Alleviating parents’ fears over Emergency Room visits amid COVID-19: Showcasing the transformation of the Children’s Emergency Department

Emergency room visits

Green Zone

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, fear should never be a barrier for a parent seeking urgent medical attention for their child. The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) Emergency Department (ED) would like to reassure parents and patients that it has adapted its physical space and working methods to meet the safety needs that our new reality presents.

Preparations began in January and have been fully functioning and continue to evolve with coronavirus developments. They include:

● A physical transformation of the Emergency Department to ensure from the moment of arrival at the triage process, patients and their caregiver(s) can be triaged and correctly directed to the Green Zone (non-COVID) or Pink Zone (COVID-19 or COVID-19 suspect)

● All our staff members take meticulous infection control measures to avoid any exposure for patients and their families

● Even if a patient is a suspect COVID-19 suspect case, they will receive the same high-quality care and will not be turned away or transferred elsewhere

Emergency room visits

Pink Zone

Beyond these measures, the staff at the Children’s Emergency Department has taken measures to help ease any fears children may have when coming in contact with staff in full PPE.

According to Dr. Laurie Plotnick, Medical Director of the Emergency Department, “As a pediatric Emergency Department, our staff are already prepared to come up with creative ways to reduce any anxiety children and families may face. During COVID, there are additional strategies that are helpful. If possible, parents should prepare their children by telling them ahead of time they will be asked to wear masks and that healthcare workers will be wearing masks, face shields, gowns and gloves to keep them safe.”

“Before entering a room to examine the child, we talk to families by phone through the glass doors so the caregivers and children can see what we look like before we put on our protective equipment to examine them. This allows us the opportunity to optimize the time that we spend interacting with families and so they can see our faces. Caregivers have been accepting and seem reassured by these protective measures and equipment. When we are in the room, we rely on strategies such as verbally reassuring the children and enlisting the help of parents and their own toys and videos to distract children to reduce their nervousness and fear.”

Remember fear should never be a barrier to seeking medical attention for children’s illnesses and injuries. In fact, delaying seeking medical attention can sometimes have very serious consequences. The Emergency Department (ED) has adapted its physical space and working methods to meet the safety needs of our patients, families and staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please know that while you’re within our walls, your family will be kept as safe as possible, and your child will be treated as quickly and efficiently as possible, whether he or she displays symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

Emergency room visitsOur specialists would like to remind parents and caregivers that emergency visits are particularly important in the following situations:

– Your child is having trouble breathing (for example, he is breathing faster than normal; he is pale; his lips turn white or blue; he is coughing non-stop, choking or breathing irregularly).
– Your child is hurt and may have a broken bone or need stitches.
– Your child hurt himself and is now vomiting.
– Your infant (under three months old) has a fever over 38°C or 100.4°F.
– Your child has fever and is very sleepy or difficult to wake.
– Your child has a rash that doesn’t turn white if you press on it.
– Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, and has signs of dehydration (such as a dry mouth or no urine in more than 8 hours)

If you’re unsure about whether to visit the Emergency Department or a clinic, call 8-1-1 or your pediatrician or family doctor’s office beforehand.