Answers to your common questions

How we've adapted our care

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Children's Wisconsin has implemented changes to some of the ways our patients and families typically access our medical care and resources in the community. But rest assured, we are here for you. We continue to provide safe and timely access to care through in-person, online and video visits — and our emergency room is always available for more serious illnesses and injuries.

On this web page, we've organized answers to commonly asked questions as follows:


ACCESSING CARE FROM CHILDREN’S WISCONSIN

What if I have an immediate need for care?

Our emergency department continues to be open 24/7 for emergency needs. While some of our urgent care locations are closed until further notice, most locations remain open with regular hours. As always, video visits from Children’s Online Urgent Care are available 24/7. Learn more about our walk-in urgent care locations and hours.

How can I contact my child’s doctor?

In addition to calling your doctor’s office directly, you can message your child’s doctor directly via MyChart. If you have not yet signed up for MyChart, you can read more about it and sign up. There is no cost associated with this service. 
 

Are video visits available?

Your child can access urgent care and get COVID-19 symptoms evaluated through a video visit from Children’s Online Urgent Care. We've also expanded functionality within MyChart to provide some of our doctors with the flexibility to conduct some scheduled appointments via live video.
 

What are your urgent care hours and locations?

While some of our urgent care locations are closed until further notice, most locations remain open with regular hours. As always, video visits from Children's Online Urgent Care are available 24/7. Learn more about our walk-in urgent care locations and hours.
 

What is the status of my child’s appointment, surgery and procedure?

Call your doctor or clinic if you have questions about the status of your child’s scheduled appointment, surgery or procedure.

 

What visitor restrictions do you have in place?

In our Milwaukee and Fox Valley hospital patient care units, visitor lists are limited to two adult parents/caregivers only. These two names must remain the same for the entire stay. These two individuals are allowed to be at the bedside (for overnight and extended stays only) at the same time. Allowing them both to be here at the same time promotes the family-centered care we are committed to and provides additional support at the bedside, particularly for long hospital stays. We are still able to maintain low numbers of visitors with this policy, which helps reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Exceptions will be made for some situations that could include end-of-life and caregiver teaching and educational sessions.

In our emergency department: Two adult visitors can accompany any child that is brought to our emergency department.

Surgical services at the Milwaukee campus and at our Surgicenter: Any patient having surgery at the Milwaukee hospital or Surgicenter will be allowed two have two adult visitors (and no siblings) accompany them.

In all of our urgent, primary, and specialty care clinics, and in our imaging department: Only one caregiver (and no siblings) will be allowed to accompany a child to an appointment. This will help us reduce the number of people coming into our facilities.

How is Children’s screening their staff?

As COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community, we continue to look for ways to protect our employees, providers, patients and families. We have implemented a number of steps that will help reduce the spread of this illness – both within our care settings, and in our homes and community. Our goal is to protect our teams at work and go home clean. All hospital and primary, urgent and specialty care staff and providers will be asked to confirm daily that they have self-screened for symptoms of illness and taken their temperatures. 
 

Is the Skywalk Pharmacy still open?

Yes, all Skywalk Pharmacy locations (Milwaukee, New Berlin and West Allis) are open to the public and continue to offer FREE home delivery of medications.

Skywalk Pharmacy's Milwaukee location's

  • current hours are 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
  • curbside pickup service continues to be available. Patients families using the this service should drive into the North parking structure and pull into one of the two marked stalls on the second floor next to the skywalk entrance. Then they should call the pharmacy at (414) 266-1893 for a team member to deliver the prescription(s) to the car.

New Berlin location hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

West Allis location hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

Do we have to wear a mask when visiting a Children’s Wisconsin location?

Yes, the CDC now recommends everyone wear a cloth face covering when social distancing is hard to maintain. Children’s encourages all patient families and visitors to bring masks whenever visiting one of our locations. The masks should be worn the entire time you are in the hospital — put it on before entering the building and take it off after leaving. If you do not have a mask, we will provide you with one. Our supply of masks is limited — Children’s may not be able to replace lost or misplaced masks, so please keep track of the one provided to you.

 

Has Children’s Wisconsin treated any hospitalized patients with COVID-19?

Management and treatment of infectious disease is something that Children’s Wisconsin does every day. We are in frequent consultation with the CDC and our own internal experts, as well as local and state health departments. Our priorities include the health of the children in our care, the safety of our frontline care teams, and preventing the spread of disease in our community. Positive test results will be shared with local and state health departments, while also respecting the privacy of the patient and their family.

In preparation and response to COVID-19, Children's Wisconsin implemented various precautionary measures. We also implemented new practices to conserve PPE, and called on the community for additional donations.

