Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
After-Hours Peace of Mind

After-Hours Peace of Mind

Service Helps Parents Determine if Child is in Need of an ER Visit


According to a National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, "Children in the Emergency Department," most emergency room visits by children are unnecessary. A full 96 percent of emergency room visits resulted in children being treated and released instead of admitted to the hospital with a true emergency.

Texas Tech Physicians—Pediatrics is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Pediatric HealthLine, a service that provides parents with after-hour phone access to medical professionals. With this service, patients can call to speak to a licensed nurse to determine if the child’s health care needs need to be addressed at an emergency room or can be handled from home.

“We have had a great response,” Marie Martinez, MSCPM, assistant director of the Pediatrics HealthLine, said. “Parents definitely are glad it’s available. The service allows for them to speak to staff immediately about their child giving parents peace of mind whether the health issue is one that needs immediate assistance or if it can wait.”

The Pediatric HealthLine is available from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and all day on weekends.
Martinez said many people do not realize a visit to the ER for every condition is not needed.

“Our nurses are able to schedule next day visits with physicians,” Martinez said. “With the Pediatric HealthLine, we are able to direct them to appropriate level of care. Plus, we can educate our patients’ parents on how to handle situations at home which can be cost effective for them as well.”

The Pediatric HealthLine, which is a part of the Texas 1115 Waiver DSRIP, has answered more than 4,000 triaged calls. Wendy Forrest, MSA, from the Office of Strategic Initiatives, said 29 percent of the calls were able to handle the care from home with only nine percent visiting the ER.

“Twenty-seven percent scheduled next-day appointments,” Forrest said. “The pediatric HealthLine is an invaluable service to our patients, and we continue to receive great response from our pediatric generalists who share in the belief that this service is a benefit to their patients.”

To access the Pediatric HealthLine, call (806) 743-7511, or visit the website for more information.