By Dr. Maria Celeste Gomez-Timoteo, DPPS
While most moms and dads are anxiously trying to stay at home, most doctors are challenged to innovate and still deliver the best and safest protocols for our sick patients, well-baby vaccinations, and check-ups. Amid the pandemic’s lockdown orders, the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) together with the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) supports and encourages the continuation of these vaccinations and consultations to prevent a new surge of eradicated disease such as polio and measles. Here are ways on how you can have a pediatric check-up.
The Online Clinic: Best for sick kids with mild symptoms
Advantage: Having an online consultation with your trusted pediatrician is the best option, especially if your child has mild symptoms or beginning to have symptoms of any sickness. Most doctors and clnics now have this option as the initial screening tool, since a virtual consulation has its own limitations. Your trusted pedia will determine if further assessment is needed face-to-face or an emergency room trip is warranted. The online consult is usually by-appointment through your doctor’s clinic phone, or social media page and they will direct you through the process.
Disadvantage: Newborn babies and those that need to have monthly weight checks are at a disadvantage when it comes to online check-ups. These well babies need weight monitoring using a single well-calibrated scale and need a proper physical examination. Vaccinations are also not possible in this setup.
The Meet-Up / House Call: Best for well babies and well children and those who are immunocompromised
Advantage:If your child is well and is due for his vaccination, the option of meeting up with your doctor at a venue outside the hospital or a drive-by option where your doctor delivers the vaccine in the safety of your car or home is another innovation that enables us to continue protecting our patients even on lockdown. The procedure is quick and exposure is very limited.
Disadvantage: Monitoring an infant’s growth (weight, length, head circumference) and milestones are not done during this option, unless a weighing scale is used and a pre-vaccination interview is done with the patient. These are important parts of a pediatric check up and should not be missed. On the other hand, house calls may also cost the patient more than a simple clinic visit.
The Modified Pediatric Clinic: Best option for well babies and well children in need of proper growth monitoring and vaccination
Advantage: A short and sweet clinic visit is still best when you have a baby or a child in need of proper monitoring of growth and development. A complete physical exam is still necessary for these cases. Anxious parents, however, still have hesitations on clinic visits. To answer to these concerns, the Philippine Pediatric Society has already mandated a new clinic system to make your visit to your pediatrician safe and sound. Pediatric clinics now have separate “sick child days” and a separate “well child days: for vaccination.” They will also only accommodate a few patients per day, strictly 30 minutes apart, and at a by-appointment basis only. This will give the clinic staff ample time to disinfect the clinic well after each patient. Proper PPE are also required to be worn by the staff and the doctor and proper clinic ventilation will be adhered to.
There are also select pediatricians who have modified their practice and only see well babies and children and avoid being exposed to those who are sick. Talk to your trusted pediatrician about these new clinic guidelines and ask them about their practice protocols.
Disadvantage: Not all doctors’ clinics and hospitals follow these guidelines. Choose clinics that have a separate entrance and exit points from the main hospital and clinics that have special screening protocols before entering. Some clinics at large hospitals even have special elevators for well-babies only (The Medical City), and special waiting rooms that are only for well babies and children for vaccinations (VRPMC).