All posts by CHOC Children's

Celebrate the Fourth of July safely: Prevent the spread of COVID-19

After months under stay-at-home orders, and summer in full swing, families are eager to get out of the house and connect with friends and loved ones.

However, COVID-19 is still being transmitted in our community – and as people begin to socialize with others who don’t live in the same household and visit places that have opened, the number of COVID-19 cases is expected to continue rising.

With that in mind, here are some tips to celebrate the Fourth of July safely with your family:

  • Celebrate virtually — Use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to enjoy conversation over a meal together, especially if you are celebrating with family members over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.
  • Dine alfresco – Having a picnic in the backyard is an easy way to enjoy the outdoors and maintain social distancing. You can set up blankets or tables for those who live in the same household 6 feet from others. Be sure to use disposable tableware. Have one person, who is wearing gloves, dish up food onto plates. Or, consider purchasing boxed meals to reduce contact.
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently — If you are dining in the backyard, you can set up a hand-washing station with a garden hose and soap dispenser. Also, have hand sanitizer made with at least 60% alcohol readily available.
  • Wear face coverings or masks — When not eating or drinking, keep your nose and mouth covered. Have a most creative or most festive mask contest.
  • Take temperatures — Make sure that no one at your gathering has a fever or other symptoms of illness. If you are sick, please stay home and take care of yourself.
  • Limit the size and length of time of your gathering —The more people you have spending time together in close proximity, even in the outdoors, increases the risk of exposure.

Proper hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings are the best ways to reduce spread of the virus until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

If you need medical care during this time, rest assured that it is safe to visit your CHOC pediatrician or a CHOC emergency department. We know it can feel scary and stressful to have a sick child, especially during a pandemic, so here are tips for deciding where to go for care during COVID-19.

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Related posts:

Pharmacy delivery service brings medications and peace of mind to CHOC families

Jenna Castorena couldn’t believe her ears when she picked up a call in March from the Outpatient Pharmacy at CHOC Children’s Hospital. She was juggling a lot at the time, most importantly protecting her medically fragile son Robert from contracting COVID-19.

Robert, who has epilepsy, cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease and several gastrointestinal issues, depends on multiple medications. He needs them to control seizures, manage stomach troubles and prevent pneumonia. He was due for refills when his mom heard from the CHOC Pharmacy.

Robert-CHOC-patient-pharmacy-delivery
Robert

“It was amazing! The pharmacy called to let me know they would personally deliver Robert’s medications to our home so we wouldn’t need to venture out in the pandemic,” recalls Jenna. “I can’t imagine how much work went into creating this personalized service, but I am incredibly grateful to the team for always making the safety and wellness of patients a priority.”

CHOC launched the prescription delivery service at the start of the pandemic in California, as lockdown orders were taking place across the state. The temporary service was intended for all CHOC Outpatient Pharmacy patients, particularly for those with severely compromised immune systems. Some of the patients rely on public transportation, placing them at increased risk when out in public.

Since the service began in March, the Outpatient Pharmacy has logged more than 10,700 miles and delivered more than 3,400 prescriptions. A quarter of the medications are difficult to obtain in the community.

“Our goal is to ensure our patients receive their medications in a timely manner and without unnecessary risk during the pandemic. We want to keep them safe and healthy, and provide additional peace of mind to their families,” explains Grace Magedman, PharmD, executive director, pharmacy services, CHOC Children’s.

Long-time CHOC supporter Hyundai Motor America heard about the delivery service and was quick to lend support. The company was already in the process of donating $200,000 to CHOC’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Their generosity inspired local dealer, Russell Westbrook Hyundai of Anaheim, to donate three Hyundai Santa Fe vehicles for use in delivering the medications.

“During these challenging times, it’s heartwarming to see the community come together, and we would expect nothing less from our friends at Hyundai,” says Magedman. “Our prescription delivery service has been a valued resource for so many families who must take extraordinary efforts to protect their children, and it couldn’t have been possible without the inspiring commitment of our heroes in Pharmacy and collaborating departments. We are grateful for the role we play in safeguarding the health and well-being of the community we serve, especially its most medically fragile members.”

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Related posts:

How being an athlete prepared me to be a nurse

elyse-shelger-rn-choc-childrens

By Elyse Shelger, registered nurse at CHOC Children’s

In my life before nursing, I was a soccer player. I started playing the game when I was 4 years old. It shaped my childhood and taught me more than I realized at the time. In high school, I learned from incredible coaches and teammates, and then had the honor of playing for one of the top college programs in the country, Santa Clara University. When you practice something day after day, those movements, patterns, principles and lessons eventually become ingrained in your mind, body and soul. You don’t always notice they are there since they become part of you gradually, until you are forever changed.

As an adult, I often am reminded of certain guidance my coaches imparted and recognize why I do certain things the way I do. A large part of my mentality, behavior and beliefs have been shaped by the game of soccer, my life-long teammates and my undeniably great coaches. These are a few lessons that have shaped me as a person and as a nurse, and how I apply them in my world today.

In my new life, I am a nurse. I am not just a nurse when I am working a shift at the hospital. I am a nurse every day, always, at all times. I grew up learning that success comes when you commit yourself fully, on and off the field. I was also taught a great deal about accountability and personal responsibility. Why blame teammates or others when things get tough? We all must do what we can to make a difference. We each have to do our part. When I began working at CHOC Children’s Hospital, I took an oath to defend childhood. As an athlete, the word defense runs deep. Every team needs goal scorers— we need people to take action and move things forward, innovate, be creative, solve problems and think outside the box. This is what medical professionals do every shift, and some say a good offense is the best defense.

“Off the field,” I am still a nurse.

