Facts on Swine Flu and Children

A lot of people are worried about the swine flu.  I want to be sure parents have the facts and so I asked one of the CHOC Children’s experts a few questions.  Here’s what she had to say:

What is swine flu?
Swine flu, or swine influenza, is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and is caused by the type A influenza virus.  These swine viruses do not typically infect humans; however, there have been instances of the virus spreading to people – and then from one person to another.

How does the swine flu spread?
The swine flu is thought to spread the same way as seasonal flu does in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.  An infected person can spread the virus before any symptoms develop.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those experienced with seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people with swine flu have also reported vomiting and diarrhea.

Are children at greater risk?
At this time, there have been more cases occurring in children compared to adults. Keep in mind children with pre-existing medical conditions or weakened immune symptoms are at greater risk for developing complications from the flu, including death.  Parents should teach their children proper hand washing techniques and keep sick children home from school and daycare settings.

What’s the best way to teach children about proper hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs?
Frequent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. It is important to teach children as early as preschool about proper hand washing techniques. Start by wetting both hands with warm water. Apply soap and rub vigorously, including the palms, back of hands and in between fingers. Keep rubbing vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Here’s a tip: Have your child wash for as long as it takes to sing the “ABC Song.” Turn off the water using a paper towel. Teach your child that hand washing is a must after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after blowing his nose or coughing, after playing with pets, after playing outside and, of course, when hands are visibly dirty. In addition to frequent hand washing, teach your child to never share straws, cups and eating utensils. It’s also a good idea to teach your child to cover his mouth when he coughs or sneezes.  If he can’t get to a tissue, he should cough or sneeze into the crook of his arm or into his shoulder. As a last resort, if he must sneeze into his hand – then, of course, immediately wash his hands.

Family Autism Network Provides One-Stop Resource for OC Families Coping with Autism

CHOC Children’s, UC Irvine and the Grandparent Autism Network came together to provide a one-stop resource for all Orange County families impacted by autism and related disorders — The Family Autism Network.

If you don’t already know, CHOC and UC Irvine have been collaborating on two neurodevelopmental programs for children ages 5 and under:  For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center, which provides evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, support, and education for children who have a wide range of developmental disorders; and Help Me Grow Orange County, which connects children and families who have developmental and behavioral concerns with community resources. The Grandparent Autism Network (GAN) is a third partner in the Family Autism Network.  GAN is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that informs grandparents about autism and raises awareness and support for autism. The Family Autism Network will expand upon the resources provided by these groups, and serve as a central source for information for all families.

April is Sports Safety Month!

Like all fun-loving bears, I enjoy a good game of baseball during Springtime! Of course, we always need to play safe and avoid injuries. Did you know that with proper equipment and extra attention to stretching and conditioning, many injuries can be prevented? Dr. John Schlechter a specialist with the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, sent me the following tips to share with parents to help keep children safe.

Head Injuries: To prevent severe head injury, the use of a helmet during batting is required. To ensure a proper fit, the circumference of your child’s head in centimeters should be measured and compared with the size listed on the helmet. Be sure the helmet fits your child’s head snugly. It should be level, with two fingers’ width of space between the eyebrow and helmet. Never purchase an oversized helmet in hopes your child will grow into it.

Playing Fields: Level playing fields free of debris and severe irregularities are essential to prevent falls and lower extremity injuries. Break away or detachable bases should be installed to prevent foot and ankle injuries.

Pitcher Position: The shoulder and elbow of a thrower/pitcher is at risk for an injury if insufficient stretching, warm-up or improper mechanics, and overuse occurs. Using proper technique and limiting pitch count and the type of pitch thrown can dramatically decrease the risk that your child could suffer from an injury. Thanks to the work performed at the American Sports Medicine Institute, guidelines for age- based pitch counts and pitch type have been developed and should be implemented and followed in your local league. For more information, visit http://www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/rules/pitch_count_resource_page.htm

Happy Doctor’s Day!!!

