Although all healthcare workers should be supplied with state-of-the-art protective equipment at this time, pediatricians are sounding an alarm because they are still desperately lacking respirators and face masks, disinfectants, or gloves. They receive help mainly from the parents of their little patients.
One respirator per day, inadequate disinfection, gloves that haven't arrived yet, lack of protective suits, goggles and shields - that is the reality of the vast majority of pediatric general practitioners.
"We got some masks, one respirator per day, which of course isn't enough. Ideally, we should also have other recommended protective equipment, and we should be changing the respirators after about four hours, not to mention that if we went to eat or drink, there is a risk of contamination through incorrect handling. We try to make all the necessary adaptations to assure that our offices are safe for children and their parents, not to mention us, because the average age of a pediatrician in the Czech Republic is 60," says Ilona Hülleová, chairwoman of the Association of General Practitioners for Children and Adolescents.
The doctors are trying to schedule the visits to the facility so that sick children wouldn't meet with healthy ones; infants can come on Saturdays. Fortunately, according to the doctors, the parents are disciplined, even very helpful.
"They always call first, they respect all our recommendations, they even sew face masks for us, make shields on personal 3D printers, mix disinfectants, sometimes they bring protective gloves,"
"It's terrible, but we're trying to help the doctors. I am at home, so I have no problem sewing a few extra face masks, especially for them. Afterall, they look after the most precious thing I have - my child,"
Despite the lack of protection, pediatricians risk every day and examine children, even when they have fever or cough. "It helps us when we know the family history and the patient himself, so we know that when the child is allergic and the pollen season begins, his or her cough is probably caused by something other than COVID-19. We're trying to keep our offices operational as much as possible, we disinfect everything after every patient, we frequently air the place. We only send our patients to the hygienist, infectious or pediatric wards in the hospital when we have a serious suspicion," concludes Hülle.
In addition to the coronavirus, children find themselves in danger of contracting a number of different diseases. Therefore, parents often ask if they can come and have their child vaccinated. “Whooping cough, measles, or the risk of tetanus occur even during a pandemic and can seriously endanger a child. There is no reason to postpone vaccination if the child is without apparent acute problems - unless the child is in quarantine or suffering from acute illness. If we resign from vaccination, diseases that our society has already beaten may come back," adds the chairwoman of pediatricians.