In team sports, you learn about selflessness. It becomes second nature to do what’s best for the team as a whole, to give 100% for each other, to have each other’s backs, and to fight selflessly until the last whistle. As a nurse, when I clock out after a long shift and I’m driving home, I relive each play in my mind, whether I won or lost that game, knowing I gave it my all. Sometimes no matter how well the team prepares, and how well you perform together, you can be defeated by a really strong opponent.

Currently we are in the middle of a big game. Our opponent is COVID-19. In our communities, some people are so terrified of losing that they are paralyzed with fear. Others have heard the opponent isn’t as formidable as people claim, so they grossly underestimate it as a threat. This is where risk lies. We must prepare properly. We must come to the game ready to play hard. We must give 100%. We must not lose focus.

What we do off the field matters. I will wear my mask to do my part to contribute to our team’s defense. I will speak responsibly and not spread misconceptions. I will encourage those around me to be safe as well because we are all in this together. If some team members decide they don’t really need to train for this game because it will be an easy one that can hurt all of us.

We don’t yet know what the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic will bring. Maybe this is half-time, or maybe we’re at another point in the game. But we know the game is not over yet. Do not let up now — not if you feel tired, and not if you feel like we are already winning. The game isn’t over.

Please don’t confuse my care for fear. I believe and have confidence we can win the game if we all come out to play our best, with and for each other.

Get more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Related posts:

What I’ve learned about life from my 3-year-old daughter

By Bud, father of Emma, a CHOC Children’s patient; and founder of the Squires Guild, a group part of CHOC Children’s Foundation that connects patient parents with each other while raising awareness and funds for CHOC Children’s Hospital and CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

My daughter Emma, who is 3 years, 4 months and 8 days old, has a list of diagnoses that read like a medical textbook — I’m sure parents of CHOC Children’s can relate — but, her main diagnosis is pachygyria. It’s a congenital malformation of the cerebral hemisphere that results in unusually thick convolutions of the cerebral cortex, giving her brain a smooth appearance and giving my wife and I an excuse to call her a “smooth operator.” We also call her “the Kartoffel” which means potato in German because she looked like a potato when she was little. The name stuck!

Since her condition deals with the brain and is so severe, all of her other body systems are affected. She isn’t ever expected to roll, sit, walk or talk. She struggles with multiple forms of epilepsy and is expected to develop more forms. She also has poor swallow control, which could cause her to aspirate on foods or liquids.

We found out about Emma’s condition when she was 7 months old. She had missed a few developmental milestones and then started having infantile spasms. We are thankful that our pediatrician, Dr. Dawn Bruner, is part of CHOC Children’s Primary Care Network. She referred us to, CHOC’s Neuroscience Institute where we ultimately received Emma’s diagnosis.

bud-and-emma-outdoors
Bud with his daughter Emma.

With all the medical support we had (and still have), it was hard to take in the news of Emma’s diagnoses. Even after three years, it has been a continual process of mourning the loss of the life we thought we were going to have as well as a tremendous exercise in learning to love someone for who they are, and not who we want them to be.

There have been more medical emergencies with Emma than I can count, and often during those times, I feel inefficient, broken. Dads are supposed to protect their children, make it all better and make sure nothing hurts them. But caring for Emma has made me learn that I am just a different kind of dad than what I originally thought I was going to be. I am still strong and effective, and most importantly I have allowed myself to be totally me, just like Emma is totally her.

Emma is fearless. Anything she does, whether it’s laughing, crying, yelling or singing, she does with full conviction. She is the kind of person I hope to be like a little more each day. She is my absolute joy, the light of my life. I am but a humble peasant to my Princess Emma and I don’t mind at all.

bud-and-emma-at-home
Bud and Emma at home.

It is because of Emma that I am inspired to learn new music, read new books—all based on whether I think she would enjoy them. She has taught me that the more time and energy I put into pushing back against and denying the brutally honest reality that she will not live long or peacefully, the less time and energy I have to truly experience life with her. And as her dad, that’s my biggest joy in life — really living with Emma.

My greatest hope is that she knows that she is loved. I hope she finds her life, however long or short it might be and in whatever way she can, to be rich and meaningful — just like she’s made my life rich and meaningful simply by existing.

Related posts:

Summer tips for children with autism spectrum disorder

Summer is an exciting time for school-aged children, but for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the change in routine can be challenging.

“Although this summer may be different than you had planned, staying focused on enjoying your time together can make it a fun and memorable experience for the entire family,” says Dr. Lauren Couch, CHOC Children’s psychologist.

Here are some tips from the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children’s to help your child with ASD enjoy summertime.

  • Maintain schedules. One of the biggest challenges during the summer is the change from specific routines around school to less structured days. Try to maintain your child’s usual eating and sleep schedule as much as possible.
  • Share activities. Track your upcoming summer activities on a calendar that your child can access, so they can see what is coming up. Use pictures on the calendar to represent activities, as this can help children with ASD understand what to expect.
  • Familiarize in advance. When you plan any activities, try to familiarize your child with anything new or different. Show them photos of the activity or practice it ahead of time.
  • Prepare for the heat. Cook some meals ahead of time to keep you out of the kitchen when it gets too hot. Stock up on frozen treats and cool healthy snacks. Buy fans ahead of time – they are often sold out in the middle of a heat wave. Remind your child to drink water, as many children with ASD may need to be prompted to stay hydrated.
  • Create a backup plan. To help kids cope if things don’t go as planned with an upcoming activity or event, develop two scenarios: Plan A if things go well and Plan B if issues pop up. Review and practice for each possibility with your child in advance so they are prepared if things change.

To help keep your child busy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when outings are limited, here is a list of activities to entertain them and keep sensory overload to a minimum.

Explore the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children's

Related posts: