By Caren Kirschner, M.D.
It has been over six months since the COVID-19 pandemic has cruelly hit our community and completely changed all of our lives in both big and small ways. We have all experienced repercussions of this virus in countless ways. The effects have been scary and sometimes devastating.
- Some of our patients have contracted the virus, but thankfully recovered.
- We have had heart-breaking discussions with some of our patients who have lost friends or loved ones way too soon.
- We have had telahealth visits where we have seen sick relatives suffering in the background.
- Some of our parents have lost their jobs or had to resign due to loss of childcare.
- Our patients’ entire educational system has been drastically changed with little planning.
- Our kids have had to forgo so many special events including birthday celebrations, graduations, proms, entire high school sports seasons, plays, dances, musicals, and concerts.
The list goes on and on. And sadly, all of this and the need for our kids to socially distance from not only their friends but also their family members has led to a significant increase in incidences of anxiety and depression.
I believe it is important to acknowledge all of this and outwardly recognize how difficult this pandemic has made life over the last year.
But through all the heartache, we have also been incredibly impressed and humbled by the amazing resilience and fortitude of our patients and their families. We have so many parents who have been the frontline workers keeping us healthy, safe, fed, and functional at their own risk. Just this week, I had a long talk with a parent who heroically took care of multiple COVID patients in a hard-hit nursing home, at great cost to her physical and mental health.
So many of our adolescent patients have continued their part-time jobs at supermarkets, pharmacies, nursing homes, restaurants, and camp/childcare positions without ever taking time off. They worked but then came home to quarantine, missing the normal social gatherings of teenage life. This is not easy, and they have no idea how amazing they are.
And when I ask most of my younger school-age patients how school is going, the majority respond that it is going well. They love their teachers even if they only get to see them on computer screens. They are making the best of it, and that in itself is inspiring. And even our youngest patients have made us so proud. I can not express how much love we feel when we witness one of our three-year-olds walking into the exam room proudly (and correctly) wearing their favorite face mask. They too are heroes for this by keeping us safe.
We want to truly thank all of you for continuing to trust us in caring for your kids during these unprecedented times. We promise to continue to strive to provide the safest possible environment in our office in order to provide the best possible care.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over. In order to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff, we will continue to require that everyone in our office over the age of two wear a face mask properly — covering your mouth and nose.
And when not in our office, we strongly recommend that everyone wears a mask when they are with any non-household members and can not maintain a six-foot distance. It is important to follow the CDC recommendations of social distancing and avoid crowds. We all need to continue to practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching our face as much as possible. None of the recommendations are easy, but they are critically important in order to protect ourselves, our families, our friends, and our community at large.
Lastly, it is also still important for our kids to stay home if they are ill. We will continue to see our patients when they are sick at designated times or via telahealth. We are now able to perform rapid COVID testing under certain circumstances. We can also send the more sensitive PCR swab to an outside lab. Depending on certain factors, we may decide it is best to send patients to an outside hospital for drive-through testing. It is important to know that a negative test can not definitively rule out an infection with COVID-19. That means that if your child is ill, we may still recommend your child quarantine for 10 days even with a negative test, especially if we can not find an alternate diagnosis and/or there is a known exposure. Please know that we do not make these decisions lightly, but we are obligated to follow the public health guidelines.
We wish you, your families, and friends continued good health.