menu +



For Clients


More Categories

Browse Posts

Baby + Family

Browse Posts


Browse Posts


find us elsewhere

Hi there! Welcome to the EDP blog, a journal about the families we serve, motherhood, and more. Stay a while and say hello!


Choosing a Pediatrician in Cleveland | Q+A with Dr. Perisa of Zest Pediatrics

For Clients

As Cleveland’s best maternity and newborn photographer, our experience is designed to make the entire portrait journey effortless and stress-free. But we’re moms too, so we know that entering motherhood can be an exciting time but can also be a time of uncertainty especially for first time mamas. Today we’re helping you choose a pediatrician in Cleveland by sharing questions and answers with Dr. Michael Perisa of Zest Pediatrics Solon, addressing the benefits of using a Direct Pediatric Care practice to help care for your new baby. Patients of a direct pediatric care practice “enjoy an unprecedented level of direct access to their pediatrician, families develop a deeper, collaborative relationship with their doctor, have time to get their medical questions answered, and have predictable and transparent medical costs without copays” (Zest Pediatrics). We hope that this article helps guide you in choosing the best provider for YOUR family, so that not only will your portrait session be stress-free, but your pregnancy and first years, too!

Dr. Michael Perisa of Zest Pediatrics Solon

About Dr. Perisa

My name is Michael Perisa and I am a loving father to now 3 beautiful children (our 3rd arrived just a few weeks ago) and a supportive husband of almost 9 years. My interest in medicine was sparked by my beloved aunt Bridget who was a physician but tragically passed away in a plane crash when I was in middle school. We spent so much quality time together when I was growing up and I felt an enormous passion to continue her life’s work and become a physician myself. I felt most at home with the pediatric population of patients and was supposed to be a pediatric cancer and blood disease doctor. It was shortly into my pediatric cancer fellowship training at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where we had the passing of another family member as well as some major health issues develop for our parents that brought me back to Northeast Ohio sooner than initially anticipated and in the roll of a general pediatrician. I’ve been practicing as a pediatrician since Feb 2021 and spent the first ~18 months of my career with a busy, hospital based pediatric office before I got so burnt out with our current healthcare system that I needed a change. That’s when I learned about Zest Pediatrics which is the first direct pediatric care network in the country. I currently work in our Zest Pediatrics of Solon office but we have offices in Westlake and Beachwood (called Greater Cleveland Pediatrics) Ohio as well as just outside of Pittsburgh, PA (Zest Pediatrics of South Hills). We are looking to continue expanding our network across the country over time to bring this revolutionary model of pediatric care to as many families as we can.

Q & A

Q. What is the number one question a new mom should ask when choosing a care provider for their new baby?

a. “How accessible are you when a need arises where I have a question or need to be seen?” Regardless of how much preparation you do prior your new bundle of joy arriving, there will inevitably be situations where you have concerns and will need to speak with your child’s pediatrician. You need to know how and when you can get in touch with them and how quickly you can expect to hear back when you do. Can you be seen same day if needed?

Q. How important is choosing the closest provider vs the one that feels like the best fit, even if it means driving a little further?

a. I honestly wouldn’t put too much weight on just distance to the office as a deciding factor (within reason obviously). Let’s say you are driving an extra 10 or 20 minutes to your pediatrician’s office compared to one that might be close to where you live. If you develop a more trusting, meaningful relationship with the pediatrician that’s at the more distant office, I pretty much guarantee you will save yourself time (and worry) over the long run. If you truly trust your child’s pediatrician, when concerns arise and you are seen, you are more likely to believe the advice and recommendations that are given so are more likely to be able to avoid unnecessary urgent care and expensive emergency room visits. This would overtime likely save you more time than what would be the extra time driving a little longer to an office that you trust.

Q. What is the best way to find a provider? (Web search, word of mouth, etc)

a. I feel the best way is to ask your friends and family which office and pediatrician they go to. If you know and trust the person giving the recommendation, you are likely to find a good fit and a stellar pediatrician as compared to just searching online. Remember too, your child’s pediatrician will be part of your family for at least 18-25 years so you are going to want to find someone you can build a trusting, mutually respectful relationship which might feel like quite a daunting task. However, you are never restricted to just that one provider if things aren’t going well, you could always change pediatricians at a later time (but it’s nice to get it right the first time to avoid the hassle of doing this later).

Q. What is something that most moms don’t think to ask regarding compatibility with their new pediatrician?

a. I think an important (although might feel somewhat awkward) question should be “how do you handle situations when your medical advice or planned treatment course might differ from your patient’s family?” Our jobs as pediatricians should be to develop the best plan of care that you feel comfortable with but if you don’t feel comfortable, you need to be sure that your concerns are heard and considered. Now sure, there are some situations where it’s rather black and white what the appropriate course of action should be. But there are also so many situations where the “watch and wait” approach to see how symptoms change could be completely reasonable. This comes back to the trusting relationship discussed earlier but this trusting relationship should go both ways where you as a family trust your child’s pediatrician but your pediatrician also trusts in you to voice your concerns and follow the treatment plan once agreed upon.

