Exams and checkups for newborns, or newborn care exams, will be regularly conducted, particularly during the first two years. The first exam will take place usually within 2 to 3 days after birth. Comprehensive, physical exams are critical times when discussions can take place between the nurse practitioner and the parents. The PNP will also provide information about normal growth, nutrition, sleep, safety, illnesses, and other important health care facts.
During the first couple of weeks after birth, some issues can occur. These are typically normal and the PNP can help parents deal with them. The PNP will also help parents understand what to expect with a newborn and how to look for any indications of problems or greater issues. Our PNPs will educate parents on:
- Skin Issues
- Bowel Movements
- Care of the Umbilicus
- Spitting Up/Vomiting
The Importance of Immunizations for Your Child’s Health
Immunizations, also called vaccinations or shots, are crucial when working to safeguard an infant’s health. Immunizations can stop more than a dozen dangerous, and potentially fatal, diseases from affecting children. Newborns are especially susceptible to infections. This is why it is imperative to protect them with immunizations. Immunizations can also help prevent the spread of infectious diseases and shelter infants and toddlers from dangerous medical issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a comprehensive list of preventable diseases which children should be vaccinated against. The CDC also publishes a schedule of the necessary immunizations suggested for infants. These recommendations are approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and of course the CDC. The CDC also provides a vaccination schedule which can be personalized for each child. For more information about immunizations, or general newborn care and treatment, contact the office.
Well Child Visits/Physicals
A well-child exam is performed to assess the growth, development and health of a child, which is very important during all stages of development. A complete developmental and physical exam will be a part of each visit. The goal is to assist in preventing problems from going undiagnosed and to support parents when raising their child or children. During the exam, the child’s height, weight, and head circumference will be measured. Developmental screenings, hearing and vision, may also be assessed during these exams. Well-exams are important for all children, can help identify common childhood issues, and help the child and family learn to maintain healthy habits throughout life. Our IPHC PNPs are experts in Pediatric growth and development and will work alongside families to coordinate care for anything that comes up.
During the exam, parents will receive information on:
- Childhood illnesses
- Growth and development
- Developmental expectations and guidance
- Dental health
- Physical, social, and emotional health
- Adolescent health including sexuality, risk taking/safety, relationships, avoidance of substances etc.
Before the exam, writing down a list of questions or concerns can be very helpful. The nurse practitioner will compare the child’s growth and developmental milestones with prior visits. Information collected will be saved in the child’s medical record. These metrics help to determine if the child is on schedule with development and can help to spot any areas of concern. The nurse practitioner will also likely discuss other wellness topics including family relationships and wellbeing, education, and access to community services. In addition, the practice offers special care from a nutritionist, massage therapist, and psychotherapist.
Well Visits follow the Bright Futures Schedule and usually begin shortly after birth and then:
1 mo, 2 mo, 4 mo, 6 mo, 9 mo, 12 mo, 15 mo, 18 mo, 24 mo, 30 mo, 36 months and then annually.
Sick Child Care
When your child is ill, you need care quickly. Since illness is not planned, visits are typically arranged at the last minute. When available, Integrative Pediatric Health Care can schedule a sick visit for a child on the same day to get them the care they need as soon as possible. Concerns which would fall under the sick visit category include:
- Bad cough
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infection
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Pink eye
- Minor burns, cuts, and other injuries
During a sick visit, minor but urgent medical issues can be addressed. For more severe concerns which would relate to chronic illness or preventative medicine, contact the office to arrange a routine exam ahead of time. For medical emergencies including life threatening or limb loss concerns call 911 or go to the ER immediately.
How to arrange an appointment for Sick Care
When a parent calls the office to arrange a pediatric sick visit, the staff will work to get you attention as soon as possible. The office can triage as needed to make sure you’re getting the level of care you need. Parents should also describe the symptoms the child is experiencing in detail. This will assist the staff to guide the parent in obtaining the care that is required. The nurse practitioner can recommend that the parent take the child to urgent care, arrange a same-day appointment, or can suggest that the parent schedule a visit for the child for a time later in the week.
