Akron Children’s Hospital adding new restrictions to help prevent spread of coronavirus

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) -- To help protect patients, visitors and caregivers, Akron Children's Hospital is on what has been described as a "soft lockdown."

Staff and visitors can enter the hospital and its buildings through specific entrances but will be asked to screen on the way in, answering some quick questions, and having their temperatures taken.

"We have gone through and cancelled any elective surgeries. We have cancelled elective appointments or postponed appointments, even our well child visits for children over 30 months of age we are postponing those well visits," said Dr. Rob McGregor, the hospital's medical director.

And while the national focus is on preventing the spread of coronavirus, there are children who have other medical necessities and need to see their doctors, but for whom leaving their home could place them at a greater risk if they are exposed to the virus.

They include patients like Kindel Richardson, who has been diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis.

"Arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means it attacks your joints so its like your immune system working overtime and the medicine I take basically weakens the immune system," said Richardson.

But Akron Children's Hospital is making it possible for patients like Richardson to be able to keep appointments with their doctor without either of them having to leave their homes.

By logging on to a special program, Richardson was able to connect with Dr. Steven Spalding who could do a virtual exam from his home in Hudson.

Spalding, who conducted his first telehealth visit just last week, said one of the advantages of having young patients is that they and their parents are already very familiar and very comfortable with using the technology needed to hold the appointments.

Dr. McGregor said although the risk to some of their patients may be greater than for others, the advice to do as much as possible from home is important for everyone.

"We can as a community take responsibility and recognize that we need to have social distancing as we are here now, as well as minimizing the number of people that are out and about, we should be able to flatten that curve and that's really our best bet to stay ahead of this," said McGregor.

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