son truly didn't want to leave after one day, as children are treated so well.

We use Richmond Kaiser and have always been treated quickly and well, for me, my husband and my kids. Richmond Kaiser is smaller and usually less crowded than Oakland. Although it's been a few years since we've been to the emergency room I never felt it was dirty. I''ve heard horror stories about waiting 8 hours to be seen in Oakland. Never my experience in Richmond. anon

I felt we received good emergency care at the Richmond Kaiser for our one year old daughter. We were seen right away and the waiting room was not unpleasant. We have also been very happy with their pediatrics department. We have heard good things about Children's Hospital but our one experience there was so-so. anon

Funny you should inquire about pediatric ERs-- I just had a very lousy experience at Alta Bates with my 4 year old vomiting son last week. I am a pediatrician (altho I have not practiced since moving to Bay Area a couple years ago), so I have a fairly informed perspective on this. I went to Alta Bates bcs it was close by and I knew all my son needed was some intravenous fluids as he was getting dehydrated. It took over an hour to be triaged (this may not sound that bad, but dehydration in children can be life-threatening; no one even looked at him except a kind security guard who brought over an emesis basin and blanket when he continued to throw up while waiting); then the triage nurse told me rather defensively that he was not THAT sick, despite multiple signs of dehydration (pulse 50% elevated, dry mouth, extreme thirst, complaints of dizziness, no urination for hours), so we sat and waited another 4 hours before seeing a doctor. In a pediatric ER they might have offered pedialyte to try while you're waiting, but here it was a struggle to get a glass of water. Then they were unable to get a blood pressure on him bcs of not having appropriate sized cuff or some malfunction with machinery. The nurse's aide went off to get a manual BP machine but never returned. The doctor was nice enough, but clearly not that experienced with kids, and seemed ready to send us home altho readily agreed to give him some IV fluids when I suggested it. The nurse who put it in was very kind and actually did a great job both technically and talking my son thru the insertion, altho she had to ask another nurse for help with the details of the tubing (''We don't get that many kids here'', she told me). After the fluid went in, which was the only reason we were there as far as I was concerned, we had to wait over another hour to be discharged; we finally got home at 5:30 am. The discharge instructions were preprinted, and they made no sense-- on the SAME page, the instructions advised NOT to give your dehydrated child sports drinks or popsicles in one section; further down in the Diet section, it recommended ''clear liquids'' for 2 days, offering those same two items as examples of what you SHOULD give. (most recent recommendation is actually to give your child rehydration fluids plus a more or less normal diet as he can tolerate; there is NO reason to starve your poor child if he or she feels like eating).. I think most ERs these days suffer from insufficient staffing and overcrowding, largely as a result of our ridiculous, dysfunctional, fragmented so-called health care system. It is very clear that the money is going to profits (CEOs and shareholders), not to providing quality care. Still, I think a childrens' hospital ER would probably be better bcs there are likely to be more potential advocates for your child to help you negotiate system and who understand kids' unique needs. P.

Unfortunately, my child has been to the ER at ChildrenC-s Hospital far more than I can count-for minor and life- threatening issues and each time I think to myself how lucky I feel to live so close to such a phenomenal place. Sometimes the ER waits have been long, other times she was seen immediately. I have never felt like she was being ignored or was in danger when we have had to wait. Every doctor and nurse has been extremely patient and caring and they have all worked very well with my daughterC-s outside pediatrician when necessary. She has been admitted to the hospital a couple times and had to stay several days. Again, her care was always fantastic and the staff made sure I felt as comfortable as I could. The team of doctors and specialists has been really great and I never questioned her care. Aside from an occasional surly security guard, I canC-t think of anything even remotely negative about my childC-s 15+ experiences here. In fact, there is a fund raising group of C,Grateful ParentsC. that are so happy with the care their kids received that they work hard at giving back however they can. I think that says a lot. Grateful Mom

Hello- First, I must say that I work for John Muir Health. But first and foremost I am the mom of an active 2.5 year old son who has visited more ER's than I care to remember. He comes first. Period. That said, we had a horrible experience at Sutter Solano in Vallejo last month. I would actually drive to avoid them if possible.

In the last year, my most enjoyable (odd, I know) experience has been at John Muir in Walnut Creek. I was a new employee, careful to not wear my ID badge, and everyone was very nice. They have ''ED North'' where kids with peas in their noses, strains and in our case, a head laceration, go for quick care, so they are not waiting around for hours and hours. We were in/out in under two hours, which is pretty impressive to the 8.5 we spent at Sutter Solano for a deep finger laceration.

Remember though...that John Muir is the regional trauma center, so you may get a wait if a serious accident or helicopter comes in. But you also get access to all the medical know-how too. mom to a clutsy little guy

We experienced both Alta Bates and Childrens' Hospital with my son (croup and broken arm) With no doubt Children's Hospital was the best. At Alta Bates we waited about 3 hours and that's not a child friendly ER - or adult friendly, really. Lot's of homeless people, drug addicts. Not dangerous, but very uncomfortable. At Children's Hospital it's all about children. Nicer waiting room, attentive and responsive care - they have bottles, sippy cups, etc.... Whatever insurance I get, I make sure my kids' doctor is affiliated with Children's Hospital.

We had a good experience recently with my 3 year old at the Children's Hospital ER. It was very clean and cheerful, and the staff were very attentive, caring, and knowledgeable. It wasn't an easy experience, but they helped in every way they could. Mom of other active kids

we've been to Childrens ER twice for very different problems. once a cut that needed stitches and once for an asthma exacerbation - both with kids under one year old they're great children's hospital fan

I'm so sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience with Kaiser's ER. I'm afraid that most ER's are that way today as a result of the state of our health care. The burden has shifted to the ER, to pick up the tremendous overflow of those uninsured or with little to no access to healthcare. With that being said, I have had adequate results at Childrens in Oakland and John Muir (although that sounds too far for you). I have not been to Alta Bates ER. Children's Oakland has top docs but the wait can be excruciating depending on how busy they are.

