Like many aspects of daily life, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we think about and access healthcare these days. For families, that includes pediatric care for children. We asked Stephanie Humpula-McMahon, DO, to talk about the importance of continuing to seek proper care for your child and answer some frequently asked questions regarding children’s health during this time.
Q: Can I still contact my child’s pediatrician to talk about a health issue? A. Absolutely. It is always important and okay for you to contact your child’s pediatrician about any health or wellness issues your child may be experiencing, or that you may have questions about – from minor injuries to colds and viruses and other, more serious health conditions. In fact, it’s especially important right now to stay alert to your child’s health, and call their pediatrician if you think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are exhibiting any symptoms you may be worried about.
Depending on your child’s issue and symptoms, your pediatrician may want you to come in for a visit or – if deemed appropriate – schedule you for a virtual telehealth visit.
Q: Is it okay to schedule an appointment for my child’s annual well visit? A. Yes. Well visits are an essential part of keeping your child on the road to good health. They provide the opportunity for your child’s pediatrician to conduct a comprehensive evaluation, monitor your child’s growth and developmental milestones, ensure that they are up-to-date on immunizations and answer any questions you may have about your child’s health.
Now might even be a particularly good time to schedule your child’s annual physical. Pediatrician offices are taking extra precautions to protect the health and safety of patients and their families, and your pediatrician may even have a few more openings for these types of visits than usual. Additionally, scheduling an annual physical will help your child be ready for the return of school sports and other activities that require an annual physical and immunization updates.
Q: Should my child wear a mask or cloth face covering? A: Children do not need to wear a mask or cloth face covering if they are at home and not exposed to someone with COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone two years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when out in the community. Cloth face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and should be worn in addition to other measures like social distancing, frequent hand-cleaning and other preventive measures. It is important to remember that cloth face coverings are not intended to protect the person wearing the covering. Rather, they help prevent the spread of illness to others and is especially helpful if the wearer is asymptomatic and unaware that they could be passing illness on to others.
Based on these recommendations, you may want to consider a mask or cloth face covering for your child if you are taking them into a public place where it can be difficult to maintain safe social distances, like grocery stores and other public places. Additionally, if you are visiting your child’s pediatrician, they may ask that your child be masked when they enter the office for their safety and the safety of others.
Children under two should not wear a mask due to the potential for suffocation. Those who have trouble breathing, are incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove their face covering without help are also exempted from this recommendation. If your child has special health needs and cannot wear a traditional mask or cloth face covering, you should talk to your pediatrician about other safety options.
Q: How can I help my child cope with what is happening right now? A: Our current events can be a scary and unsettling time for children, but there are some things you can do to help them, including open discussions about what may be bothering them; answering their questions with simple but honest language; helping them stay connected with friends and family through video chats; and maintaining healthy routines at home that reinforce healthy eating, physical activity, learning, and regular bedtimes.
If your child needs a pediatrician, UP Health System- Marquette can help. Call 906.449.1240, or visit www.mgh.org/pediatrics to get connected with care to help your child stay on the road to good health today and for years to come.