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Doctor Knows Best....

In-house Doctor appointments with Heal

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Just as my life gets more challenging – what with two perfectly imperfect toddlers and a demanding job – more and more services keeping popping up, making parenting easier, more affordable and most importantly, more enjoyable. Most moms I know, working or not, have given up on trying to get everything done on their own because their time is too valuable and there are too many other good options. Well now, folks, there is even an affordable Doctor house-call app called Heal. I know… I was excited, too. Wealthy people have always had medical concierge services – which is basically a retainer that ensures a doctor is at their beck and call. No doctors offices or waiting rooms to deal with. Instead they just lay in their silk and feather down filled beds drinking sparkling artisanal water, watching garbage reality tv while someone is taking their temperature. Sounds lovely, right?

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Well now, you can do that too (if you live in LA, San Francisco, Orange County, Long Beach, San Diego or Silicon Valley – they are rolling into other new states this year as well and working to be nationwide soon.) Heal reached out about sponsoring a post and before I said yes, I had a lot of questions.

…I also had two sick kids. At that time (a week ago) they just had the flu, with a gnarly cough but I wanted to make sure that we weren’t approaching ‘ear infection zone’ as my kids are prone. So, I booked the appointment and today I’ll answer your/my questions about Heal and walk you through how we spent our morning with our Heal doctor.

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1. Q: How does it work? How do you get a bona-fide doctor that you trust and whom you have never met to come to your house?

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A. Well, like everything these days, it’s an app – on your phone and computer. Like Uber, but for doctors. You create an account just like you do with anything, put in some medical/personal information and ‘call for a doctor’. It’s extremely easy and they have great customer service. You can call them for anything from a checkup, to the flu, to strep throat, to physicals, to anything in between and they will bring all their tools to test your vitals and even perform blood tests.

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2. Q: Who are these doctors and why aren’t they working in a private practice? Which is my loaded way of asking are they good enough to come into my home and stick a scope in my children’s ears?

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A: These are highly vetted general practitioners, pediatricians and internists who are bummed by only spending 7-10 minutes with each patient in private practice, and who want less bureaucracy. They want more quality time with patients, enabling them to learn about lifestyle, background and build a relationship thus leading to more accurate diagnosis with less prescriptions.

This is making them love what they do again, and reminding them why they went to medical school in the first place. I can get behind that. So can Birdie. She’s over the hour wait to get told that she has another ear infection in which she can’t take antibiotics for (we started garlic drops and I think they are staving off the current ear-infection threat).

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Our doctor graduated from Harvard and received his MD from Stanford. He did his Pediatric residency at UCLA and was in private practice before he ultimately decided that he wanted to switch to this type of service because he got way more face time with patients and could give them the 45min – 1 hour visit that both he and the patient really needed and wanted.

The Heal Chief Medical Officer, Renee Dua, carefully vets each doctor who are background-checked, licensed, tech-savvy, have a great “living-room” manner and good training.

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3. Q: How quickly can they come?

A: Usually within hours, most likely on the same day or you can schedule a day that works for you in the future. They even have an ASAP service, which can have a Dr. to your door in 2 hours. So yes, you can substitute your checkups for your kids with Heal, but you can more importantly also stop going to urgent care after hours (they work from 8am to 8pm) or the emergency room on the weekends if it’s not life threatening and trying to get a day-of sick visit can be difficult.

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I really like our Pediatrician in Glendale… when she’s available, that is. She is super popular (because she is so lovely) and you have to schedule out 3 months in advance for well-baby visits and we never get her for sick visits. And unless you get an 8am slot, we have to wait close to an hour before being seen because she is always backed up (because she takes her time with all patients). We have thought about leaving so many times because of the inconvenient wait but I really like her and our kids have been with her since they were born. But now that we have this service, we will no longer do any sick visits there and instead use Heal. It was so convenient and lovely to have him over and not have to worry about leaving the house or taking them into the office.

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He took all their vitals, tested oxygen, checked them out all the ways a pediatrician would (we kept it PG for the blog). Charlie was a bit shy/skeptical at the beginning, but he came around, and Birdie (who we should call butterfly because that lady is SOCIAL) immediately was into it.

