From Staff Reports
The Tennessee Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (TNAAP) is strongly encouraging families during the COVID-19 pandemic to contact their doctor’s office for newborn, child and adolescent medical and behavioral health care for appointments for urgent, preventive, chronic and specialty care issues.
ETSU Health Pediatrics has utilized rapid innovations and adjusted its clinical procedures so that patient visits can be conducted safely in the doctor’s office, through online telemedicine video or phone visits from the family’s home, or by combination. The State of Tennessee considers well child visits and vaccinations essential services.
“Visiting the pediatrician regularly for check-ups and vaccinations is important to ensure children’s health and wellness,” said Dr. Karen Schetzina, an ETSU Health pediatrician and professor at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. “These visits also provide a great opportunity to check in with children about how they are feeling and coping during this unusual time.”
For families who do not want to come into the clinic, ETSU Health has implemented telemedicine for both well and sick visits. Telemedicine is the use of electronic audio and video communication to provide health care services to patients. Patients with telemedicine appointments receive a link that they can use on a laptop, tablet or cell phone with internet access to meet with a physician from the comfort of their own home.
While many families are utilizing telemedicine, some appointments, such as vaccinations, require an office visit. ETSU Health pediatricians recommend that patients not skip these important appointments.
“Vaccines are the backbone of good health and we worry about outbreaks of other serious illnesses such as measles when we have many children who are not protected by their routine vaccinations,” said Dr. Gayatri Jaishankar, medical director of ETSU Health Pediatrics and professor at Quillen. She also indicated that ETSU Health has altered its clinic procedures during the pandemic for the safety of the patients, family members and its employees.
Currently the clinic has separate times and procedures in place for well and sick visits in order to help prevent the spread of COVID. The clinic staff will take the temperature and ask a few questions of all patients and their families upon entering the clinic. All the staff, the patients 2 years and older and their parents/guardians are required to wear masks during all visits to the clinic. In addition, only one parent/guardian is allowed back in the clinic with the patient.
“Our office staff and pediatricians have put policies in place to ensure children and families can get the care they need in the safest manner possible. We encourage you to reach out to us for any needs you may have,” said Dr. Dawn Tuell, chair and professor, Department of Pediatrics, ETSU Health.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with ETSU Health Pediatrics, call 439-7320 or visit www.etsuhealth.org.