All posts by CHOC Children's

What to expect from your child’s COVID-19 test at CHOC’s Outpatient Evaluation Center

CHOC Children’s outpatient evaluation center offers COVID-19 testing for children who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as well as children who require a test before an upcoming procedure.

We understand that having a child undergo a COVID-19 test can be stressful for parents, so we’ve prepared this guide on what to expect.

What to know before your appointment:

  • You will be notified in advance by phone of your appointment time at the outpatient evaluation center. Children with possible exposure or those experiencing symptoms will first have a telehealth visit.
  • The outpatient evaluation center is an outdoor area with large tents.
  • Wait in your car until a CHOC employee comes to check you in. Please ensure all vehicle passengers wear a mask.
  • Your child should stay seated in the car and wearing a seatbelt.
  • A nurse or respiratory therapist will ask you a few questions and take your child’s temperature before beginning the test.
  • They will wear yellow or white gowns, gloves, masks and face shields.

What to expect from your child’s COVID-19 test:

The COVID-19 test is done using a nasal swab. This might sound scary, but if your child can relax, the test takes just 5 seconds.

There are some things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Bring a small comfort item for your child to hold.
  • You can try sitting next to your child and holding their wrists, if necessary.
  • Parents may sit younger children in their laps and wrap their arms around them.
  • The provider can also help hold your child steady, if necessary.
  • After counting to 5, the provider will insert the swab into the back of the child’s nose, twist it and then pull it out. Inserting the swab this far into the nose is necessary to ensure the provider gets a proper specimen.
  • The test feels funny. It may feel similar to when water gets in your nose at the pool or beach. Your child might sneeze, and their eyes may water.

Waiting for your child’s COVID-19 test results:

Awaiting testing results can be worrying, and we want to clarify the process and what parents can expect.

If your child underwent a COVID-19 test before a scheduled procedure — and the test is positive, you will receive a telephone call by the end of the day or, in some cases, early the next morning. Any scheduled procedure will be canceled. If the test is negative, you will not be contacted.

If their test was negative, you should come for the procedure as scheduled. After the test, your son or daughter should stay at home until their procedure the next day to prevent COVID-19 exposure. Parents will not be tested for COVID-19. Instead, they must pass a health screening at the hospital upon arrival for their child’s procedure the next day. They must also wear a mask.

If your child underwent a COVID-19 test due to COVID-10 exposure or symptoms — you will receive a phone call with your child’s test results, which may take up to 14 days.

Even if the test is negative, the child should isolate at home for 14 days after contact with someone who has COVID-19. If the child has shown COVID-19 symptoms, they should isolate at home for 10 days after symptoms began and for at least 24 hours after a fever has resolved.

VIDEOS: What to expect at CHOC's outdoor evaluation center

Related posts:

  • A magical emergency department visit
    When 3-year-old Vinny and his mom Nikki visited CHOC Children’s for the first time, they didn’t expect a calming experience thanks to a magic show, or that staff would go above and beyond to ...
  • Activity ideas for kids during COVID-19
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children are spending more time at home than usual. Here’s a roundup of what parents and caregivers can do to keep kids occupied during this ...
  • The link between COVID-19 and suicide: What parents should know
    By Dr. Meredith Dennis, post-doctoral fellow at CHOC Children’s; and Alva Alvarez and Christopher Reeves, mental health social workers It is an understatement to say that living through the COVID-19 has ...

CHOC patients meet with legislators for advocacy week

CHOC Children’s patients Zachary and Jennifer, along with their families, recently participated in virtual meetings with legislators as part of ongoing advocacy efforts.

“Each family met virtually with their members of U.S. Congress to discuss the importance of prioritizing children’s healthcare,” says Rachel Rolnicki, CHOC’s director of government affairs. “Especially now, both families felt it was critical to raise awareness about the ongoing and essential care provided by children’s hospitals, such as CHOC.”

More than 50 patient families from children’s hospitals across the country participated in Children’s Hospital Association’s Speak Now for Kids Advocacy Week. The annual effort is intended to raise further awareness about important issues that affect children’s healthcare.

