The London Health Sciences Centre’s Children’s Hospital has implemented a new drive-up system that allows kids with cystic fibrosis (CF) to get their quarterly throat swabs at the curb so they don’t have to enter the hospital during the novel coronavirus pandemic or worry about delays.
The routine throat swabs are taken every three months to look for any bacterial growth so medical professionals can catch it at an early stage and treat it with antibiotics.
“We were concerned that fear and anxiety of having to come to the hospital for a throat swab while the pandemic is still ongoing could mean that some families might opt to delay their appointments when their child appears to be healthy,” says Jennifer Itterman, pediatric nurse case manager at Children’s Hospital.
“We had suggested the possibility that we could do drive-up swabs as a way to keep the families out of the hospital and maintain routine care in passing, and it was our clinical leadership that really liked the idea and helped us to safely bring the drive-up swab process to fruition.”
Under the new process, patients and their caregivers get an email with directions on where to park (including pictures) and a telephone extension they will have to call when they arrive. Masks are required for everyone in the vehicle above the age of two, with as few people in the vehicle as possible preferred.
For younger children, parents are asked to sit with their feet out of the vehicle, holding the child facing out to the curb. Older children more familiar with the process “don’t even need to exit the car,” officials say. Each visit takes about 10 minutes but they’re scheduled 30-minutes apart to allow “time to send the swab to the lab and complete the proper infection control procedures” between patients.
“We’ve tried as much as possible to recreate the experience they would typically have in the hospital in an outdoor setting,” Itterman says.
“We don’t just follow our medical processes, we also include other practices like making sure we bring out a cooler with the post-procedure ‘reward’ popsicle that patients would typically get at a clinic visit.”
Officials say the CF clinic at Children’s “follows approximately 75 to 80 patients” a year.