Using humor to make patients feel more at ease, cast technician Ovi Gibson prepares Rory Zaisser for his cast, while mom Alice Smythe (left) and Amanda Burns, PNP, look on.
Mere moments after 8-year-old Rory Zaisser injured his wrist playing at his neighborhood playground, his mother Alice Smythe rushed him to his pediatrician to get a closer look. "Rory’s pediatrician looked at his x-rays, felt that Rory should be seen at the hospital and immediately referred us to Boston Children's Hospital’s Urgent Care Clinic in Orthopedics," Smythe said.
The following day, with a physician referral and x-rays in hand, Rory was seen by an orthopedic nurse practitioner and attending physician. Their diagnosis: wrist fracture. Within hours, Rory was fitted for an arm cast, discharged and was scheduled for a follow-up appointment in three weeks.
Every week, dozens of patients just like Rory are seen in Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center’s Urgent Care Clinic – a daily clinic dedicated to seeing children with injuries and musculoskeletal problems that are not serious enough for the Emergency Department (ED), yet require prompt evaluation and care.
Some of the more common conditions include fractures, sprains, limb pain and unexplained limp. As long as the patient’s nerves are intact and working appropriately, and their pain is well controlled on oral pain management, the Urgent Care Clinic staff can treat virtually any type of fracture. "Unlike the ED, the urgent care clinic is not a walk-in clinic and patients are required to have a referral from their primary care physician to be seen," explains Amanda Burns, PNP, who primarily sees urgent care patients.
Urgent care patients are initially evaluated by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Working closely with an attending physician, the team reviews x-rays, determines the diagnosis and develops the appropriate treatment plan.
Patients who visit the clinic are often in pain and the overall experience can be daunting. So, in order to help comfort families, the Orthopedic Center offers concierge service, plays movies in the waiting room, while handing out colorful stickers and fun toys to children. “He was very funny and he let me choose a color for my cast,” said Rory, referring to Ovi Gibson,who lets children choose their favorite color for their cast.
“Even the smallest fractures can affect the entire family,” says Burns. “We try to alleviate their fears by showing them the patients’ x-rays and explaining how fractures heal. What sets us apart is that we’re Boston Children’s Hospital. Our staff all love working with kids and parents so we go above and beyond to make them feel as comfortable as possible.”
One of the most significant advantages of being seen at the Orthopedic Urgent Care Clinic is convenience. Patients who require urgent care can often be seen on the same day of their injury or during the same week, depending the severity of the problem. The other advantage is cost. Insurance co-pays for urgent care visits are much lower than ED visits, making urgent care visits more affordable, which can be helpful to families during these difficult economic times.
“The Emergency Department is a place that deals with severe injuries, however, it often gets bogged down by non-emergency situations. You’ll probably get an answer to your problem at lot faster here,” says Michael Glotzbecker, MD. “But, if a patient does have a life-threatening injury or if there is severe pain, which cannot be controlled by medicine, the ED is the appropriate place to go.”
To be seen in the Orthopedic Urgent Care Clinic, patients must obtain a referral from their primary care physician. To make an appointment, please call 617-355-6021. Select option #2.
Same day appointments are available.