I am the father of 5 children, including one sophomore in high school. Schools are obviously closed now and I would expect will be closed for quite some time. While we all hope that the coronavirus outbreak does not escalate into a healthcare crisis for our community, I am quite concerned and expect considerable increased rates in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
My staff of over 60 physicians and physician assistants are going to work without any hesitation and with admirable commitment. However, with impending interruptions in child care, our staff and healthcare providers around the country will face additional unique challenges in helping our patients. Without appropriate child care, we risk major, national interruptions in the work force that we will rely on to care for a growing number of very ill patients.
To help this crisis, it is our responsibility to consider every possible solution. I believe that with schools closed, we need to mobilize our school nurses and students to orchestrate coverage for our healthcare workers. Nurses can do a phone screen of toddlers of healthcare workers that require child care, and they can also apply the same phone screen to willing high school students. I would think that resources in the schools can also be used to help connect the parents with screening babysitters. I am not saying schools should directly perform babysitting services, but schools are uniquely positioned to make this happen and ultimately can help manage this healthcare crisis in a profound way.
We need help during this unprecedented period, and I think such a solution can be a model which can help mitigate this crisis nationally.