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Healthwise Maui

Q: My child’s annual checkup was canceled during lockdown and I’ve been hesitant to reschedule it. Is it safe to go back to the pediatrician?

Dr. Irene Papaconstadopoulos, Pediatrician, Child and Adolescent Maui Physicians/CHAMPS Pediatrics: Many people postponed doctor appointments due to COVID-19, and that includes pediatric appointments. If your child’s well-keiki visit was canceled during lockdown, or if you’ve been avoiding taking your child for a checkup because you were worried about coronavirus risk, it’s now time to reschedule.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly supported the continued provision of health care for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Young children may have missed their scheduled in-person well-child check during the pandemic, but it is important that they get back on track with their health care needs.

The CDC has warned of a drop in childhood vaccinations during the pandemic, due to pediatric appointments being canceled. Concern exists that delays in vaccinations may result in secondary outbreaks with vaccine-preventable illnesses, like measles and pertussis.

In addition to recommended immunizations, don’t forget about other reasons why your child should visit the pediatrician’s office, such as newborn well checks after having a baby, adolescent health concerns such as menstrual care and depression management, sports physical before returning to sports (athletes who have had COVID-19 need clearance by a pediatrician before returning to sports), hearing and vision screening, early diagnosis of developmental delays, infections and treatment of injuries. Keeping your child visits current decreases the chance for later admissions to the hospital.

Outpatient newborn care should not be compromised due to COVID-19, and newborn visits should optimally take place in person. If the mother is positive for SARS-CoV-2, and the infant is negative, a nonsymptomatic alternate caregiver (if available) should accompany the infant to their visit.

Doctors’ offices and medical facilities should all have protocols in place to protect you and your child, just as CHAMPS Pediatrics in Kihei has in place. At CHAMPS Pediatrics, an online check-in protocol is in place, all staff wear masks and are screened before work, and patients and visitors are screened for temperature and symptoms as well. And of course, there are many things you can do to keep yourself protected — wear your mask and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the office, while you are there (after touching shared surfaces and objects like pens) and after your appointment.

It’s understandable that parents are concerned about COVID-19 and want to avoid any potential exposure, but remember that there are also health risks to skipping regular vaccines and doctor appointments, especially for kids. Most children will also need to be current on vaccines to return to school in the fall, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead, schedule a COVID-19 vaccine for your children that qualify and get caught up on well-visits and vaccinations now.

For more information on CHAMPS Pediatrics, please visit www.champspediatrics.com.

Q: Is it safe to reschedule my mammogram?

Angelia Andrade, Imaging Supervisor, Maui Memorial Medical Center: If you’re due for a mammogram, or your mammogram was postponed due to COVID-19, it’s time to reschedule. Now that Maui has “flattened the curve” and case numbers on the island are low, many health care providers are offering mammograms again, including Maui Memorial Medical Center.

We know that many women are concerned about COVID-19. But skipping or postponing cancer screenings can be risky. Doctors have warned that we may see more advanced cancers in the coming months because patients were not diagnosed early when their cancers were easier to treat. While postponing a mammogram for a few months might be okay, pushing it back by six months or a year could allow undetected cancer to spread.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 45 to 54 get mammograms every year, while women age 55 and older have the option of switching to mammograms every two years. In between mammograms, you should report any breast changes to your doctor right away.

At Maui Memorial, we’re taking extra precautions to keep patients and staff safe, including screening everyone for symptoms at the door, providing face masks to everyone who enters the hospital and testing every patient admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. All team members are given proper personal protective equipment, and we’re doing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in all patient care areas.

We recently restarted our monthly mammogram program for the residents of Lanai. This program allows for Lanai residents to receive their annual mammogram at Maui Memorial. They are also provided with education and training on how to correctly perform a breast self-exam.

Additionally, you do not need a physician referral to schedule at Maui Memorial Medical Center. We have complimentary valet parking and lots of appointment availability. We want to make it as easy as possible for you, so you don’t delay your screening. Rest assured, it is safe to reschedule your mammogram and get the care you need. To schedule your mammogram at Maui Memorial Medical Center, call (808) 243-3012.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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