What every Scottsdale Mom should know before visiting a Pediatric Emergency Room


*If you are in the middle of a true emergency, stop reading now and call 9-1-1

Pediatric Emergency Room

There’s nothing like getting a phone call from your child’s school saying there’s been an accident, and that you need to take them to the emergency room for evaluation.  You immediately drop whatever you are doing and rush your precious bundle to the hospital.

But do you know WHERE to go, or WHAT to bring? 

Having had the (dis)pleasure of visiting the pediatric emergency room three times with my small children over the last few years, I realize how important it is to have a plan instead of waiting until something goes wrong.  Below is a list of what to bring, what to know, and a guide to the Valley’s pediatric emergency rooms.

(***Disclaimer: I have visited Scottsdale Shea for each emergency and have not been at any of the other ERs in this review; the information below is based on research and conversations with parents and hospital staff.) 


Here is a list of (easy-to-grab) things to bring to the emergency room with your child:

  • Distractions:  Books, tablet computer, cell phone, or any other The Flu (with logo)electronic device for entertainment.
  • Documents: Insurance card, your ID.
  • Sustenance: Snacks and water (though these are not to be consumed until the patient has been seen by a doctor).
  • A list (even in your head) of current medications and allergies, and your pediatrician’s information.

Here is what to know about the emergency room process:

  • You will check in at the front desk and give a brief story of what happened and fill out a form with your child’s information.
  • You will provide your insurance card and ID, and they will put hospital ID bracelets on both you AND your child.
  • Your child’s stats will be taken in triage, including temperature, weight, and whatever else may be applicable.
  • While there may be TVs in the waiting room, you will want to be armed with books and crayons and electronic devices you can use to distract them with.
  • No snacks or drinks are allowed for a patient before seeing a doctor.
  • Once you are admitted, you will be taken care of quickly – but be prepared for a longer-than-expected wait when it comes to registration paperwork, for follow-ups, or your discharge paperwork.  Bring snacks, water, and distractions for this time too.


Scottsdale Healthcare, at Scottsdale-Shea

  • Location: The only pediatric ER in the Northeast Valley, located at Scottsdale Shea.
  • Hours: Open noon – midnight.
  • Waiting Room: Pediatric ER check-in is shared with the main ER, but the separate waiting area in the back allows for more child-friendly atmosphere. A dedicated family and child check-in area is currently under construction and will open in Fall 2014.
  • Pediatric ER has 10 beds, separated by walls.
  • ER wait times updated every three minutes on http://www.fastertimes.org/
  • Child Life specialists support children and families during their visit by providing an environment that is non-threatening and calming to children and informative and assuring to their parents.
  • Specialists: Pediatric-certified orthopedic surgeons on call, as are pediatric specialists in most fields (including gynecology, GI, pain management, plastic surgery, podiatry, pulmonology, toxicology, urology, wound care).  No specific pediatric radiologists; general radiologists provide adult and child services.  Neurosurgery patients are transferred to Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH).
  • Website

Arizona Children’s Center at Maricopa Medical Center

  • Location: By the 202 and 51, just north of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
  • Hours: Open 24/7.
  • The ONLY Level 1 Trauma Center for both adults AND children admitting entire family in event of accident, instead of splitting children away from parents.
  • One of the only world class burn centers in the Valley.
  • Committed to limiting the wait time to no more than 30 minutes to see a doctor.
  • Waiting Room:  Separate (across the hallway from adult ER) and kid friendly.  They like to keep families together, so if child doesn’t have injuries that warranted admission, the hospital can do a social admission until arrangements are made for child care while the parents are treated.
  • Child Life specialist available.
  • Specialists:  Most pediatric specialties covered. Radiologists read images for whole family, and are pediatric-trained (not specialist). No transplants handled here; patients would most likely be transferred to PCH.
  • Website

Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH)

  • Location: Off the 51 at Thomas Road, in the East Building.
  • Hours: Open 24/7.
  • 56 beds in an exclusively pediatric emergency department of exclusively child-oriented hospital, so the environment is suited for and experienced in calming families and children in stressful situations.
  • Four trauma rooms at a Level One Trauma Center.
  • Specialists:  Available in pretty much every field, as this is the prime children’s hospital in the Valley. 
  • Website

Cardon Children’s Medical Center

  • Location: On Dobson Rd. in Mesa.  The entrance is on the northeast corner of the campus (shared with Banner Desert Medical Center).
  • Hours: Open 24/7.
  • Waiting Room: Divided from main ER waiting room, with a warm atmosphere – staff aims to not have children waiting in ER for more than a short period.
  • Child Life specialist available.
  • Specialists: More than 30 pediatric specialties covered.  Pediatric radiology specialists available 24/7.  Also offers “ouchless” shots and kid-safe x-rays.
  • All information linked to Banner Health system so if admission is required after ER visit, there will be seamless information transfer.
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) available.
  • Website

Banner Thunderbird

  • Location: In Glendale, inside the main ER, south of Thunderbird Road on 55th Ave.
  • Hours: Open 24/7.
  • Waiting Room: Same check-in as adults; pediatric quick-look nurse available 24/7 and sends children to separate ER waiting room.
  • Pediatric ER has 15 beds.
  • Child Life specialist available.
  • Specialists: Pediatric radiologist available.  Covers most major pediatric specialties through referrals to the Banner Specialist Group critical care team.  For neurosurgery, patients transferred usually to Cardon or PCH.
  • PICU available. 
  • Website

Mendy’s Place Children’s Emergency Center at John C Lincoln

  • Location: North-West Valley, located west of I-17 and south of the 101.
  • Hours: Open 24/7.
  • Waiting Room: Separate, cheerful mural-painted waiting room for children and their families.
  • 12 beds in the child area.
  • Child Life specialist available.
  • Specialists: Limited.  Some pediatric-certified radiologists available, pediatric GI on call.  When needed, they refer to Banner Thunderbird for their PICU; the recent affiliation with Scottsdale-Shea may create an increase in referrals.
  • Website

May you be blessed with healthy, injury-free children and never have use for this post!


  1. Just a bit of extra info on Scottsdale Shea Pediatric ER: they close at 10pm now, not midnight. Don’t go after about 9:30 unless you are okay with the potential for getting care that is not pediatric-based. They will still accept children – they have the same stuff/equipment/PICU upstairs. But, the nurses are not “pediatric” nurses and that can make a difference. Our baby was there in the middle of the night and while they were very nice, brought toys, in, etc. they couldn’t get an IV in. The next night we very reluctantly went back, but earlier, and the nurse they brought in was a “Peeds” nurse. She got the IV in within about 2 minutes. Even the nurses at our pediatrician had trouble drawing blood the day before – I guess her veins roll around or something that makes it more difficult than normal. The difference between the two types of nurses was night and day, as was the way she was treated in general. The Dr. the night before sent us home saying “just a virus” and when I asked when a fever is high enough to seek medical attention, he said 107! The Dr. the next night admitted her, and 105 was not okay – not at all – and that’s what she was running near the night before. So, yeah, I wasn’t very happy with the non-peeds ER staff, but the PICU and peeds staff is wonderful!

  2. Let me echo the disclaimer about what to do in a true emergency, but with that being said, if it’s not an actual emergency just something you want looked at right away, go to urgent care, that’s what it’s there for. And you’ll get a bill that’s closer to a regular doctor’s office than the ER.


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