Physicians Explain Why It’s Safe to Take Kids to Their Wellness Checks During the Pandemic

Stanford Children’s Health resumes care delayed by COVID-19

With the country reopening, many Stanford Children’s Health patients and families are wondering what to expect at their primary care and hospital visits. Dennis Lund, MD, chief medical officer and professor of surgery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, and Grace Lee, MD, associate chief medical officer for practice innovation and a pediatric infectious diseases physician, discuss in a recent Stanford Children’s Health podcast the latest safety protocols that the hospital and its clinics have in place, and why it’s important for parents to continue with their kids’ essential care now more than ever. 

Hear from our chief medical officer and associate chief medical officer in the full podcast:

 

“We’ve really focused heavily on making sure that we have everything we need to keep patients and health care workers safe, and we want them to feel comfortable, knowing that it’s safe to come to the hospital,” said Lund.

Safety measures

Stanford Children’s Health is following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with local and state health agency practices, to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Testing has been a key measure, according to Lee: “We test all admitted patients, all patients before a procedure, any laboring moms, patients who have COVID-associated symptoms, or patients with known COVID exposure.”

To date, nearly 13,500 employees across Stanford Medicine, including 5,000 patients at Stanford Children’s Health, have been tested, and among those staff and providers tested, only 0.3 percent of asymptomatic people have been positive for COVID-19. The data shows that the measures taken to slow the spread of the virus have been highly effective.

In addition to providing access to COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antibody (serology) testing for Stanford Children’s Health patients and employees, the organization has implemented extensive protective measures, including:

  • Monitoring and managing the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply to ensure that appropriate PPE is available to deliver care safely.
  • Providing extra handwashing stations and increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.
  • Continuing to require masks within the facilities and providing them to visitors if they do not have one.
  • Keeping the existing visitor restrictions policy in place to limit the number of people in the hospital and clinics and to protect our patients and staff.
  • Isolating COVID-19 patients in designated areas from other patients and families to minimize the spread of the virus.
  • Posting reminders about social distancing and how to prevent the spread of infection.

Surgeries and clinical visits

With these measures firmly in place, Stanford Children’s Health has fully resumed nonemergency (elective) surgeries and postponed procedures, as well as in-person clinic visits. Families are encouraged to reach out to their doctor’s office via MyChart or by phone regarding appointments or scheduled procedures.

In addition to ensuring that patients have access to critical procedures that have been delayed or deferred, Lee encourages patients and families to access all essential services and not to delay routine care. 

“We want to make sure that our kids have access to all critical and essential care services, such as keeping children up to date on their vaccines; managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and congenital heart disease; and providing necessary care for children with cancer, organ transplants, or other immune compromised patients. We’re seeing across the U.S. that millions of children are being under-vaccinated during a time when we want to ensure that we’re preventing COVID illness as well as routine childhood illnesses.”

The same safety concerns apply to expectant mothers and the need for guiding them through the labor and delivery process. “We have a really wonderful obstetric service, and we’re continuing to ensure that the moms who deliver here at Stanford Children’s Health are cared for in the highest-quality manner, as well as in the safest way possible,” added Lee.

Telehealth

Many clinic visits and consultations are still being conducted via telehealth, both for virtual COVID-19 evaluations and to support non-COVID-19–related health care remotely to minimize patient and family exposure and support social distancing.

Physicians are also alternating telehealth visits with in-person visits. “A doctor may see one patient in the office and then do two telehealth visits so that the waiting rooms can stay empty,” Lund explained.

In the hospital, digital tablets are being used for communication with care teams outside of the patient rooms. If the patient is in isolation, those same tablets are used to communicate with family members and to ensure that care teams can be present on rounds, even if they cannot always be there physically with the child.

Lee emphasized that parents can be assured that when their child requires routine, urgent, or specialty care, Stanford Children’s Health is well prepared and a safe place to come.

“We are here to provide care to our patients, and we are a safe environment. We are here to maintain and improve the welfare of the children and the families in our communities.”

To learn more about how Stanford Children’s Health remains ready to provide high-quality care to our patient families, please check out the full podcast.

Listen to the full podcast:

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