Medical Minute: May 2020

Our challenge as pediatric health professionals, Reach Out and Read supporters and parents, is how to continue caring for one another in ways we have never imagined!  Who knew that doctors and nurses could see lots of children and families for health visits using the magic of social media?  Who knew that there were so many different ways to have a virtual meeting, coffee/cocktail hour or birthday party?  Is the virtual what we hoped for?  Probably not!  However the alternative would be to see many, many more people become ill with this new virus – COVID-19. 

The common questions that I’m getting:

1.) Why is THIS virus so much more worrisome?
People can have the virus in their body, and not have symptoms, but, they can pass the virus to people who are within 6-9 feet of them! 

2.) Why do we wear a cloth mask when we can’t stay 6-9 feet away from folks who don’t live in our household?   
Your mask and your child’s mask protect others from YOU!   The mask on your friend or others in the store, or on the streets protects you from THEM.  This is another way to decrease the number of people who get sick.

3.) Why can’t we go see the grandparents who are 70 years old?  Because older people are at higher risk of getting severe illness, and you or your child could be infected, but not yet have symptoms!   If you must visit, wear your mask!

4.) How risky is COVID-19 for my child – why were schools closed?   Children can get this infection.  The good news is that it appears to be VERY rare for a child to become critically ill or die.  The bad news is that children can be infected (have the germ in their body) and have no symptoms, or very, very mild symptoms, and pass the illness to others – that’s why governors/mayors very wisely closed schools.

Summer is coming.  We don’t know yet when libraries will open back up!  However, this might be the rare time we recommend looking at e-book possibilities for children, which are available on-line to download for free from your local library.  The data remind us that e-books are best when read together with an older sibling or adult who can scaffold (or connect) the information in the book with information in real life. So, continue physical distancing, wear masks when places are crowded, follow advice ONLY of trusted sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, your local health department, and the CDC. There is a lot of information circulating on social media that is not true, in some instances unsafe, and could put you and those you love at risk. Be safe, keep your distance, wash your hands, don’t touch your face.

A fantastic article “The Anxious Child” by Kate Julian in The Atlantic, reminds us that shielding kids from scary things can actually eventually cause them to be more fearful and more anxious.  It’s OK to talk to our kids about COVID-19, explain in simple terms what it is, and then model what we can do to prevent it. 
Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC & ROR-KC Medical Director

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