After Hours and Weekends
The providers at the office are experienced with triage and can help with many concerns over the phone, including decisions regarding Urgent Care versus ER visits. If your child is experiencing an emergency, call 911. IPHC does provide same-day visits to help meet the needs of parents when caring for minor illness, injuries, and several other concerns.
Integrative Pediatric Health Care can assist with minor injury care for children, typically on the same day. In the case of an injury which needs prompt attention (e.g., lacerations, cuts, mild fractures, sprains, mild burns, head injuries) the office can help to take care of the injury. Parents should call the office to determine exactly what needs to be done for their child, including whether they need to be taken to the ER or an urgent care facility.
What can you expect from your child during early development regarding safety?
When children are growing and developing during their early infant to toddler stages, many new skills are being developed. Children are often curious and want to explore the world around them. Unfortunately, they don’t always realize what they can do and what they can’t. Children often believe wholeheartedly that what they think or want to happen, will happen. Consequences are often not in their mind, nor can they be since they have never experienced the event before. This often causes them to engage in dangerous situations including testing heights and climbing on unstable surfaces. Parents can help to reduce these risks by accepting that their child will be curious and active. Planning how to avoid safety hazards can be very beneficial.
What can I do to help keep my child safe?
Close supervision and guidance will be an important part of keeping your child safe. You can:
- Create and consistently implement rules and limitations to assist your child with learning about safety and risks.
- Educate them about some basic safety rules and precautions, inside and outside the house. For instance, teach your child about the car seat and how ovens and toasters are hot and to avoid touching them.
- Practice healthy habits to help protect your child against infections and injuries including frequent hand washing, keeping toys clean, making sure your child is immunized, and going to all routine visits.
- Incorporate safety measures throughout the house such as storing poisonous products out of reach and using safety covers on electrical outlets.
Behavioral Health Visits
Pediatric care providers will provide an important first step for parents who are concerned about their child’s behavior or a specific behavioral issue. According to the Office of Adolescent Health, roughly 15% of children and adolescents today have a mental health disorder or condition, many of which can be treated effectively when diagnosed. Further, undiagnosed mental health concerns in a family can have an affect on young children, long before they exhibit behavior problems.
How does the office assist parents of behavioral health issues?
The practice has access to mental health services which complement the PNPs working with the families. The most successful way to address behavioral concerns is by working together and having open communication about mental health issues. At the practice, mental health services guided by a psychotherapist are available to uncover and clarify mental health needs and have therapeutic encounters with parents and patients in need. Many families, however, feel nervous about disclosing their emotional problems. It is very important to discuss these concerns with the pediatric care provider to ensure that they are diagnosed and treated. The practice offers information about and cares for:
- Autism spectrum diagnosis
- Risky behaviors
- Sibling relationships
- Friend relationship
- Toilet training
- Dealing with grief
- Bad behaviors
- Safety and health
- Drug and substance abuse
What can I do to encourage good behavior?
Discipline is how parents teach their children to exhibit good behaviors. Good things to work toward can be:
- Praising success and good tries
- Be clear and consistent about rules and expectations
- Listen actively, letting your child finish a story before offering a solution to the problem
- Praising your child for good behavior works most of the time, but you will still need to set limits
- Understand that a time-out is sometimes needed, for either your child or even you
If you want more information about behavioral health, how it’s affecting your child, or even indications to look for in terms of behavioral habits, contact the office. You can schedule an appointment with one of the pediatric nurse practitioners for a consultation.
Asthma and Allergy Care
Asthma is a continuing medical condition which affects the lungs and presents with swelling and constriction of the air passages. Children with asthma commonly feel chest tightness, will cough or wheeze, and suffer from shortness of breath. In some cases, coughing occurs most during the early morning or late in the evening, with exercise or other triggers like smoke, allergy pollens, or laughing and crying hard. When the airways are inflamed and something is breathed in which aggravates them, the muscles in the airways constrict and swell even more, making breathing very difficult. Cells which line the airways can also start to produce a thick mucus which further narrows the airways and allows less oxygen through. When the reactions build, asthma symptoms develop or worsen and breathing can be severely problematic.
