Dear Patients and Families,
On behalf of the University of Florida Pediatric Hematology/Oncology team, I would like to update you on the current COVID-19 situation.
First and foremost, please know that our team is available for you and your child during this public health emergency. I hope all of you are doing what you can to protect yourself, your family, friends, and your community. All of you are an extension of our UF family, and your health and well-being matter to us.
Second, I want to direct you to reliable sources of information for updates on COVID-19.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Children’s Oncology Group: COVID-19 and Your Child, Teen, or Young Adult with Cancer
Situations are constantly changing. Your local, state, and federal agencies can be informative about any new policies or procedures. UFHealth, your local Health Department office, and the CDC are all places to contact should you have questions.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
What should I do if I think my child has COVID-19?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever (temperature > 100.4F or 38C), muscle aches, and cough. If you or your child experiences these symptoms, please contact our team prior to coming to the emergency room. Our team will alert the emergency room team prior to your child’s arrival. This will alert the ER to make arrangements to keep your child and other children safe.
Should my child still come for scheduled appointments?
Our clinics remain open and staffed at this time. However, our team is making every effort to provide safe and efficient care to your child in the comfort of your home when possible via telemedicine (video conference). If you would prefer to have your child’s appointment via telemedicine, please contact our office at (352) 265.9120 and inquire about having your visit converted to a telemedicine visit.
If your child is not feeling well, please call so we can determine whether your child should be seen in clinic or in the Emergency Room. Please do not come to clinic or the emergency room without calling ahead of time if your child is experiencing symptoms.
We are restricting the number of people accompanying our patients to one caregiver and no siblings or other children. To limit exposure to COVID-19, we are not allowing parents to take turns in caring for their children during their hospitalization. This is to ensure the safety of your child and the other children under our care.
Is my child “immunocompromised” and at greater risk of getting COVID-19?
In general, children get COVID-19 at the same rate as adults. To date, very few children have died as a result of infection with COVID-19. Infants up to age 1 are at higher risk of being more symptomatic from the infection and needing hospitalization.
Children with cancer, who have undergone bone marrow transplantation, and who have sickle cell anemia are immunocompromised. This puts them in a group that is thought to be at higher risk for severe infections with COVID-19. If your child has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, our team is dedicated to providing safe, compassionate and effective care to your child. Please call us prior to bringing your child to the clinic or Emergency Room so we can prepare the staff for your arrival
We recommend that all patients, regardless of their diagnoses, continue to practice common sense measures to avoid the risk of getting infected with or spreading the virus.
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid large crowds or public gatherings
- Follow rules of social distancing and stay home when possible
Should my child go to school?
Parents and caregivers should follow their local school closure policies. Caregivers of children with cancer (on therapy or within 6 months of the end of therapy), children within one year of a bone marrow transplant, and children with sickle cell anemia should discuss the risks of school attendance with their healthcare provider. If your child does have a diagnosis associated with immune suppression and schools are open, you may wish to keep them at home until you have more information on the likelihood of exposure within your community.
Should I stock up on my child’s medications?
We recommend keeping a 2-3 week supply of medications on hand as community-wide quarantines may last up to 14 days. Please check your remaining supply of medications. Our team is happy to provide refills. However, some insurances may not want to cover early or additional refills. The best way to request refill prescriptions is via MyChart. If your child does not have a MyChart account, we recommend setting one up at your child’s next in-visit appointment. Unfortunately, we cannot provide complete MyChart access over the phone for pediatric patients. You can reach our team at (352) 265.9120. Please be aware that phone wait times may be longer due to an increased volume in phone calls. Our outpatient pharmacy (352-265-0415) open M-Fri from 7 am to 7 pm and on the weekends from 9 am -1 pm.
Is it okay to have playdates and sleepovers during COVID-19?
We understand that children may request playdates, sleepovers, etc. with most schools being out of session. We advise against playdates to avoid nonessential exposures and recommend that you continue to practice measures to avoid the risk of getting infected with or spreading the virus. Children should be encouraged to wash hands regular with soap and water, avoid touching their faces, and covering their face when sneezing or coughing.
What can I do to reduce my child’s feeling of fear, anxiety or depression from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Linked below are two handouts recommended by Dr. Fisher regarding COVID. Also, please see the following video.
Please let us know if you or your child need additional support due to feelings related to COVID-19.
As a healthcare organization, we take seriously our responsibility to provide your child’s care and to help slow the spread of COVID-19. From our family to yours, we wish you all the best during this challenging time. We encourage you to engage in safety practices such as “social distancing,” handwashing, and avoiding unnecessary exposures to reduce the COVID-19 spread and minimize its impact on you, your family, and our community.
All the best,
William Slayton, MD
Associate Professor and Chief
Pediatric Hematology Oncology
University of Florida