Direct Care Clinics 101

As a kid, you think your parents know everything. Never once did I consider when I was tagging along with my mom to run an errand, that she might not actually have any idea what she was doing. She was mom. She knew everything. Now that I’m a mom myself, I’ve learned the secret to knowing everything-you basically just wing it and pretend you know what you are doing

There are very few parental choices that I’ve made that I reflect on and think, “Yep. That was 1,000% the perfect thing to do.” 

Thankfully (and I cannot put into words how actually thankful I am),  choosing my son’s pediatrician makes that short list. Is it the only thing on that list? You’ll never know. I am faking it ’til I make it over here. Don’t sit over there and act like you have motherhood mastered. I know what it looks like under your kid’s car seat. 

Right after my son was born, we took him to your typical pediatrician’s office. He had an allergy we knew nothing about which caused him to be sick quite a bit. I would call and never speak to a real human. I would leave a message and pace the floor with my sick newborn waiting for a call back. I would hopefully get in to see a doctor at the clinic (much of the time, one who did not know us) within three days. Never once did I see a doctor for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Never once did I speak to a doctor on the phone.

I am a proud member of the group older humans have so un-lovingly labeled the millennials. (Don’t even get me started on that soapbox…) Which as an added bonus, thanks to that same unloving generation, means we pay an absurd amount of money every month for health insurance, and still pay around $100 at every doctor’s appointment until we meet our way-too-high deductible. I can’t count the number of times I stared at my tiny baby wondering if my concerns were valid and I should take him in, or if it was going to be a “waste” of $100 for someone to tell me I was a first-time mom and it wasn’t a big deal. (Looking at you, baby acne. Because you are weird looking.) 

Are you reading this shaking your head because you know exactly what I am talking about? Listen to me, mama. Let me change your life. 

Let me introduce you to a category of medical practices called direct care clinics. 

DISCLAIMER: I only have experience at the local direct care clinic in NWA. I have no experience with other clinics, and cannot speak for them nor the physicians there. Although, I assume the general mission is the same. I am also in no way being compensated for this post. 

My son has been a patient at the local direct care clinic for two years now. Allow me to try to explain the practice from a parent’s view in a nutshell. 

Basically, we pay a flat fee every single month. Your fee will depend on the clinic you use, the amount of people on your plan, as well as the age of those people. We pay $40/month for my two year old son. 

What does that include, you ask? LET ME BLOW YOUR MIND. 

-It includes every appointment you may need to make that month. On my favorite months, we pay them $40 and never see the doctor one time (AKA: my son was healthy that month). Other months, we pay them $40 and we see them ten times. (A few things are not included in that $40. To date, the only extra fee I ever had to pay was $5 for a strep test even though the doctor said he didn’t have strep but I was like HELLO YES HE DOES I OBVI KNOW BECAUSE LOOK AT THIS WEBMD LIST OF SYMPTOMS and then he for sure did not have strep because the doctors are the best and I am a hypochondriac on behalf of my child). In other words, you pay your fee every month whether you see the doctor one time, or five hundred times. If they quadrupled that fee, I would still happily pay them. They are priceless to our family. 

-It includes a cell phone number and access to a secure app for your phone. This is one of my favorite parts. They give you a cell phone number where you can call or text a doctor 24/7. Now, I REALLY love those doctors, so I try to limit my 3 AM wake-up calls to once a year. But, they answer. I have texted that number countless times, and I always get a kind, helpful reply within ten minutes or so. They will provide immediate advice, and also tell me if I need an appointment or not. 

-They make time for you. Never once have I called in with a sick kid and heard someone on the other line tell me their next available appointment was the next day. I always hear the kind voice of our favorite secretary asking if I can come in at __ o’clock. And then I get off the phone and rush around like a maniac trying to get my sick kid in the car because if we don’t leave as soon as I hang up the phone, we will be late. Not exaggerating. They have squeezed us in every single time. 

-The doctors are good humans. They have compassion. I’m a teacher. I have a passion for educating children, yet I hate the education system. In my experience, these doctors feel the same way. We have a sad excuse for healthcare in this great country. In my experience, direct care clinics are a purposeful exception.  The doctors genuinely care. They are also wise and know what they are doing as physicians. They spend more than five minutes in the room with us because they aren’t bound by regulations set by insurance. They don’t rush you. They care for your children. They show up when it matters. (Hypothetically speaking, they might come to a hospital they don’t have privileges at on the Saturday before Christmas just to check on your child. That speaks volumes of the kind of doctors you’ll find there).

-They make you feel like your family is their favorite family. No matter how many times you sent them a picture of the same bug bite because you were 100% sure it was from a brown recluse. (For sure not a brown recluse bite…) The last time we went in, the nurse put the pulse ox on my son’s toy cow and taught him how to be still and wait for it to read his pulse using his favorite toy. She also gave his favorite cow a band-aid because sadly, he is an ear amputee thanks to our dog. Let me be certain to clarify, our dog bit off the toy cow’s ear. My son has two fully functioning ears…lobes and all. I am so appreciative of anyone who takes time out of their day to make my son feel like someone special. They do so every single time. 

I cannot put into words how thankful I am that I looked into this type of practice when my son was so young. We will never go anywhere else. I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have-as I am sure I missed something. Feel free to contact me on Instagram. (@courtneycarter479)

The confidence I have in my son’s healthcare gives me confidence that maybe-just maybe-I’m doing something right with this whole “parenting” thing. 

Then again, I sometimes wonder what happens if you call poison control too much because your son tries to eat everything in sight. 
#nailpolish #prenatalvitamins #insectpoison #YESINSECTPOISON #nailpolishremover #possiblytheendofadoorstopper

Welcome to motherhood. Ya win some; ya lose some. 


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