Symptoms of asthma often include:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing, a squeaky or whistling noise when breathing
Symptoms can differ from child to child and having symptoms does not necessarily mean that the child does, in fact, have asthma. Diagnosing asthma in children can be complicated, but your PNP will walk you through the process, which will vary by age. Specific elements referred to as triggers, can cause an asthma attack or “flare up.” Common triggers include:
- Physical activity
- Viral upper respiratory infections such as colds
- Medicines such as aspirin, NSAIDs, and nonselective beta-blockers
- Allergens including dust, animal dander, mold, pollens, and cockroaches
- Irritants including cigarette smoke, cleaning and fragrance sprays, chemicals, and pollution
- aSulfites in foods and beverages
How is asthma treated?
When dealing with asthma, it is important to avoid triggers which can make the condition worse and the symptoms difficult to treat effectively. In most instances, two types of medications are used to treat asthma: long-term medications and quick-relief, or rescue, inhalers. The type utilized will depend on the child’s reaction to the medicine. Inhalers are commonly used when treating asthma. Some inhalers are designed for daily use to prevent symptoms while others are designed for the sudden onset of symptoms and those which are especially severe. Most medications used are inhaled corticosteroids which relieve inflammation. Some parents have concerns about inhaled steroids and are interested in alternative treatment plans. The experienced providers at the practice can work with you to discuss the best options for your child, but remember-uncontrolled asthma is dangerous, so make an appointment today.
Care for Children with Special Health Needs
Children who have been diagnosed with an illness such as epilepsy, diabetes, or cerebral palsy would be deemed as having special needs. Special needs is a term that often applies to those who would need medicine or other “special” care as they go about day to day tasks. Kids with vision issues may need Braille to read. Speech therapy is also considered a special needs resource for those who have a hard time saying words correctly or clearly. Developmental issues or delayed learning, down syndrome, and other “invisible” illnesses such as depression or anxiety can also be considered special needs. An important thing to remember is that children with special needs are not different from children who do not have special needs. They all wish to feel loved and appreciated and express independence.
What is life like for a child with special care needs?
Life can be extremely challenging for a child with special needs. It can be harder to perform everyday activities including learning to read or, in the case of physical handicaps, getting around at school or home. Fortunately, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, therapists, and others can all assist to make things a bit easier for those with special needs. The goal is to assist these children in becoming as independent as possible.
What can the office help with?
The office can work with patients and parents to assist with:
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Developmental issues
- Habit disorders
- Delayed development
- Writing difficulties
- Math disorders and other school-related learning problems
The office also provides on-site mental health services. These important tools can help patients with special needs get the treatment they need with the help of an expert psychotherapist. For more information, schedule a consultation with one of the pediatric nurse practitioners. With the wide array of services offered at the practice, every patient is sure to get the care they need.
Telehealth also known as telemedicine, is a way for your pediatric provider to perform a visit without you physically coming into the office. IPHC conducts telehealth visits over a HIPAA compliant platform and includes video/audio chat where the PNP can assess your child. Our office also provides asynchronous communication meaning we can chat via secure email in our patient portal and look at pictures and give advice without an appointment.
Not all types of concerns are appropriate for telehealth, but many are!
Examples of concerns that are excellent for telehealth:
- Known or suspected COVID exposure
- Pink Eye
- Croup, coughs and colds
- Skin Rashes
- Consultation type visits for vaccinations, behavioral health etc.
- Prescription management
- Follow up for ER or hospital visits (in most cases)
Telehealth visits are often covered by your insurance the same as an in person visit and have many benefits including reduced travel time, limited physical contact for COVID type infections, and getting the care you need quickly.
The Nurse Practitioner or medical assistant will determine if your visit can be completed with telehealth services, and if not will direct you about next steps to get your child taken care of.
After Hour Care
IPHC is open M-F 9am-5pm but our care does not end there. One of our Nurse Practitioners is on call 24/7 to help you determine if your child needs to be seen in Urgent Care, ER, or if it can wait until the office opens. In many cases we can answer questions and give treatment ideas without a visit to the ER.