NEW ORLEANS – Fans of the Peanuts comic strip probably remember the Charlie Brown comic where Lucy has her make-shift psychiatry booth set up with a sign that reads, “The Doctor is…” and it could either be set to “in” or “out.” These days, the doctor can always be “in”… in your home that is.
Tele-health is a priority
“Before this health crisis I was doing a little bit of tele-health as part of my practice here at Children’s Hospital; now I’m doing exclusively tele-health,” says Pediatric Psychologist Erin Reuther.
“We’re all really wanting to make sure that we’re maintaining that continuity of care,” she adds.
Ideally, people can log in via computer and meet via the screen version of face-to-face, today’s new normal. If you aren’t tech-savvy, don’t worry, the staff understands that for many people, this is a first.
“I would encourage people to try it, even if you’re feeling a little it hesitant, give it a try,” says Dr. Reuther. At the very least, doctors and parenting educators at Children’s are available by phone.
A possible surprise bonus: some families find it’s easier for them to converse from the comfort of their own home.
A few tips: If multiple family members are joining in, get everyone organized at least 15 minutes before the call. Have youngsters use the bathroom, get a drink, etc. prior to the session.
If you have trouble with one browser, don’t despair! Any organization using tele-health will have a support team in place that can answer questions. Be patient with yourself.
Keep a journal to keep track of your sessions, even with brief notes of what was discussed and when. This will be helpful later when you return to normal office visits.
Try to have the session in a room with a door that can be shut for privacy and quiet.
The Parenting Center’s new role
Over at The Parenting Center at Children’s, play spaces normally filled with active kids are silent. Informational tutorials and activities have moved online.
There are new parent classes and online support groups that discuss everything from breastfeeding to building sleep patterns.
“All of the time, but especially now, we’re on the other end of the phone,” says Jenni Evans, Program Manager and Parent Educator at The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital.
And it’s not all about the coronavirus.
“We’re still here for the regular stuff: biting toddlers, lying six-year-olds, and teenagers who say they hate everybody,” says Evans.
The number for The Parenting Center is: 504-896-9591. Anyone can call it for help, and it’s free of charge. Evans says they are even taking calls from out of state, as word gets around about the services available.