Zachary and Jennifer shared their personal stories of receiving care at a children’s hospital, in order to help educate lawmakers about the essential role of children’s hospitals and the Medicaid program during an uncertain and challenging economic time brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One in three children in the U.S. receive health coverage and benefits under Medicaid. Many patients and their families depend on timely access to doctors trained to care especially for them and their unique needs. The Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program is a vital source of funds that help train future physicians. Children’s hospitals in the CHGME program receive half the funding that adult hospitals receive for similar training programs. One element of these virtual meetings was a request that Congress increase funding for CHGME.

“Supporting children’s hospitals is a short- and long-term investment in children’s health we’re asking Congress to make,” Rachel says. “Particularly now, in this public health emergency, millions of families — like Jennifer’s and Zachary’s — are counting on children’s hospitals to provide medical care and behavioral health services to help their children reach their full health potential. Together, we can ensure our nation’s children lead the most healthy and productive lives possible.”

Learn more about Zachary:

Zachary was diagnosed with spina bifida in utero at 16 weeks. At just 7 years old, Zachary has had over 20 surgeries at multiple hospitals and has seen providers from more than a dozen specialties including urology, neurology, neurosurgery, pulmonology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, gastroenterology, pediatric surgery, radiology and plastic surgery.

Zachary and his family
Zachary and his family

He continues to see neurosurgeons and urologists at CHOC Children’s Hospital for his healthcare needs. In 2019, Zachary needed a full VP shunt replacement. A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt is a device that relieves pressure on the brain caused by fluid buildup. Using leading-edge technology and equipment, CHOC clinicians were able to alleviate the pressure on Zachary’s brain by replacing his shunt with a new programmable one. They also replaced an older value with a newer one that will help prevent shunt failure in the future.

Zachary and his family participate in a virtual meeting with legislators
Zachary and his family participate in a virtual meeting with legislators from CHOC’s Seacrest Studios

Currently, Zachary is doing well and thriving academically and socially. He likes to hang out with his family, his twin sister, Lily, and his service dog, Tiki. He enjoys playing video games with his friends and loves adaptive sled hockey and basketball. Zachary wants to be a radiologist one day and has an interest in the human body and bones.

Learn more about Jennifer:

When Jennifer was 10 years old, her life was fairly typical. She liked school, hanging out with her friends and cheerleading. One day she noticed the fingers on her left hand were becoming misshapen. The family doctor did not seem concerned and told her to simply exercise them.

After a few months, Jennifer was experiencing weakness in her foot and right hand. She was referred to the CHOC Children’s Neuroscience Institute where she underwent testing to determine what was happening.

Jennifer began to have seizures and started taking anti-seizure medication. She also started seeing clinicians for physical and occupational therapy, as well as psychology. Doctors diagnosed her with Rasmussen syndrome — a rare, progressive, chronic encephalitis or swelling of the brain. Jennifer had brain surgery in December 2016.

“The hospital staff at CHOC took excellent care of my daughter,” says Jennifer’s mom, Josepha. “They have always motivated her and made her feel special. “They even organized a special 15th birthday celebration, a quinceañera, in the hospital days before her brain surgery. As parents, we are deeply grateful for all the support they have always given our family.”

Jennifer and her family at her quinceañera at CHOC
Jennifer and her family at her quinceañera at CHOC

Jennifer continues to recover from surgery and is improving. She likes arts and crafts, painting, coloring, going shopping and playing with her dog.

Get important health and parenting tips sent straight to your inbox.

Kids Health, delivered monthly, offers “healthful” information for parents:

Respuestas a las preguntas más frecuentes sobre la telemedicina

En esta época de grandes desafíos, aquí en CHOC Children’s nuestra meta es brindar tranquilidad a los padres de familia cuando se trata del cuidado de la salud y del bienestar de sus hijos. La atención médica a los niños, ya sean exámenes físicos, vacunas o acceso a especialistas, es fundamental. Por esa razón, nuestras clínicas permanecen abiertas empleando medidas preventivas adicionales y ofreciendo citas con el uso de telemedicina, cuando resulte adecuado, para que tenga disponibilidad de nuestros expertos desde su hogar.

Comprendemos que la telemedicina es algo nuevo para muchos padres y sus familias, así que hemos preparado una guía que contiene las preguntas más frecuentes sobre esta tecnología para responder a cualquier duda que tengan y ayudarlos a prepararse para la primera cita de su hijo/a por videollamada.

