Coronavirus Updates

Monday, July 27th

A Friendly Reminder

It’s an easy, effective way to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Wednesday, July 22nd

Another Update on the Science

With COVID cases surging in Western PA and rising dramatically in many parts of the country, we thought it was a good time to give everyone another update on the science, and on everything you need to know to stay safe and healthy.

The Four Best Ways to Reduce Your Chance of Infection

As you know, COVID-19 has shown an incredible ability to infect and spread rapidly. But the good news continues to be that we can DRAMATICALLY REDUCE our chance of infection with just a few very simple precautions:

1. WEAR A MASK (over your mouth and nose) whenever you’re in public, and/or around anyone not a part of your immediate household.

2. MAINTAIN PHYSICAL DISTANCING of at least 6 feet between you and anyone not a part of your immediate household.

3. WASH/SANITIZE YOUR HANDS regularly.

4. STAY HOME & ISOLATE IF YOU’RE SICK, especially with a fever or cough.

Significant Risks of Infection

Given the precautions that reduce your chance of infection, these risks should be pretty obvious…

1. Spending time with UNMASKED people not a part of your immediate household — even if you’re wearing a mask. (Remember: your mask provides you some protection, but it’s primarily to protect others, because it prevents the spread of large respiratory droplets that transmit the infection. Other people’s masks protect you in the same way.)

2. Spending time with people not a part of your immediate householdat closer than 6 feet of physical distance — especially for periods of time greater than 15 minutes.

3. Doing #1 and/or #2 when INDOORS. (The virus spreads much more readily indoors than it does outdoors, where multiple factors help to reduce transmission.)

The Current Spread of the Virus

The dramatic surge of cases spreading across many parts of the US, including recently here in Western PA (after we’d done such a great job of keeping our cases low), is primarily due to a few types of risky events and behaviors that did NOT include the important safety precautions noted above: indoor social gatherings like parties, bars, restaurants, church services, and weddings.

These types of gatherings involve close, prolonged contact with loud talking, eating, drinking, and singing — behaviors that greatly increase the spread of droplets and the risk of transmission.

So one more excellent way to reduce your chance of infection is to AVOID GATHERINGS LIKE THESE, which can be hot spots of transmission and even become “superspreader” events.

Summary of the Science

As always, there’s a LOT of misinformation about COVID being pushed and shared on social media right now. So here are some important fact-checks and myth-busts, based on the expert scientific evidence we have right now:

• COVID is real, not man-made, and highly infectious. It grows rapidly in our respiratory tract, is easily spread person-to-person, causes serious illness and health complications, and kills at rates FAR exceeding those of seasonal flu and other viruses.

• Age (over 50, and especially over 65), obesity, and pre-existing medical conditions significantly increase the risk of the impact of an infection.

• The best way for our health system, both locally and nationally, to deal with the pandemic is to limit the spread rate of the virus through those Four Ways to Reduce Your Chance of Infection noted above.

• Because we have no vaccine (yet) or herd immunity, and because it spreads so easily — including by people not yet showing signs or symptoms of illness — every infection is likely to lead to one or more newly infected persons.

• Every infection can potentially result in illness, suffering, and death — no matter the age of the infected person.

• Every new infection contributes to the potential and frightening reality of overwhelming our healthy system — which would be a problem not only for people suffering from COVID, but for people suffering from all sorts of other diseases or emergencies who also need medical attention.

• Wearing masks for long periods of time does NOT reduce oxygen intake or carbon dioxide elimination. (Just ask the surgeons who wear them for 12- or even 18-hour surgical procedures.)

• Wearing masks for long periods of time does NOT increase risk of illness or disease. (Quite the opposite: it greatly decreases your risk of contracting many illnesses and diseases.)

We can all do our part to reduce the chance of infection and reduce the spread of COVID-19 by modeling these important, life-saving behaviors for our kids, our families, and our communities.

Let’s be responsible, and stay safe!

