The coronavirus is scary for all of us. Pediatric offices across the Valley are doing their best to keep everyone safe and provide good care to our patients even at this time.
In our office, we are taking multiple extra safety steps to protect ourselves and our patients. We screen ourselves to make sure we are not sick. We measure our temperatures twice a day. We use masks and goggles all day, and if we suspect a patient has the coronavirus, we put on N95 masks, face shields and gowns. We set aside a special designated room for that patient.
All patients come in separate entrances marked “sick” and “well” to keep sick patients from infecting healthy ones. Patients can wait in their cars and get called in via text so they don’t have to sit in a waiting room. The whole office is cleaned frequently. We also offer telemedicine consultations via phone or computer.
Even when a child seems perfectly healthy, it’s important to come in for regular doctor visits. It’s understandable that parents would put off appointments during this unusual time, but that can create its own consequences, particularly for infants and young children, who need to come in for scheduled well checks and get immunized on time.
Well checks are designed to screen for growth and development. At these visits we can detect signs of major illnesses — such as congenital heart disease or, very rarely, cancer. Kids with congenital abnormalities need close followup, as do premature babies. We look for signs of failure to thrive or developmental disabilities like autism — and intervene early.
And immunizations are key, particularly right now, when vaccination rates throughout the population are down significantly. Immunizations protect our kids from meningitis, severe blood infection, vomiting and diarrhea viruses, influenza and other illnesses.
Older kids also need to come in for regular visits, but a short delay in scheduling those is not as serious as it would be for babies and young children.
A pediatrician’s office is a resource for patients and their parents. We address lots of questions about healthy developmental milestones, new parents’ anxieties and, especially now, Covid-related topics. Preventive medicine is critical, particularly during a public-health crisis. We pediatricians can serve your family safely, helping keep your children healthy even during a pandemic.
This article was written by Dr. Michael Arbel, a board-certified pediatrician for 30 years. He practices at Southwest Pediatrics in Phoenix and is a member of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which partners with Raising Arizona Kids to provide monthly health columns.