ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Three physicians at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital are giving us a rare look at what it has been like on the inside, treating sick children, and dealing with their own COVID-19 realities. They filmed video diaries from the pediatric front lines.
“I am the director of the sickle cell program and I take care of patients who have sickle cell disease,” said Dr. E Leila Jerome Clay.
“Just like the rest of the country, we’re starting to see an increase in the COVID-19 cases,” ER Physician, Dr. Meghan Martin said.
“I think the hardest part for us is that we stay protected, they stay protected, we’re appropriately managing and we’re appropriately educating a disease process that we're still learning so much about,” said ER Physician Dr. Ebony Hunter.
From Sarasota to Hernando County, the Florida Department of Health reports nearly 17,000 pediatric COVID-19 cases, from infants to 17-year-olds, since the start of the pandemic.
On the hospital floors, they take it one patient at a time.
“The symptoms that kids are having are similar to the symptoms that adults are having,” Martin said. “Some upper respiratory symptoms like cough, congestion, sore throat, also gastrointestinal symptoms.”
“Our families have been really stressed and really nervous about COVID-19,” said Jerome Clay. “Because they know if they do get COVID-19 it will be very different for them because sickle cell disease is one of these underlying conditions.”
It has been nine months of a non-stop fight against an invisible enemy, and it takes strength and dedication to keep showing up every day.
“I think what has made this challenging for me is that me and my family experienced a personal loss early on in the process, shortly after we knew of COVID,” Hunter said.
Leaning on each other for support as the positive cases continue to climb, and concerned families need critical care from the best teams.
“I know everyone is sick of wearing their masks, sick of social distancing, nobody wants to hear us talk about it anymore,” said Martin. “But it is really important not to get fatigued about it.”
Across the state, the DOH reports 983 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and nine have died.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map