Gillette Children's complex care pediatrician, Art Beisang, MD answers some frequently asked questions (FAQ) from parents concerned about caring for a child who has a complex medical condition.
I have concerns about my child getting COVID-19. What are some symptoms I should look for?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough or shortness of breath. Less commonly, some children might have muscle aches, headache, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms may appear 2 to 4 days after a person is exposed to the virus. Most children with COVID-19 have a mild illness.
While we are still learning about the overall impact of COVID-19, most children without underlying medical conditions are recovering from the virus without the need to be hospitalized.
Patients who have chronic medical conditions such as; lung disease, heart disease, immunodeficiency or complex neurological disease are at a greater risk of having a more severe respiratory illness with COVID-19, in which case, a child might need to be hospitalized.
Most of the patients who require hospitalization will need increased oxygen support for breathing. It is important to closely monitor your child to determine how well they are breathing in case they need respiratory support and oxygen to maintain their blood oxygen saturation. You should also watch for a child’s fever.
Please continue to carefully monitor your child and be in touch via phone with your primary care provider. If you consider Gillette Children's to be your primary care provider, please call Gillette Telehealth (651-229-3890) for questions about the specific health needs of your child.
What should I do if I’m concerned my child has COVID-19?
Currently in Minnesota, tests for COVID-19 are in short supply. If your child develops symptoms of a respiratory illness and has underlying health conditions, please call your primary care doctor to talk about your child's symptoms and to determine if they need to be seen in person or to come to a hospital.
Your child's Gillette Children's complex care practitioner is also a good source of information. The primary provider, pulmonologist and complex care practitioner can all help with management at home and in determining when and where you should seek further medical care.
If your child has mild symptoms of respiratory illness you will be advised to keep your child at home for at least 7 days, and for 3 days with no fever and improvement of the respiratory symptoms—whichever is longer. (Your child's fever should be gone for 3 days without using fever-reducing medicine.)
Children with complex medical needs will also need to be isolated. In addition, they will need close monitoring for signs of increased respiratory issues. If your child with complex needs has respiratory trouble it is very important to be in telephone contact with your child’s medical team.
What kinds of medical supplies should I have on hand during this outbreak?
The current COVID-19 outbreak has the potential to disrupt supply chains and it could be difficult to find medical, nutritional and pharmaceutical supplies. We are advising people to have at least a four week supply of these items, if possible.
You should keep in frequent contact with your medical suppliers to understand what supply shortages could happen in the future.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give parents who are caring for a child with a complex medical condition during this COVID-19 outbreak?
Social isolation and good handwashing are our best tools. Limiting unnecessary people coming into the house and good communication with your primary care provider, complex care provider and subspecialists are essential.
You are not alone during this challenging time. Your team of Gillette Children's providers is ready and willing to help.
Taking Steps to Keep Everyone Safe
Gillette Children's is taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the coronavirus). Here are the latest updates about our COVID-19 policies and precautions.