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Valley Children’s stepping up safety

No cases of coronavirus detected yet in county

In order to keep patients, families and healthcare providers as safe as possible from the spread of respiratory viruses — including COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) — additional screening precautions, visitor restrictions and program changes are in effect at all Valley Children’s Healthcare locations — including Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, and specialty care, primary care and urgent care practices throughout Central California. It is important to note that as of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of the 12 counties Valley Children’s serves.

“In all we do at Valley Children’s, the safety of our kids — and the safety of our staff who care for them — are our top priorities,” said Valley Children’s President and CEO Todd Suntrapak. “We are committed to creating the safest environment possible for children to receive care and keeping our own staff safe is essential to ensure that we can continue to provide the care needed by so many Valley families.”

At this time, visitors will be limited to parents/guardians and direct caregivers of patients. Everyone will be screened at all entrances with questions regarding health and recent travel history and masks will be provided to symptomatic parents or guardians visiting their child, when needed. Other visitors and non-essential vendors will not be allowed in our facilities.

Following guidance from leading state and federal health officials, the management of this virus requires a two-pronged approach — controlling the spread of infection from known individuals infected with the virus and a larger, population-based approach of limiting exposure, where possible, in large groups and public gatherings.

One of Valley Children’s largest public gatherings is Kids Day, the annual fundraising event that has raised much-needed funds for the hospital since its inception 33 years ago. After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, this year’s Kids Day will be cancelled in order to protect the health and safety of the more than 8,000 volunteers who signed up to participate and the tens of thousands of generous Valley residents who buy the special edition Fresno Bee sold on street corners from one end of the Valley to the other. Kids Day was scheduled to take place Tuesday.

“Every Kids Day, the support of our volunteers and donors has directly resulted in improving the care we give to some of the most critically ill children in our region,” says Valley Children’s Healthcare Foundation President Rob Saroyan. “We are so thankful to the communities for helping us provide hope and healing. This year, we’re asking everyone to help us in a different way — by doing everything they can to protect the health of their own families. We thank the sponsors and volunteers who were already gearing up for Kids Day, understand their disappointment and look forward to seeing them on Kids Day next year.”

Other upcoming Valley Children’s-sponsored events that attract large crowds of patients, families and community members will be rescheduled when this particular virus is better understood and better controlled — and when better data are available on its impact.

In addition, Valley Children’s has cancelled all corporate travel not related to the direct provision of patient care, requiring that meetings be conducted via videoconference and teleconference whenever possible and limiting access by outside vendors and consultants.

“Valley Children’s is privileged to lead the way in children’s healthcare,” adds Suntrapak. “These decisions were made after thoughtful consideration in consultation with our physician and staff leadership. Every decision we make is driven simply by doing the right thing for our kids ... and these organizational changes are the right thing for kids.”

Valley Children’s Infection Prevention team, pediatric infectious disease specialists and leadership continue to assess developments on a daily basis and will adjust protocols and procedures as needed.

While news of this particular coronavirus strain can be worrisome, Valley Children’s physicians and staff urge families to protect themselves from something that we are currently seeing in our emergency department and our primary care practices — cases of influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). We are in the heart of flu/RSV season and urge you to follow everyday preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health, please call your primary care physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 or visit your closest emergency department.

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