Children’s Wisconsin reminds the community that the symptoms of COVID-19 in children are usually mild but that children with underlying health issues remain at higher risk. We encourage families to follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands regularly and avoid contact between children and elderly adults, including relatives. Anyone over 2 years of age should wear a mask when they leave their home. Children can be carriers for COVID-19 without showing symptoms. If you have questions about your child’s health, please contact your child’s pediatrician or contact Children’s Online Urgent Care.


ABOUT COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus is not new—there are many types of coronaviruses that commonly cause mild illnesses in humans. However, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new version that we haven’t seen before, and it’s highly contagious and spreading rapidly throughout the world. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Others can get sick when they inhale those droplets or touch their mouth, nose or eyes after touching a surface where those droplets have landed.

You can learn more about COVID-19 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

People develop symptoms 2 to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19.

Most people will get better within a few weeks, but those with a severe case of the disease may take a month or more to recover.

 

How does COVID-19 affect babies, children and teens?

Thankfully, according to the CDC, children seem to have milder forms of the illness. COVID-19 symptoms in kids range from infection without symptoms to mild upper respiratory symptoms with runny nose and cough, and rarely pneumonia requiring hospitalization.

In general, babies can be at a higher risk for respiratory infections. According to the very limited data available about COVID-19, current literature suggests this illness has been mild for babies.
 

How does COVID-19 affect children who are immunocompromised or have other chronic illnesses?

Children with certain underlying health conditions may be at higher risk to contract COVID-19. Contact your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Examples of conditions include:

  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Neurologic conditions (including muscle disorders)
  • Immunodeficiency conditions
  • Organ transplant
  • Cancer treatment
  • Treatment with medications that lower the immune system

If your child has any of the above conditions, below are general recommendations:

Medications

Do not stop using any long-term medications. Keeping chronic conditions under control is one of the best strategies to avoid more severe infection. It will also help prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital, where your child may be more likely to come in contact with a sick individual. We recommend making sure you have at least a two-week supply of your child’s medications on hand.

School

Closure decisions are made by local school districts with the help of local public health departments assessing community risk of COVID-19.

Travel

The CDC has recommended high-risk patients avoid non-essential air travel and cruise ships. Areas of the United States and other countries experiencing high numbers of people with COVID-19 or active community spread of the virus should be avoided. If the area where you live has active community spread, avoid crowded places.

Everyday precautions:

  • Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth or eyes as much as possible.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • If you provide care for your child that involves contact with the head and neck, wash hands thoroughly before providing care.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.

Preparations

If there is more active spread of the virus in your community, the outbreak could last for a long time. Public health measures may be put in place to reduce likelihood of person-person contact, such as school closures and cancellation of events with large crowds.

Staying home may be the safest option to avoid exposure, so ensure you have sufficient stock of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, medical supplies, household items and groceries.

Illness

 If your child has symptoms of a cold but it is not an emergency, you can either use Children's Online Urgent Care video visits or call your child’s pediatrician. Remember that influenza and other respiratory viruses that are not COVID-19 are still making children ill and are the most common causes of fever and respiratory symptoms. An online visit or call with your doctor can help identify the cause of your child’s symptoms. 

Most patients with COVID-19 are not sick enough to require hospitalization or an emergency department visit and can be managed at home. It is best to keep your child away from the hospital unless there is a medical emergency.

Families with children with a central line should continue to follow normal guidelines for management of fever.

What is the current COVID-19 situation in the United States?

This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation. The CDC will provide updated information and guidance as it becomes available. 

Who is most at-risk of getting COVID-19?

Adults over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions have shown more serious symptoms.

How can I protect myself, children and other loved ones from COVID-19?

This is an important question. While children have the same risk of contracting COVID-19, data shows they will often experience milder symptoms than adults. That can make children unknowing spreaders of the virus.

Children’s Wisconsin encourage families to follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands regularly and avoid contact between children and elderly adults, including relatives. Anyone over 2 years of age should wear a mask when they leave their home.

  • Families should still limit when they leave the house. When not in their home, people should practice social distancing of at least six feet and wearing face masks, including for kids 2 years and older.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
    • Wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
    • Remind children to do this after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Get the flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.

How do you get infected with COVID-19?

According to the CDC, it is believed that the virus likely spreads through droplets produced when a person coughs or sneezes. Current data indicates that some people infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus before having symptoms.

If I’m pregnant and get infected with COVID-19, will my baby be affected?

At this time, very little is known about COVID-19 and its effect on pregnant women and infants.

TESTING AND TREATMENT

What should I do if I’m concerned my child may have been exposed to COVID-19?

