COVID-19 Pandemic Update

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Wow! What a week!

First, we want to express our appreciation to the Pathway leadership, providers, and staff for their positive attitudes and flexibility this week as we have made drastic and frequent changes to our protocols and procedures!

We are also so very thankful for our patients and their families for your patience during the frequent adjustments this week! We know that this is a very stressful time for all of you, and we appreciate your patience and flexibility with us!

Through this time, our providers and leadership are spending countless hours monitoring recommendations and available information. Please know that when we make frequent changes, it is due to emerging information and recommendations with the goal of providing excellent care in the safest way possible for everyone involved!

My theme verse for this time is 2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

While we don’t want to promote a spirit of fear, we do want to be wise and to love others by protecting them and ourselves through our actions.

Our goal at Pathway is to continue to give excellent medical care to our patients while protecting our patients, their families, and our staff from unnecessary exposures.

COVID-19 Disease Updates

While data is still limited, it appears that COVID-19 is a mild or asymptomatic (no symptoms) illness for most children and adolescents. Those who have chronic health conditions could be at higher risk but we don’t yet have enough data to know which children and adolescents are potentially at higher risk.

Because the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to many other viral illnesses in children, there is no way to diagnosis this by symptoms alone. Symptoms could include fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath as well as runny or stuffy nose, headache, vomiting or diarrhea. If your child has COVID-19, they could have any, all or none of these symptoms.

There is concern that children who have COVID-19 with minimal to no symptoms could be spreading the virus unknowingly in their homes and community. For this reason, we are being very careful to limit the number of people in our office and to take extra precautions to limit potential spread between patients, families and staff. This is why you will see our staff wearing gloves, masks, eye protection and gowns more frequently than typical for certain interactions and procedures.

We do have testing in our office for COVID-19, specifically for children who have symptoms consistent with this illness or for those with direct exposure. Currently we have sufficient supplies for testing our patients, but as the disease becomes more prevalent in our communities those testing supplies may become more difficult to obtain.  If your child were to have a positive test result it will not change our treatment plan but will help us direct you to be even more intentional about quarantine and limiting your exposure to others who are at high risk from COVID-19 infection. If your child has any fever or cold symptoms, they should avoid contact with any high-risk individuals until 24-72 hours after symptoms have resolved.

Here are some guidelines for determining if your child needs medical evaluation. 

  • Children 2 months and younger that have a fever (>100.4F) should be taken to Children’s Hospital Emergency Department for further evaluation
  • Children 2 months – 12 months old that have a fever (>100.4F) should be seen in our office within 24 hours
  • Children older than 1 year that have a fever of 102 for more than 3 days or fever that is difficult to control
  • Respiratory distress, including a barking cough, increased work of breathing, or cough that interferes with sleep or play
  • Signs of dehydration, such as dry, cracked lips, inability to make tears, or decreased urination
  • Sore throat in the absence of cold symptoms

What will Pathway’s procedures look like this week?

We will have 3 types of visits:

  1. In Office visits
  2. Drive-Up visits
  3. Telemedicine

In Office Visits are primarily for our Well Child Checks (WCC), as these can’t be done safely and thoroughly through the Drive-Up or Telemedicine. At this time, we are prioritizing WCC for children less than 2 years old and those ages 2 and up who are due for vaccines.  Other Well Child Checks that are already scheduled can be completed as scheduled or postponed if you prefer. If your child is due for vaccines, has a chronic health condition, or if you have concerns, please call our office so that we can help you weigh the risks and benefits of having a Well Child Check at this time.  We request that each child have only one parent and no siblings accompany them to help decrease exposure for you and others. We have put additional safeguards and cleaning in place to protect our well children.

Drive-Up visits are for our sick patients, as well as ADHD, anxiety, depression, and behavioral visits. By allowing you to stay in your car, we are limiting your exposure to other patients and families. When an appointment is made, we will discuss the procedure for these visits.

Telemedicine visits are for select appointments. While insurances such as Blue Cross and Medicaid typically don’t cover these visits, they have relaxed their guidelines during this pandemic. As far as we have currently heard, their plan is to discontinue covering these visits once the pandemic has resolved. While the guidelines are relaxed, these visits are still only appropriate for select circumstances. We will notify you if your child’s visit meets the qualifications for a telemedicine visit. If you have questions about whether your child’s visit can be accomplished through telemedicine, please contact our office. 

As always, please contact our office with any questions and concerns! We will continue with our regular office hours. 

Chelsea 205-678-1286

Sylacauga 256-208-0060