Wednesday, June 10th

Our First Steps Toward a “New Normal”

Now that Allegheny and Butler counties have gone “Green,” as some patients begin to catch up on overdue Well Visits, and as we prepare to enter the summer school/sports physical season, we’re taking our first steps toward finding a “new normal.”

Masks/Cloths Face Coverings

All Kids Plus Team members will continue to wear masks, and we will continue to follow the PA Department of Health order that requires all visitors ages 2 and over to wear masks or other cloth face coverings.

Physical Distancing

We will continue to promote physical distancing in our offices, both for our Kids Plus Team members and for our patients and families.

We will direct and escort all visitors throughout the office, to avoid congestion and limit contact with other visitors as much as possible. We’ll be especially careful about possible congestion at Check-In and Check-Out, and do everything we can to help everyone maintain safe physical distances.

Kids & Accompanying Adults

To help ease congestion and maintain physical distancing in the office, we’ll continue to ask that only 1 adult accompany any child over one month old. 

In the rare cases when a family brings 3 or more children who all have appointments, 2 adult parents/caregivers can accompany them.  We also ask that, if at all possible, siblings and other children without appointments stay home.

Waiting Rooms are Open & Physically Distanced

Our waiting rooms are open again, with wall toys covered, books and other high-touch items removed, and chairs thinned out to ensure plenty of safe physical distancing. Patients and families who come to see us for Well Visits, or for Sick Visits (including Walk-Ins) WITHOUT fever and/or respiratory symptoms will once again use the waiting rooms, which will be regularly cleaned and sanitized throughout the day.

We’ve designed both our schedules and our patient flow to minimize wait times and to get you to your exam room as quickly as possible. (For another way you can help minimize your wait time, and to make your entire visit go faster and more efficiently, see “Pre-Visit Questionnaires” below.)

All Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh patients will be roomed immediately after check-in.

Fever and/or Respiratory Symptoms Check-In and Wait From Car

We’ll continue the added safety measure of having all patients with fever and/or respiratory symptoms (including Walk-Ins) check-in and wait from their cars. Just give us a call when you arrive at the office, and we’ll take it from there. We’ll call you when your exam room is ready, and we’ll meet you at the door and escort you there right away.

Exam Rooms

All Exam Rooms will be in use for both Sick and Well Visits. If siblings have Well Visits, they can share the same Exam Room.

Exam Rooms will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every use, with our COVID-19 cleaning protocols, no matter the reason for the visit.

Pre-Visit Questionnaires

To shorten your wait time, and to help your Well Visits go even smoother and faster, we’ve loaded all of our Well Visit Questionnaires on our web site. If you fill out the form before you come to the office, we have all the information we need — including any questions or concerns you’d like to talk about with your provider.

As always, if you have any questions, just call us in the office anytime. We’re always happy to help!

Tuesday, June 9th

A Current Summary on Transmission, Prevention, & Symptoms

Almost three months (!) into the pandemic now, and with a whole lot of information (and misinformation, and even purposeful disinformation) making the rounds online, we thought it would be a good time to provide a quick summary of the current, and most important, evidence-based information on the transmission and prevention of COVID-19.

TRANSMISSION

The virus is thought to spread mainly by close, person-to-person contact, through large respiratory droplets produced when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, or talks, causing the droplets to land in another person’s mouth or nose.

Though it’s possible that someone could contract the virus by touching a surface on which those large droplets have fallen, the best current evidence suggests that’s NOT the main way the virus spreads.

The virus may be spread (through those large droplets) by people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms.

Despite some claims making the rounds on social media, there is NO evidence that the virus spreads through food or food packaging, water (including pools and hot tubs), mosquitoes, or ticks.

The evidence also suggests that the vast majority of this close, person-to-person transmission occurs indoors. The likelihood of outdoor transmission is considered very low, as long as you avoid crowds and other opportunities for prolonged close contact with other people.

