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Updated Guidelines for Elective Surgery, Urgent Care, Primary Care, Neighborhood Clinics and Specialty Clinic Visits as Result of COVID-19

With a situation as fluid as COVID-19, we are making changes every day to protect our patients, families and health care workers. These changes touch every aspect of our health care system from our primary care offices to urgent care, specialty care and surgery. If your child is a Cook Children’s patient, you are likely being impacted in some way.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • We are taking every proactive step we can to get ahead of COVID-19 and prevent further spread of the virus.
  • We believe it is our social responsibility to embrace these changes to protect the community.
  • There is no vaccine or medical therapy for COVID-19. We are being aggressive with our prevention efforts because it is our best bet in combating this virus.

The care you need will still be available, but with a few changes aimed at protecting everyone.

The new guidelines are as follows:

COVID-19 Testing

Currently, Cook Children’s will only perform COVID-19 testing on patients who are admitted for inpatient care. No outpatient settings will perform this testing including primary care, neighborhood clinics, urgent care or specialty clinics.

Urgent Care Centers/Multi-specialties/Primary Care (shared entrances) Changes

A staff member with clinical expertise will be out front in personal protective equipment (PPE) to screen patients for any recent travel to an area with active COVID-19 and to evaluate symptoms. If the screen is positive then the family will be instructed to please return to their vehicle if the patient is stable and does not need immediate attention. The family will be given instructions to call the front desk number for further instruction.

The front-desk staff will answer the call and will offer a virtual visit or if needed families will be directed to a safe entrance for further evaluation.

Visitation Policy for Outpatient Clinics, Neighborhood Clinics and UCC locations

A maximum of one primary caregiver will be allowed per patient, per visit inside Cook Children’s primary care, neighborhood clinics, urgent care and pediatric specialties. Please designate the primary caregiver who will go into the room with your child upon arrival.

Appointments: No walk-in visits will be allowed.

All physicians (specialty, primary care and neighborhood clinics) will follow these appointment rules for at least the next six weeks:

  1. Portal-scheduled visits will be temporarily disabled and when telemedicine options become available those will be opened on the portal.
  2. If a current appointment is elective and therefore can be rescheduled these will be rescheduled to at least six weeks into the future.
  3. If the visit can be carried out via phone or telemedicine this option will be available at provider discretion.
  4. If the patient must be seen in person, then standard CDC screening and PPE precautions will be taken to assure safety for patients and staff.

Well-child Checks

All well-child check visits for children more than 18 months of age and who are up to date on vaccines will be canceled until further notice and rescheduled as soon as possible.

Any child who has not had all vaccines recommended to be given up to 18 months of age will continue to be seen for well-child checks until the immunizations are caught up to that age group’s recommendations. (Pre-18 month visits for immunizations are currently judged to be non-elective).

All attempts will be made to schedule well-child checks and sick visits separately. Well-child checks will be scheduled early in the day and sick visits will take place after a lunch break and the opportunity to thoroughly clean the office.

Elective Surgery and Specialty Clinic Visits

Beginning Friday, March 20, Cook Children’s will begin canceling and rescheduling surgical/procedural cases that are deemed to be elective through May 1. These decisions will be made by clinicians on a case by case basis in an effort to reduce person-to-person contact. Time sensitive, emergent and urgent cases will still take place. Parents and guardians will be contacted if their child’s appointment/procedure needs to be rescheduled. If you feel your child’s upcoming procedure or appointment can be postponed at least six weeks, please call your physician’s office. This change is being made in accordance with recommendations by the federal government and the American College of Surgeons.

“Cook Children’s remains dedicated to the care of our patients and our community during this public health emergency,” said Alice Philips, M.D., a member of Cook Children’s Physician Network’s COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness Task Force and a pediatrician in Cityview. “As a health care system, we are taking unprecedented measures to protect our patients, their families, the community, our physicians and staff. We hope people understand any inconvenience this may create and work with us, until this public health crisis is over and we return to a sense of normalcy.”

These changes will be followed for the foreseeable future. As with everything involving COVID-19, this situation is fluid and changing frequently. Please continue to follow Cook Children’s for the latest information.

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