May 06, 2020
Caring for kids safely during COVID-19
Of all the things COVID-19 has changed, our commitment to the health and safety of kids hasn’t wavered. Kids will always be kids. They still run around and fall, get sick, and grow before our eyes. At Children’s Wisconsin, we remain as committed as ever to be there for you and your family every step of the way.
As we all have supported and followed social distancing, we understand that some parents and kids may be anxious about going to the doctor’s office or coming to our Emergency Department. Know that when your kid needs medical care — be it at a primary care office, our operating room or anywhere in between — that we take many steps to ensure a clean and safe environment.
Things will look a little different — from everyone wearing masks to fun reminders to keep social/physical distancing in waiting rooms. Families have found these changes comforting and they visually represent other steps we’re taking that aren’t as obvious but are every bit as important for the safety of everyone.
Your doctor and countless others across Children’s Wisconsin are here to help so you can feel confident in the decisions you are making for your child’s health. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions and to share your concerns.
Steps being taken at ALL Children’s Wisconsin locations
As one of the top pediatric health systems in the country, we have nationally recognized infection prevention experts and they continue to help guide us through our COVID-19 response. Our experience caring for the sickest kids is helping keep our staff, kids and families safe. We also are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Preventing exposure to COVID-19 for our patients, their families and our staff is our priority and many steps have been taken at each of the Children’s Wisconsin locations:
- Universal masking: Everyone you see will be wearing masks at all our locations. You and your child are encouraged to bring your own masks, but we will provide them if needed. Masks are important for your safety and the safety of the staff and doctors.
- Separating patients: We are taking steps to separate patients as much as possible, no matter their symptoms, at all our locations. This includes steps to maintain physical distancing in waiting rooms and getting kids into private exam rooms as quickly as possible.
- Gowns, gloves and eyewear: In addition to masks, you will see staff wearing other items to keep everyone safe. You and your child should be prepared to see some staff wearing face masks, eye protection or gowns.
- Just you and your child: Children’s Wisconsin has always taken steps to screen hospital visitors. Since COVID-19, we have enhanced our visiting standards at both hospitals and expanded visitor standards at all our locations. For clinic and office visits, only one caregiver and no siblings can be with the patient. If you have questions about this policy, please call your doctor’s office before your visit. It is an important way to support social distancing and keep everyone as safe as possible.
- Cleaning: We treat kids with some of the most complex health conditions and weakened immune systems, so the cleaning processes used at Children’s Wisconsin are already very thorough. That experience is being used at all our locations and we have increased the amount of cleanings being done. Our staff wipes down and cleans room between every single patient, including high-touch areas like chairs and door handles. Our facilities also get thoroughly cleaned every day by trained environmental service staff who follow criteria that have been reviewed by our Infection Prevention team and follow national and state guidelines.
- Health screens for everyone: You and your child will be screened before you arrive for an appointment and all Children’s Wisconsin employees are screened when they arrive to work. This allows us to separate patients who have COVID-19 symptoms and keep sick employees at home.
- Washing hands: You will see our staff washing their hands a lot. It is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of viruses, including COVID-19.
Here for you and your child
Parents and caregivers should never feel like they have to make health decisions alone. Experts at Children’s Wisconsin continue to be available in many ways to help families with medical questions.
- Phone calls: All our locations continue to staff their phone lines, so don’t hesitate to call to get advice and decide on next steps. If your child is having a medical emergency, call 911.
- Videos and telehealth: Children’s Online Urgent Care is available 24/7, so you always have access to a pediatric provider via video. We are also expanding telehealth options for primary and specialty care visits (as well as mental and behavioral health needs) so fewer families have to come for visits in person. Your doctor will contact you if a visit can happen over the phone or through a video. These video visits are facilitated through MyChart, so make sure you have activated your account and are ready for a future visit.
- MyChart communication: Many families have taken advantage of MyChart to send messages and requests for less urgent needs, such as questions about prescriptions. If you haven’t used this tool before, you are encouraged to activate a MyChart account and add the MyChart app on your smart phone so you are ready when you need it. It’s easy to use and free of charge.
More information about specific locations
Which locations are open for in-person visits and the amount of appointments available are expected to change often. Our goal is to increase care over time with decisions based on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), the ability to test patients and staff for COVID-19, the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and other factors.
If a Children’s Wisconsin doctor is recommending you come to an appointment in person or to have a procedure done now, it is based on the factors at that time.
Learn more about steps taken at different locations to provide clean and safe spaces for you and your child.
Within these posts, you’ll also find videos of conversations with members of the Children’s Wisconsin team and hear them answer common questions from families.
You’re not in this alone
While COVID-19 typically presents mildly in children, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. All you want is what’s best for your child. That is our goal, too.
Please do not hesitate to call your child’s doctor’s office, use MyChart messaging or call your clinic.
Additional information about steps Children’s Wisconsin has taken in response to COVID-19 to keep kids and families safe is available at childrenswi.org/coronavirus.