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COVID-19: Caring for Children

Wellstar is committed to providing the best and safest care possible to children. Across our health parks, pediatric offices, pediatric emergency departments and dedicated pediatric center, we’ve put extra precautions in place to prevent the spread of infections such as COVID-19 so children can thrive.

When it comes to pediatric surgery, we are committed to providing safe care. Therefore, each child will receive a pre-op COVID-19 test, and we’ve developed this helpful resource for parents so they know what they and their child can expect.


Keeping Kids Calm & Engaged

We understand many children may be going through a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many may experience anxiety and stress – especially when they can’t visit a loved one in the hospital. Wellstar has created some talking points for parents to help them explain to children why they must not visit at this time.

Additionally, if parents are struggling to keep kids feeling connected during the pandemic, our pediatric experts have developed these great ideas for engaging kids at home.


Kids & COVID-19

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most COVID-19 cases in children are mild and mirror adult symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. However, some children—especially those with underlying medical conditions—may get severely ill from COVID-19 and may require hospitalization.

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. While adults make up the majority of COVID-19 cases, children may be asymptomatic and may pass the virus to others. Children should not meet in groups and should have limited interaction with higher-risk individuals, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.


Keeping Kids Happy & Healthy

Just like adults, children may experience stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. While handling strong emotions is a normal response to the crisis, parents and caregivers can play a vital role in helping their children cope. With schools closed and more time at home, it’s important to keep your children healthy, feeling happy and engaged in school curriculum.

Wellstar Health System Chief Pediatric Officer Dr. Avril Beckford offered expert advice to parents during the outbreak.

“Throughout this challenging time, children rely on parents and caregivers to lead the way,” Dr. Beckford explained. “Be a good role model by practicing social distancing guidelines and preventative health practices, such as frequent handwashing. Explain to your children that the health recommendations are the best way to protect family, friends and vulnerable loved ones.”

In addition, the CDC shared several tips to keep children healthy physically and mentally:

  • Lead by example. Teach and reinforce preventative health measures like frequent handwashing, disinfecting high-touch surfaces and laundering clothes often.

  • Play it safe. If you live in the same household as high-risk individuals, limit your children’s contact with them. Postpone non-essential visits to see older family members and friends.

  • Prepare when going out in public. Children two years of age and older should wear a cloth face-covering over their nose and mouth when in a community setting.

  • Make time to talk. Use age-appropriate language to talk to your children about the COVID-19 outbreak. Address their worries, answer questions and share facts from reputable sources.

  • Watch for signs of stress. Look out for changes in your child’s eating behaviors, excessive worry or sadness, and trouble paying attention.

  • Say no to playdates. To help slow the spread of COVID-19, your children should not meet in groups or play with children from other households while school is out.

  • Create a flexible routine. Ifyour children are attending school virtually, set consistent times to wake up and go to sleep during the week. Balance the school day with both learning and free time.

  • Make learning at home fun. Incorporate creative activities into the school day like drawing, painting, puzzles and journaling.

  • Focus on healthy nutrition. Feed your children healthy meals and snacks throughout the day to boost and maintain their natural immunity.

  • Help kids stay active. Encourage outside playtime at home (not public playgrounds) and physical activity in your children’s everyday routine during the week.

  • Stay connected. Help your children make virtual visits to friends and family over the phone or video chat.

For more information and parenting tips, please refer to the CDC’s article about helping children cope during COVID-19.


Making Time for Yourself

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people may feel stress or anxiety. Many adults are now playing the role of both parent and teacher. During this challenging time, parents should make time to unwind and take care of themselves.

“As a parent or caregiver, be sure to replenish your own physical and mental well-being.” Dr. Beckford said, stressing that parents should take time to recharge and relax. “Replenished parents are best equipped to be great parents.”

Small changes in your routine can make a big difference in your outlook. Set time aside to relax during your day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Do activities that make you feel happy and at ease, such as going for a short walk, painting or deep breathing.

For more information and helpful coping tips, please visit our article about taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Finding ways to help you and your children cope with anxiety and stress can help everyone stay healthy and hopeful. If you notice stress beginning to interfere with your or your child’s daily life, please reach out to your healthcare provider.