Well, we’ve all been reading and listening to the news about the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Unfortunately the situation is still quite fluid as this really is a new virus and we are learning more on a nearly daily basis. I know families have many questions about what to expect. Frankly, so do we, but we will do our very best to work through this situation together.
The AAP and CDC have put together some excellent resources, so I encourage everyone to have a look. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.aspx
Most of all: Don’t Panic! From all indications, this will be an illness something like the flu and 80% of cases are expected to be mild. So far children have been affected less than older age groups, which is very reassuring to pediatricians and parents alike. And we are encouraging families to emphasize the same kind of hygiene practices that are commonly recommended to limit exposure to flu virus.
- Clean your hands often, with warm soapy water for 20 seconds or hand sanitizer
- Cough into your elbow
- Avoid shaking hands when possible. Bump elbows instead!
- Limit contact with sick people, and stay home if you yourself are sick
- Be prepared to have daily routines disrupted by school closures, daycare closures, and the possibility of being told to self-isolate for 2 weeks if necessary.
However, we are all expecting this virus to spread and it may become widespread locally at some point. As far as we know, it is not here yet, but no one should be surprised as new cases hit the news. At the office, we want everyone to know we are taking this seriously and taking steps to limit the exposure of patients while they are here. Starting immediately, we will be screening all patients according to their recent travel history. The CDC is recommending that patients with high risk of COVID exposure stay at home, or be evaluated if necessary in a setting where proper isolation precautions can be performed. We will not be bringing these patients into the office knowingly and we will be screening according to CDC guidelines. Please alert us if you have recently travelled to countries on the CDC watch list. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
Be aware: there is no current capability to test for COVID-19 in a private office. This testing is primarily being done through the health department and is quite limited at this time. Larger facilities like Yale are hoping to bring more testing online soon, but it is unlikely we will see Point of Care testing, like we now do for flu, in our office anytime soon.
Additionally, we will be taking increased precautions to limit exposure in the office to respiratory diseases. It is very important that families feel comfortable bringing their children for routine care and continue receiving recommended vaccinations. As of next week, we will begin restricting patients with fever or respiratory symptoms to afternoon appointments, while we try, as much as possible, to do routine care for young children in the mornings. If a sick child is scheduled for a routine visit, we may look to reschedule. We know this will present inconveniences at times, but we are hopeful that families will understand why we think this is necessary under present circumstances. We will return to normal scheduling as soon as that seems appropriate.
Routine advice for the management of fever in children, as well as dosing guidelines of acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be found here: http://wallingfordpediatrics.com/patients/advice/
We are also instituting a number of other measures within the office. You may notice that toys for young children have been eliminated from the waiting area (feel free to bring your own if needed), an increased emphasis on medical hygiene and changes to our environmental decontamination routines. For the moment, Dr. Jennings is not even wearing his signature crazy ties!
We will continue to follow COVID-19 closely and make further adjustments to the practice routines as indicated. As always, the care and safety of all our patients is our top priority.