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4. Q: Can you get the same doctor every time?

A: Yes. For same day, immediate service, it’s harder but if you put it in the notes and request them and are a bit more flexible for later that day or tomorrow, then yes you can get the same doctor. Most doctors stick to a particular geographical area so they aren’t wasting time in traffic and trekking all over the place, but still if they are booked or too far away then someone else could come same day if you need them to.

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5. Q: Do they take insurance?

A: Yes, in the app they have an easy way to upload your insurance information and most insurances will cover the service (our blue cross, ppo does) – so it’s the same co-pay that you would have at your regular doctor’s office. But, if you don’t have insurance then its $99 for the appointment. That’s way cheaper than urgent care, folks.

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We loved it and the next day when Brian woke up with what he thought was strep throat I was like ‘lets just do heal! It’s so easy!’ He was unsure if they did same day strep test but I emailed and they do (which is good because Brian gets strep twice a year). They also can do same day flu test and blood tests (sent out to a lab). They bring a medical assistant who helps with all of that and logs your experience and medical history so that if you have a different doctor for the next visit they know what your history is.

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He warned us that Charlie had some infection brewing in his left ear but that Elliot’s ear was clear (yay, maybe the garlic drops?). This visit was a bit enhanced what with having our lovely friend Stephanie taking photos (the doctor had no idea we were shooting and at first he was so nervous but then he continued just doing his job and was wonderful). It was still super helpful to feel on top of their health. We cancelled our 15 month checkup with our pediatrician because she checked out so well with the Heal doctor.

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It sounds like a fantasy, right? Getting a well-educated doctor to come to your house and give you a checkup in your own living room, but it’s not. My hope is that it grows nationwide. That the rich aren’t the only ones who can have this kind of comfort and that by spending more time with patients, diseases are diagnosed more accurately, earlier, and that my kids and us won’t wait so long in a doctors office for their visits.

If life is a game of convenience and enjoyment, then we are winning harder and harder every day thanks to companies like Heal.

So what do you think? Have you tried Heal? Would you recommend it? Does this seem amazing or are you scared of concierge doctor service? We welcome all feedback …

***Photography by Stephanie Todaro 

This post is in partnership with Heal but all thoughts, designs, and words are by me. Thank you for supporting the pretty amazing brands that we love and help us to bring daily original content to you.

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  1. Talk to me about these garlic drops. My 15 month old is prone to ear infections too and has an amoxicillin allergy so she has to take the suuuuuuuper expensive non-amoxicillin antibiotics.

    1. I forget the brand (a few readers recommended a few different ones) and since its preventative its hard to tell if its ‘works’ or not, but try it because we haven’t had an infection despite her having intense cough/fever/constant runny nose for like WEEKS (she’s had 3-4 since she was born). She actually loves getting the drops and every night points to it and immediately lays down with her head on the ground, ear up, giddy with excitement (most kids aren’t as psyched though, fair warning- but she likes the tickle). Our daughters are like twins – elliot is also extremely allergic to amoxicillin. Good luck, mama!

    2. Both of my children, now teenagers, were prone to ear infections and had many, many along with many, many doses of antibiotics when they were very young. We made dietary changes, used garlic/mullein oil, you name it, we tried it. It was a very difficult time and my heart goes out to y’all who are dealing with little ones with them. Finally someone mentioned, in an off-hand way, cranial sacral therapy as being a great therapy for ear infections. (I couldn’t believe my pediatrician had not recommended this given how sick and plagued my family had been with them!) Anyway, I immediately set up an appointment and I’m happy to say that we never had to treat an ear infection with antibiotics again. We did preventative cranial sacral treatments instead.– and if one of the kids presented with symptoms, we would make an appointment with the cranial sacral doctor rather than the pediatrician. It was highly successful for us! We suffered way longer with them than we should have simply because I didn’t know. All the best to you Mama’s– it does get better as they grow…..

