One of parents’ many jobs is to keep their children (and themselves) healthy. As a person thinks about what is health, it’s usually thought to be a state of being free of illness or injury.

It’s physical, mental and social well-being. Primary care physicians are dedicated to the well-being of their patients of all ages. This includes the prevention of disease and preventable injuries.

This is why parents are given information about many aspects of health to help them keep their children safe and healthy. This includes information about helmets and seat belts, vaccines and antibiotics (or antivirals), hand-washing, smoking and drugs, nutrition, good sleep and well-child check-ups. All parents are constantly making decisions about what’s best for their children.

We’re now in a new phase about what’s best for our children’s health and must make good decisions about how to keep the family safe. There’s real concern about the risk of children not getting their well-child care, which includes vaccination and various screenings for preventable health care problems. Some well-child care can effectively be done by telehealth, but other care requires a face-to-face encounter.

The University of Texas Medical Branch’s logo is UTMB Health, and this institution is, and has been, dedicated to the health of the people in Texas. They’ve announced they’re slowly and carefully opening up services to care for their patients.

They’re rearranging the process for appointments and spreading out the time patients are served. First, there will be no walk-in appointments. Families with a sick child need to call the 24/7 Access Center/Nurse at 800-917-8906 to have their health care concerns personalized and be instructed where they can get the care they need. This may be by telehealth or face to face.

All emergency rooms are open for all types of emergency care. Pediatric offices will call to safely schedule or reschedule well-child visits. Parents can call 409-772-3695 to contact their physician and to set up appropriate appointments. Much of the procedure for signing in for the appointment will be online.

All employees and patients are screened for symptoms of COVID-19. All patients scheduled for procedures (X-ray, surgery) are tested for COVID-19 48 hours in advance. They’re protecting their employees and patients by giving and requiring the use of masks (except for children younger than 10).

The number of family members will, in most instances, be limited to one. They’re rearranging the waiting rooms so chairs are allowing social distancing. All areas are being repeatedly and rigorously cleaned. The reception areas are fitted with clear shields to keep people safe and support social distancing.

We’re entering a new “normal” and with all the safeguards in place, parents can feel comfortable that they’re doing their best to keep their children healthy.

Stay safe and wash your hands — parents and children alike.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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