Newswise — Los Angeles (May 19, 2020) – When Jenn and Mike Dupke had to take their 4-year-old son, Rhett, to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for a week this spring—in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—they were nervous. Rhett has been battling a cancer called neuroblastoma for over a year, and his immune system is still compromised.
“We were worried,” Jenn says. “But Children’s Hospital has been taking every single precaution. They’re constantly cleaning. They have a mask for you the minute you walk in. They’re limiting the number of people, so you’re not walking into a crowd. Even Child Life doesn’t loan out toys anymore—they gave Rhett a brand-new toy to take home.
“It’s very reassuring,” she says. “We really appreciate all the steps Children’s Hospital L.A. is taking to keep kids safe, so they can still get the care they need. Because that care is lifesaving.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has launched extensive protective measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and keep patients, families and team members safe. With these measures firmly in place, the hospital is encouraging families not to delay needed care for their children.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Surgeon General and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have all stated that it is important to address in a timely manner health care that was previously postponed,” says Paul S. Viviano, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Throughout this crisis, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been dedicated to ensuring a safe environment for our young patients, their families and all caregivers on our campus. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles remains ready to provide the entire spectrum of care that children need. We want families to know that their child’s health is essential and not to unnecessarily delay care.”
Making sure children continue to receive health care, including preventive care, is critical, says Mona Patel, MD, a practicing pediatrician and Vice President of Ambulatory Operations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“I’m having these conversations with parents every day,” Dr. Patel says. “We worry about vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as pertussis, or about children with chronic health conditions. Delaying care could put children at risk for other illnesses or health problems later on.”
Robust testing and safety measures
One of the cornerstones of the hospital’s safety efforts has been a robust on-site testing program conducted by the hospital’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Since March 13, the hospital has tested more than 3,000 individuals for the novel coronavirus. CHLA tests every patient who is admitted to the hospital for inpatient care and prior to undergoing procedures.
Our Clinical Virology Laboratory has implemented the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) testing protocol, which is highly sensitive and specific for the detection of the novel coronavirus. In addition, the laboratory conducted supplementary studies to ensure that the results are highly accurate and comparable to data from the CDC. Our testing data shows that the novel coronavirus is not being spread on our campus.
The hospital also has adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE)—the masks, gowns, gloves and other supplies needed to keep team members and families safe.
CHLA has launched several additional safety measures as well. These include:
- Increased cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
- Daily health screenings for all team members and visitors when they enter the hospital
- Requiring everyone to wear a mask (except children under age 2)
- Creating more space between chairs and tables in waiting rooms and the cafeteria
- Posting reminders in key locations about social distancing and how to prevent the spread of infection
Outpatient care centers are reopening
To give families more options for care, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has begun reopening its outpatient centers across Los Angeles County.
As of May 4, the Arcadia, Encino, Santa Monica and South Bay outpatient centers are operating with regular hours and specialties.
All locations are using the same enhanced safety protocols as the hospital’s Sunset campus, including social distancing, universal masking, increased cleaning regimens, daily health screenings and more.
“It’s incredibly important that parents continue their child’s vaccines and other health care needs,” Dr. Patel says. “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has taken tremendous measures to make sure our care environment is safe. We are here and ready to help.”
About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Founded in 1901, Children's Hospital Los Angeles is ranked the top children’s hospital in California and fifth in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of children’s hospitals. Clinical care is led by physicians who are faculty members of the Keck School of Medicine of USC through an affiliation dating from 1932. The hospital also leads the largest pediatric residency training program at a freestanding children’s hospital of its kind in the western United States. The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles encompasses basic, translational and clinical research.