If your child needs to visit or stay at a hospital, you should trust that health care providers are diligent in their preventive measures and know that hospital visits are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their safety rules are likely more conservative than even some doctor visits.
It’s important not to delay or skip your child’s hospital care so that their problems don’t turn more serious.
Changes to Expect
Here are some of the key ways that hospitals are safeguarding your and your child’s health.
A deep clean. Hospitals are disinfecting their spaces more often and sometimes using separate rooms for people who have COVID-19. They’re also providing hand sanitizers and places for hand washing.
Online forms. You may be asked to sign up for a patient portal or some other way to answer questions before you go to the hospital. This can help you and your child spend less time in the waiting room and keep hands away from pens or other surfaces.
One visitor limit. Most hospitals ask that only one parent or guardian stay with the child. Siblings generally aren’t allowed, so leave any other children at home. If your child needs to stay in the hospital overnight, friends and family members will likely not be able to visit. But video calls may help them stay in touch. One parent or caregiver is allowed to stay with your child in the hospital 24/7 and can sleep in their room, even during COVID-19.
Masks. All staff and visitors must wear masks at all times. Bringing a mask from home will help the hospital from running out. If you don’t have a mask, they will give you one. Babies younger than 2 don’t have to wear masks. If your child is older than 2 and has trouble wearing a mask, call the hospital in advance and ask how to handle it.
Symptom checks. A nurse may check your temperature when you get to the hospital and ask you about possible symptoms of COVID-19. Sometimes these are the same questions you already answered online. If you have a fever or cough, you may have to go home and reschedule your child’s appointment.
COVID-19 tests. Staff may test your child if they will have outpatient surgery or need to spend the night for any reason. They may have rooms set up for children who have COVID-19 to keep them away from anyone else.
Social distance. You may still see floor markers and seats in waiting rooms set up to help you stay at least 6 feet away from others. Signs will tell you how to safely use elevators and common areas such as cafeterias, pharmacies, therapy gyms, and gift shops. Some of these places may be closed.
Rules for staff. You can feel assured that the doctors and other staff members caring for your child are checked every day for signs of COVID-19. They also must wear masks, gowns, gloves, and other safety gear to make sure your child and everyone else stays safe.
If you feel unsure or uneasy about heading to the hospital after isolating at home, talk to your pediatrician or the hospital.