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Akron Children’s takes steps to reduce COVID-19 risks

03-12-2020 (Akron, Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), now considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization, continues to spread in the community and with several confirmed cases in Northeast Ohio, Akron Children’s is taking additional steps to protect its patients and employees, as well as the community as a whole.

These changes are also to prepare for an increase in patients, as well as in anticipation of questions and concerns from parents and caregivers:

  • Effectively immediately, Akron Children’s is allowing only two visitors per day per patient. No siblings or children under 18 will be permitted, and do not visit if you are sick. We encourage parents not to bring siblings to primary care and outpatient appointments.  
  • Both hospital campuses are limiting entry points and will be screening visitors for illness, travel history and COVID-19 exposure. Large, heated tents at Akron Children’s emergency rooms in Akron and Boardman will be going up to expand capacity if needed.
  • The hospital has narrowed its volunteer force to those younger than 60, since people 60 and older are one of the highest risk groups for serious illness with COVID-19. The Doggie Brigade is also being temporarily suspended.

Following guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations, Akron Children’s Hospital has in recent days canceled and postponed a number of events and activities to limit large groups and promote “social distancing.”

In recent days, several large medical conferences have been canceled, and all business travel for employees has been suspended. The annual Pediatric Update, a conference for pediatricians planned for April 15, has been canceled. Moving forward, events planned by Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation could also be canceled. This website will be updated on a regular basis for all other hospital activities being canceled: www.akronchildrens.org/canceled.

Concerned about your child’s health?

  • Parents who have serious concerns about their child’s health and possible exposure to COVID-19 should call their primary care physician. The hospital asks that parents who believe their family has had COVID-19 exposure NOT show up in an emergency room or physician office without first calling ahead. This will dramatically reduce the number of other people exposed to the virus.
  • If you have a child in a health emergency, go to the ER.

“We know there is lot of concern, a lot of anxiety among our patient families,” said Lisa Aurilio, chief operating officer for Akron Children’s. “But Akron Children’s has a large multi-disciplinary team meeting daily and looking at the emerging COVID-19 situation from all angles – everything from supplies and staffing to preparing for confirmed cases and infection control. We receive regular updates from federal, state and local public health agencies. We have mobilized before with H1N1 flu and ebola, and our number one priority is to keep our patients and employees healthy and reduce every possible risk of exposure to this virus.”

As the virus spreads in the community, children with chronic health problems are at most risk, says Dr. Rob McGregor, chief medical officer for Akron Children’s.

“As we see more community spread, we will be focusing our attention on children with fever and coughs. It is also important to remember that although children, in general, fare well with COVID-19, they can put grandparents and other elderly adults at increased risk for exposure to the virus,” said Dr. McGregor.