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Specialized pediatric urgent care center opens in Clay

A child-size car sits in a colorful medical exam room.
Drakos Pediatric Urgent Care founder Heather Bianchi stands in a patient care room with a bright colored mural.

Working mom Heather Drake Bianchi was out of town in Boston when her child needed after-hours medical care. It wasn't an emergency, but it was something that couldn't wait. She said she was fortunate to be in a city that had a children's urgent care facility available.

But the experience left her feeling that something similar was needed near her home in the Syracuse area. Drake Bianchi, CEO of the movie set medical support group CineMedics, said she's heard from other local parents who find themselves in this gap of needing after-hours care, but not for an issue that's considered an emergency.

“What are we supposed to do at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. When my kid is tugging at their ear and screaming, and the only place that I can go is the ER? We don't want them to go to the ER—there's really sick people, they're like, there's gotta be, there's gotta be something else," Drake Bianchi said.

That led Drake Bianchi to found the Drakos Pediatric Urgent Care in the Town of Clay.

The new pediatric urgent care center opened this week and offers specialized care for little ones who get sick or injured, helping them hopefully avoid trips to the hospital. The facility at the corner of Soule and Oswego roads will be open 7 days a week from 2 p.m. to midnight.

The facility has already done staff training days with volunteer patients pretending to be ill. But during the training, Drake Bianchi said staff discovered the fake patients were in real need of medical care.

“It turns out that they actually did have an ear infection or mono or an injury from school or something that they needed. So we came with a lot of pretend scenarios, and ended up with both pretend and real scenarios. And so every day—there wasn't anything crazy—but there were some very real things that needed attention," Drake Bianchi said.

The center will help serve many kids in the northern suburbs or Onondaga County. Drake Bianchi said the urgent care center can also help with the overwhelming demand at some pediatrician's offices.

"The other thing that I heard from parents is that they had a hard time getting into their primary care offices," she said.

The urgent care’s staff are local residents who had been taking a break from their medical careers following the pandemic.

The facility treats patients up to 21 years old. Walk-ins are welcome and virtual visits are available.

A child-size care sits in a colorful medical exam room.
John Smith / WAER News
An X-ray machine disguised as a toy car awaits pediatric patients in an exam room.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.