Legacy Community Health CEO raises alarm on drop in pediatric checkups, vaccinations amid outbreak
Legacy Community Health projects that annual checkups for children over 3 years old will drop nearly 94% from pre-coronavirus rates across Legacy Community Health clinics with an 88% drop projected for children age 2 and under. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
“We think it’s because parents want to abide by the work-safe-stay-home order and are afraid to take their non-sick children into a health clinic due to possible coronavirus exposure,” wrote the health center’s CEO Katy Caldwell in a press release.
By not going in for check-ups and vaccinations, Caldwell warned of the potential for different future virus outbreaks, citing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study highlighting a drop in vaccinations against measles amid COVID-19.
“Only a short time ago we had a major outbreak of measles in hotspots across the country, and there’s a big chance that if parents don’t take their children to their annual checkup now, they may forego them altogether,” Caldwell wrote. “This will unintentionally put their kids and people in the community in danger of contracting another highly contagious and deadly disease that is actually preventable.”
In early to mid-April, LCH looked to assuage patients’ unease by announcing redesigned operations for sick pediatric patients who need in-person lab testing. The challenge with that, however, had been on on fully deploying those services because telemedicine for well visits was not covered for LCH’s Medicaid patients.
That changed on May 8, when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced that physicians could temporarily use telemedicine for children older than 24 months insured through Texas Health Steps, the government-funded program for health coverage for underserved children. The current expansion of telemedicine will last until May 31, according to the announcement, with the potential for an extension.
“We’re all starting to see [the number of pediatric visits] pick back up again,” Caldwell said.