COVID 19 Update: Office Preparedness Plans
Dear 411 Families,
These are truly extraordinary times which call for all of us to demonstrate our strength in caring for one another. This is an evolving situation but we will give you the most up to date information and continue to reach out often.
Many of you have asked if we are worried! As pediatricians, we have great respect for infectious diseases and what they can do (which is why are so passionate about vaccinations!)
This message comes personally from me—my greatest worry is that we need to slow the spread of this virus down so that the number of people who are at the most risk (elderly, chronic health conditions) will not exceed the ability of our hospital intensive care units to care for them.
I am not overly concerned about the rest of us. For most of us who contract this illness (especially children), it will be something we can manage at home. Please relax and help your children find comfort in knowing this.
Social distancing should be taken seriously to help slow down/reduce the spread. As of March 15, the CDC advised cancelling gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.
Hopefully, this novel coronavirus will follow the patterns of its viral cousins, which have a winter/spring pattern of outbreak and this will put time on our side. To be clear, there is no indication of this yet, but we do know what other coronaviruses do.
We will modify our daily office structure to see our patients that absolutely need to be seen for well child care and for necessary face to face sick visit encounters. These changes will keep both our patients and our staff protected. We are committed to caring for your children and need to be well to be able to accomplish that!
Here are the key changes:
CONNECTING WITH OUR OFFICE
- As your child’s medical home, contact us first.
- Utilize the free patient portal as phone lines may get very busy at times.
- We can determine if your sick child needs to be seen in the office or not.
- We will begin offering telehealth appointments on March 23 for patients with possible COVID 19 (fever + dry cough, without runny nose) as well as other illnesses that may not need direct face to face encounters. More details will be sent out soon and will be up on our website later this week.
MODIFYING WELL AND SICK APPOINTMENT SCHEDULES
- We will see only well children and newborns during our morning office hours. We will see only sick visits in the afternoon office hours.
- Please keep siblings and other non-essential visitors out of the office.
- No Walk-In patients will be allowed.
- We will have a brief series of questions by phone and at check in prior to bringing patients back to exam rooms.
- Our staff will wear personal protective equipment during sick visits, so please prepare your children before your visit for our Halloween costumes ☺
- For children with asthma, we cannot offer nebulizer treatments in the office for now. It may be worth investing in a pediatric pulse oximeter so we can better monitor your child’s breathing via a telehealth visit.
- There is currently no point of care (in office rapid) test for COVID 19.
- Clinical Pathology Labs, LabCorp, and Quest will have more testing capability in the weeks to come.
- Testing capability is very limited right now and prioritized by Austin Public Health Department. Our pediatric patients are considered low priority unless they are severely ill (hospitalized) so there is little need for them to come into the office.
- Most patients can be evaluated for labored breathing/respiratory distress by phone triage or by a telehealth visit with our office which will be live very soon. We can then determine if the child needs additional evaluation or treatment in a healthcare setting.
Runny nose and sneezing is NOT typically associated with COVID 19.
If your child has a fever AND a cough, without runny nose—we will ask you not to come into the office at all and do a telehealth encounter to determine if additional healthcare evaluation is necessary.
We are in frequent communication with local, state, and national medical experts and will follow the guidelines to evaluate and care for patients as needed. We are all in this together and will get through it together!
Stay tuned for updates soon via our listserv and on our website at 411pediatrics.com.
For more information, go https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html