If your child has COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath), confirmed exposure or both, please stay at home and call your child's doctor for guidance. Your child can also get COVID-19 symptoms evaluated through a video visit from Children's Online Urgent Care. Please note Children's Online Urgent Care only offers screening for COVID-19 symptoms and is not able to order a COVID-19 test.

Please do not come to a Children's Wisconsin location without calling first.

For most kids, the symptoms of COVID-19 are mild and your child's doctor will likely recommend they stay home, limit their contact with others (especially at-risk populations such as the sick or elderly) and treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medication.

You only should go to the emergency department if you are experiencing a medical emergency or are directed to go there by a medical provider. If you need immediate medical attention, please call ahead so the medical providers can take precautions to help prevent the spread of disease. This will help limit the spread of the virus in our community, as well as allow our emergency departments to care for patients with the most critical needs first.

Is there a cure for COVID-19?

Currently, no treatment or vaccines are available for COVID-19. That means that if you or your child tests positive for the coronavirus, you should focus on alleviating the symptoms with over-the-counter medications and staying at home to decrease exposure to others.

Researchers are currently conducting clinical trials to learn more about how to treat COVID-19. Several research groups are also actively working on the development of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but this is many months away. 

Should my child be tested for COVID-19?

Nationwide access to testing supplies is limited. Children’s is only able to test patients who meet CDC guidelines. For more information about testing for COVID-19, please visit our testing page.

HOW TO HELP

Can I donate personal protective equipment (PPE), including homemade masks?

Children’s Wisconsin is accepting donations of new and unused personal protective equipment (PPE), including homemade masks. Visit our PPE donation page to learn more, including how to make homemade masks.

Is it safe to donate blood and plasma?

Yes, it is safe to donate blood and plasma if you are not experiencing any symptoms and meet all other eligibility criteria. Learn more about donating blood at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin.
 

IMPACT ON EVERYDAY LIFE

Is it safe to travel?

Families should limit the amount they travel and leave the house. Limiting contact will continue to slow the spread of the virus in the community.
 

Should I have an additional supply of prescribed medication on hand?

It is advisable that families have a 2 to 4 week supply of essential medicines, prescriptions and food on hand. Please call your primary care doctor if you have more questions about medication for your child or family. 
 

Should I wear a mask in public?

On April 3, the CDC updated its mask recommendation for the public. The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC also adds that the cloth face coverings should not be surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.
 

Is it safe to send my child to school or daycare?

Wisconsin public and private schools remain closed. For additional information, please refer to the CDC's existing guidelines for schools and childcare centers. Parents can help by encouraging kids to practice good hand hygiene and keeping them home when they’re sick.
 

How should I talk to my child about COVID-19?

Chances are, your child has heard about COVID-19 — whether it’s at school or by overhearing news coverage or grown-up conversations. Fortunately, most parents have all the skills necessary to help kids deal with questions and calm their fears. The CDC has tips for talking to children that may help.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Ask questions. No matter the age, start by asking the child what they already know or have heard. Then ask what questions they have. 
  • Keep it simple. In general, it is best to share basic information only and skip the graphic or unnecessary information. 
  • Avoid overexposure. Try to keep younger children away from repeated graphic images and stories on television and social media. Often, the same stories are shared numerous times on different broadcasts or sites, and while we can understand that it’s the same story told again, children can easily misinterpret these stories as separate and as happening more often than they actually are.
  • Watch what they watch. With older children, try to make sure you are watching these news stories with them so you hear the information they are hearing and can observe their reaction. This way, you can discuss it with them in real time, which can be more impactful.
  • Normalize their feelings. You can help your child process their feelings by letting them know that what they’re feeling is normal. For example, “It is normal to feel sad and worried, or maybe even a little mad that this has happened. I feel that way, too.”
  • Wrap up with the good. Like Mr. Rogers always said, “Look for the helpers.” Let children know that there are people in our community helping — firefighters and EMTs, doctors and nurses, police and government officials who are working hard to keep people safe, and families, friends and caregivers who are taking care of their loved ones.
  • Be patient and repeat if necessary. Children often ask questions over and over. Yes, they’re listening, but they need that repetition to understand and feel comforted.
 

What resources are available in the community?

View a list of resources available in the community that can help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is it safe for my child to return to youth sports?

As the state begins to reopen, there are many questions about when and how to resume participation in youth athletics. To help families make those decisions, the Sports Medicine programs at Children’s Wisconsin and American Family Children’s Hospital/UW Health, in accordance with the DHS and CDC, have developed a general guide and extended guidelines for youth athletic teams and organizations to transition safely back into sports. Before returning to athletics, consult with state and local health departments as their municipal and county regulations must be satisfied when developing a return to play protocol.