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The Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine, Children’s and Women’s Clinics to Reopen in Phases

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      OKLAHOMA CITY – The Children’s Hospital at OU Medicine, Oklahoma’s only freestanding pediatric hospital solely dedicated to the treatment of children, as well as labor and delivery services, is restoring all healthcare services in a phased process with extensive safety protocols.

      During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Children’s Hospital and OU Children’s Physicians have continued to care for children requiring medical treatment and to welcome families who are delivering babies. A broader slate of services will reopen over the next several weeks during a multi-phase process that focuses on widespread patient testing, new pre-visit and pre-admission protocols, and continues with rapid triage and isolation of symptomatic patients awaiting COVID-19 results. Universal masking has been in place and will be an ongoing requirement for patients, employees and visitors at The Children’s Hospital and OU Children’s Physicians.

      “The Children’s Hospital has been safely caring for patients with emergency or critical needs during this pandemic, as well as guiding mothers through the labor and delivery process. Our Women’s and Newborn Center is the only center in Oklahoma where women can deliver their babies inside of a children’s hospital environment. We are ready to restore all of our services to take care of the kids of Oklahoma,” said Cameron Mantor, M.D., chief medical officer for The Children’s Hospital.

      The Children’s Hospital began performing limited outpatient surgeries on Wednesday, April 29, and will resume additional services in phases that continue throughout May. Time-sensitive and essential cases will be prioritized. The current visitation policy will remain in effect for safety with ongoing evaluation – although one visitor is allowed for pediatric patients, OU Medicine is committed to addressing the needs of families of patients receiving palliative care so they are able to communicate regularly, Mantor said.

      Child Life specialists have been available to children in their rooms and via closed-circuit TV, and the department’s wide array of specialists will continue to be available to The Children’s Hospital patients and their families.

      Testing patients for COVID-19 is a critical component of the process, Mantor said. All children and women scheduled for surgeries or procedures will be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the procedure date. If the test is negative, they must self-isolate until the day of the procedure. Because of a newly created test and expanded testing capacity on the OU Medicine campus, the hospital is able to test a significant number of patients for COVID-19 each day. Patients who are hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment will continue to be isolated during their care from other patients in the hospital, Mantor said.

      On Monday, May 4, OU Physicians Children’s and Women’s Clinics began reopening in phases. Patients undergoing procedures involving sedation or anesthesia must also be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of the procedure date and self-isolate until the procedure, said Lynn Mitchell, M.D., chief medical officer for OU Physicians.

      At all children’s and women’s clinics, healthcare providers and staff will adhere to safety protocols throughout the phased reopening. In addition to universal masking, all current elements of social distancing, patient safety, screening at building entrances, personal protective equipment, and prioritization of supplies and resources will remain in place. All clinic areas will be sanitized and frequently cleaned. In addition, healthcare providers and staff are required to complete an online COVID-19 screening process prior to returning to work.

      “We believe these extensive safety protocols hold the key to resuming healthcare services,” Mitchell said. “We are taking all precautions necessary and following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control so that our patients can feel comfortable visiting their doctors and other healthcare providers. With everyone doing their part, we believe we can continue to flatten the curve of new cases and return to full capacity in patient care.”

      Additionally, children’s and women’s healthcare providers will continue to expand telehealth visits with their patients, Mitchell said. “Telehealth will remain a valuable option for our patients no matter where they live,” she said. “While we look forward to resuming our normal activities on campus, we will provide all opportunities possible to allow patients to receive the care they need.”