Should You Postpone Examining Your Child During a Pandemic?

My son recently turned one year old and was due to undergo a 12 month wellness visit in connection with this event. Or … wait … was he? I thought finding the right food for my son was not easy, then the world threw a pandemic ball at me. I wondered if his visit would result in a cancellation and rescheduling due to the stay at home ban in my Indiana state and the necessary additional medical measures. But I soon learned that this was not the case.

As information and misinformation are intertwined in social media feeds all over the place, many parents, like me, are scared and unsure of what to do and what not to do when visiting doctors. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this uncertainty has resulted in a significant decline in personal visits to children since the start of the pandemic. But the AAP urges pediatricians to:

  • Whenever possible, prioritize personal newborn care, newborn check-ups, and immunizations for infants and children under 24 months of age.
  • Continue telemedicine visits to children’s health facilities, recognizing that some of the wells will need to be performed in the clinic as soon as community circumstances permit.
  • Fill in personal records if circumstances permit. These elements include, at a minimum, a complete physical examination; office testing, including laboratory testing; testing of hearing, vision and oral cavity; fluoride varnish; and vaccinations.
  • Providing acute or chronic medical care through telemedicine and performing some of the elements of a clinic visit for emergency or chronic care, as indicated and when circumstances permit.

Why face-to-face visits are important

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) President Dr. Gary Leroy says he has personally lost three-quarters of his personal contact with patients since the quarantine began – and he is concerned about that.

“From birth to 24 months is a critical moment in life,” says Leroy. “Children grow up so fast and things can change so quickly. We cannot postpone medical examinations and say, “I’ll see you in six months.”

The CDC agrees and recommends that parents continue to visit the wellness center as scheduled. Particularly for children 24 months and younger, a visit to a wellness center is critical to meeting the vaccination schedule , but there are also developmental goals that need to be monitored and evaluated.

“Wellness center visits are critical to tracking milestones, lagging behind or falling off a growth curve,” says Leroy.

And while telemedicine visits are recommended if your child has a cold or sickness, this is simply not the answer when it comes to wellness visits.

“Phone and audiovisual visits are a tool, but not a replacement, especially when it comes to children,” says Leroy. “You need to give a physical assessment. I don’t care how complex this tool is. You cannot measure a child over the phone and hope that the parent is doing it right. “

Preparing for the visit

As much as everyone wants to see life outside their four walls, visiting a pediatrician is not a chance for a family to get out of quarantine. When attending your child’s wellness center, act on the “less is more” principle, especially with regard to whoever comes with you.

“We don’t recommend taking your entire family with you,” says Leroy. “We don’t need a full room of people. Only one parent versus both parents. This helps to keep the waiting area and examination room empty. “

You do not need to wear gloves to the reception, but parents and children 2 years of age and older are advised to wear a face mask – likewise, you should expect to see masked staff when you arrive.

As always, be vigilant when you and your child wash your hands . As a sign of respect for staff, wash or disinfect your hands right before contact in the office. On arrival, don’t expect to be taken directly to the observation deck. Before you are seen, you and your child will likely be asked a series of questions related to symptoms and exposure to COVID-19, and your temperature will be taken.

While the general precautionary principles are the same, not all practices work the same way. In a spirit of safety and preparedness, it is recommended that you contact your pediatrician in advance to inquire about the rules and practices in their area.

“In some offices, you can wait in the car instead of in the office,” says Leroy. “It depends on the practice.”

If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19, Leroy recommends making an appointment with a pediatrician for a telemedicine first.

“Try your best to be aware, but don’t worry,” he says. “Practice good parenting. When your spider senses are triggered as a parent, check with your child’s pediatrician to make sure you are doing the right thing for your child. “

New “normal”

Even after states start to reopen, it is unlikely that doctors’ visits will immediately return to normal. In fact, some of what we are experiencing now may be part of our new post-pandemic “norm.”

“Given the nature of the infectious disease process caused by COVID-19, social distancing will continue indefinitely,” he says. “The masks and six feet apart will continue until the end of the pandemic is officially announced.”

And the growth in telehealth use is likely to continue in the future.

“This is the gin that we will never put back in the bottle,” says Leroy. “Telehealth has been around for decades, but there has never been a huge need to invest in it. But COVID-19 came along and this tool had to be taken out of our toolbox. We quickly got used to it out of necessity, and now it is an added convenience for parents and patients. “


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