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Pediatricians plead for parents to continue kids' appointments

Posted at 2:42 PM, Apr 30, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Pediatricians fear a drop in visits from children during the pandemic could lead to permanent damage.

Dr. Scottie Day, a physician in chief at Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington and president of the Kentucky chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric, said about 20 to 30 percent of children in the U.S. are attending well-check-ups and routine physicals in the current climate. He explained the Commonwealth falls on the far side of the spectrum.

"We're probably looking at a 70% decline across the state of Kentucky, if not more in some practices of children being seen," Dr. Day noted.

Day's concern rests in what doctors cannot see because parents are not bringing kids in for regular visits. He said just skipping one visit could hurt the child for the rest of their lives.

"Maybe they're not rolling over at the appropriate time. Maybe they're not grasping the way they are, and maybe they need certain services and those services," Dr. Day said. "Until they're until we're able to see those children especially those, you know, less than two years of age, then there's no way of knowing."

Dr. Day also warned that if parents skip important vaccinations, there could be a larger issue for the community. He used the measles vaccination as an example.

"Prior to this [pandemic], according to the Centers for Disease Control, there were about 1,300 cases of measles in 31 states last year. They broke the nation's 25-year-old record," he said. "And of those, most occurred in people who hadn't been vaccinated. So you had, you know, 128, who were hospitalized and 61 of them had really bad complications from encephalitis and pneumonia. And so, there's other things that come with vaccinations, that by missing them, you know there's concern that you know we could see other diseases pop up and that's really what we're trying to educate families about."

Dr. Day said he understands families' concerns about coming into their pediatrician's office but also said they are doing everything they can to keep those spaces sanitized.

"We've changed our offices so you wouldn't be sitting in a room full of children that are sick. It's a very methodical well thought out process so that we know, although the children won't haven't had severe complications across the country. We don't want the parents to get sick and we definitely won't want those caregivers to get sick so we've got to protect both our staff," he said. "We have measures in place the way that you come in and register it's not the same. You're not going to be standing in a line, you know, waiting a bunch of other people so it's completely honoring as the Governor and the state."

He encouraged all parents to call their child's pediatrician's office first and see if their child would be eligible for a tele-health visit instead of an in-person appointment.

"All the pediatricians have worked to bring up telemedicine platforms so that we can see these kids via video and there's been some real advantages to that and I think it'll change the way medicine looks on the, on the other side. It's already changed it for sure," Dr. Day said.