COVID-19 Updates – 4/21/20

How to Keep Serving Your Families in the COVID-19 Pandemic in New York

A Message & Resources for Our Members

There is a great deal of information available to all of you about the current COVID-19 pandemic in New York. But what each of you is experiencing is different depending on where you practice and how you practice.
We wanted to take this opportunity to offer you a point in time compendium of pediatric focused information for New York. We encourage you to explore all the links and to choose those options of connecting with your patients that would work for you in your unique circumstances.
Several key concepts that apply to all practices everywhere during this difficult time include:
Your patients need to hear from you. Many families are reluctant to reach out to their pediatrician believing any contact that is not an emergency would be inappropriate. Please make a plan to reach out to all of your patients in whatever way makes sense for your practice. Social media, text, e-mails, phone calls. Let them know you are there for them. Encourage them to reach out to you with questions and concerns during this time of increased stress for all families.
  • For families who have newborns, infants or toddlers, remind them about how important it is to have their well-baby visits and if possible to keep close to the regular immunization schedule to keep their baby safe. Newborn, infant and toddler visits can assure parents that their infants are thriving, but can also offer an opportunity for you to offer any help that might be needed in terms of connecting families to needed community resources. You can also use this conversation to offer tips about how to keep babies and toddlers calm and “happy” during these times when all family members are sharing space. With no infant/child care, and in many instances no work, many young families are dealing with stressors they never anticipated. They may not have the skills to reduce their own stress and therefore more positively engage with their very young children. In these instances, offer them a telehealth appointment to assess how you can best be helpful.
  • For some of your families who you may know or would guess are truly struggling, reach out with an offer of a telehealth appointment to talk through the many challenges that you may have already been discussing in your visits prior to the pandemic: fussy eaters, sleep problems, sibling challenges exacerbated by constant close contact, etc.
  • The third group of families who may need to hear from you during this time are those who are newly without resources. You may be able to help them access food and other resources that they have not had to use in the past. Many of these families may be able to take your advice about accessing food pantries and other governmental and private resources available at this time. You may be able to help them overcome their initial resistance to accepting help when you talk with them about what their children need now.
  • Your families struggling with special needs children, children with ADHD, and mental health challenges really need your help and support during this time. A call to set up a telehealth appointment will help them feel less isolated and overwhelmed. Your conversation alone will boost their capacity to move forward. You also have the help of the child psychiatrists at the TEACH program at this time. We encourage you to call them to talk through help for families who are overwhelmed trying to keep the peace at home with children who have a mental health diagnosis.
  • There are also those families who you know may have difficulty controlling their anger. Contacting these families and offering a conversation or a telehealth visit may be enough to help keep their children safe during this high stress time when all families are home together for hours and hours at a time. You can also use this contact to connect the family with web based or community based supports. You may also offer your own office as a place for them to contact when they believe they are in need of help.
There is no one approach that will suit all practices and all families. But we want to assure you that reaching out now is important to all of the families you serve. Pediatricians have an important role to play in helping and supporting their families through this crisis.
For all of the families you serve it is imperative that you reach out to them, and show them not only that you care, but that you can, even in this most difficult time, provide care for them and their children.
The following links may be helpful to you as you decide what your next steps might be for your practice to serve your families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have specific concerns or have ideas to share, please feel free to contact your Chapter leadership. Also, your local AAP Chapter will have information about local resources and supports for families in the communities you serve. We are all in this together. Helping each other and sharing both our successes and our fears will help us all get through this difficult time.
Elie Ward, MSW
Director of Policy & Advocacy
NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapters 1, 2 & 3


Project TEACH for help with Children’s Mental Health Issues
AAP experts have continued producing and expanding a series of webinars on COVID-19. These webinars include:
Additional Links for Parents and Pediatricians: