Telehealth Program Quickly Expands to Help Doctors Deliver Care Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Virtual visits ensure kids receive medical attention and prescriptions while keeping families and health care workers safe

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – In these times of physical distancing and hospital visitor restrictions, medical appointments across the nation have been put on hold. But Nationwide Children’s Hospital has quickly expanded their telehealth program to deliver needed care to kids while stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

     “We can reduce the risk of exposure to our patients, their families and our staff and the trickle-down effect of these preventative measures is enormous,” said David Stukus, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. 

     The hospital has been ramping up their telehealth program, but the initiative was drastically accelerated as the coronavirus crisis evolved, offering virtual appointments with more providers across more specialties.

     “With few exceptions, we can accomplish almost everything we would at an in-person visit during a telehealth appointment, including the most likely diagnosis, recommended treatment options and follow-up care,” said Stukus. “And because we are connected to electronic medical records, we can also prescribe medication or diagnostic tests like x-rays or blood work.”

     The behavioral health department has been among the busiest, completing more than 8,000 telehealth appointments from March 13 to April 2. Experts say it is critical that mental health care continue to be accessible during this difficult time.

     “A lot of kids really rely on these regular mental health visits and counseling sessions, and skipping just one appointment can put a child in danger,” said Ujjwal Ramtekkar, MD, a psychiatrist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion. “Telehealth allows them to keep those trusted connections with their care team without having to leave their homes.”

     Experts expect telehealth to continue to grow after the COVID-19 crisis passes. A $1 million donation from Columbus-based American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation will help Nationwide Children’s ensure these services continue for patients and their families, especially for those in rural areas further from the hospital. New technology is being developed to expand the capabilities of virtual appointments, including more extensive physical exams and at-home diagnostic testing.

     For more information on how Nationwide Children’s is using telehealth to provide the best outcomes for children during COVID-19 and tips to successfully use telehealth services, visit the 700 Children’s Blog.


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Jane Abel (right) was able to make a telehealth appointment with her daughter’s allergy doctor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to ensure she has the care and medications she needs during this time of physical distancing amid COVID-19.

David Stukus, MD, conducts an asthma and allergy virtual checkup with 12-year-old Ellie Abel and her mom, Jane Abel. Nationwide Children’s Hospital has quickly adapted the way they provide care and expanded their telehealth services to help more kids get the medical care they need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

David Stukus, MD, conducts a telehealth appointment from his home. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is offering virtual appointments to help kids get the care they need while still practicing physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ujjwal Ramtekkar, MD, conducts a psychiatric telehealth appointment from this home. The behavioral health department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has quickly expanded telehealth services amid COVID-19, completing more than 8,000 virtual appointments from March 13 to April 2.

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