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Health Care

Why do kids seem to always get sick after the doctor's office closes? That's a frustration that Dr. Hood of PedsXpress understands which is why in 2014, he co-founded a different kind of pediatrics practice.

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PedsXpress is designed to complement to your child's primary care physician by providing after-hours care for ill and injured children ages newborn to 18. Their office is open Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m., and from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekends, offering you a viable care option when most pediatricians' offices are closed. They will even forward your appointment details directly to your child's doctor.

Dr.Hood answered a few questions about PedsXepress and offered his advice on Summertime ailments our kids may face.

Q Talk about PedsXpress and how it differs from a regular pediatrician's office?

PedsXpress is a pediatric urgent care, an after-hours clinic that provides medical treatment to ill or injured children seven days a week. Unlike a pediatrician's office, we don't perform routine well child exams, and parents don't need to make an appointment for their child to see us. We know parents have to work and their kids often get sick or injured when their pediatrician's office is closed, which is why we're open weekday evenings and on weekends. About 70-80 percent of what I treat in a pediatric ER we can treat at PedsXpress. There is often a long wait and higher copay for ER treatment as well, so coming to our urgent care clinic will be less expensive and significantly more convenient.

Q What inspired you to open the practice?

Aside from my own family, children are my life. Their treatment is specialized and medications are typically weight based, so they really should be cared for by a physician who had specialized training in pediatrics. Access to after-hours medical care specifically for children was simply not adequate in our community, so my partners at PrimeCare and I decided to open the first urgent care dedicated to children in Fredericksburg. Parents and families are so happy that we provide this care from 3 – 11 p.m. on weekdays and from 9am-7pm on weekends.

Q Does PedsXpress do vaccines?

We give Tetanus (Tdap) vaccines when indicated for minor injuries if a patient isn't up to date on their tetanus vaccine. Due to limited supply and availability, we also administer seasonal flu vaccines. However, we do not administer routine vaccines typically given at well child exams. Children should receive vaccines at their annual checkups, which should be performed by their primary care doctor.

Q Summer gets hot. If a child does get sunburned, what is the best way to treat it?

Those with darker skin coloring tend to be less sensitive to the sun, but everyone is at risk for sunburn and its associated disorders. Children especially need to be protected from the sun's burning rays, since most sun damage occurs in childhood. The signs of sunburn usually appear six to twelve hours after exposure, with the greatest discomfort during the first 24 hours. If your child's burn is just red, warm and painful, you can treat it yourself. Apply cool compresses to the burned areas or bathe the child in cool water. You also can give acetaminophen to help relieve the pain. (Check the package for appropriate dosage for her age and weight.) If the sunburn causes blisters, fever, chills, headache or a general feeling of illness, call your pediatrician.

Q With warmer weather come bug bites. What are a few ways to treat bug bites at home and how can we prevent them in small children?

• Check for nests in areas where children play. Nests can be found in old tree stumps, around rotting wood and in holes in the ground. Check in auto tires that are part of a playground. Look around trashcans.
• Have insect nests removed by a professional exterminator.
• Don't allow children who are allergic to insects to play outside alone when stinging insects are active. Even a dead insect can sting if a child steps on it or picks it up.
• Wear shoes. Avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot.
• Avoid wearing bright colors and floral patterns. These can attract insects. Wear white, green, tan and khaki. These colors are not as attractive to insects.
• When eating outdoors, avoid foods that attract insects. Some examples are tuna, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watermelon. Sweetened drinks, frozen sweet treats and ice cream also attract insects.
• Stay away from garbage cans and dumpsters.
• If an insect is near, do not swat at it or run. These actions can trigger an attack. Walk away slowly. If you have disturbed a nest and the insects swarm around you, curl up as tightly as you can to reduce exposed skin. Keep your face down and cover your head with your arms.
• A child who is allergic to insects should wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet.

Q What are the best ways to keep a young child from scratching poison ivy?

• Prevention is the best approach. Know what the plant looks like and teach your children to avoid it.
• If there is contact, wash all clothes and shoes in soap and water. Also, wash the area of the skin that was exposed with soap and water for at least 10 minutes after the plant or the oil has been touched.
• If the eruption is mild, apply calamine lotion three or four times a day to cut down on the itching. Avoid those preparations containing anesthetics or antihistamines, as often they can cause allergic eruptions themselves.
• Apply topical 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to decrease the inflammation.
If the rash is severe, on the face, or on extensive parts of the body, a pediatrician may need to place your child on oral steroids. These will need to be given for about six to ten days, often with the dose tapering in a specific schedule determined by your pediatrician. This treatment should be reserved for the most severe cases.

Q Summer colds are the worst! What is the best way to treat them?

Although you may be tempted to give your child over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants and antihistamines to try to ease the cold symptoms, there's little or no evidence to support that they actually work. In fact, decongestants can cause hallucinations, irritability and irregular heartbeats, particularly in infants, and shouldn't be used in kids younger than 4 years old without first consulting a doctor. And many experts now believe that there's usually no reason to use these medications in any child younger than 6.
Some ways you can help ease cold discomfort include:
• saltwater drops in the nostrils to relieve nasal congestion (you can buy these — also called saline nose drops — at any pharmacy)
• a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture
• petroleum jelly on the skin under the nose to soothe rawness
• hard candy or cough drops to relieve sore throat (for kids older than 3)
• a warm bath or heating pad to soothe aches and pains
• steam from a hot shower to help your child breathe more easily

Have questions for Dr. Hood? He will be chatting live with us during Ask The Expert, on August 13, on our Facebook Page. You can reach PedsXpress at (540) 786-1200.

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