Local pediatrician launches private practice
As the song “The Greatest Love of All” goes, “the children are our future,” and Mammoth and Bishop pediatrician Dr. Maria King wants to help families makes sure they’re healthy as they head into that future.
King, who just opened her private practice, Day & Night Pediatrics, said that her goal of being a pediatrician became clear early on in medical school. “I was a new mom with a one-year-old daughter at the time,” she recalled.
After several years on staff at Mammoth Hospital, she saw a need for a private practice focusing on children and their families. “The economy’s bad, but at the same time, I think the community is ready for something like this,” she observed. “And it’s actually a pretty good time to start a new business. There are lots of loans and write offs you can take, so I decided to go for it.”
King’s practice is, arguably, the first private pediatric office in Mammoth.
Geographically, the closest other private practice is Bishop Pediatrics.
King left the hospital at the end of June, but started the business process earlier that month. It takes a long time, getting licenses, certifications … insurance takes the most time. (MediCal, for example, allots 120 days from the time it receives an application.) King is, however, still part of the hospital’s medical staff, and retains her admitting privileges.
King also had to hire a small staff, and had to consider what she indicated were at least 30 applications from some really strong candidates. Ultimately chosen were Tiffany Janisse, whom King said had considerable doctors’ office managerial experience, and Silvia Prieto, who has independent business experience and is also planning on going for Certified Nursing Assistant status.
One thing she and her staff have in common is parenthood. King has a 14-year-old daughter, Janisse has a daughter, 15, and Prieto has a girl, 5.
“It’s subtle, working with kids and parents, but we make them feel comfortable,” Janisse said. “I really like working with kids,” Prieto said. “Here I’m not the doctor, but I can still be involved.” If kids are nervous, King said she’s figured out how to focus on the parents until the child sees that everything’s okay. “It takes more time with children,” King points out. “They have a whole family dynamic, and come with parents and grandparents. It’s amazing how many people you can fit into an exam room!”
Her practice is also using some very cutting edge tools, from electronic billing to parental online access of a child’s records. King also is part of the e-Prescribe network, which lets her send prescriptions to hundreds of pharmacies across the country.
“We also take the same insurance as the hospital, and just about every other type,” Janisse said. “If we don’t have it, chances are we’re looking into it.”
One thing that’s simple, however, is her approach to her profession. “It takes a village. I really believe that. “I relate to parents as two people: a physician and a parent, but I make sure that both are clearly delineated. As parents and community members, though, it takes all of us to help kids be all they can be.”
The staff is also involved in activities involving children. Prieto has First 5 advocacy experience, and bilingual relations with the Latino community. “Visiting doctors can be uncomfortable and parents can be intimidated, but I can help those families understand what’s happening and put them at ease.” Prieto also translates King’s newspaper column (which can be found in The Sheet) for the El Sol newspaper.
Janisse said she specializes in patient advocacy issues. “My goal is to take the mystery out of billing and how to understand insurance coverage and policies, which we all know can be very confusing,” she explained.
“Every kid makes us happy,” King enthused. “We get to see their personalities and get a look into their souls. They come in sick, but when you see them getting better, it’s so rewarding!”
To better accommodate her clients, the clinic will be available for noon hour appointments. It will also open in the evenings on Thursday through Saturday and by appointment Sunday. “Kids get sick a lot on weekends,” Janisse observed. “And a lot of visitors’ children develop symptoms after they arrive, which is typically on Thursday or Friday,” King added.
Dr. King also keeps office hours in Bishop at the Family Health Center. Call 760.872.4311 to set an appointment. Spanish-speaking families can set an appointment in Mammoth on her Español line, 760.709.0235. Her temporary office is on the 2nd floor of the Sierra Center Mall, 452 Old Mammoth Rd., Suite 210. Call 760.934.0003.