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First do no harm to kids’ health
by Jessica Garcia
Mar 15, 2009 | 983 views | 3 3 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - Pediatrician Dr. Pratima Sachdev hugs patient Cash Kautz at her Reno office. The doctor has reduced her visitation rate for children not covered by health insurance.
Tribune/Debra Reid - Pediatrician Dr. Pratima Sachdev hugs patient Cash Kautz at her Reno office. The doctor has reduced her visitation rate for children not covered by health insurance.
Cash Kautz, 3, was a brave little boy, tolerating the stethoscope on his small chest as Dr. Pratima Sachdev praised him and gave him a general check-up.

Clearly, Sachdev, a pediatrician in Reno since 1986, loves children. Seeing several families back-to-back on Friday, she didn’t neglect to give each toddler or infant proper care, whether they needed shots or a wellness check. She gave hugs as staff gave out lollipops to their young, excellent patients.

In light of hard times, Sachdev has made some changes to her practice to help families who are adjusting to job or insurance loss or taking on a second job, or whatever the situation may be.

One of those changes is adjusting office hours from the usual 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which went into effect November 2008. The office that used to be closed on Saturdays is now open form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Through the week, Sachdev keeps her office open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and also until 6 p.m. on Fridays to accommodate working parents.

“We have lots of patients who couldn’t take time off from working to bring their child in,” Sachdev said. “So we work until 7 in the evening and we’re open Saturday mornings.”

Andrea Sullivan, mother of 3-year-old Delaney Sullivan, said even with Sachdev’s new hours, she’s always been accessible whenever she’s needed the doctor with Delaney’s food allergies.

“I can always get her on the phone,” she said, adding that she is always willing to give a referral if something doesn’t fall into her area of expertise.

Delaney’s father, who asked not to be named because of the nature of his work, said Sachdev has been the family doctor for years for his brother and sister’s children.

“It’s rare to get in on a week day,” he said. “She’s really accommodating for working parents.”

Another one of Sachdev’s changes is having applied to be deputized by the state health department so that she can treat underinsured children. In doing so, Sachdev has decreased her fees up to about 65 percent for low-income families who don’t have insurance.

It allows her to charge a flat rate of $16 for vaccinations that could cost between $30 and $100.

“Our bottom line was decreasing,” she said, explaining that fewer patients prior to becoming deputized were coming in for regular check-ups and shots.

A family has to fill out a form declaring that it does not have insurance. Sachdev and her staff then give the family a list of prices for all services. The starting price for uninsured patients is $45 and it can increase depending on the tests given.

“We trimmed some expenses,” Sachdev said. “(Our staff) didn’t take vacation time last year. These are our patients and we felt we owed it to them.”

Her office doesn’t accept Medicaid because it would defeat the purpose of trying to help the uninsured.

If a child needs medication, Sachdev recommends taking a prescription to Wal-Mart, where most prescriptions can be filled for $4.

Sachdev sees patients from birth to age 18 and often sees the teen patients who may be athletes and need physicals.

“I have always given discounts,” she said. “But early last year, when everything hit the fan in about September or October, we had to brainstorm because insurance premiums were changing. The insurers set the rates.”

In the first year of life, a baby should see a pediatrician about eight to 10 times or more if they get sick, Sachdev said. By the time they’re old enough to go to school, they should have annual check-ups under normal circumstances.

Sachdev said perhaps in the future, if the economy changes, she might be able to revert to her previous fees for her services.

“It would be gradual,” she said. “But we’ll keep the affordable rates.”

Karen Gilmore, mother of Ashlenn, 8, said she’ll keep seeing Sachdev often because of the rapport with the doctor, who treats her daughter’s asthma.

Ashlenn Gilmore said she likes Sachdev so much she would bring cookies to the pediatrician if she could.

“It feels like Grandma’s house,” she said of the comfortable environment.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Lyzel Krebs
March 17, 2009
Dr. Sachdev is not only an excellent pediatrician, but a model citizen as well!
Tammy Webb
March 17, 2009
Amazing!! I wish a pediatrician would have had those hours when my kids were small. It is nice to see someone helping to better the economy. Where everyone else is raising prices, she is dropping them.
TJ Feller
March 16, 2009
This is a great article, and Dr Sachdev is a great physician!!
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