There’s plenty of unpredictability that comes with parenthood, but no curve ball seems to come faster than when your kid starts running a fever, hurts himself on the soccer field, wakes up with a mysterious allergic reaction, or any one of a million other ailments that may require medical attention. Dealing with a sick kid is never fun, but getting him treated quickly and properly can actually be seamless and simple at the new CityMD Paramus, a cutting-edge urgent care facility that just opened to offer patients convenient access to top-notch medical care with little wait time. We talked to David Shih, MD, CityMD’s Executive Vice President of Strategy Health & Innovation, about what CityMD offers, from acute care to follow-up to hours that work for working parents.
What is CityMD?
CityMD was founded in 2010 by a passionate group of emergency medicine physicians with a mission to serve communities by providing quality medical care through convenient access and an exceptional experience. Our commitment to treating everyone with respect and genuine kindness while offering exceptional urgent care services and a cost-effective alternative to the ER has enabled us to grow from one Manhattan practice to more than 70 locations in the greater New York Metro Area as well as in Seattle. Earlier this month, we opened a new location in Paramus on Route 17.
What are the top reasons young families visit CityMD?
They can vary by season. In the warmer months, young families often visit us for allergies, sore throats, insect bites, rashes, and sports physicals. In the colder months, we tend to treat more upper respiratory infections, colds and flu (including administering flu shots) and asthma. We see coughs, fevers, viral infections, ear infections, as well as cuts and lacerations year-round.
What services are offered by CityMD that you think moms might be unaware of?
Actually, we recently conducted a national online survey with Harris Poll and found that when presented with eight scenarios and asked to choose which facility would be the best option for immediate medical care, nearly 90 percent of Americans, ages 18 and older, including parents, incorrectly think that the ER, not urgent care centers, is the best place to go for non-life-threatening conditions. Many people don’t realize that urgent cares can provide a lot of the same services as ERs, but with much shorter wait times and lower costs. We’ve developed a new “ER or Urgent Care: Know Where to Go” educational guide to help families make better informed decisions about where to seek treatment when an urgent medical situation arises. I invite moms to look at our survey, test their knowledge, and learn more from our guide.
Our many medical services are listed on our website. Some of the ones that moms may not know about are stitches; X-rays and orthopedic casting; physicals for school or sports; and common pediatric mini-emergencies, such as croup, minor head injuries, vomiting and diarrhea, asthma and high fevers. We also provide rapid on-site lab testing for flu, strep throat, mono, UTIs and more. We diagnose and treat pink eye and nosebleeds, and even remove foreign bodies from the nose and ears. In addition, we offer gynecological services for women who need help with a female issue and prefer not to wait weeks to see their PCPs or OB/GYNs or visit a crowded ER.
How long of a wait time can patients expect?
The average wait time for CityMD patients is about eight minutes. Many patients expedite their registrations by using our convenient self-check-in kiosks.
We provide high quality medical care for all our patients within a total check-in to check-out time of approximately 45 minutes or less. At an ER, patients could experience wait times of 1 and a half hours or more.
How do you cater to working parents?
They can just walk in, no appointment is necessary. And, because our urgent care centers are in so many local neighborhoods and we’re open in the evenings and on weekends, we offer convenient access to working parents who don’t always have the time to schedule appointments and take their children (or themselves) to see a doctor during busy weekdays.
Parents can enjoy free charging stations and Wi-Fi in our modern and comfortable lobbies as well as TVs in all our rooms. They can make a bill payment, view their statements, update their information and even submit questions all through our secure online portal. Perhaps the most unique and convenient part of the CityMD patient experience is our Aftercare program.
How do you follow up with patients after a visit?
At CityMD, we believe that quality care shouldn’t stop when the patients’ visits end. And we know that patients need a guiding hand to get them through the complicated maze of healthcare. So, the doctors and clinical assistants in our centralized Aftercare Department help create a straight line through the maze and facilitate the next steps on the path back to health by assisting patients with the coordination of referrals, pre-approvals, and other follow-up appointments.
After a visit to any CityMD location, our expert team handles patient follow-up care, including relaying test results to patients and sharing them with their PCPs and other providers, answering care questions, assisting with completing forms, scheduling specialist appointments, and obtaining authorizations for medications and advanced imaging (ultrasounds, CTs, MRIs, and more) when necessary. If a specialist or additional testing is needed, they connect patients with high-quality physicians and facilities that accept their insurance and meet their other needs and preferences, such as location.
Are you partnered with any hospitals in the area? How do referrals work?
We have partnerships with several major healthcare systems in the New York Metro Area, including Hackensack University Medical Center. These partnerships help improve access to primary, specialty, and urgent care services for patients of both CityMD and the local hospitals.
Individuals who visit CityMD’s urgent care centers in the community have the option to be seamlessly connected to follow-up care, when needed, with our hospital partners’ network of high-quality providers. These hospitals often refer patients to CityMD when they need to see a doctor outside of business hours but don’t need to go to the emergency room.
It’s a supportive, complementary relationship that enables the confidential sharing of patient information and electronic medical records, and gives busy people juggling hectic schedules easier access and a stronger continuum of care. Together, our dedicated teams work hard to serve our shared patients, offering them timely care, a positive experience, and ultimately, optimized overall health and well-being.
Do kids have a good experience at CityMD? How are little patients treated?
Absolutely! From coloring books and crayons while they wait to stickers and lollipops when they leave, kids have a good experience at CityMD. Our staff always enjoy making children smile by giving them small gifts, such as fun, squeezable baseballs and footballs and cute, huggable teddy bears.
All of our physicians are board certified in either emergency medicine or family practice, both of which include pediatrics. They treat all their patients like family, and many of them are working moms and dads so they understand the needs of parents and that children are special patients. Our doctors know just how to care for them when they’re sick or injured.
Tell us about the background of the doctors and other staff you hire?
All of our facilities have board certified, ER-trained, full-time clinicians with 5 or more years of clinical experience. Key clinical support staff include X-ray technicians, medical assistants, and physician assistants. Our non-clinical staff include scribes, patient care representatives, and managers at all locations.
In-house training through the CityMD Academy ensures that our clinical staff have the ability to handle a wide spectrum of common urgent care needs. Ongoing professional certifications, training and development, both online and in-person for all medical staff, drive continuous quality improvement, along with unparalleled efficiency, precision treatment, and consistent clinical excellence.
Our unique health care delivery model never compromises quality for speed. It’s based on a patient-first philosophy and serving kindness to everyone, which all CityMD team members embrace. As a result, we receive outstanding feedback, including high patient trust and satisfaction scores from regular surveys.
Do you take insurance?
We take most commercial, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and exchange plans. A complete list is available on our website. If patients can't find their insurance on our list, they can just give their local CityMD a call and they'll provide coverage answers.
If a person doesn’t have health insurance, he or she can still visit CityMD. We offer competitive and affordable self-pay rates. The cost per visit may vary depending on the patient’s needs and our diagnosis. But on average, the self-pay cost for a visit is about $150, significantly less than a trip to the ER, which typically costs about $1,500. Once evaluated by our medical team, we let patients know what costs may be incurred and will work with them to get the right treatment so they can feel better as quickly as possible.
499 Route 17 South, Paramus