    3. Hi there – in case you’re interested, you can make your own garlic oil. That’s what I do. First I crush a peeled clove with the flat of my knife blade, then let it sit for a few minutes. (This crushing is supposedly what allows the healing compound present called allicin to develop.) Then I mince it. I warm a couple of T of if EVOO together with the minced garlic. I make sure it’s a comfortable temp, then use a dropper to draw up the oil only (no garlic bits), place in the sick child’s ear & have her rest for several minutes, then drain out. Btw I’ve used this method for 5 years for 3 kids with fantastic results: only 1 time did the oil not heal the infection. We have an otoscope & look for ourselves to make sure the infection clears. I hope that’s helpful info for someone.

      1. I don’t know about the healing properties (very psyched to try), but I know from cooking that allicin is the component in garlic that tastes spicy and sharp. It develops from a chemical reaction when the clove is broken up. Each time the flesh is mashed (or chopped, or minced, or sliced, or crushed), more allicin forms. That’s why whole-roasted cloves taste sweet; no mashing, no allicin. So both your crushing and your mincing are doing the good work!

    4. Also a garlic oil lover here. When illness just coming on I also chop garlic and put it in some olive or coconut oil and then spread the oil on her feet and put socks on for the night. Super good immune booster. I use the garlic/mullein that you buy when it’s for her ears. The vaporizer helps a lot too. Good luck!!

  2. It’s like a good old fashioned house call (with a modern twist!)- I love when things circle back to simpler ways. I love that docs can love their jobs again.

    Have you ever heard that fair skin/hair people tend to have smaller eustachian tubes and are more prone to ear infections? Old wives tale? Actually true? I don’t know! But I heard that a lot in my comings and goings as a long-time blonde haired ear patient.

    1. That’s really interesting- I have 4 kids, but only one fair blond. She’s had gobs of ear infections, my others have had none.

      1. WHAT???? My whole family (some of the fairest in the land) are prone to ear infections and many of my nieces/nephews have had to get tubes put in. One of them recently did a really cool experimental chiropractic thing in order for them to stop getting ear infections. I love love love this theory – somehow it takes the blame off me 🙂

        1. fascinating, right?!? Word to the wise (I’m not a doc. or an expert, just life experience speaking). I had multiple infections, ruptures and eventual tubes when I was a kid. After tubes all was well, and I was released by the ENT. My family doc never really followed-up on my ear health, nor did I know to ask about it. So, I went from age 10 to age 30-something without thinking about my ear health. Finally, a couple years ago, at age 34, I had some ear trouble (popping, pressure, pain, etc.) and went to a specialist. He found 2 problems- both were minor and not alarming, so I’m not trying to cause any panic here. One was that my eardrum was resting on my ear bone (due to being jacked up from my childhood problems) and slowly eroding the bone (a full erosion would have detached the connection and could’ve lead to deafness), and that I had a tiny hole in my ear drum (I think this is common.) Anyway – it never crossed my mind to continue being checked by a specialist. So, I’m glad I had the problems and was seen. ENT said it was all a result of my childhood ear trauma. It was a minor outpatient surgery (and I think a common one) to fix both problems, but I was somewhat annoyed with myself/my doctors for not being more concerned about my ear health in that 20 year period of no symptoms or problems. Long story short – tell all your people to continue having routine ear-health check-ups by their ENTs even after their childhood problems are fixed! 🙂

  3. Oh my! That last photo of your little girl made my heart melt. You can feel it–great shot to Stephanie:) Now I’ll be strolling down memory lane to remember my own kids at that age.

    Great content too:)

    1. OH shoot, I meant to include that in there as that was a question I had, too. Perhaps subconsiously I didn’t want to utter that subject on the blog, but yes we do vaccinate and right now they are rolling out a program that by September of next year Heal will include that option.

      1. Emily, please do use your platform to fight the faux-science that is the anti-vaccine movement. Our children’s health very much depends on it.

  4. I work in a physicians office, and two of our docs split their time doing home visits (largely for patients who cannot easily get out of the house) and love it for all the reasons you mentioned, plus the fact they feel that aren’t as constrained by the reams of office protocols about what they can and can’t do, as well as getting to set their own schedule and be their own person. I can certainly understand how being a traveling physician is coming back these days, and it sounds like this is a great service, too. Now if only it was available in Ohio!

