19 Mar Tips for handling and preparing for COVID-19 in Pediatric Practices
Many parts of the country are knee-deep in responding to COVID-19 cases in their community while some are preparing but not yet in containment mode. Below is a list of crowdsourced ideas that have come from the pediatric community across the country.
Keeping Families Informed
- Create unified messaging for on hold/voicemail, music, social media and websites.
- Consider appointing someone your COVID-19 communication point person to make sure this is consistent and kept up to date.
- Direct your families to one place where you want to keep the message up to date, for example, the practice website.
- Using a patient communication platform, send an email blast to all families. Or, send an on-demand message via call, text, or email.
- Have one of your social media gurus post a daily message on social media to your families. This can be reassuring and make them feel connected and cared about even if they aren’t coming in.
Patient Scheduling: Keeping Sick and Well Separated
- Consider canceling walk-in hours (can’t control who comes in).
- Consider booking only well visits in the AM and all sick in the afternoon.
- Consider asking families to only bring one parent and the child who has the appointment whenever possible.
- Consider having a “sick” and a “well” team where higher risk providers and staff are dealing only with the well patients.
- Consider splitting the patient rooms into sick and well (and using a back entrance if possible).
- Consider eliminating the waiting room and taking patients directly to a room as they walk into check-in. Add credit card swipers to every computer.
- Send texts to let families know when you have a room for them and have them remain in their cars.
- Make sure your staff understands the importance of not coming to work if they are feeling unwell.
- Consider huddles throughout the day with your office team; before patients arrive, midday, and at the end of the day. Keep the messages calm and consistent.
- Allow team members to share their difficulties. Include in your huddle “any obstacles that may be in my way of doing my job well today or tomorrow”.
- Allow room for team members to say they are worried about a grandparent or a sick child or paying their bills if they get sick and can’t come to work.
- We are all likely going to run out of equipment, whether it’s cleaning materials or personal protective equipment. Include in your daily huddle the status and what makes sense.
- Follow your local public health guidelines about masks and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
- Don’t assume everyone is on the same “cleaning” page as far as hard surface before/between/after patients.