Success in low-acuity care

Press Release

Texas Children’s Urgent Care sees steady growth

In 2016, Texas Children’s opened its sixth urgent care clinic as part of its ongoing effort to expand access to quality pediatric care and to enable patients and families to receive after-hours pediatric primary health care.

Five of the clinics are in stand-alone facilities throughout the Houston area, and one is located inside Texas Children’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center near the Emergency Center. All of the clinics are staffed by board certified pediatricians, and all urgent care pediatricians diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments, illnesses and conditions, including asthma, strep throat, fever, minor burns, flu, ear infections and allergic reactions.

“Health care is a 24/7 business,” said Dr. Katherine Leaming-Van Zandt, medical director of the Emergency Center at Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. “We never close our doors, and similar to that, illnesses and injuries happen 24/7 too. So, for parents, it’s really important that they be able to seek medical care at any time of the day or night for their child.”


Oftentimes, families turn to an emergency center after hours on weekends or perhaps even during the day when a significant event occurs with their child. Though the emergency center is the right place for some incidents or ailments, most times minor illnesses can and should be treated at a pediatrician’s office or a pediatric urgent care facility.

Texas Children’s Urgent Care was launched in 2014 with the opening of two urgent care clinics. Another two clinics opened in 2015, and two more opened in 2016.

“We’ve seen tremendous success in getting pediatric patients where they need to be to receive the proper treatment for their illness or injury,” said Melissa Fischer, director of community business development. “As a result, we’ve seen a significant drop in low-acuity cases at our emergency centers.”

In 2016, the percentage of low-acuity cases at the Texas Children’s Hospital Emergency Center fell to 26 percent from 52 percent in 2014 when the health system’s urgent care initiative began. That same number dropped from 69 percent in 2014 to 50 percent in 2016 at the Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus Emergency Center.

At the same time, the number of visits to Texas Children’s Urgent Care clinics increased in 2016 to a total of 96,000. More than half of those patients said they would have gone to another urgent care or the emergency center had Texas Children’s Urgent Care not been available.

“About 85 percent of patients who used to go to the emergency center regularly and then subsequently visited our urgent care sites no longer return to the ER,” said Dr. Terry Yen, medical director for Texas Children’s Urgent Care. “That’s pretty good evidence that we’re serving our low-acuity population more effectively and increasing access overall.”

For more information about Texas Children’s Urgent Care, click here.