July 26, 2020
Dear CMG families,
We hope everyone is enjoying this unprecedented summer. A lot has happened since we last wrote. We are thankful we are now starting to see the numbers in our community leveling out over the past few days to again flatten the curve. We believe it’s most likely a reflection of renewed efforts to mask appropriately, physically distance, and reduce high risk behaviors like crowded indoor bars and restaurants. Please stay vigilant!
There is not one blanket answer for everyone. This is a personal decision. You need to do what is right for your family. Decisions will likely vary based on your family’s risk factors. The age of your children will likely play a role in your decision making as well.
We know that children are less likely to catch this virus and are less likely to spread the novel coronavirus. This is one of the great mysteries and miracles of this disease. Literature suggests that the younger you are, the better you do, which is pretty remarkable. Almost every other virus is more harmful to the young.
The AAP issued guidance about returning to school. As pediatricians, we know how important socialization and in-person teaching can be for children. The social and emotional toll physical distancing and isolation is having on our children is staggering. We want children to be able to go back to in-person school this fall, but schools need to have safety plans in place.
The AAP recommends the below safety guidelines for schools to keep children healthy. We agree with this. If you are checking with your school, we hope they are doing the following things:
If your family has someone high risk in your household, in-person school may not be an option for you. Other families are just not comfortable yet, which we completely understand. If you are not sending your child to in-person school, we encourage you to reach out to another family who is also being careful. Consider quaran-TEAM-ing with them. If you are both limiting your contact with others, it should be safer to gather together. We have heard many of our families getting together in “pods” – having 3 or 4 children and hiring one teacher. Some of our families are getting together to have “bike camps” with neighbors after school hours. Outside and open spaces should be safer as well. These are all wonderful ideas and meet each family’s current needs based on their risk profiles. These options limit contact and therefore decrease risk while still providing children the social engagement they need.
Our office protocols have not changed. We are keeping our office clean with only well visits in the morning and early afternoon. We can see telemedicine visits at this time as well. We will see sick visits later in the afternoon in the parking lot. Please call our office on arrival for any appointment and we can direct you to next steps. You will need a mask to enter the building. We are still limiting one parent per child so we do not have too many people in the clinic at any given time. We have some parents upset when they fail our screening questions and are not allowed to enter. Please understand that we are trying to keep the inside of our clinic a safe place for our other patients and our staff. We are happy to reschedule you once you and your child are well.
We know that uncontrolled asthma can be a risk factor for the novel coronavirus but controlled asthma should not be. September historically has been the greatest month for asthma attacks and hospital admissions in Austin. This also has coincided with the return to school. If you are planning to send your child with asthma back to in-person school in the fall, we would love to have the opportunity to update their asthma action plan before their return. Almost all of these appointments can be done via telemedicine. Please call our office 512-451-5161 or go to the patient portal to schedule an appointment.
We are fortunate that we still have ample ability to perform the 15-minute rapid antigen test for the novel coronavirus. Please see our last email regarding more specifics. We are able to test sick patients and those visiting high risk individuals in our parking lot during the afternoon. Please call our office if you ever need to make an appointment for this.
The longer things continue this way, the more fearful and anxious many of our children become. Please keep talking to your children about what is going on and letting them know your love and support for them will not change despite all that is happening. Please watch what is playing on your TV in front of them. Little ears absorb so much more than we think they do. One of our 4 year olds said recently, “Mom! That little girl touched me and I didn’t die!” They are such concrete thinkers that much of this is hard to process. Remember the importance of getting enough sleep, exercising, limiting screen time, and eating healthy foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Austin Child Guidance Center have some additional resources.
Thank you again for your continued support of our practice. Thank you for bearing with us during these challenging and rapidly changing times. We are so grateful that you have given us the opportunity to care for your family. We love you!
All our best,