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Tips for deciding where to go for care during COVID-19

At CHOC Children’s, we know you want to give your child the very best care every day, especially during these uncertain times.

Kids are kids, even during a pandemic. They catch colds, break bones, need vaccinations and have asthma attacks.

If your child is ill, injured, due for a vaccination, experiencing a mental health issue or a flare up of a chronic condition, what should you do? Contact their pediatrician or specialist? Call a nurse helpline? Visit the emergency department?  We know it can be scary and stressful to have a sick child – especially during this time of COVID-19, so we have prepared the following recommendations to help you decide where to go for your child’s care:

Contact your child’s pediatrician or specialist

  • Your pediatrician’s office is a place for check-ups and vaccinations, and your primary resource for sick visits, when your child has symptoms like fever, runny nose, cough, ear pain, headaches, sore throat, rashes or abdominal pain.
  • Your child’s pediatrician or specialist knows your child’s medical history, providing you additional peace of mind. If your child has a flare up of a chronic condition, consider following up directly with their pediatric specialist at 1-888-770-2462.
  • And rest assured, during this extraordinary time, we are taking extraordinary measures to keep our offices safe.

Call 1-844-GET-CHOC (open 24/7 and staffed with pediatric nurses)

  • If you don’t have a regular pediatrician and you’re concerned about your child’s fever, runny nose, cough, ear pain, headaches, sore throat, rashes or abdominal pain, call 1-844-GET-CHOC to speak to a nurse in English or Spanish.
  • The nurse will evaluate your child’s condition; if it seems serious, the nurse can connect you to a CHOC physician who can immediately conduct a telehealth visit and possibly recommend that you go to the emergency department for further evaluation or testing.

Visit the emergency department

  • Although visiting an emergency department (ED) seems scary during this time of shelter in place, it is the best place for apparent life-threatening events, which could include rapid and fast breathing, head trauma, trauma with loss of consciousness or vomiting, motor vehicle accidents, severe abdominal pain or dehydration. It’s also the best place to take infants less than 28 days with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.
  • Not all emergency departments take care of children on a regular basis. It is best to go somewhere that specializes in children’s health with specialized training and equipment made just for kids.
  • Like our physician offices, we are going to extraordinary lengths to keep our ED safe, including universal screening and social distancing.

Keeping your child healthy requires your attention, even during these stressful times.  Ask yourself: What would I have done before COVID-19?

If you are concerned about your child’s illness, injury or mental health, visit your pediatrician or specialist, call 1-844-GET-CHOC or go to the emergency department.

And please do not let lack of insurance prevent you from getting medical care for your child. CHOC Children’s is a non-profit pediatric healthcare system. If you do not have or have recently lost your medical coverage, call us at 1-714-509-8600. We can help.

This article was last updated on April 16, 2020.

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