Sandhills Pediatrics adjusts to see patients during crisis

By Ken MacDonald • 

Sandhills Pediatrics in Raeford continues seeing patients, and Dr. Sarah Brewington says they’ve had to make some adjustments to meet the challenges.

Brewington says the office is separating sick children from those who aren’t — they’ve actually physically divided their building, she says—so those who need regular checkups or vaccines, or even sports exams, won’t be exposed to possible COVID-19 or other illness. “If you have a child who is not sick, we will not put you in a waiting room with kids who are, and we won’t even put you in an exam room where a child has been sick in there really since last week,” she says.

They are still seeing infants, babies, children to age five who need checkups. Brewington says it’s important that children stay on their regular vaccine schedule. “We are certainly seeing all those kids on time as soon as we can to keep everybody up-to-date because we don’t want an outbreak of whooping cough or measles or any other kind of outbreak that we can control with vaccines.”

Another measure that they’re increasingly turning to is consultation by internet, particularly with the Zoom service. “This week we started that, and parents have really responded well. People want it, people have really been happy to have it,” she says. Though Sandhills’ doctors have performed remote mental health care, such as caring for ADHD patients, before the COVID-19 crisis, now they’re able to treat “simple concerns like rashes or pink eye— things that we can look at the child and see and not actually have to do a test or look in throats or ears, or anything more involved as far as an exam.” They can also talk to parents about their worries.

She recommends for all issues to begin with a phone call. “I want people to know that we are still open, that we want you to come if you feel like you need to come, but we definitely want you to avoid the E.R., avoid the hospital if at all possible, avoid urgent care if at all possible. Call us for anything any question. Unless you feel it’s truly an emergency—truly an emergency—do not run out to urgent care or E.R.s for any reason without calling us first.”

To parents, she says normal checks for children are welcome, but “if you’re not comfortable, and your child is 100 percent well and you don’t want to get a checkup, that’s completely understandable.”

Those who think their child may have COVID-19 will be asked to remain outside. “If you do have a child that has respiratory symptoms, if you know that child could have been potentially exposed, we will ask you to stay outside until we can decide if it’s safe for you to come in. So people that think they’ve been exposed or know they’ve been exposed, we’re not trying to stigmatize anybody, but for everybody’s safety, staying outside of any kind of building is the smartest thing to do. If people come and they know they’ve had exposure or possibility of exposure, please tell us so that we can keep everybody safe.”