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Safety of your child while going to hospital

<div><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">During this period of reduced movement, it is important that
medical care offered to children is continued. This includes preventative activities,
such as vaccination and well-baby follow up, as well as curative activities,
such as regular appointments for children with chronic conditions and treatment
of acute conditions. Children may also get injured while at home. Some injuries
require examination by a doctor and investigations if indicated. Delay in such
cases could endanger the child’s life.</span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">What fears do parents have on bringing their children to
hospital?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Parents fear is that bringing the child to a hospital
exposes them to Coronavirus disease. The fear however needs to be weighed
against the risk that one is taking. There are many medical conditions that
have higher mortality rates than COVID 19. If for example your child has
malaria or pneumonia, and doesn’t get treated, the risk of severe complications
and even death is higher than the risk of death for a child with COVID19. If a
child has diarrhea and vomiting, they can easily get dehydrated with very
severe consequences while one is deciding whether to take them to hospital or not.
</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Parents are encouraged to learn simple first aid measures
that one can use before taking a child to hospital but we must avoid an
unhealthy fear that impairs the caregivers judgement concerning when to take a
child to hospital. </span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">What is the effect of postponing clinics for children with
existing conditions?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Children with existing medical conditions require regular
follow up clinics. Depending of the child’s condition, these are spaced out
differently. When such clinics are postponed, the patient’s condition may be
compromised. Some medication doses need to be adjusted depending on the child’s
condition such as epilepsy. Some medications need to be slowly tapered off if
the child is doing well such as asthma medication. Some doses need to be adjusted
as they are calculated based on weight and the child has grown. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">There are also medications that are not available except at
hospital pharmacies. If the patient is not brought for the clinic, some of the
medications are not available and are therefore substituted. In all these
instances, the patient’s condition is compromised. In the case of medications,
a number of hospitals have facilitated delivery of medications to their
patients.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Another category of children that we need to look out for
are children with mental illnesses. The confinement and change in routine may
have already affected them negatively. It is critical that their regular
medications are maintained and any changes in their mental state communicated
to the doctor. </span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">What is the effect of postponing vaccinations?</strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The timing of vaccines is important in the immunity that
they offer the patient. When a patient get one dose and then stays for a longer
time than the recommended period before the subsequent dose, this affects the
efficacy of the vaccine. If the interval time is too long, one may need to
start the vaccination schedule for that specific condition again.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Vaccination sessions also act as well baby clinics. This is
when we find out if the baby is feeding adequately and if the milestones are as
expected. Without this opportunity, babies who have failure to thrive would
take longer to be identified and the specific issue dealt with.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Growth monitoring is crucial to the care offered to an
infant. Nutritional counselling at different stages ensures the child is
getting the correct feed for the child’s developmental stage. When introducing
complimentary foods, it is important to understand the food groups and how to
introduce them to the child’s diet. Given that there is reduced movement
currently, first time parents have less chance of getting help from their own
parents or their older siblings. They are therefore left to experiment on their
own. </span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">What are the precautions parents should take while in
hospital with their child to protect them? </strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Parents should ensure that children above 2 years wear a
mask. Talk to the children about hygiene and demonstrate regular washing of
hands or sanitizing them. Keep the social distance while in hospitals and avoid
touching surfaces unnecessarily. Children copy what the adults around them are
doing so make sure who are walking your talk. We do not recommend masks for
children under 2 years, however, they should practise regular hand washing and
avoid touching any part of their mouths. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Some hospitals offer teleconferencing facilities for those
parents who are uncomfortable going to the hospital. This is a consultation
with your doctor electronically. It may be done via a phone or via a video
platform. Some hospital services can also be offered at Outreach Clinics is one
is more comfortable going there than the main hospital. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">There are a number options available for one to seek a
medical opinion. Parents should therefore feel free to discuss these options
with their doctor. </span></p><p><strong style="font-family: helvetica;">What are Hospitals doing to ensure the safety of parents and
children: </strong></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">At Aga Khan University Hospital, a number of measures have
been put in place to ensure the safety of parents and children.</span></p><ul><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">All visitors and staff to the hospital are screened daily to pick out anyone who has a fever. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Patients are attended to by staff with appropriate personal protective equipment. For patients without symtoms of COVID19 these are masks, gloves and eye shields. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Examination procedures that require the doctor to stand very close to the patient are withheld unless deemed necessary given the presenting complaints. In paediatrics, these include examination of the throat. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The staff regularly wash their hands appropriately and the surfaces are cleaned regularly. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Sitting arrangements have been modified to ensure that patients keep the social distance when waiting for services. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">All admitted patients are day care patients are screened for COVID-19. This ensures a safer working environment for the staff and a safer living environment for the patients. </span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">The hospital is conducting free Covid-19 testing for all patients requiring admission.</span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">To minimize on face to face contact, we are also offering teleconsultation services for our patients, delivery of medications at home as well as collection of blood samples from home. </span></li></ul><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Generally, if a child needs medical attention, speak to your
healthcare provider about the options available to ensure that the child’s
health is not compromised during the Coronavirus pandemic. If they need to come
into hospital, choose a convenient time to avoid too much waiting and take the
necessary precautions. The hospitals have taken necessary precautions to ensure
prevent infection within the hospital. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><strong><em>By Dr Waceke Ng’ang’a, Programme Director in the Department
of Paediatrics, Child and Adolescent Health, and Consultant Paediatric
Gastroenterologist at Aga Khan University Hospital</em></strong>
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