The proliferation of COVID-19 has disrupted tens of millions of children’s lives. Aside from the monotony of living indoors for extended periods, being quarantined can cause feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and fear in kids and parents. These feelings are familiar to chronically ill children whose treatment often necessitates years in and out of hospitals, but COVID-19 has made life harsher for these kids. While otherwise healthy children tend to have milder symptoms than adults, the same isn’t true for kids with compromised immune systems. Keeping these children safe requires hospitals to make adjustments that exacerbate their isolation from everything they are fighting so hard for— normalcy and connection.

If a hospitalized child shows symptoms of COVID-19, frontline staff must assume the child is positive for COVID-19 until proven otherwise. Therefore, all staff who enter the child’s room must wear PPEs, including a gown, gloves, mask, and face shield. These precautions can be frightening, even for kids who have spent months in the hospital for whom this new gear is an obvious sign that something has changed, and not for the better. Thankfully, child life specialists are still in the hospital and have mastered support for patients during COVID-19 testing while respecting hospital rules that prevent them from entering patient rooms to limit exposure and use of scarce PPE. The preparation, coping strategies, distraction, and verbal support before, during, and after the test, along with a selection of rewards for successfully completing the procedure, make something difficult a little bit easier.

Experience Framework

This article is associated with the Patient, Family & Community Engagement lens of The Beryl Institute Experience Framework. (http://bit.ly/ExperienceFramework)