With news of the COVID-19 pandemic and a statewide shutdown in March 2020, I couldn’t help but feel some panic. As a mother, you already fear for your child’s well-being. As a mother with a child in need of complex care, “fear” becomes an understatement.
Our daughter, Kathryn, receives care from multiple specialties at Valley Children’s, and the thought of leaving our house to take her to appointments at the hospital was terrifying. How were we going to protect her? What precautions is the hospital and her doctors taking? Could she be seen through telemedicine and would it be the same? My mind was racing.
However, since March 2020, our daughter has been hospitalized three times. Not once was her safety ever compromised. Quickly, I realized the steps Valley Children’s had taken and the precautions they were putting in place to keep Kathryn – and all other Central Valley children – as safe as possible.
These precautions start from the moment you arrive at the hospital. Each time we visit, we enter through the main lobby. First, our temperatures are taken and then we answer a panel of questions related to COVID-19 and potential exposure. Masks are required to enter the hospital for staff and patient families alike. While I happily wear my mask, Kathryn has difficulty wearing one. However, thanks to the George’s Pass program, the Valley Children’s staff checking her in are aware that she has difficulty wearing a mask due to her autism diagnosis.
From there, we make our way to the specialty clinic. Upon arrival, we are greeted by staff with the same “Valley Children’s positive attitude,” just all wearing masks and taking precautions to socially distance to protect the patients. There are signs on every other seat as a reminder that patients should also sit at least six-feet apart. Appointments are scheduled to ensure there are not a lot of patients in the waiting rooms at one time and treatment rooms are kept clean and sanitized in between patients.
The takeaway from this review of a visit to the hospital? It’s just as important as ever to take your child to the doctor, to schedule their appointments and to trust Valley Children’s to be a safe place for your child. Families still need to take their children to the hospital for routine visits and care despite what is happening in the world around us. Seeing firsthand the efforts that Valley Children’s has taken to ensure staff and patient safety and still create a welcoming environment has put our minds at ease. We will continue to bring our daughter to the hospital in the future!
by Dorilyn Chimenti, Valley Children’s Patient and Family Advisor