Getting Pediatric Appointments Back on Track After a Hurricane
During hurricane season, and especially during COVID-19, parents have many questions when it comes to their children and scheduling (or rescheduling) appointments with their pediatrician. From managing regular medical appointments, getting vaccinations and immunizations or even maintaining routine well-baby check-ups, which situations require in-person visits? And is it safe to bring your child into the doctor’s office?
Well-Visits and Immunizations
Wellness visits and immunizations are vital to a child’s health, and it’s important to keep your child’s appointments on track even after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane. Our pediatric offices are ready and able to help you reschedule any missed appointments due to evacuations and clinic closures and have set measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are doing everything we can to keep you and your little one safe. These types of appointments are critical childhood milestones, especially for infants 2 and under. They are designed to assess infant and toddler developmental stages, ensure appropriate growth and nutrition and optimize vaccinations before your child comes into contact with a potentially life-threatening infection.
In addition to medical recommendations to continue your wellness visits, each state has specific immunization requirements children must meet to participate in public education. Your local health department website can provide more information on these recommendations (for Louisiana, click here. For Mississippi, click here). Many vaccines need to be spaced at certain intervals and missing an appointment may put your child behind the schedule you need for future enrollment.
Rescheduling Your Appointment
Before making your appointment, or rescheduling your appointment after a hurricane, contact your pediatric office to see if the type of appointment your child need requires an in-office visit, or if a virtual visit option is available. For visits that require you and your child to go in-person, be sure to wear a face mask. The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 2 wear a face mask if you anticipate coming in contact with others. Children under 2, people who have difficulty breathing, anyone who would have trouble taking the mask off by themselves or anyone who is unconscious or incapacitated should not wear a face mask to avoid suffocation.
For in-person visits, you should expect social distancing measures to be followed when visiting our offices. To practice social distancing, chairs and tables will be spaced out, acrylic shields will be placed over registration desks and there will be directions on signs and on the floors to signify proper distances. You also have the option to fill out paperwork ahead of time through the My Ochsner/My Chart app. Patients will be directed to exam rooms as soon as they arrive to limit contact with others. Our staff will also practice social distancing unless it is necessary to come in contact with the patient for care.
Extra measures are being taken to ensure all patient rooms and public areas are cleaned and sanitized. While our staff is always diligent about cleaning our facilities, we have increased the number of times a day that our staff cleans all public areas.
Our pediatric offices are following our visitor policy guidelines when it comes to caretakers attending appointments with children as well. Please refer to our updated visitor policy to know how many parents/guardians are allowed to attend the appointment.
Virtual appointments are great for many sick patients and can be used to assess for many common conditions. Virtual visits also come in handy if you and your family have evacuated for a storm or still might be evacuated post-storm. Check with your provider before scheduling to see if a virtual visit is the best option for your child. In most cases, advising on whether to test for COVID-19, ADHD assessments, evaluations of anxiety and even some well visits can be done virtually with your provider.
If you are struggling to access your child’s pediatrician during hurricane season, Ochsner Anywhere Care can provide you with a private, secure video appointment with an urgent care or behavioral health provider. You can then get a diagnosis and treatment plan without leaving your location. Ochsner Anywhere Care is available in all 50 states.
If you have missed an appointment and can return to your regular clinic and care providers, you can schedule your next appointment by visiting MyOchsner. Thank you for trusting Ochsner with your care; your health is our priority.
To book an appointment with a pediatrician, click here.