By Stephanie Stone
Unprecedented and strangely quiet. That’s what doctors are saying about children’s hospitals, as the novel coronavirus does not seem to have the same impact on kids as it does adults.
“We haven’t had one single case that’s been positive in the walls of CHOC in orange,” said Dr. Charles Golden.
The Southern California-based pediatrician says these days, the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) is fairly empty. The ICU is not full. The emergency room is quiet.
“I can tell you in my 20-year career, I’ve never seen any hospital system this slow in pediatrics,” Dr. Golden said.
It’s happening in other hospitals across the country as well.
“The one consistent is that the overall burden of disease in pediatrics is a mere fraction of what it is in the total population,” Dr. Golden explained.
In some respects, that’s a good thing. But Dr. Golden joins academics and medical leaders across the country who are worried about something far more daunting.
“People are fearful of exposing their children or other families to COVID and staying home when they would actually benefit from acute care medical services,” he said.
Dr. Golden says there’s been bad outcomes from patients not getting the care they need because of the fear surrounding COVID-19. Hospital policy now dictates that all staff and every patient at Children’s Hospital of Orange County wear a mask.
“I know there’s a lot of systems that are doing the same thing we’re doing in protecting the people who come through our doors,” Dr. Golden stated.
The other thing that’s working? Telehealth. The CHOC Children’s Primary Care Network has fielded 8,000 calls thus far. And while it doesn’t replace the traditional office visit, it can do a lot for those who medically qualify for a virtual visit.
Dr. Golden and other doctors want parents to use telehealth if they can, but they’re also urging everyone to stay on the vaccination schedule.
“We don’t want next year to see an outbreak of a vaccine preventable illness because kids were not getting the vaccines at the right interval,” he said. “Things like pertussis, measles, chicken pox, hepatitis, these are things that could break out if we don’t stay with our scheduled vaccine process.”
While COVID-19 affects children differently, Dr. Golden says the symptoms may not be the same. He advises, like with any other illness, that you watch your symptoms and call your doctor for direction.