  5. This sounds like a great service, but I’m a little suspicious that you *just happened* to get such a photogenic doctor on the day. Are you sure you didn’t just pick the most handsome one on the app…?

  6. This service looks fantastic — I appreciate your carefully vetted sponsored posts. They’re always well done. My kids are school aged, but I would have used this constantly when I had 4 little ones I didn’t want to drag to the doctor’s office just to get exposed to new nasty germs.

  7. This is totally something I would have written off as too fancy/expensive for me before reading your experience. But I get it now. And I want it : ) Here’s hoping they expand to the East coast soon.

  8. This is amazing. I hope they roll it out to cities all over the country soon. I would use it in a heartbeat.

    Two things: 1) your kids are adorable and have your beautiful coloring 2) Brian should think about getting his tonsils out if he gets strep so often. I only suggest #2 because I ended up in the ER over night once because of a serious case of tonsillitis and would hate that for anyone else.

    1. I was going to mention that too. As a child, I had strep about once a month. After my tonsils were taken out (in 5th grade), I never had it again, not once. Also I didn’t get sick at all (from anything) for at least 2 years afterward.

  9. So awesome! Thanks Emily! We live in SoCal so are covered by the service and once I heard they take insurance I was sold. I hate urgent care visits with my toddler UGH. Plus, with a husband who never wants to take the time to see a doctor this is a fantastic solution.

  10. This sounds wonderful! As a parent of two kids who have a habit of getting sick on holidays (strep on Christmas, hand foot and mouth on New Year’s Day, etc.), I have spent WAY too much time in urgent care. Come to the East Coast Heal!

  11. Best thing ever. Anything that avoids lines, saves time, and minimally disrupts life is a major sell. That would do really really really well in larger Canadian cities, I hope it comes this way!

  12. I have six kids, and five out of the six received immunizations. All of them had bad ear infections and rounds of antibiotics when they were little. My youngest has not been immunized, and has never had to see the doctor once for sickness or ear infections! He is going on 2 now. I really don’t think this is just coincidence. Not one ear infection! Now I am just regretting filling my other kids up with poison…who knows what other health conditions they will have to suffer through in the future because of my neglect. Keeping kids sicker means more money for big pharma. Makes sense for them, but why is this good for me and my kids?? I got polio (aka bacterial meningitis) when I was 2 after receiving a polio vaccine. Almost died. Again, I don’t think this was a coincidence. Polio is still around, we just don’t call it polio, so as to keep the masses (us) in the dark.

    1. No, polio and bacterial meningitis are not the same thing, my friend. Entirely separate diseases. You have the luxury of living in a world where polio has been mostly eliminated, so you have no idea of the havoc it brought.

    2. Everyone’s body is different in terms of what minor infections, etc we will contract, but I am grateful to have been given vaccines to prevent many illnesses that used to be life-threatening–and still are life-threatening in other countries without advanced medical care! Vaccines are not poison. Please do your research; independent scientific studies show that vaccines are overwhelmingly successful in keeping our population healthy. Rates of contracting polio and other diseases have vastly decreased since the introduction of vaccines! You are certainly entitled to your opinion; however, please do not try to scare others into agreeing with you.

    3. Wow, Cindy. I worry about that anecdotal theory you’ve got because I see firsthand the importance of vaccinations in keeping our community healthy. Measles and pertussis outbreaks are growing more and more common as we fail to vaccinate children against them, and the results are terrifying. Did you know that measles kills 49,000 children each year in India? Check out this recent effort to turn things around there: http://www.searo.who.int/mediacentre/features/2017/india-measles-rubella-vaccination-campaign/en/

    4. I am grateful that I was vaccinated! Vaccinations prevent diseases that used to be life-threatening–and continue to be life-threatening in countries without advanced medical care! Infection rates of serious diseases, like polio, have decreased dramatically since the introduction of vaccines. To call vaccines poison is to willfully disregard vast amounts of real, scientific research that demonstrates otherwise. While I respect your right to have your own opinion, I would ask that you please consider the facts about vaccines and the (very real and often dangerous) consequences of forgoing them.