I have learned over the years that when it comes to health care, particularly ER's, you should be kind and courteous to the check in people. But you also have to really let them know that your medical situation is most serious. Be kind, but aggressive. It's like you are jockeying for position and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Sorry to sound so calice but that is the reality of health care today, regardless of where you go. ER mom

We've tried Alta Bates (the worst) Children's (the best because that's what they are there for, with usually the longest wait), and John Muir in Walnut Creek. As an alternative for non-life- threating but serious medical issues that just cannot wait the weekend or overnight, I strongly encourage you to make the trip to Night Owl Pediatrics, 425 Gregory Lane, in Pleasant Hill. Tel. (925) 288-3600. They take most insurance, it's only 15 mins through the tunnel, and is staffed by Pediatric ER physicians. They are amazing, and I cannot speak highly enough of them. We have taken both kids (3 y.o. and 16 m.o.) there several times. The youngest had been coughing for several weeks and I had been told by my regular pediatrican that it was just a ''lingering'' cough that would go away eventually. At Night Owl they immediately saw cause for concern and did a chest x-ray right there and found serious pneumonnia, which my regular pediatrician had been overlooking for a couple of weeks. I did change my peds doc right away after that, by the way! They have excellent staff and facilities, open M-F 5 pm - 11 pm, Sat & Sun 1-11 pm. Here is their website: A No-ER, No-Ambulance Mama Anymore!

Why are you choosing your health care based on the Emergency Room? No emergency room is going to be a really fun experience, especially in any kind of city environment. Did you know that you can get same day urgent care appointments at Kaiser? Do you like your pediatrician? You should not have to use the ER except in a situation where you really are not going to care how ''kid-friendly'' it is. I have never had to bring my child to Kaiser Oakland ER but have been there several times for myself or my husband, and while the waiting room is not exactly the lobby of the Ritz, the care has been appropriately prompt and the medical care area has been appropriately clean. I am interested to hear if anyone has been to Kaiser and another ER and found them very different. Learn to use your Kaiser

Emergency Room at Children's Hospital

July 2002

I had an undesirable experience with my almost 3yr old son this weekend at Children's Hospital, Urgent Care. Can anyone recommend A hospital in the east Bay with good Pediatric care in the Emergency Room and or Urgent Care Clinic? Maybe someone had a positive experience at Children's? Any feed back you can give is much appreciated! Marn

I have also had bad experiences at CHO the three times that I have gone, including excessive waits (9 hours) in the emergency room (with a child who was later admitted), processes set up for the convenience of the hospital personell, not for the patients and incorrect billing on *every single occasion*. I urge all parents who have had such an experience to write to the CEO of CHO, Tony Papp. The address is:
Tony Papp CEO, Children's Hospital Oakland 747 52nd Street Oakland, CA 94609

I did this after a very bad experience, and got a letter back both from him and the medical director of the ER who agreed that my daughter's case had been mishandled, and that they were trying to put into place some changes that might mitigate such an experience.

The problem is, that there are no options for other emergency rooms in the East Bay for children. Most pediatric practices in the East Bay refer to Children's, and all ER's in the near area will transfer the child to Children's. I have been told, though I have not experienced it myself, that Children's is excellent if your child is very sick, or if you have a disease that is unusual or interesting.

I investigated other options, and if you truly wish to avoid it you can become a Kaiser member, and use their urgent care clinic, or drive out to John Muir. Your insurance won't, in all likelihood, pay for John Muir. Myriam

You should consider switching to Kaiser if you are that unhappy with Children's Hospital. As far as I know, most non-Kaiser pediatricians in the East Bay will tell you to use Children's for emergencies. So you are not going to have much of a choice. Anyway, Children's is where all the pediatric specialists are, so if you take your child to some other emergency room, they will probably transfer you to Children's. I have had good experience with both Children's and Kaiser emergency rooms. But if you are really unhappy with Children's then I think your best alternative is to sign up with Kaiser in your next open season for health insurance. Ginger

I've been to the Children's Emergency Room at least four times, at least twice for fevers and twice for cuts. I've been very happy with the medical staff (including the triage nurse) each time. They were professional, friendly, and seemed to be working hard at finding the best solution for my son's problems and making sure they weren't overlooking anything. I've had long waits on each visit, even after getting into an examination room, but I assume that's true of emergency rooms everywhere. I did not believe I was treated unfairly, in comparison to the needs of the other patients who were waiting. The waiting room is not very comfortable or child-friendly, however. I've also found the Children's Advice Line to be very helpful and I've usually gotten very prompt responses. I plan to stick with Children's. Anonymous

We too had to use the Children's Hospital emergency room a couple of months ago. I have to say that the care we received was more than excellent and caring. I'm not sure if they went overboard on testing but I appreciated that they were thorough. However, everything else was pretty unpleasant. We had a three hour wait in the middle of the night in the waiting room, which felt pretty dirty, on hard plastic chairs, obnoxious cartoons blaring loudly in the background and a girl with a bad croupy cough, old enough to be able to cover her mouth, but not doing so. Neither her mother nor any hospital staff intervened in this problem. They were also so crowded that once we were seen we had to stay in a gurney in the hallway for about 3 to 4 hours because there were no rooms available in the ER for us. I know that the hospital can't control how many people come in at any one time and they have to triage the most serious cases first. I'm really okay with that and I would go back there in a heartbeat should the need arise, but it would be nice if they could make their facility more comfortable and accomodating to families with very young children. Hannah