¿Qué es la telemedicina?

Las citas mediante el uso de la telemedicina son consultas por video con un profesional de la salud de CHOC a través del empleo de un teléfono inteligente, tableta o computadora. Usted y su hijo/a pueden participar en ellas desde su propia casa o de cualquier otro lugar que cuente con acceso a internet y donde usted se sienta cómodo. Durante su cita, podrá ver y escuchar a su médico o especialista de siempre. También podrá interactuar con él o ella, hacerle preguntas y responder a las que le hagan.

¿Todas las citas pueden llevarse a cabo mediante la telemedicina?

Su doctor/a de cabecera o su especialista pueden proporcionar atención médica sin problemas y adecuadamente para muchos tipos de afecciones a través del uso de tecnologías como la telemedicina. Algunos tipos de consultas necesariamente deben ser en persona. Su profesional del cuidado de la salud determinará si una cita por videollamada es lo ideal para usted.

¿Es segura y confiable la tecnología que usa CHOC para la práctica de la telemedicina?

CHOC utiliza una versión especial de Zoom, un programa especial para videoconferencias, que cuenta con niveles de seguridad adicionales para garantizar la protección de nuestros pacientes y de la información sobre su salud. Nuestra plataforma de telemedicina siempre ha sido y continuará siendo segura.

¿Qué sucede una vez que mi cita por telemedicina ha sido programada?

Una vez que se apruebe su cita virtual, recibirá un mensaje por correo electrónico con instrucciones, sugerencias para resolver las dificultades que surjan y un enlace de acceso para su videollamada. Siga las indicaciones. Primero verá una “sala de espera” virtual en donde se le pedirá que espere a que el médico de su hijo/a le dé ingreso a la consulta. No se salga de esta pantalla. Cuando sea admitido, verá y escuchará a su prestador de atención a la salud y le podrán ver y escuchar a usted.  Asegúrese de que su hijo/a esté presente para que sea evaluado adecuadamente.

Vea este video en preparación para su primera cita virtual y obtenga sugerencias para que sea exitosa.

¿Quién debe estar presente?

Por favor, asegúrese de que él/la paciente esté presente para todas sus citas por telemedicina para que su profesional de servicios médicos lo/la evalúe debidamente.

¿Con quién será la cita de mi hijo/a por videollamada?

Su cita será con su médico de cabecera o su especialista.

¿De qué hablaremos durante la consulta por telemedicina?

Usted y su hijo/a pueden hablar con su profesional de la salud de todo lo que hablan durante sus citas en persona: síntomas, el plan de cuidado médico y cualquier pregunta o inquietud que tengan. Si es necesario, su doctor/a les informará sobre los resultados de sus análisis de laboratorio o de radiografías que se le hayan realizado, tal como lo hace cuando la consulta es en persona. Quizás también le pida, por ejemplo, que le tome la temperatura a su hijo/a o que le muestre el sarpullido que le brotó.

¿Cuál es el costo de una cita a través de la telemedicina?

Las consultas por videollamada se facturan de la misma manera que las cita en persona.  Se le cobrará lo mismo que usted paga por una visita médica convencional. Contará con la participación de su doctor de cabecera o de su especialista y obtendrá la misma atención de alta calidad que recibe en cualquier otra cita en CHOC.

Mi cita, ¿debe ser por videollamada?

Aunque la telemedicina puede parecer extraña o incómoda, su doctor quizás la prefiera porque podrá atenderlo/a más pronto que lo que podría hacerlo en persona. Si usted desea una cita en persona, pídala cuando llame a la oficina de su pediatra o al Centro de Acceso al Paciente (PAC); su prestador de servicios para la atención a la salud determinará si es conveniente esperar a que haya una disponible.

Llame a su médico de cabecera para hacer su cita o al 1-888-770-2462 para consultas con su especialista.

Publicaciones pertinentes:

  • Lo que puede esperar durante una cita de telesalud
    Las citas de telesalud son consultas virtuales con un proveedor de CHOC que se realizan a través de un teléfono inteligente, tableta o computadora. Llame al consultorio de atención primaria para ...