    5. As someone who grew up in a developing country, let me tell you definitively: polio still exists. And it is NOT bacterial meningitis. Polio is a virus! Bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria (hence the name) and is treated with antibiotics (which do not work on viruses).

      I have never had an ear infection, and I am fully immunized. I have two kids (3.5yo and 7mo), both immunized. Neither have had an ear infection or any illnesses beyond the occasional cough, cold and fever. Both attend childcare full-time, so are certainly exposed to all sorts of things you can get sick from.

      Please get your facts right.

    6. Don’t confuse coincidence with science. Vaccines have been thoroughly tested (the FDA is extremely careful with approvals), and proven to improve immunity. There is so much nonsense out there about vacccines. Get your facts from the CDC or NIH or the American Academy of Pediatrics, not Facebook. Doctors would never recommend something that would make a child sicker (“first do no harm”).
      Both my kids were vaccinated and one had terrible ear infections and the other had none. We found that chiropractic adjustments helped clear fluid in my daughter’s ears and were able to control infections without tubes or many antibiotics. Vaccines IMPROVE immunity to many diseases, ear infections included. Ear infections are usually a result of small eustacian tubes that don’t allow fluid to drain fully after a cold or other upper respiratory infection.

  13. So cool! I suppose (for them), the time and cost of gas and travel is offset by not having a physical building? That’s a win-win. I like this idea for the same reason someone said above – It’s like the house calls from the olden days. That’s so convenient!

    1. Hi Liz – you are correct. Often a doctor has to see 40 patients a day to break even, and 32 of those visits go to overhead for the office. This means 7-10 min per patient, so with our model they not only create a more efficient and cost-effective doctor’s office but they also get a quality and quantity of time that they often don’t get in an office due to time restraints.

  14. Where is a good place to find industrial sewing companies? I have a big commercial project coming up and was wondering if anyone could recommend some places to look to?

  15. I hope this makes it to Chicagoland! This would be a serious life saver with my babies! BTW – whats the scoop on Garlic ear drops? My youngest had 5 back to back infections and we don’t want to get to the surgery level….

  16. I love options so this really spoke to me! Wish it was available when I had small children. HEAL sounds remarkable. What a great experience for little kiddos to have a doctor come into their homes – not to mention the great convenience for the parent(s).

    Thanks for the info.

  17. As a physician, this is upsetting. Your children deserve better care. The physical exam is an important part of any visit, and you cannot properly assess heart, lung, or abdominal organs over the internet.

    And nothing can compare with the relationship between a patient and doctor who have grown to know each other over time. It’s difficult to get to know a patient at the first visit–wouldn’t this be so much harder if you don’t even meet your doctor in person?

    1. I don’t think you read the entire post or maybe you misunderstood. An actual real life doctor comes to your house for a 45 min- 1 hour appointment. So they aren’t diagnosing you through the internet. It’s just like a real appointment, except you get to stay home.

    2. Emily, you must not have read the post. The service Emily H describes here is an in-home doctor call, with the option to request the same doctor on subsequent visits.

    3. Did you even read the post or look at the pictures? They did meet the doctor in person, at home. And she said that when her children are sick she can never get in to their regular doctor anyways – always has to see someone else in the practice. She stated they would keep going to their regular doctor for well visits, but use this service for sick times. Read the post!

  18. THIS IS GENIUS!!!!! OH I hope they come to Atlanta soon! I love that you don’t have to risk going to the Dr. office to see if you have one thing…and leave with something else! 🙂

  19. I love this–I have given up trying to see my pediatrician for a sick visit (boo to the inevitable hour long wait) and now we go to the Nurse Practitioner at our local CVS. She knows us (well!) by now and we never have to wait. I would totally use HEAL if they were in the Chicago burbs. Sidenote–how flipping cute is that last photo of your little nugget just smiling at the camera>!>!>

  20. Ha! I am 59, and my mother always fondly recalled house calls by the family doctor when she was a kiddo. She also almost died from pertussis. Science is very clear on vaccinations and I am so glad we are able to keep our families safe.

