Families of Hazel Dell Pediatrics,
Hamilton County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 occurred over the weekend. The evolution from epidemic to global pandemic of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious event unlike anything ever experienced by most people alive today, and the providers at Hazel Dell Pediatrics want to share some important information.
Because this virus is new (i.e. “novel”) no human had ever been infected before it first appeared in Wuhan, China. This means no human being has any immune protection from it and everyone is susceptible to infection. Generally healthy children have seemed to experience relatively mild symptoms and recover fully after a brief illness, like many viral infections your children have likely had. Similar to seasonal influenza, there is more concern about how COVID-19 may affect children with underlying health problems who are at higher risk for complications from respiratory infections, so please be sure to inform anyone from the office with whom you speak on the phone if your child has any chronic health conditions.
COVID-19 is a virus and like most viral infections there is no effective treatment. The best that can be done is manage the symptoms of the illness until a person recovers. In brief, that means if an individual is sick, but the symptoms aren’t severe enough to require supportive measures like a ventilator or IV fluids in the hospital, then that person should most likely stay home, rest, drink fluids and use OTC fever reducers as needed until they recover on their own.
Because this is an unprecedented event in the history of our practice, starting Monday, March 16, we will be instituting some critically important temporary changes to usual office routines:
- Like most offices, we do not currently have test kits or the resources to properly and safely conduct a test for coronavirus, and those who presently qualify for a test is at the sole discretion of the Indiana State Department of Health. As a result, we will do our best to advise our families about caring for their children with fever and/or acute cough, but we currently will not be scheduling in-office appointments for these symptoms even though we ask you still call the office with questions or concerns. In the event of medical evaluation being necessary for severe symptoms, you will likely be directed to an emergency room.
- We will ask families to reschedule routine wellness exams if their child has fever or acute cough.
- We ask that only the patient with the appointment and one adult under the age of 60 without fever or cough attend the appointment. Please do not bring siblings without appointments.
- If are strongly suspicious your child has coronavirus and may require a test, the best option currently is to use IU Health’s free Virtual Visit Coronavirus screening.
IU Health Virtual Clinic offers free Coronavirus screening | IU Health
Over the coming weeks, there may be additional changes as new information and details become available which has been almost constant. We hope these steps will limit personal contact and reduce spread of infection. These temporary measures are an effort to balance meeting the medical needs of each patient with the goal of slowing the spread of this pandemic and protecting the most vulnerable in the population.
Lastly, we ask that everyone monitor and closely adhere to recommendations from federal, state and local health authorities. No doubt, there have been some deficiencies regarding the governmental response to the coronavirus on many levels, most especially the availability of diagnostic tests for the virus; however, when public health and epidemiology experts issue recommendations and warnings, it is critical to heed them. Specific recommendations that are both simple but vitally important are methods of reducing spread of infection:
- Properly wash or sanitize yours and your child’s hands frequently.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Coach your child to cough or sneeze into their elbow.
- Anyone in your household who is sick, especially with fever or cough, should stay home. Avoid contact with others until your symptoms have been resolved for 24-72hrs.
- Avoid unnecessary personal contact and practice “social distancing”. This recommendation may be particularly difficult for some families and for us as a community. The governor issued a restriction on gatherings of more than 250 people, but it is up to every individual family to recognize the importance of their own personal choices as well. Continued adult social gatherings and children engaging in play and close contact with individuals outside of their household will negate the attempts of many large institutions to limit spread of the disease. When entire countries in Europe virtually shut down, school districts across the country close, professional sports leagues cancel or delay entire seasons, and major corporations reduce staffing or require employees to work remotely, the public health threat is real. For the good of our community and the well-being of the medically at-risk, we strongly urge our families to take steps to limit personal contact including keeping children at home while school is closed.