Parenting is a job full of tough decisions, and one of the most important decisions parents make is choosing a pediatrician to care for their children. It’s a relationship built on mutual trust and a very important common interest—promoting a child’s physical, social, and emotional health. And it’s a relationship that may last decades. A child’s doctor helps to guide families through important events like caring for a new baby, potty training, entering school, and even preparing for college. A pediatrician monitors a child’s growth and development, and helps to reassure parents about mild illnesses—while always watching out for signs of a serious problem.
When choosing a pediatrician (especially in a city with as many options as Charleston), parents have a lot to consider. One of the most important questions is whether they agree with the doctor’s basic treatment philosophy. When the doctor and parents generally agree about what’s best for the child, it’s easier for parents to trust the doctor’s judgment. It’s also important for the parents to make sure that they “click” with the doctor, as a personal connection also helps to build an effective partnership.
But parents also need to know what the practice’s overall experience is like. Are the staff members friendly? Do the waiting times tend to be long, or does the office typically run on schedule? Do after-hours phone calls go to the doctor, to a staff member, or to an outside answering service? How far out is the practice booking well-child visits? Are sick visits scheduled with the child’s primary doctor, or with whichever provider happens to be on call?
These details are important, both for the parents’ satisfaction as well as the child’s health. It doesn’t help to have a competent and caring doctor that can never be reached when needed, or one that isn’t available when a child is sick. But on the other hand, a well-run practice that provides poor-quality medical care is less than ideal, too.
For thousands of years, the heart of medicine has been the doctor-patient relationship. And unfortunately, we’ve seen this start to fade in our modern healthcare system. Patients are frequently seen by multiple providers within a practice, and by urgent care or ER providers when the office is closed. And the shorter visits that are required by insurance companies make it really difficult to get to know patients as people or to address complex issues.
These problems bother me greatly, both as a parent and as a physician. It’s just not realistic to think that every visit can be crammed into a 15-minute slot. Maybe the patient is a newborn whose mother is struggling with postpartum depression, a depressed or anxious teenager, or a child with special needs that simply requires more time. People have real problems, and they need real help—often more help than can be provided in a typical office visit.
Somewhere along the way, we changed how we practice medicine to fit a broken payment model—and that always seemed backwards to me. That’s why I’ve designed a practice model that allows me to spend more time with patients and their families, to get to know them personally, and to be available whenever they need me. Threshold Pediatrics is a practice where patients can see the same doctor for every visit. It’s one where visits are scheduled for the amount of time that patients need—because parents should never feel bad for having too many questions. And it’s one where I can be available by cell phone, text message, or email whenever my patients need me.
One of the biggest differences between Threshold Pediatrics and traditional practices is the house call. It’s a service that was common 60 years ago, but has been nearly eliminated by time constraints. Home visits are a great way to get to know families, observe a child’s behavior in his home environment, and prevent germ exposures in the waiting room. House calls are available within our service area for all new-patient visits, some sick visits, and all visits for newborns under 2 months of age—because the worst thing about taking a newborn to the doctor…is taking a newborn to the doctor.
Parents will find that our office, located on Daniel Island, is different, as well. In the design, we’ve made every effort to provide a modern, clean, and peaceful setting to make children and parents feel at home. And because our patients will rarely—if ever—have to wait, we’ve transformed our waiting room into a space that we can use for educational sessions for parents and other events.
Because of the exclusive services we provide, memberships are limited. If you’d like to learn more about Threshold Pediatrics, you can check out our website and follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Parents who are interested in becoming members or have questions about our practice can contact us by email or at 843-607-6009. And whether you choose Threshold Pediatrics or another practice, we look forward to seeing you around the community and working together to make Charleston an even better place for kids.