No one wants to take their baby to the ER, especially with the spread of the coronavirus. But that’s the decision Tracie Fairfield and her husband considered one snowy winter night.
“My husband was shoveling the driveway. We were feeling a little panicked about all the prep work it would take to get us to the ER. At that point, were just starting to hear about the coronavirus, but we were more worried about cases of the flu and RSV. We just didn’t want to take him if we didn’t have to,” Fairfield says.
They decided to check with their pediatrician’s office first. Since the clinic was closed, they quickly got a call back from MyUnityPoint Nurse, Jennifer Campbell.
“From the very beginning of the phone call, Jennifer was so friendly, patient and reassuring. She went over three weeks of every single symptom we’d seen,” Fairfield says.
They discussed how the 4-month-old had been experiencing some sniffles and other mild cold symptoms for a few weeks. Then, the baby spiked a temperature of 101.5. After working for 911 and as an ER nurse, Jennifer knows how nerve wracking it is to be a mother with a sick child. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, those fears are only intensified right now.
“When our kids get sick, we just forget everything. I really try to help parents calm down and focus on simple signs to look for. How are they breathing? Is the child in distress? Slowing the caregiver down and narrowing their lens to quiet the noise around them so they can notice, ‘OK my kid is breathing alright. He’s not in distress. His fever is high, but it’s fixable. If it’s not, I now know what to do.’ They can put everything into perspective, and they know when we’re done, we’re here for them. We’ll walk them through the next step. It’s a huge reassurance to not feel alone,” Campbell says.
If you’re worried your symptoms are similar to those associated with the coronavirus, Campbell says don’t hesitate to ask.
“Sometimes people do a Google search, and they think they know what they have, but they’re scared to tell us. And sometimes, they’re right. Even right now with COVID-19, people are nervous to say they’re worried they have it. But we can work through the symptoms more quickly if that’s the main concern. It helps us weed through and narrow everything down a little quicker,” Campbell says.
After talking with Campbell, Fairfield says she hung up the phone and felt a surge of relief.
“I never felt like Jennifer was going through a checklist. It was more, ‘I’m working with this person who is super stressed out, nervous and has a stressed baby on her hands. I will leave this phone call, so she knows what to do and that she’s doing the right thing’,” Campbell says.
With the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolving, Campbell urges everyone to call their clinic for after-hours service first, so the highly trained MyUnityPoint Nurse staff can walk through the assessments and guide patients where they need to go—whether it be the ER, Urgent Care, virtual care or managing it at home while watching symptoms.
“We have so many questions and protocols we’re following. Everything is changing daily but just call first. We want to be able to help the ERs and Urgent Cares that are overwhelmed by ensuring the appropriate patients are going to the appropriates places. If you go to the ER when you aren’t overly ill, you might have a longer wait because the critically ill patients are going to be treated first—especially right now,” Campbell says.
Virtual urgent care is no cost right now through the end of April, and Campbell says it’s an appropriate and safe option for many people. Meanwhile, Fairfield says she’ll be watching her baby’s symptoms closely.
“I know if he does start to get sick, and we’re worried, that we can call, have a great experience and not have to take him to the doctor right away and expose him to anything. It makes us feel safe.”