Urgent care for children 24/7 at Just Kidz Emergency Medical

Paediatrician Dr Sean Matthews, left, Dr Joanna Paul and Dr Paula Robertson at Just Kidz Emergency, Broome Street, St Clair - AYANNA KINSALE
Paediatrician Dr Sean Matthews, left, Dr Joanna Paul and Dr Paula Robertson at Just Kidz Emergency, Broome Street, St Clair - AYANNA KINSALE

NO parent wants their child to fall ill or become injured. But if this happens, they will want them to receive prompt care from highly-qualified medical professionals. And it is this quality of care that is being offered at the newly-opened Just Kidz Emergency Medical, which is dedicated to private paediatric urgent care.

The centre has the tagline, "Just about the kidz," which is immediately apparent just after stepping through the door of its offices at 10 Broome Street, St Clair.

At the receptionist's desk there is a festive train toy. On the right is a vibrantly-coloured reading area with an assortment of children's books. There is a trio of funky animal paintings on the left wall and to the right there are rooms with wall-sized paintings by local artists with names such as The Steelpan Suite and The Humming Bird Suite. Upstairs is a workshop area/waiting room with a collection of toys. There is also a wide corridor for children who want to run around.

Just Kidz Emergency staff: Paediatrician emergency specialist Dr Paula Robertson, left, registered nurse Jacinta Okafor, office manager Alyssa Gangadeen, Dr Joanna Paul, emergency medicine specialist, receptionist Nathanya Bernard, custodian Charleen Philip, and paediatrician Dr Sean Matthews at Just Kidz Emergency, Broome Street, St Clair - AYANNA KINSALE

During Newsday's visit the centre's three doctors welcomed us: emergency medical specialist Dr Joanne Paul, who would be recognisable to the public thanks to her participation in the now defunct Health Ministry covid19 updates; paediatric emergency specialist Dr Paula Robertson; and paediatrician Dr Sean Matthews. The three collectively have more than 50 years' medical experience, mainly in the public sector but also in the private sector.

"Sitting between those two has been interesting because patients for many years have been telling us they want an alternative to the hospital, especially in those scary hours when your paediatrician's office is closed on the weekend or a public holiday. And you are desperately trying to find somebody, and you are worried because your child is unwell," said Robertson.

She, Paul and Matthews had been having discussions "for a long time" about "marrying the expertise of the public sector with the customer service of the private." The concept eventually became Just Kidz Emergency Medical, which opened on October 31.

Paul said it was a concept that had not been done before.

"We have been all over the Caribbean and every Caribbean island has something different. Barbados, though, are the 'kings or queens' of urgent care in terms of unscheduled care. So they have tonnes of urgent care centres (but) they don't have any (for) children, they just have adults."

The Steelpan Suite at the Just Kidz Emergency, Broome Street, St Clair - AYANNA KINSALE

She explained this was because of the island's transient population, with many tourists coming and going.

"So, the tourists would come through...(they) don't want to go to the public hospital, they want to be seen really quickly and go afterwards."

She said Trinidad and Tobago does not really have that type of service, but after the covid19 pandemic a lot of these situations came up.

"So, we decided we are going to offer that same template for Trinidad with a few things. So, we are the first private paediatric emergency (clinic) in the Caribbean. Nobody else has this. Although we copied from them (in Barbados) we're doing our own thing and we're going further."

Paul said another unique element of Just Kidz is that when patients come in, they will see a senior doctor.

"So you coming in, no junior doctors, a senior right away. Twenty-four hours, 24/7."

Wait time of 20 minutes

Another unique element is that the centre sees patients from zero years up to 18,when the cutoff for children is usually 16. Matthews explained when a patient comes in he/she is registered and taken to an examination area, seen by a nurse who would take the vitals and then immediately attended to by a doctor.

"So there's no waiting time unless we have a little bit of backup. But the ideal situation is that you will be seen within 20 minutes."

A decision will then be made about the patient, which includes being sent home with medication, a lot of which is available in-house. The centre also has its own lab to do bloodwork.

"And the nice thing about our bloodwork is that it takes a minimal amount of blood. Because it is kids, and they are not fans of needles and getting blood drawn. So with less than one mil (millilitre) of blood we can actually do a full blood count, renal function, liver function tests (and) a whole bunch of other tests on top of that," Matthews explained.


He said the results would be obtained in ten minutes as opposed to waiting for hours at a lab. Just Kidz also has in-house ultrasound facilities, an electrocardiogram (used to evaluate the heart) and a minor operating theatre.

They also offer "conscious sedation," which is a "safe and controlled medical technique used to help children stay calm and still during certain medical procedures," a Just Kidz brochure explains. "It allows your child to remain conscious and responsive, but in a relaxed and comfortable state. This means they can follow simple instructions and respond to verbal cues, ensuring their safety throughout the procedure."

Matthews provided an example of whenthis technique could be used.

"If you are stitching a kid, say they have a cut over the eye, a two-year-old is not a fan of needles. If there is something near the eye they are not going to stay still."

He said with conscious sedation they would not need to call out an anaesthetist or book an operating room.

"The great thing about conscious sedation is it's less traumatic because the child doesn't actually remember it."

He said in-house they can see a wide range of conditions, from a simple cough or cold or rash to broken arms and legs. Robertson said for life-threatening situations, however, the patient would want to head to an emergency room, though the centre can assist with stabilising them.

Four-point solution shop

Paul also noted another unique element is the observation services, where patients are observed for a few hours via "observation pods," one of the four points of their "four-point solution shop for paediatric care" which includes follow-up clinics, urgent care and outreach services.

"If you have gastro (-enteritis) (for example) you can't just say, 'Go home.' You have to watch them for a few hours and make sure they're okay."

She said in the pods there is a smart TV, recliner for the parent and bed for the child where they can be kept overnight. There are also custodians who can provide coffee or tea.

"So while you are here as a parent you are still being taken care of.

"This is not us just adding stuff on; this is real. We decided we want to have a facility that is international, with high-quality care. And we're all specialists."

The workshop area at the Just Kidz Emergency, Broome Street, St Clair - AYANNA KINSALE

They also offer discreet VIP rooms for patients who require such facilities, such as the children of ministerial or diplomatic parents.

At the follow-up clinics, they will be provide a heart specialist and a blood specialist, teen clinics, ENT (ear, nose and throat), paediatric surgery, orthopaedics and dermatology.

Paul stressed they do not want anyone to leave their child's paediatrician.

"We're separate from (them). You see your paediatrician outside. And for your time when you're sick you come by us, we see you, we send you back to your paediatrician. If you want specialist care to do a clinic, you come here and then we send you back to your paediatrician.

"So there's no competition there. We are in this space where there has been a vacancy, a deficiency, and we are making sure you get options."

On outreach services, Robertson said the centre is about patient empowerment and parent empowerment and giving back to the community. The week before Christmas was the last for the toy donation drive, which is linked with the charitable organisations Barter for Babies and Living Water Community.

"So we have had families come in and donate gently-used toys and baby clothes so we can give back to families in need."

She also pointed out the upstairs space will be used for workshops and ongoing training including basic life support to address issues like choking, near-drowning or seizures.

Paul said the centre is providing services based on requests from parents. Just Kidz is also interested in building a community of parents via its Facebook group, blog and planned e-newsletter. It has also posted several testimonials on its website at https://justkidzmed.com.

"My son felt very comfortable, and the staff was warm and friendly. The atmosphere was inviting and an overall great experience," JA-T wrote.

"Visited at night with an emergency. The place was wonderfully clean and well secured. Lovely play area to make the kids feel welcomed. The staff were also very kind with kids," E.M-b wrote.

"The clinic is beautiful. I had to go in the night, and I felt safe. Your team was very calm, and the atmosphere was peaceful. We got great care and we left feeling reassured and zero anxiety. I won't say I can't wait to go again but I'll say if there is an emergency, I feel relieved to know that Just Kidz Emergency is there," L.L wrote.

Robertson said parents expressed their pleasure at receiving a follow-up call to check how things were. They also appreciated they did not need an appointment and had access on weekends.

Asked about the cost, Paul said it was similar to that of a basic paediatrician.

"The whole point is that you get the VIP experience with the lower cost."

Robertson said that although was the basic consultation fee, but costs would vary based on services required. She recalled some patients enjoyed their stay so much and are so comfortable they want to stay and play.

"That is the best compliment of all."


"Urgent care for children 24/7 at Just Kidz Emergency Medical"

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