Coronavirus fears are keeping some children from getting the medical care they need. Here, the Levine Children's team encourages families to bring their kids in for care in the case of an emergency

Child Health | 2 months ago

The Hidden Danger of Coronavirus for Kids

Coronavirus fears are keeping some children from getting the medical care they need. Dr. Andrew Herman, chief medical officer at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital, warns that this could be more harmful to kids than the virus itself.

From washing your hands to staying home as much as possible, you’re doing everything to protect your family from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Fortunately, preventive measures can be very effective, and children generally seem to be at a lower risk for severe illness than adults. But doctors warn that doesn’t mean the pandemic won’t affect their health.

“The lucky thing is that the virus doesn’t tend to affect children to the same degree as adults,” says Andrew C. Herman, MD, chief medical officer at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital. “But it unearthed the real danger of COVID for kids: a delay in care.” 

How fear of COVID-19 affects kids’ health 

While parents once turned to pediatrician’s offices and emergency rooms to keep their children safe, COVID-19 has left many afraid to seek care. To some, the risk of being exposed to the virus seems greater than the need for a checkup, or even the need for immediate medical attention to treat an illness or injury. 

But the truth is, safety precautions at Atrium Health’s facilities make the risk of exposure to COVID-19 extremely low, and delaying medical care could have a lasting effect on your child’s health. According to Dr. Herman, children’s hospitals in some of the hardest-hit areas of the country have reported increased mortalities and complications related to care being delayed out of fear. 

“That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to share the message that we’re open, we're here to care for our kids, and we’ll keep you safe,” says Dr. Herman.

Below, Dr. Herman shares what you need to know about seeking care for your child during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-Safe care: Keeping your family safe

We go above and beyond to protect our patients every day. And during the COVID-19 outbreak, Atrium Health is setting the national standard for COVID-Safe care.

We have extensive safety measures across all locations, like the fastest coronavirus testing in the region and appropriate protection for all patients, visitors and Atrium Health teammates. By making our locations the safest places possible, you can feel comfortable seeking care from us anytime you or your child needs it.

Don’t delay emergency care

If your child gets really sick or hurt, you can still get the advanced level of care they need at all Atrium Health hospitals. Though we have some visitor restrictions, parents and guardians can stay by their child’s side at all times. 

Like other Atrium Health locations, our hospitals have COVID-Safe care standards in place to give you peace of mind. We require everyone to wear a mask if developmentally appropriate, including patients and visitors.

“The hospital looks very different than it did before COVID, and sometimes that’s really scary for kids,” says Dr. Herman. “Parents should help their kids recognize that they're going to see a lot of healthcare providers and others in personal protective equipment, from masks to face shields to goggles. The reason for that is to protect them and to protect our teammates and our healthcare providers.”

And while it may look different, the most important parts of Atrium Health’s hospitals remain unchanged.

“The joy of taking care of patients. The gift of being part of your lives, of being able to help your kids get better. The excellent care, the impeccable attention to safety and quality, and the compassion,” says Dr. Herman. “Those are all the same.”

Get routine care safely, too

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for your child to continue to get the care they need, even if it’s not an emergency.

The expert primary and specialty care you expect from Atrium Health Levine Children’s are still here for you, as are Atrium Health’s Urgent Care centers. And when you need care quickly or don’t want to leave home, you can use Atrium Health’s on-demand care options. 

Through Virtual Visit, your child can have a video visit for minor illnesses or injuries at any time of day or night. Plus, many of our primary and specialty care doctors are now offering video and phone visits for routine and follow-up care. Your child’s doctor will help you decide if this is a good option for your family. 

In some cases, your child’s doctor might say an in-person visit is best. Rest assured, our offices are taking all the necessary steps to keep your family safe and healthy when you’re here. If you need to make an appointment, call your doctor’s office or call 704-468-8888. And if you have a life-threatening emergency, don’t hesitate to call 911.

Interested in learning more?

Check out Dr. Herman’s blog post about how we’re protecting kids and families here.

Read our Q&A about kids and coronavirus with Levine Children’s experts here.

If you need help finding the right care, visit AtriumHealth.org/GetCareNow.

Find out more about Atrium Health’s commitment to COVID-Safe care at AtriumHealth.org/Safe.