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Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel Response to COVID-19

In the current pandemic, in which medical professionals worldwide have found themselves at the frontlines of the battle with COVID-19, children at Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel are at high risk for serious complications if they contract coronavirus. Given these circumstances, the hospital is working aggressively to contain the spread of the virus and to safeguard its staff and patients.

In line with efforts across the country, the hospital recently opened The Department for Coronavirus with 60 beds.  According to projections, the hospital may have to treat between 40 and 250 children with COVID-19 on ventilators at the same time.  In preparation, the hospital is working to secure 24 additional ventilators, along with securing the medical equipment necessary for keeping medical teams safe while treating COVID – 19 patients.

As of the start of April, the hospital has 8 COVID-19 patients, the youngest is two months old.  Babies are quarantined with their mothers. While infants and toddlers have a lower incidence of infection, they are most at risk for serious illness – just like the elderly.

Isolation is critical for children in the hospital who are compromised, and the psychological impact can be devastating. Teens are isolated in single rooms without their parents for at least two weeks with no physical connection with the outside world; phones and social media are their main channels of communication with their families and caregivers. In this new setting, the ability to generate trust, empathy and a sense of empowerment is all the more critical.

COVID-19 not only affects patients and their families, but also frontline medical staff. According to Prof. Joseph Press, MD, Director General of the hospital, an anesthesiologist recently tested positive for the virus, sending him and half of his surgical staff into quarantine for two weeks.

As the hospital’s team quickly learned, Coronavirus introduces unique challenges to existing medical protocol. Innovative strategies are urgently required to reduce the spread among providers, staff and patients. Beyond setting up the Department for Coronavirus, the hospital has divided the entire staff into two teams:  Team A works two full days and nights and is then replaced by Team B.  The two teams alternate and are never in physical contact.

The hospital is at the epicenter of the intersection of children’s health and COVID-19; lessons learned today will benefit pediatric healthcare in the future. As determines Prof. Press, we will be able to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and emerge from the adversity stronger than before. It is warming to recognize that it this form of leadership, at Schneider Children’s and in hospitals throughout the world, that leads patients, families and medical staff through these rocky times.

Now more than ever, the Children’s Health Care Alliance for Israel (CHAI) is committed to supporting the hospital’s physicians, researchers and social workers to address the complex needs of children with COVID-19, knowing that the innovative treatments that CHAI and the hospital develop during the pandemic will be shared with other hospitals and community-based clinics serving children in Israel and throughout the world.

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