PREVENTION

What we know about how the virus does spread, coupled with the knowledge that large respiratory droplets can travel as far as 6 feet before falling to the ground or some other surface, forms the basis of two key prevention recommendations:

1. Maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distancing

2. Wearing a mask or other cloth face covering on your mouth and nose

Three other, related recommendations (that also protect against many other illnesses!) are:

3. Washing your hands regularly with soap and water — or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

4. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you touch frequently

5. Trying (as best you can; it’s not easy!) to avoid touching your hands to your face

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. (The average time from exposure to onset of symptoms is thought to be about 5-6 days.)

Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are the most common, telltale symptoms of COVID-19 infection, though there is a host of other possible symptoms as well.

If you or someone you know exhibits those symptoms, call your primary care provider. If your child exhibits these symptoms, call us!

If someone exhibits any of these signs, seek medical care immediately:

• Difficulty breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• Confusion
• Inability to wake up or stay awake
• Bluish lips or face

RESEARCH CONTINUES

Doctors, scientists, and other researchers around the world are working around the clock to learn as much as they can about COVID-19 — and, of course, to develop a vaccine. As new evidence emerges and they learn more, recommendations can change. Some (most notably for mask-wearing) already have, and others may change as well.

If a new evidence-based consensus emerges, and especially if it leads to a new recommendation, we’ll let you know right away on our Facebook page, on our Twitter feed, and here on our web site.

As always, if you have any questions, call us in the office anytime. We’re always happy to help.

Monday, June 1st

Summer Activities in The Year of COVID-19

Some solid advice here from a panel of experts on how to weigh the potential COVID-19 risks associated with 14 common summer activities.

Monday, May 18th

A New Note on Toddlers & Masks

We know some toddlers are having a hard time wearing masks right now, and we’ve gotten lots of questions from parents about how to help them do it.

Dr. Stefano has a whole bunch of great suggestions in her new Doctor’s Note on Helping Toddlers Wear Masks.

Thursday, May 14th

A New Note on Returning to Child Care, and an Updated Note on MIS-C

With Western PA set to enter the “Yellow Zone” tomorrow, we’re hearing lots of questions from parents who want to know if it’s safe to let their kids return to child care. That, of course, is not an easy question to answer. But  a new Note From Dr. Springer provides the best guidance we have at the moment.

Speaking of notes from Dr. Springer… We’ve also updated her Note on Kawasaki Disease, MIS-C, and “COVID-Toes” with the most up-to-the-minute information.

Wednesday, May 13th

More Great Information from a Pediatric Infectious Disease Expert

We hosted another Facebook Live session today with our friend and colleague, infectious disease expert Dr. Andy Nowalk.

Dr. Wolynn and Dr. Nowalk provided another round of, accurate, up-to-the-minute information on Coronavirus, answering lots of viewer questions, and giving straightforward, evidence-based information about health and safety issues for both children and adults.

If you didn’t see it, we recommend you check it out.

Tuesday, May 5th

Fact-Checking Some Scary Headlines

If you’ve seen scary click-bait headlines about children hospitalized with mysterious syndrome possibly linked to COVID-19, or about a condition called “COVID Toes”…

…We have a new Note From Dr. Springer to put your mind at ease and tell you everything you need to know.

Wednesday, April 22nd

As Things Slow Down, Here’s a Summary

We’re thrilled that the pace of these updates has slowed the past two weeks. It feels like we’re settling in a bit to this (temporary) new normal.

We thought we would take this chance to remind you of some of the current highlights:

We’re still open all our regular hours, and urging you to keep your (always important) Well Visits.

• We’re now offering Virtual Visits! (See a Kids Plus Provider on your own screen in your own home!)

Walk-In Hours are now ALL DAY, EVERY DAY at all three offices! (Forever!)

• All check-ins and waits are now in your car. When you arrive at the office, just give us a call!

• We’re all wearing masks, and asking that everyone who enters our office wear one too.

• We have separate exam rooms for Well Visits and Sick Visits.

• If your child has fever and cough, we ask that you call the office and speak to our triage staff in advance of a visit.

• In addition to all of usual strict cleaning and safety protocols, we’ve instituted even more to keep you safe.

• If your child uses an inhaler and spacer, please bring them with you to the office for your visits.

Thursday, April 16th

You Get a Mask! You Get a Mask! Everyone Gets a Mask!

Now that Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health have issued an order that requires everyone in the commonwealth to wear masks when staffing or visiting an essential business, we will require that all patients (over age 2) and adults who accompany them wear cloth masks when when they enter and exit our offices.

All of our staff will, of course, continue to wear masks as well — at all times during your visit, including in the exam rooms with you.

Monday, April 13th

Our Expectant Parent Orientation & Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes are Now Being Held Online!

Starting this week, all of our Expectant Parent Orientation and Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes will be held online through Zoom.

Just sign up as you normally would on our web site through Eventbrite, and you’ll receive a confirmation email. The day before your class, you’ll receive an email with the Zoom meeting link.

We can’t wait to meet you online!

Monday, April 6th

New Mask-Wearing Guidelines

Now that both the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health updated their guidelines to encourage EVERYONE to wear a mask when out of your home and around other people, as a way to reduce the spread of virus from folks who are infected but have no symptoms.

This means that, in addition to wearing masks when interacting with patients, families, and each other, all Kids + Team Members will be wearing masks at all other times in the office as well. We ask that all patients (when age-appropriate) and family members do the same.

Friday, April 3rd

Great Information from a Pediatric Infectious Disease Expert

We hosted a Facebook Live session today with our friend and colleague, infectious disease expert Dr. Andy Nowalk.

Dr. Wolynn and Dr. Nowalk provided lots of great, accurate, up-to-the-minute information on Coronavirus, answering lots of viewer questions, busting a bunch of myths that are floating around social media, and giving straightforward, evidence-based information about health and safety issues for both children and adults.

If you didn’t see it, we highly recommend you check it out.

Wednesday, April 1st

Virtual Visits Now Available

This is NOT an April Fool’s Joke! It’s the first day we’re able to launch, and we didn’t want to wait.

We’re thrilled to introduce Kids + Virtual Visits, a way to see a Kids Plus Provider from the comfort and convenience of your own home — or anywhere! — on your computer, tablet, or smart phone.

Every weekday from 9am-5pm, we now have appointments for virtual sick visits.

To get an appointment, you just have to register on our Virtual Visit site (so we can contact you through our telehealth platform), and be signed up for Kids + AutoPay (so we can seamlessly bill your insurance for the visit).

Once you’re registered, all you have to do is call the office and make your appointment, the same way you would for an in-office visit. When your appointment time comes, just sign in to our Virtual Visit platform, and we’ll connect directly to you.

To lean more about Kids + Virtual Visits, including a tutorial on how to register (it takes fewer than five minutes!) for the platform and an early list of FAQs, see our Virtual Visits page.

Tuesday, March 31st

Please Bring Your Child’s Inhaler & Spacer to the Office

Due to new information that aerosolized medications may be a vector for spreading coronavirus, we’ll now be using inhalers for all breathing treatments in the office. If you’re bringing your child to the office for breathing concerns, and your child already uses an inhaler and spacer, please bring it with you to the office.

Monday, March 30th

Walk-In Hours Now All Day Every Day Everywhere

At a time when other medical offices are cutting hours and limiting services, we’re still here, still open all of our regular hours at all three offices, still doing everything we always do.

And now we’re expanding services too.

Starting today…

WALK-IN HOURS will be ALL DAY at ALL THREE OFFICES.

Not just for now, but forever.

As always, Walk-in Hours are for routine, straightforward health problems like sore throat, ear ache, cough, fever, rash, runny nose.

For symptoms of any length. For kids of any age. Just walk in. (Or, right now, during the pandemic: just show up and call us from the parking lot to check-in !)

Any office. Any time we’re open.

All-Day Walk-Ins are just one more way we’re always working and adapting to provide the best possible care and service for you and your family.

