Children’s of Mississippi: Safety you can rely onPublished on Friday, August 7, 2020By: Annie Oeth, firstname.lastname@example.orgNote: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of Under the Rainbow, the semi-annual magazine for Children's of Mississippi.As associate chief medical officer for Children’s of Mississippi and as a pediatric hospitalist, Dr. Lisa Didion makes patient care and safety her focus at the state’s only children’s hospital.After earning her M.D., completing residency, and serving as chief resident of pediatrics at the University of Iowa, Didion joined the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia as assistant professor. She joined Children’s of Mississippi in 2011 and is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.Here, she shares her insights into the events of this year and how Children’s of Mississippi is making its hospitals and clinics as safe as possible in the age of COVID-19.What was Children’s of Mississippi’s initial response to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Mississippi?The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time around the world. It has certainly affected our daily lives at home, in the community and at work.At the pandemic’s start, Children’s of Mississippi took proactive steps such as limiting the number of visitors to our hospital and rescheduling elective procedures. We rapidly ramped up telehealth options for clinic visits and opened a drive-through laboratory draw station to protect patients and their families from possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.Since COVID-19 did not affect children at the same rate as adults, Children’s of Mississippi was able to assist the University of Mississippi Medical Center in its fight against the pandemic.Today, Children’s of Mississippi is certainly ready to take care of COVID-19, but we are also ready to provide specialized pediatric care for all childhood illnesses and disorders in facilities that are safe for patients, families and the medical team. What is Children’s of Mississippi doing to protect patients and their families from exposure to the virus?Having access to the care your child needs is important. To make sure our patients can see their pediatric specialists and subspecialists safely, Children’s of Mississippi is taking additional steps to limit the risk of exposure to COVID-19.When you arrive, you’ll be screened for COVID-19 using a series of questions about symptoms and possible exposure. Your child will also be screened at check in. Everyone, including staff, patients, parents and visitors, are now required to wear masks. If you don’t have a mask, one will be provided to you upon arrival.All members of the care team wash their hands or use hand sanitizer any time they enter or leave a patient room in the children’s hospital and in our clinics. Patients with COVID-19 are kept separate from those without the virus. We are also limiting the number of visitors in our hospital and waiting rooms.Public spaces in our hospital and clinics have been rearranged to help ensure people can be a safe distance from each other, and we’ve enhanced cleaning procedures in all areas. Tell us about the role of the state’s only children’s hospital in Mississippi’s COVID-19 response.Having a state-of-the-art pediatric hospital is important for the state’s children and families because illnesses, accidents and injuries happen every day. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of having the highest level of care available to our children was more than evident.With a children’s hospital that’s part of the state’s only academic medical center comes the pediatric expertise and research needed to respond to a medical crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the every-day medical needs of our children.Construction of Children’s of Mississippi’s seven-story expansion is continuing, and it is on schedule to open this fall. The design of new facility will limit the spread of disease through its 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, which will replace an open NICU bay that we have outgrown. Additional private pediatric ICU rooms and the design of public spaces in the new tower will also limit exposure to contagious diseases. Will these changes continue to be a part of visits to Children’s of Mississippi’s hospital and clinics?We realize that COVID-19 will likely continue to be a threat in the months ahead, so Children’s of Mississippi will continue to take the measures needed to protect our patients and their families as well as our care team. Some of these measures, such as telehealth and our drive-through laboratory draw station, are convenient options for families, so those may be available long after this pandemic has passed. Also, strict hand-hygiene is an expectation in health care that will never go away.For the near future, we will continue to require the use of masks and social distancing in our waiting rooms to keep any future outbreaks from occurring.Things will be a little different the next time you visit us, but what won’t change is the level of specialized care your child will receive. More than ever, you can feel confident about bringing your child to Children’s of Mississippi.