Elevating the Importance of Well-Child Visits
Though children are not the group most directly affected by COVID-19, pediatricians are worried about its indirect—and lingering—physical, mental and social effects. A recent New York Times article outlined pediatricians’ top concerns, many of which are exacerbated by parents avoiding doctor’s visits for their children:
• Missing immunizations and falling immunization rates
• Emotional trauma, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
• Developmental impacts of the pandemic and the lack of social connections
• Vulnerable populations and economic disparities
• School loss and educational disparities
• Child abuse
• Missing treatment and therapies
• Concerns about what the future will bring
It’s important to schedule regular well-child visits from birth through adolescence to identify and prevent healthy problems and ensure children are thriving. During these visits, doctors check a child’s growth and development, test vision and hearing, assess overall health and manage ongoing healthcare needs. Children also receive appropriate vaccines.
“VHAN pediatricians are making great efforts to create a safe environment in their offices so patients can stay up to date with their check-ups and vaccines,” says Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Pediatric Regional Medical Director. “This is absolutely necessary to prevent a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.”
If caregivers are hesitant to schedule well-child visits, be sure to communicate the measures your office is taking to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19, such as social distancing in common areas, thorough disinfecting practices, coronavirus screenings at the door and more. When possible, move pediatric Medicaid well-child visits to telehealth and visit the VHAN Hub for coding guidance.