COVID positive kids stay positive thanks to the CORT service

It is well known that kids are generally more resilient to COVID-19 than the rest of the population but some children do still contract it. So what happens when a child does test positive to COVID-19?

The good news is that for most children who test positive for COVID-19, they won’t need to be admitted to hospital. More often than not, they are well enough to be cared for at home but this also requires them to be in isolation for 14 days.

Recognising this as an area of need at the start of the pandemic, our Network established a COVID Positive Outpatient Response Team (CORT). This team, made up of senior staff from within our Ambulatory Care unit, work closely with our Infectious Diseases teams and Public Health units to provide virtual care to COVID-19 positive children in their homes.

This innovative model of care was one of the first paediatric COVID outreach services provided in NSW and has helped to care for 78 patients since March. Over this time, the team conducted 768 phone calls, 27 video telehealth consultations and 13 clinical reviews.

Nadine Shaw, Network Nurse Manager of Ambulatory Services, who heads up the CORT service across the Network, says the service has made a huge difference to families and staff alike.

“Through telehealth, and with in-person clinical assessments as required, we have kept pauci-symptomatic children at home with their families, where they are safe and comfortable. This has also greatly minimised COVID-19 exposure of our staff members and other children and families in our Hospitals,” Nadine said.

In addition to providing daily telehealth consultations with positive COVID-19 patients, the CORT team also help to provide additional support by couriering any necessary medication to families and connecting them with any other services they may need, including adult clinical teams, mental health and social work services.

“Our CORT team really go above and beyond to make sure our families have everything they need; from liaising with local adult clinical teams who are caring for the adults in the family, to organising mental health support, right through to couriering Panadol to families in isolation who can’t get to the pharmacy,” Nadine said. “Over Easter we even couriered chocolate eggs to families in isolation, so kids did not miss out on a visit from the Easter Bunny.”

One of the people who have benefited from this invaluable service is Fleur, whose nine-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID after the family’s return from the United States in March. “It was so reassuring to have the same staff member ringing every day, offering clear advice, answering questions, and speaking directly to the kids when they were worried,” Fleur said. “Our daughter has now fully recovered and thankfully nobody else in the family tested positive, but it was a very scary and uncertain time for us. We heard stories from our colleagues and friends in the US that make us even more grateful for the virtual care the CORT clinic provided to our family.”

While COVID-19 has posed many challenges for everyone this year, the ability to quickly adapt and find a solution to care for families like Fleur’s has been one of the positive outcomes and showcases the Network’s commitment to caring for sick kids, no matter where they are. “I am privileged to be able to work with a team who are incredibly innovative, flexible and adaptable. The teams have taken each challenge in their stride, and continue to provide the best possible care to our patients and families,” Nadine said.