The After Hours Program is an urgent-care telephone triage service staffed by specially trained registered nurses and intake representatives at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The nurses can provide assistance to you and your child if help is required when the office staff is not available. Nurses will assist you in determining correct care for your child, whether he or she has a fever, cough or another health problem.
The After Hours Program is reached by calling your primary care physician or nurse practitioner. If the office staff is not available, you will be prompted to select an option to have your call transferred to an After Hours intake representative at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The After Hours staff is available evenings, nights, weekends and holidays when you doctor's office is closed. However, service hours vary by office. Please check with your primary care site to find out the exact hours the service is available to you.
The intake representative will answer the call and take your child's name, address and date of birth and enter this information into our computer system. It will then be available in the future if you call again. The representative will ask for a brief summary of the problem and then assign your call to a nurse, who will call you back in approximately five to 30 minutes.
Our priority is to assist the families of the sickest children as soon as possible. Therefore, families whose children have the most serious symptoms receive return calls first.
The nurse will then discuss your child's symptoms and medical history with you. This will help determine if your child needs to be seen immediately, within a short period of time, the next day in the office or if he or she can be cared for at home. If appropriate, advice will be given on how to care for your child at home.
You should call if your child is sick and you need information on how to provide care at home or help in determining if your child needs to be seen. If at any point you feel you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.
Your doctor or a primary care provider for your practice is always available to the After Hours nurses or you to answer additional questions. As necessary, the primary care provider will place calls directly to your home to further assist you.
As soon as the call is complete, After Hours will fax a copy of the documentation to your primary care provider, as well as to the emergency department if your child is referred to one. The documentation will be in your doctor's office when he or she comes in the following day.
The nurses may be able to call in some prescription medications based on the preference of your primary care provider. Patients need to be seen and evaluated before antibiotics can be ordered for an illness. In most cases, the nurse can call in renewals for medication your child receives on a regular basis if you don't have enough medication left for doses required before the office opens. Routine or nonurgent prescriptions and over-the-counter medication orders are handled by your office during business hours.
Routine appointments can only be scheduled through your primary care office during regular business hours. If the After Hours nurse determines your child needs to be seen due to illness, he or she may be able to schedule a sick appointment for you. Check with your primary care office to see if this service if available at your site.