As we celebrate Doctors Day at CHOC Children’s we take this opportunity to honor our physicians for their dedication to the children we serve. Each day they offer hope and healing through their compassionate and world-class care. Take a moment to visit our website and read about some of our docs and the amazing things they do for our kids: http://www.choc.org/100stories/index.cfm?keyword=docs

Anaheim Ducks Dedicate New Wing at CHOC

I had the huge honor of hosting the Anaheim Ducks – including my pal Wild Wing – here at CHOC for the dedication of the new Anaheim Ducks wing on the hospital’s oncology floor.  The wing includes a playroom/school room, teen room with a flat screen TV and electronic games, staff lounge,  family room and storage space.  It has the coolest graphics on the walls – they make you feel like you are right there on the ice with the players.  The teen room is great for our teen and adolesecent patients, encouraging them to hang out with each other.  As part of the CHOC Children’s Cancer Institute’s Adolescent and Young Adult Program, the hospital wanted to create an environment that would help make teen cancer patients still feel like teens.  Allowing these patients to hang out with each other versus with younger patients or with adults at adult facilities is much better for them psychologically, too.

Here I am pictured with Wild Wing and Dr. Sender, the medical director of the CHOC Children’s Cancer Institute.

OC Leaders Take the Stage for CHOC Children’s

I have been known to showcase some smooth dance skills every now and again – not easy for a bear my size.  There’s nothing like dancing, especially when combined with singing, to cheer one’s soul.  That’s why I am counting the days until CHOC Follies XII: The Princess and the Prius, featuring more than 100 of Orange County’s society, business and civic leaders singing and dancing to raise funds for CHOC Children’s.  This hysterical musical production will hit the Robert B. Moore Theater at Orange Coast College on April 2 at 8 p.m., April 3 at 8 p.m., and April 4 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.  More information, including ticket prices and sponsorship opportunities, can be found at www.chocfollies.org.

Time for Pancakes!

Get out the syrup – it’s time for National Pancake Day at IHOP restaurants.  On February 24th, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., participating IHOPs will give away free short stacks of their yummy buttermilk pancakes in exchange for donations to Children’s Miracle Network, of which CHOC Children’s is a member.  Last year’s Pancake Day celebration yielded 1.5 million free pancakes and more than $875,000 for children’s charities, like CHOC Children’s.  To see a list of participating Orange County locations, visit www.ihoppancakeday.com.  Come on OC – let’s see how much support we can “stack up” for the kids at CHOC.

Two of CHOC Children’s Nurses Recognized by Association of California Nurse Leaders

I have a confession to make – I love the nurses at CHOC Children’s, and here’s one more reason why:  two of our nursing leaders were recently recognized by the Association of California Nurse Leaders.  Julie Vaupel-Phillips was honored for best practices in recruitment, retention and outreach and Jan Kidwell was recognized for best practice in innovation.  These two nurse leaders are shining examples of the nursing profession and CHOC Children’s is lucky to have them!

CHOC Cherishes Children Gala

I had such a great time at the inaugural CHOC Cherishes Children Gala – a fundraiser for CHOC Children’s.  It was wonderful to see so many supporters (close to 300!)  I was a little star-struck by guest of honor Manny Guevara, known to his fans as Manny on the Streets on 102.7 KIIS-FM.  Manny is such a cool guy and a regular visitor to the hospital.  He accepted the first-ever Children’s Champion Award on behalf of KIIS-FM.  As you probably know, KIIS-FM has been a long-time supporter of the hospital and played a key role in helping bring Radio Lollipop to CHOC.  We are so thankful for their friendship.  We are also so thankful for the support we received by everyone at the gala.  An auction that evening helped to increase net proceeds to $335,000 for the night!  For those of you who missed the event, stay tuned for details on next year’s gala – or you can find ways to support the hospital on our website www.choc.org.

California Recognizes CHOC Children’s

Another BIG honor for CHOC Children’s – we were recently recognized with a Silver Level CAPE Award from the California Council for Excellence.  CHOC Children’s is the only children’s hospital in the state to ever earn this distinction.  What a honor!

The CAPE Award is the highest recognition in the state for performance excellence and honors organizations that demonstrate continuous improvement and superior performance in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement/knowledge management, human resources, process management and business results.

This recognition is a reflection of CHOC’s clinical excellence and of the hospital’s organizational-wide commitment to the highest standards of patient safety and quality of care.  Our patients deserve nothing less, right??

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