  21. Technically this is a note for Brian I guess. When I was in junior high and high school I got strep 2-3x a year (once the doctor thought I had mumps but, no, bad strep). It happened particularly when I was stressed. Anyway, so, I had an important event and I was afraid I’d get strep (again) so I had my doctor do a throat culture for strep-even though I had no symptoms-and it came back positive. So then I was given a penicillin shot & also a round of an oral antibiotic. Haven’t ever had strep since. Doctor theorized that my case was just bad enough to mean the antibiotics didn’t kill it off leaving a colony to “bloom” whenever conditions lowered my immune system. Maybe I should also say that I would usually feel “under the weather” about 3-3 1/2 weeks before I woke up one morning with strep and it was after an “under the weather” day I got the culture.

    So, hope that might help someone.

  22. Love this! We live in SF and use a concierge style pediatrician (in a traditional practice setting) and I LOVE her for basically all of these reasons (no wait times, same day appointments, long appointments with very personalized care, etc). She even does house calls for newborn visits! But this is a great option for me for weekends when her office is closed so thank you for the information. Is anyone else wondering how they are possibly making money with this model, especially if a MA comes too??!?!! But I will take it!

  23. This is wonderful news to see health care options expanding. With the recent ACA, doctors are under even more pressure to rush patients through with limited time allocated per patient. I think this type of service will really catch on quickly. In my area boutique practices are starting to pop up where you pay a few thousand per year to the physician. In turn the doctor only takes 300 patients and each patient has the doctor’s cell number. The practice accepts what the insurance pays and requires no additional amount from the patient. The motivation was the exact same as you described for the Heal doctors.

  24. This sounds heavenly. Anything to make having sick kids easier! Please come to Indianapolis Heal.

    We spend more time waiting for the doctor than seeing him. And honestly feel like we barely get a relationship going with the short visit. Not to mention that I swear my kids get sick after every well visit (why are separate sick and well waiting rooms not a thing anymore?!?).

    Thank you for the heads up about this service!

  25. Your kids are cuuuuuuute! And your house looks even better behind their adorable faces. Love the close ups of the red door, beautiful beams, etc. And HEAL sounds great! I’ll be using them for sure.

  26. Please come to Knoxville, TN!! That’s amazing, it reminds me of the Brady bunch show, when their doctors showed up at their house. I was pretty jealous of the visiting doctor and having Alice as a live in maid, cook and nanny!

  27. I love this. This is an amazing service. I no longer live in California but we visit LA as often as we can, and knowing I could use it if I or my kids got sick on vacation is so great. Thanks for making me aware of Heal 🙂

  28. Emily, I am such a fan but your sponsored content is really starting to miss the mark. I love that you talk about more than just design on your blog, but your sponsored content really should relate more to your area of expertise – design. You’re more than a mommy blogger (and that’s why we love you)! (And I have to add that the life insurance sponsorship is even more off brand than this post. I still can’t figure out how you used Haven life when it’s not available in CA)

  29. Sounds too good to be true!
    I do think if your seeing your regular pediatrician for well visits it might put them at a disadvantage having not known all time times your kid was sick that year. Sometimes they can see patterns based on what type of sicknesses your kids had. If she only sees them when they’re healthy she can be missing important info.

    1. We are some people’s full-time pediatrician as well as primary care doctor, and keep all medical records in the app. Many of our families see the same doctors and build the relationship, plus it’s in their house with often more time than a regular office.

  30. This sounds amazing! I always had a hard time having my baby transported to a pediatrician! Having a sick child in the car, in the cold and so on! Imagine that! Thank you for sharing this! Love their work!

  31. We totally need this in our house! Our kids are constantly getting sick, especially our daughter with special needs who was born with a brain malformation… it would be so nice to get care right from home instead of having to go in for every little thing and question!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  32. Oh Emily, I know this is an old post, but I must comment to thank you for writing it. I live in CT and am out in the LA/SD area visiting my husband’s family. My 18 month old got sick (for the first time!) while we were here and we had 2 Heal visits – 1 in LA and 1 in SD. The pediatricians were great (especially Dr. I in SD, what an amazing doctor). I would have been so much more stressed out had I not remebered this post. The last place I want to be is an LA emergency room with a babe that has a cold. So thank you again, and thank you Heal for providing a great service. Worth every penny.