by Nicole White, MS, RN, CPNP
We are entering an unprecedented time full of uncertainty and worry in this country. The COVID-19 virus has caused many changes for the families of this community. It can be especially stressful as parents when there is a new virus with so many unanswered questions: Can I keep breastfeeding if I get COVID-19? How do I tell if this is a cold or something more? How will I afford my child’s medicine if I lose my job? The good news is that as medical providers we actually have a lot of answers in regards to this virus. Additionally, from a pediatric perspective, children are doing remarkably well with the COVID-19 virus.
As a pediatric nurse practitioner I have noticed fear is preventing my patients and families from being seen in the office for their routine care. On behalf of all our pediatric staff, I want to let you know that at the Great Falls Clinic we have taken measures to continue to provide the very best, but also safe, care for our pediatric patients. Our goal is to keep your children healthy and supported during this time.
As of March 18th we have changed a few things in the pediatrics department to help accomplish this. All “well” children are being seen at our main pediatrics location: 1400 29th Street South. Dr. Colleen Marron, and I will be located at the main campus. All patients and staff presenting to this building are screened daily for symptoms of concern and potential exposures in regards to COVID-19. If they have any symptoms of concern or elevated temperature, they are directed to our Northwest Clinic at 1600 Division Road and cannot be seen on the main campus.
Our Northwest Clinic is serving as our respiratory center. We continue to offer pediatricians at this location as usual. Dr. Paul Meiners will be available to see your children should they become sick with a cough, fever, body aches, shortness of breath, or other respiratory related concerns. You can call and make an appointment or walk-in to the Northwest Clinic for respiratory illness. And not to worry if you are a patient of Dr. Paul Meiners, they will still be seeing their “well” patients at the main clinic location on certain days of the week so be sure to call ahead if you are a “well” patient of theirs to get scheduled.
This is actually a great opportunity to get your child their medication follow-ups (they don’t have to miss any school for their appointment!), visit with providers regarding that issue that has been going on for a while that you have not had time to make an appointment for, get their annual well-child visit done, or discuss possible support options for your family before you experience interruptions in your insurance coverage. Additionally, it is especially important at this time to make sure your children stay up-to-date with their routine vaccinations.
We are now offering telemedicine visits by phone or with video to those patients who desire it as well. These will be on a case by case basis and also by provider preference. Some patients will still need to be seen for certain vitals or lab work. The Clinic is currently working on ways to coordinate those measures with the telehealth so you do not have to necessarily come into the office. There will be more information released on this soon.
Finally, any questions, fears, or concerns you have regarding the COVID-19 virus and your children, we are here for you and your family to discuss. Please feel free to call our nursing staff or arrange a time with your provider to discuss any of these questions.
So please come in and see us. Do not stop anywhere else on your way. Keep your children up-to-date with their ongoing medical needs and still comply with social distancing. If you are having trouble figuring out where your primary care provider is located and what days of the week they will be there, please call ahead at 406-454-2171 or the Northwest Clinic at 406-268-1600.
About Nicole White, MS, RN, CPNP
Nicole joined the Great Falls Clinic Pediatrics Department in 2012. She specializes in general pediatrics and enjoys partnering with families to help children be healthy and safe. For more information, please call 406-454-2171.