As you adjust to the “new normal” of life during the pandemic, you’re sure to have concerns about continuing your child’s health care in the safest way possible.

Here are some answers to common questions about the safety measures we’ve taken at University of Iowa Stead Family’s Children’s Hospital and a brief video message from our leaders about what we’re doing to keep everyone safe while in our care.

If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to contact us for more information.

Isn’t it important to stay home and avoid contact with other people during the pandemic?

It is important. Taking precautions—like social distancing, wearing a mask, and only leaving home for essential trips—will help to reduce the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. But it’s also important to reduce the risk of the kind of complications that can come with delaying the essential care or treatment your child needs.

If your child doesn’t feel well, or if you know your child is overdue for ongoing care, you should contact your doctor to talk about your options and the right timing for getting that care.

If my child is not feeling well, will our doctor require us to go to the hospital?

You have control over how you get the care your child needs. The first step is to contact us and request an appointment. You and your doctor will work together to decide what the next step should be. That could be an in-person visit, a telehealth video visit, or a telehealth phone visit.

In some cases, you and your doctor may decide that the best thing for your child is an in-person visit. Your doctor knows that safety is our highest priority at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. It may be one of the safest public places you can visit during the pandemic. But you always have a say in what happens next.

What if the hospital is crowded?

Just like you, lots of people are taking extra precautions during the pandemic, so we don’t have as many people in our hospitals and clinics now as we normally would.

We’re also taking extra steps to minimize the number of people in the hospital. If you’ve had to go anywhere in public recently, compare that experience to visiting UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, where:

  • Everyone who enters is screened for COVID-19 symptoms and fever.
  • Everyone is encouraged and reminded to stay 6 feet apart at all times.
  • We have temporary restrictions on the number of visitors allowed into the hospital to reduce crowding as much as possible.
  • Public spaces like cafeterias and waiting rooms have signs and floor markings to remind people to keep 6 feet apart, and chairs have been moved apart.
  • All patients and visitors age 2 and older are encouraged to wear their own masks, and we have masks to give to people who don’t have their own. See our instructions on how to properly put on and take off a mask.
  • All employees have been given special protective face shields to wear, and any of our employees who work with you and your child have also been given masks to wear under their face shields.
  • Hand hygiene stations are available for everyone to use throughout all of our facilities.
  • We have crews of employees whose only job is to keep the hospitals and clinics clean, and they’ve received special extra training for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces during the pandemic.

It’s understandable to be worried about going out in public. Every safety measure we’ve taken is guided by our excellent team of epidemiologists. UI Health Care has one of the largest teams of epidemiologists in the nation. They specialize in keeping our hospitals and clinics safe.

If people who are sick with COVID-19 are being treated at the hospital, doesn’t going to the hospital put me and my child at risk of getting COVID-19?

Because COVID-19 is shared from person to person, you should always take precautions when you’re out in public to protect you, your child, and others around you.

Our safety measures help make UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital one of the safest public places you can visit. And you can do your part in helping everyone stay safe by social distancing, washing hands, and having a face mask or covering for you and for children age 2 and older.

Our cleaning staff has received special extra training for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in public spaces. We also have safety measures in place to help minimize the risk of exposure, including masks and face shields for all employees, hand hygiene stations for everyone to use, and screening for fever and symptoms of illness at our entrances.

Patients who have COVID-19 are treated in separate, isolated units or clinics. The vast majority of our patients do not have COVID-19.

If you continue to have concerns, please talk with your provider.

Are there other ways to get health care for my child?

We offer telehealth video visits and phone calls for many patients. You can use your MyChart account to request a telehealth visit.

If you don’t have your free MyChart account yet, it’s easy to get started and begin using MyChart on your mobile device or computer today.

MyChart also lets you send messages to your child’s doctor, so you can discuss any concerns before scheduling an appointment.

You can also use MyChart to schedule and manage appointments, check in early from home for your child’s appointments, view test results, get prescriptions filled, and more.

Do we need to bring face masks to my child’s appointment?

You’re welcome to wear your own cloth face masks or coverings, as advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you don’t have your own masks, we have masks for you and your child to wear during your visit.

Children age 2 and older need to wear a mask. Masks are not recommended for children under age 2. We understand that proper placement of a mask on younger children can be a challenge. Please do the best you can, under the circumstances, to keep your child safely masked.

UI Health Care is seeking donations and purchasing additional cloth masks with the goal of being able to provide cloth face masks to staff and patients who need one in the near future.

For more information, visit the CDC website on cloth face coverings, and see our video instructions for wearing your mask.

Do you have enough protection equipment for your staff?

To keep our patients and staff safe, and to make sure we’re caring for all Iowans who need us for their essential health care, we’re following national and statewide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE). Currently, we have enough supplies. But there are national shortages of this equipment, and all hospitals remain vulnerable.

We continue to monitor our use of PPE so that we can conserve our supplies properly. We’re also creating new ways to extend the use of the PPE we have while remaining in line with CDC guidelines.

We’re also ready to quickly modify the number of patients we treat or procedures we perform if our levels of PPE fall short. This may cause unexpected inconvenience, but it’s part of our commitment to safety.

Our staff has received extra safety communication and training in the use of our equipment and the measures necessary to stay safe and keep each other and our patients safe.