A magical emergency department visit

When 3-year-old Vinny and his mom Nikki visited CHOC Children’s for the first time, they didn’t expect a calming experience thanks to a magic show, or that staff would go above and beyond to make them feel comfortable.  

 Vinny had a fever, and his pediatrician suspected pneumonia. After a few days of antibiotics, the fever returned, prompting his trip to the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital. 

“His pediatrician had told us that if Vinny didn’t seem to get better, we should rush him to CHOC,” Nikki says. 

Nikki called the emergency department before bringing Vinny in, to check on COVID-19 visitor requirements. His fever was nearly 104 degrees when they left the house for their first-ever visit to CHOC. 

 Nikki and Vinny remember feeling nervous, stressed and scared when they arrived, but appreciated how CHOC staff reassured the two from the very beginning.  

“Everyone had a very palpable sense of confidence that they will take care of the children, while also being super soothing and calming in their attitude and demeanor,” Nikki says. 

In the emergency department, Vinny was given a COVID-19 test. He’d had one before but had a much smoother experience this time. 

“Vinny has had a test done elsewhere prior to being at CHOC and that experience was traumatic for him,” Nikki says. “The test done at CHOC was faster and went smoothly thanks to the child life specialists who helped distract him.” 

Vinny’s vitals and stats were checkedand he was prepared for a chest X-ray. The X-rays showed that he not only had pneumonia, but also pleural effusion, a buildup of excess fluid in the lungs. 

Dr. Seth Brindisa board-certified pediatric emergency medicine specialist is an expert in taking care of sick kids. But before he discussed the X-rays results with Nikkihe put Vinny at ease with something else he excels in — magic tricks. He greeted Vinny by pulling a coin from behind the 3-year-old’s ear. That trick was followed by a series of magic tricks that brightened Vinny’s evening, and eventually, his entire experience at CHOC. 

Vinny pictured outside CHOC
Vinny smiles behind his mask outside CHOC, after being discharged.

Aside from magic tricks, Dr. Brindis also had a treatment plan up his sleeve. He sent Vinny home with a prescription for stronger antibiotics and ainhaler. He also explained to Nikki what should and should not happen with Vinny while he healed at home. 

choc emergency department
Dr. Seth Brindis often performs magic tricks for his patients.

“From early on, CHOC always had a future plan, and communicated that to us,” Nikki says. “I was always able to ask whatever questions, and they had answers.” 

Nikki and Vinny went home, but four days later his fever returned, and he was unable to breathe, so they returned to CHOC’s emergency department.  

This time, doctors determined that Vinny needed to be admitted to CHOC Children’s Hospital for further evaluation and treatment. As part of this process, he was tested a third time for COVID, an experience that again went smoothly, thanks to the child life specialists of the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department. 

Vinny stayed at CHOC for a week for stronger antibiotics, monitoring and supplemental oxygen. Throughout his stay, he was under the care of a multidisciplinary team of pediatric experts. This included Dr. Antonio Arrieta, medical director of infectious diseases, who was determined to help Vinny feel better. This level of care helped Vinny’s mom feel better, too. 

Dr. Antonio Arrieta
Dr. Antonio Arrieta, medical director of infectious disease at CHOC Children’s

Dr. Arrieta was truly one of the most intelligent human beings I’ve ever had a conversation with, and we felt extremely comfortable in his care and that of his whole team,” Nikki says. 

Being in a hospital for the first time was not easy for Vinny. He’s a naturally active child, but due to his compromised lungs and playrooms being temporarily closed due to the pandemic, he was unable to play in areas outside of his room. Luckily, Child Life had just the thing for him. A specialist showed up to his room with a box full of plastic bowling pins and a ball. Vinny was thrilled, and so was his mom 

“Every single nurse, respiratory therapist, child life specialist and doctor we met was just amazing,” Nikki says. “The only thing you truly want in a situation like this as a parent is for your child to be healing and comfortable, and they all worked to make that happen daily.” 

Vinny’s treatment plan was successfulAfter his fever subsided and his symptoms improved greatly, he was able to go back home. 

“Bringing my child to the hospital for the first time was scary at first, especially during a pandemic,” Nikki says. “I will always remember the kindness and world-class expertise that helped my son feel better and get back to being a kid. Vinny will never forget how a doctor turned into a magician right before his eyes. 

