“Don’t go to the emergency room”: how a New York pediatrician copes with the coronavirus epidemic


NEW YORK (Reuters) – When a 3-year-old New York pediatrician patient, Dr. Greg Gulbransen dislocated his arm, told his parents not to take him to the emergency care center, fearing that this could put the family at risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Instead, he said, he met them on their lawn, where he brought the girl’s joint back.

“It is a very easy thing to do, but it has made a huge difference to them,” he said.

Gulbransen has had to rethink the way he runs his pediatric practice on Long Island since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

“We are at the heart of the storm,” said Gulbransen. His practice remains open and now also welcomes certain non-pediatric patients who have found it difficult to be seen by a doctor.

He said his practice has been physically reorganized to keep sick patients away from those who are doing well.

Other recent adjustments include telemedicine, although he doesn’t know how insurance reimbursements will work with such consultations.

He said he was concerned that his pediatric patients would become aware of their parents’ anxieties, as well as the health and financial well-being of his staff.

Dr. Greg Gulbransen performs follow-up visit to baby whose family tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in early March while in his pediatric office in Oyster Bay, New York, United States United, April 13, 2020. Photo taken on April 13, 2020. REUTERS / Lucas Jackson

“The level of anxiety is palpable,” said Gulbransen.

“But it is a privilege,” he said, adding, “You are there for your patients. You have to push and do whatever it takes. “

New York State, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, recorded more than 10,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, out of more than 28,000 across the country.

The disease looks different in children than in adults, said Gulbransen.

“We had a 6 week old child with COVID, and really (the child had) no other symptoms than a runny nose,” said Gulbransen.

He also treated “quite a few toddlers and a lot of school children,” who were all doing well.

Cases of illness involving children are “overshadowed by cases of adults, although some of the cases (of children) can be quite serious,” said Dr. Lorry Rubin, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, which is part of Northwell Health. network.

Sometimes previously healthy children, often adolescents, develop pneumonia “and this can be serious and may lead to oxygen or ventilation needs,” said Rubin.

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However, most COVID-19 pediatric patients are doing well. Rubin said he was only aware of one deceased child, who also suffered from terminal congenital disease. Among the infants less than 60 days old who were found to have COVID, “all of them behaved rather well,” he added.

“The frequency of pediatric illnesses requiring hospitalization is low,” said Rubin. “Without a doubt, it is not as bad in children and less common as in adults. “

But with New York’s healthcare system at full throttle to treat coronavirus patients, Gulbransen doesn’t want to take any risks. His motto is, “Whatever you do, don’t send anyone from this office to the emergency room. “

Report by Lucas Jackson; Writing by Bernadette Baum; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.


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