“Caring for Children” is the first Q&A in this three-part series where we provide expert advice about protecting children and helping families deal with COVID-19.
Q: How can I protect my family from COVID-19?
A: At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19, but there are ways to protect yourself
and your family from exposure to the virus:
• Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus
• Stay home as much as possible
• Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
• Cover your coughs and sneezes (using your elbow is a good technique)
• Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol
• Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch regularly with a regular
household cleaning spray or wipe. Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash
dishes and utensils
• Talk to your healthcare provider about your health and risk of COVID-19
Q: Are children, especially those with special needs, at high-risk for COVID-19?
A: According to the CDC, there is no evidence that children are more at risk. We do not
currently know if children with special needs have a greater chance of getting sick from
COVID-19 than the general public nor how COVID-19 might affect children with ongoing
You can find additional information on ways to stay safe here:
Q: Should I take my child to planned healthcare visits?
A: Please contact your healthcare provider for specific advice. Telemedicine has made it
possible to have some virtual appointments, but you will need to check with your own
provider for direction. Please note, emergency healthcare issues should not be ignored
Q: Should I get my child checked for COVID-19 if he/she is sick?
A: If your child has symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, or signs of
dehydration, such as not peeing for 8-12 hours, no tears when crying, or being less active
than usual, call your healthcare provider right away. Decisions about testing are left to
the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual providers.
Q: If my child needs emergency care or hospitalization, is it safe for them to be in the
hospital or emergency department?
A: Our hospitals are among the safest places available to receive care when needed.
We are taking every precaution to ensure that both our staff and patients are
protected. The health and safety of our patients is and has always been our top priority.
Before you arrive at the hospital, we want to make you aware of a few additional
precautionary steps we are taking at this time. We have a number of screening
questions in place for all patients and visitors before entering the building. This helps
maintain the safety of all involved, and limits the spread of any potential infectious
During your child’s stay, we will connect in ways he or she will feel engaged, while
reducing fear and worry. This may include sitting down at eye-level, active listening,
speaking in a calm, reassuring and positive tone, delivering information in a way the child
understands, and checking to ensure understanding,
Q: Are visitors allowed during pediatric stays?
A: At this time, our policy is to allow a named parent or caregiver to be present with your
child, provided that they meet the hospital’s health screening requirements. It’s
important that you stay in close contact with your provider, or contact the facility
where you’re seeking care, as these policies may change.
If you are unable to be with your child, it may be helpful to bring familiar objects from
home including blankets, stuffed animals, pajamas or a journal. We will explain when
you will return, teach them how to use the call button or contact their provider directly,
schedule time for activities, and check in regularly. Your child’s care and well-being are
Q: If my child has a chronic disease, how can I appropriately look after them?
A: Helping a child understand the care they are receiving is key. Check with the child for
understanding and feedback. Be honest.
Use a “play doctor kit” to explain routine medical care:
• Touch/explore toy medical equipment prior to a procedure.
• Use dolls and stuffed animals to describe/play out procedures.
• Use picture books with nonthreatening images to explain procedures.
• For teenagers, recommend apps or show them apps on your smartphone to learn
more about their treatment.
Identify realistic goals that apply to your child:
• Walk to their room to get a truck or doll
• Play three rounds of “Simon Says”
Include distraction techniques:
• Stuffed Animals
• Play a game of “I Spy”
• Sing a song together
• Count certain items in the room