COVID-19 Q&A: Clinic leader on back-to-school safety, care

Dr. Joshua Crabtree says to get a checkup now to stay physically & mentally well

Dr. Joshua Crabtree and Courtney Collen smile in front of a wall of windows

As we approach five months since the first positive COVID-19 case within the Sanford Health community, there’s still a lot to be learned.

Many of those frequently asked questions involve the upcoming school year, adhering to safety guidelines and what we can do right now to stay on top of our health.

Joshua Crabtree, M.D., is clinic vice president for Sanford Health in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, region. He joined Sanford Health News for a Facebook Live Q&A event July 16 to address commonly asked questions and hot topics surrounding the coronavirus.

“We have done a good job of addressing the near and short-term issues that have come forward,” Dr. Crabtree said. “We continue to do that.”

What we do know

The family medicine physician says now is the time to get the care you need.

“It is safe to go into the clinic,” Dr. Crabtree explains. “Our clinics are some of the safest places for our community members to be.”

This is the time of year to get those well child visits scheduled, he says, and think about sports physicals as we look ahead to the fall.

Back to school in a pandemic

There are a lot of unknowns surrounding a new school year. Dr. Crabtree provides some advice surrounding feelings of anxiety that come with the unknowns.

“When you’re speaking to school-aged children, remain calm,” he said. “Young kids will take notice of how you respond.”

If we’re anxious, they will be anxious and spread that anxiety to friends. He also suggests to remain calm, be open with your kids and pay attention to what they’re consuming from television or social media.

“Our schools are safe places. We’ve got very smart educators that are collaborating with health care leadership in how can we do this safely. How can we try to distance our children but yet bring them into public schools, private schools, in a way that’s safe. We know the socialization and avoiding isolation is important to development.

“Make yourself available to your kids. Let them know you’re able to address their questions.”

Stephanie Hanson, M.D., weighed in saying the topic of back-to-school is at the top of everyone’s mind.

“There is a lot of pressure on our school leaders to get this right. Unfortunately, we don’t know what the right answer is,” Dr. Hanson said. “There’s lots of ways schools can be creative with their workflows and physical space to keep things as safe as possible.”

This isn’t over yet

As leaders learn a lot about where we’ve been, they continue preparing for where we might need to go.

“COVID is not going anywhere, not yet,” Dr. Crabtree said. “If we’re not cautious or thoughtful about how to move forward, we could have unforeseen consequences so it’s important for all of us to remain vigilant, diligent and patient with those decision-makers knowing we’re all doing the best we can.”

That being said, he says give your mind a break.

“From a mental health standpoint, we’re stressing over these uncertainties,” he explains. “Take a break. Have some fun with your kids. Do some activities — safely — that will take your mind off of COVID-19 and those day-to-day challenges it may bring.”

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Posted In Back to School, Children's, Coronavirus, Expert Q&A, Family Medicine

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