Wednesday, March 25th

More Patient Protections in Place

We’re now asking ALL patients to check in from your cars, and to not sit in the waiting room, to maintain the best possible physical distance between everyone. Families arriving by public transportation will, of course, be allowed to wait in our waiting rooms, with appropriate social distancing in place.

We also ask that, whenever possible, families have only ONE adult accompany a child to the office, so that we can limit the number of people in the office and exam rooms at any one time — which, of course, will also help us maintain appropriate social distancing. Exceptions are for Newborn Well Visits, including Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh visits, through the 1 month Well Visit — when it always helps to have both parents present.

Tuesday, March 24th

Masks in Our Offices

Following updated CDC guidelines that recommend health care personnel wear masks when seeing all sick patients, our Providers and Medical Assistants will now be wearing masks in the office for all sick visits, regardless of the symptoms for which they’re being seen.

This is just one more step we’re taking, following the guidance of national experts, to do our best to keep everyone in our office — patients, families, and our Kids Plus Team Members safe and healthy.

Monday, March 23rd

Another Safety Measure: Temperature Checks

To keep our patients, families, and Kids Plus Team Members safe and healthy, we’re monitoring temperatures for ALL of our team members as they arrive at the office, and then a second time throughout their shift.

Anyone with a temperature over 100 degrees will be sent home for follow-up and evaluation. Just one more extra precautionary measure we’re taking to ensure that our offices are as safe and healthy as possible.

Coming Soon: Online Telehealth Virtual Visits

We’re actively ramping up the ability to provide online telehealth virtual visits during our normal business hours! We want to offer this option as soon as possible, but we also want to make sure that when we do it, we do it right, and that everything works as well and as seamlessly as possible. We expect it to go live sometime in the next few weeks, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as we begin to roll it out.

Friday, March 20th

Well Visits Continue, as AAP Recommends

The American Academy of Pediatrics has reaffirmed its recommendation that all routine Well Child Care continue as usual, given its important role in keeping kids healthy. We certainly appreciate, and agree with that!

We urge you to keep your scheduled Well Visit appointments, and to make one if you haven’t gotten around to it yet or might be overdue. We have open slots every day, and both our Car-Wait option and enhanced cleaning protocols (see below) have been huge hits with the families we’ve seen in the office this past week. We’ll keep you safe during your visit, and we’ll keep your child healthy as we monitor growth and development, answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide critical vaccinations.

We Remain Open as Most Pennsylvania Businesses Shut Down

As a life-sustaining businessKids Plus remains open for all of our regular hours, 7 days and 4 nights a week, even as Governor Wolf has ordered the closure of most businesses in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We’re still here, working hard to keep you informed, to answer your questions over the phone and online, and especially to see you here in our offices for both sick and well visits.

Thursday, March 19th

Breastfeeding Center Virtual Visits Available

Our Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh has long offered virtual visits with our incredible team of Lactation Consultants.

If you or someone you know is breastfeeding and needs our support, we have an option to connect right from the comfort and safety of home. Learn more about Virtual Visits on the BFC web site.

Our PSA on Play Dates & Social Distancing

Representatives of several elected officials reached out to us on Tuesday afternoon and asked us to produce a video on the importance of NOT have play dates during a time of critical social distancing. So we wrote, shot, edited, and directed this Public Service Announcement, which will soon be shared all around the region. We urge you to share it as well…

Tuesday, March 17th

Wait-in-Car Process Now Available to Everyone

Beginning Wednesday, March 18th, we will offer the Wait-in-the-Car plan as an option for everyone.

It will still be mandatory for patients with fever and cough, but anyone who prefers to wait in their car instead of the waiting room will be able to do so.

Dedicated Exam Rooms for Non-Infectious Visits

Effective immediately, we have dedicated exam rooms that will be used ONLY for non-infectious visits.

We will, of course, continue to clean and sanitize all rooms to the fullest possible extent after every patient visit, but we will have separate exam rooms designated for patients who are NOT potentially infectious.