Q. When would you recommend that moms planning to become pregnant or newly pregnant begin their search for a pediatrician?

a. The sooner the better (once you find out you are pregnant)! Once speaking with some trusted family/friends who they go to and who they like, be sure to “interview” or have a meet and greet visit with any or those pediatricians that seem like they might fit for your family (most offices should offer this option so be sure to take advantage of it). Ask any and all questions you might have and feel free to schedule a follow up call/visit if want to discuss anything additional.

Q. What are the pros and cons between a larger practice with many providers, or a small practice with only 1-3 providers?

a. So many of the pros and cons are more so related to the type of practice (hospital based/affiliated, private practice, direct pediatric care practice, etc) and the volume of patients seen so might be more helpful to think about it from that standpoint. A larger traditional, hospital based/affiliated practice might provide plenty of access and availability for appointments, but you might not be seeing the same provider each time and could be rather “assigned” to a particular office (good and bad to this). These types of practice tend to be more volume based (i.e. the practice encouraged to increase the number of patients they can see in a day in order to ensure bringing in enough revenue) where you might only have 10-20 minutes for visits. The larger practices are likely to have an after hours call/nurse line if you call in after normal business hours. Smaller private practice offices, while still likely being traditional insurance based repayment models, are also concerned with the volume and number of patients they can see to ensure adequate practice revenue, but you are more likely to have the ability to see the same provider most of the time (but could depend on when you are sick and if they have any days off during the week). The smaller or private practice offices may or may not have an after hours call line but just depends on how they are setup. Contrast all of this with direct pediatric care practices where you have often as much time as you need for visits, can almost certainly see the same provider with each visit, and are able to text/call/email directly with your child’s own pediatrician 24/7.

Q. What is the biggest thing you wish expecting parents knew about choosing a pediatrician?

a. There are other options available besides just the traditional, insurance-based repayment offices (ie “normal” pediatric offices) where you have better access to your pediatrician (text/call/email directly), can have un-rushed appointments, and experience the joy of home visits.

Q. Tell us the difference between Direct Pediatric Care and a traditional care model. What are the perks? Are there any situations in which a traditional care model might be a better fit?

a. Direct pediatric care is designed for parents and it eliminates most of the frustrations parents have with today’s traditional pediatric offices. Families pay a flat, affordable, monthly fee that gives them unlimited access to their pediatrician. This allows each doctor to have only 300 total parents as opposed to the 3,000 parents that a traditional pediatrician has. Appointments are unhurried to get all your questions answered, you always see the same pediatrician, your pediatrician. Your pediatrician is available to you 24 hours a day. You can call them directly – right on their cell phone. You can text them, you can send photos – great for rashes, cuts, and pink-eye. Direct pediatric care eliminates the hassles and frustrations associated with co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, and surprise billing. They are gone, eliminated. It is truly a personal, accessible and supportive model built for families.

A situation where some might argue a traditional care model would be a better fit for families would be if a family either has Medicaid insurance or doesn’t have any additional income to afford the membership fees. However, the monthly fee is less than you would expect for direct pediatric care. It is less than a daily cup of Frappuccino. The average fee is $160 per month. More for younger kids, less for older kids. Multiple kids get a discount. Many families use their HSA, health spending account, to pay. Others pair it with a high deductible health plan that saves them money because we can avoid unnecessary and expensive urgent care or emergency room visits. Others simply know the model will pay for itself. As for those with Medicaid insurance, our Zest Pediatrics offices are now enrolled in a Medicaid program where this Medicaid plan will pay the monthly membership fee for their members!

Q. What is your favorite thing about Direct Pediatric Care?

a. My favorite part about direct pediatric care is that I am now able to be the pediatrician I always wanted to be. I have unhurried time to truly know my patients and families and will never again have to tell a family “we only have 20 minutes today for your wellness check visit so if you have any additional concerns, please pick maybe 2 or 3 to discuss but know that if we discuss anything outside of the standard wellness check, you may be billed additional for it.” It pains me to even remember a time when I felt that this was ok to say to a family but with traditional insurance-based/volume-based care, it’s all we could do to ensure we were able to see as many patients as needed to keep the lights (sometimes upwards of 35-40 patients/day during sick season). 

Thank you, Dr. Perisa, for taking the time to share your experience and expertise to help ! Wishing every mama reading a wonderful experience welcoming their little one, and that this Q+A helps you with choosing a Pediatrician in Cleveland 🤍

Erin Davison Photography offers Cleveland newborn photography for busy moms who want a stress-free and luxury portrait experience. Also offering maternity, baby, and family photography, our studio is located in the heart of Cuyahoga Falls, between Cleveland and Akron. We serve families in Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Chagrin Falls, Avon, Twinsburg, Pepper Pike, Bainbridge, Solon, Hudson, Gates Mills, Jackson Township, and all throughout the Greater Cleveland area. 

Erin offers a high-end, full service experience including a pre-session consultation, exclusive access to the carefully curated Studio Wardrobe and cozy bright and airy studio space, an online viewing gallery to share with loved ones and download your included high-resolution digital files, in-person viewing and ordering sessions, and an array of family heirlooms such as beautiful albums, prints, custom framing and more to pass down to your children. If you are searching for the perfect maternity, newborn or family portrait photographer near Cleveland and are wanting to create heirlooms for your family, we can’t wait to serve you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Your daily dose of Light + Airy.

Follow along