Learn more about emergency services at CHOC Children's

Related posts:

A gain against pain

A child, resting in bed, fires up her 7-inch tablet and opens an app.

She selects from a variety of cartoon avatars — such as a panda or penguin — and backgrounds that include a colorful ocean floor with fish and other sea creatures.

Game on.

But this isn’t a typical game. It’s a kid-friendly tool that allows the child, who is being treated for cancer, to report the severity and type of pain she’s experiencing from her home — information her doctor can access in real time.

The app, named Pain Buddy, may aid in the reduction of pain severity in children during cancer treatment, according to results of a pilot study recently published in the online journal Pediatric Blood & Cancer.

The study found that Pain Buddy may be especially beneficial in helping children who have high levels of pain.

Pain Buddy is the brainchild of Michelle A. Fortier, a CHOC Children’s pediatric psychologist who is also a faculty member of the UC Irvine Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing.

A screenshot of the Pain Buddy app
Pain Buddy app

Fortier, who specializes in pain management in children, was principal investigator of the recently published pilot study that was based on clinical studies of CHOC patients monitored by pediatric oncologist Dr. Lilibeth Torno and pediatric oncology nurse practitioner Christine Yun.

“Pain management is an important part of cancer survivorship, and I think Pain Buddy’s potential for use is very broad,” Dr. Torno says.

Most of the 48 children participating in the eight-week study had been diagnosed with leukemia. All were between the ages of 8 and 18. Results of this particular study come amid ongoing studies on the Pain Buddy app at other sites. Results of the comprehensive research effort, which will track 206 children, are expected in three years, Fortier says.

Pain Buddy, Fortier explains, was developed a few years ago to address a gap in pain management of kids at home compared to kids in the hospital, where it’s easier for doctors and nurses to stay on top of patients’ needs. The 48 children who participated in the pilot study spent a lot of time at home.

Tapping the expertise of professional app developers and researchers at UCI in the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (Calit2), Fortier and several other colleagues came up with a way for children to rate their pain as they were feeling it from home.

“Most kids experience pretty moderate to severe pain throughout their cancer treatment, and this pain just wasn’t sufficiently being addressed when the patients were at home,” Fortier says. “And when we think about pain assessment, we’re really terrible retrospective reporters of our pain experience.”

But with Pain Buddy, users can say how much they’re hurting, and where, as it’s happening.

“Pain can come from the cancer itself, such as a solid tumor, and it can come from treatment procedures,” Fortier says. “For example, lots of skin-breaking procedures occur during cancer treatment. And treatments like chemotherapy can cause nerve pain, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and mouth sores.”

In addition to completing a pain and symptom diary twice daily, the app automatically alerted the participants’ medical teams about such symptoms as nausea, itching, sadness and redness.

With a touch of a finger, the patients could select word bubbles to indicate descriptions — such as bad, annoying or terrible — to describe their pain.

A screenshot of the Pain Buddy app
The Pain Buddy app allows users to describe their pain with word bubbles, and can alert the care team.

Clinicians, in turn, could promptly address any symptoms that warranted intervention.

A key component of the Pain Buddy app, which for now only has been used by the pilot study participants, is the incorporation of coping skills shown to be effective in the management of pain, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery.

During these skills training exercises, patients could accumulate coins and, visiting a virtual store, customize their personal avatar and buy additional background themes.

A screenshot of the Pain Buddy app
The Pain Buddy app can help patients learn coping skills.

Pain Buddy represents an effective partnership between parents, young cancer patients and the health care institutions that treat them, Dr. Torno says.

“Our focus on cancer survivorship begins on the day of diagnosis,” Torno says.

CHOC’s After Cancer Treatment Survivorship (ACTS) program features a multidisciplinary team of clinical experts who monitor the late effects of cancer and develop a plan for long-term surveillance to ensure the best possible outcomes. Every child at CHOC who has gone through cancer therapy eventually lands in the ACTS program.

Fortier said the ultimate goal is to further refine Pain Buddy and license the app to hospitals for widespread use.

“The goal is to have every kid undergoing cancer treatment — from sarcoma patients to those with bone and other cancers — to have the ability to use Pain Buddy.”

Learn more about the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children's

Related posts: