Wolfson Children’s Hospital Works to Keep Kids Safe as School Begins

Young girl wearing a mask and carrying backback stands with other children in front of hospital

Photo Credit: Wolfson Children’s Hospital

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the leadership team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, located in Jacksonville, Florida, continues to work closely with state and local officials and follow CDC guidelines to keep its pediatric patients, families and staff safe.

Substantial increases in COVID-19 cases are consistent with a fourth surge that is largely, if not entirely, driven by unvaccinated people and unmasking. And the numbers are growing at an alarming rate among children as the delta variant spreads.

As of the first week of August 2021, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, part of Baptist Health, hospitalized 21 kids with COVID-19. That’s four times the admission rate the hospital experienced in June, just two months prior. Six of the pediatric COVID-19 patients are in the intensive care unit.

Another pediatric hospital in Florida, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, located in Broward County, treated over 20 children with COVID-19 in June and more than 240 children with COVID-19 in July. COVID-19 admissions there already reached 160 during the first 10 days in August.

According to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, there is a “substantial” increase in pediatric COVID cases nationwide. Florida had the second highest number of child COVID-19 cases in the country following California.

Cicely (CC) Brooks, vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive, and Mobeen Rathore, M.D., chief of pediatric infectious disease and immunology, both at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, used Facebook Live to discuss masks, vaccines and other safety measures as kids head back to school. They also are reminding families about the vaccination sites located throughout the communities they serve, emphasizing the ease and safety of getting eligible children vaccinated.

In a letter to parents and caregivers published on jacksonville.com/the Florida Times-Union, Wolfson’s Chief Medical Officer Jerry A. Bridgham, M.D., said, “When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit home in early 2020, parents carried an especially heavy burden: balancing home life, work and remote schooling, all while trying to keep kids safe and well. Many felt helpless and even hopeless. In the early days, there wasn’t all that much we could do, aside from taking proper safety precautions. That’s not the case anymore. Thankfully, all adults and children 12 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. When parents, preteens and teens get vaccinated, they are protecting not only themselves, but also siblings who are too young to receive the vaccine and the community as a whole.”

Wolfson Children’s Hospital created conversation starters, tips and resources for families and educators to help kids prepare and stay safe as they return to school. The practical guides focus on talking to kids about COVID-19, modeling calmness and combating anxiety. The hospital also is sharing guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on returning to in-person learning this fall. Emphasis is on not just physical health but mental well-being too. The nation’s pediatricians call for prioritizing in-person learning and advise schools to prepare to address students’ mental health needs.

Wolfson knows that as parents prepare for a very different school year, it is important to make COVID-19 prevention part of their back-to-school plans. For more information, visit the Wolfson online COVID-19 information center.