Monday, March 16th

Waiting Room Process Update

Through the first day of our new Car-Wait Process for patients exhibiting fever and cough, the process has worked extremely well. Thanks to everyone who came to the office today for your understanding and cooperation, as we make every effort to safeguard the health of everyone in our Kids + Community.

Sunday, March 15th

A Plan to Make Our Waiting Rooms Even Safer

Beginning Monday, March 16th, we will implement a small but significant change in our check-in process that will make our waiting rooms and offices as safe and hygienic as possible.

Now that Coronavirus cases have been announced here in Western Pennsylvania, and until the pandemic has subsided and the threat to public health has returned to far-less-heightened levels, we will be asking all patients who exhibit symptoms consistent with the virus — fever and cough — to return to their cars after checking in at our front desk.

We will call or text when an exam room is ready, and we will then escort the patient and family member(s) directly to an exam room, where they will be seen by a provider.

This process will ensure that anyone who MAY pose a risk of infection remains at a safe distance from other patients and family members in our waiting rooms, and it will also ensure that our waiting rooms remain as safe and sanitary as possible for patients and family members who come to our office for well visits and other, less potentially serious illnesses.

If your child DOES have fever and cough, we ask that you call the office and speak to our triage staff in advance, so we can talk to you directly and make the best possible assessment before your visit.

We also ask that, no matter your reason for visiting us at Kids Plus over the next few weeks, you bring as few family members as possible, and consider asking family members (like grandparents) who may be at higher risk, or anyone of any age who may be ill, to remain at home.

We will continue to evaluate this process, as well as all others in our practice, to ensure we’re doing everything possible to take care of you and your family.

Classes & Support Groups are Suspended Indefinitely

We’re deeply sorry to announce that, effective immediately, and continuing indefinitely, we will be suspending all of our public classes and support groups in The Well, including New Mom’s Coffee, Not-So-New Mom’s Coffee, Working Mom’s Coffee, Toddler Time, Moms of Two, and Mom & Baby Yoga.

Now that Coronavirus cases have been announced here in Western Pennsylvania, in an effort to follow evidence-based best practices that recommend social distancing as a way to flatten the curve of additional cases and infections, we feel this is the best possible strategy to help lower the risks and to protect public health in our communities.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation as it develops. And we will, as with everything else we’re doing at Kids Plus right now, continually re-evaluate our decisions as conditions change.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and for being a part of our incredible Kids Plus Community. We’re looking forward to having you back in The Well as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Saturday, March 14th

A Note From Dr. Wolynn

To Our Kids Plus Community:

I wanted to touch base with you on the subject of Coronavirus.

First — We always serve our patients and families using evidence-based best practices. Right now, we know that much of what’s out there is alarming. Both media and social media are scaring and sensationalizing, doing their best to drum up fears and views and clicks. But at Kids Plus, we will continue to do what we always do: follow the science, pay attention to the data, and provide outstanding care to our families according to guidelines recommended by local, regional, and national experts and authorities.

Second — Now that Coronavirus cases have been announced in Western Pennsylvania, public health officials will be able to determine the next best steps, and Kids Plus will, as always, stay on top of everything.

Third — We’ve received some calls from parents asking if they should cancel or reschedule well visits. Right now, we’re urging everyone to keep all well visit appointments, because that recommendation follows CDC guidelines. And because it’s always critical to keep kids up-to-date on routine care.

Finally, and most importantly — We are doing, and will continue to do, everything we can to ensure that every patient, family member, and visitor remains safe and healthy in our offices. Right now, that means mostly business as usual, because we already take extraordinary care to keep our facilities clean and safe. We’ve added a few extra cleaning and sanitizing precautions, as well as a new check-in process to keep our waiting rooms even safer, thanks to the work of our Clinical Committee, which has been working tirelessly the past few weeks and tracking recommendations from the AAP, CDC, local health departments, and other sources.

As new information becomes available, and as guidelines and recommendations are updated or changed, we will keep you up-to-date.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, or if we can help you in any way.

Because at Kids Plus, we’re always here for you and your family.

Dr. Todd Wolynn
CEO, Kids Plus Pediatrics