Yesterday, I called the parents of all the children who were scheduled to see me this morning. I offered,
instead, to spend the time talking with them on the phone. Nobody was upset or offended; everyone
was grateful. Here in Ohio, schools are closed for the epidemic. That means that many parents are at
home with lots of children to look after—all the young ones, and all the older ones, too. The idea of
bundling up all of those kids to go to a doctor’s appointment for one of them seems crazy or just plain
impossible: Lots of my patients take buses to get to the clinic.

Also, many of my patients are being taken care of by their grandparents. The opioid epidemic is part of
the reason why. With birthparents in rehab, in jail, or still actively using, the grandparents have stepped
in. Older people, like these brave and generous grandparents, are the last people I want to see in my
waiting room getting exposed to multiple children. Children, we know, can spread the coronavirus even
though they have nothing more than a runny nose. How many children with runny noses come through
my waiting room on a usual day?

Thankfully, a lot of the care we pediatricians provide is preventative – and today, the best way to
prevent the spread of a very serious illness is to stay away from the doctor’s office, if you possibly can.
So, if you have a routine appointment with your child’s doctor in the next three or four weeks, call and
reschedule, or see if it the appointment can be done remotely. Being a little late with planned
immunizations usually isn’t a big problem. Spreading coronavirus could be.