Going Back to School Safely

          Message from Amy Mansue

           President and CEO, Inspira Health





With a brand-new school year upon us, parents and teachers are tackling a very different back-to-school to-do list. If the children are returning to the classroom, along with acquiring the usual paper and pencils, parents are filling backpacks with gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and face masks. The challenges parents are facing in securing personal protective equipment (PPE) is not very different than what we face in the health care industry.

Even more critical than securing supplies is teaching children safety measures for how to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. Though schools are expected to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guide-lines to ensure safety for children, it's always a good idea to be aware of, and reinforce, some of these measures from home as well, including temperature checks, hand washing throughout the day, maintaining social distance measures and steering clear of public transportation if possible.

But sometimes, even the best-laid plans can go awry. If you think your child may have been exposed to COVID-19, or is exhibiting symptoms, Inspira Health has established a hotline (1-800-772-2848) that can provide guidance about COVID-19 testing and help keep the entire family healthy.

Everyone gets comfortable with routines. And this rings particularly true for children and teenagers. As parents deal with the added stress of adapting a work schedule with the new school schedules, it’s important to be attentive to your needs, as well as how your children feel. Hopefully after you get that first week or two behind you, you can find some time to be outside with your children. Maybe a walk, a game in the backyard, or a bike ride. We all may need a little more of “recess” during our day, especially now.

I’m pleased to share that Inspira extended an offer of assistance to our community’s schools in mid-July. Over 150 school administrators and school nurses participated in the virtual town hall we hosted. We have already helped Kingsway, Woodbury and Woodbury Heights schools purchase their PPE. We also provided a free PPE fitting for the staff at HollyDELL and Monroe Township. Vineland and Glassboro have also reached out to us and plans are underway.

Back-to-school season is also an important reminder to schedule your and your family’s preventive care appointments, including annual check-ups, immunizations and flu shots, as well as certain tests and screenings. These appointments are essential for obtaining and maintaining good health, which is more critical than ever as we enter the flu season amid a pandemic. Influenza and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, and the flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu infection and sick days from school.

To eliminate any pause about seeking preventative care or treatment in a physical health care setting during the pandemic, Inspira has taken proactive steps to place the health and safety of our community above all else. As a result, we’ve kept the virus under control in our hospitals. We are currently treating 12 COVID-19 patients throughout the network. Thankfully, no hospitalized COVID-19 patient currently needs the assistance of a ventilator to help them to breathe.

But we also understand that an in-person appointment isn’t always feasible or convenient – especially when work, school and sport schedules are all being balanced. To ensure that care can be accessed by anyone whenever, wherever, Inspira Health has expanded its telehealth services across the network. Maintaining regular doctor visits – whether virtually or in-person – is important for your child’s health, as well as that of the entire family, so be sure to keep up with your child’s well visits and all of their immunizations as they head back to school this fall.

While we all balance what a “new normal” looks like at the start of a new school year, please remember that Inspira Health is here for you as your community partner for all of your health care needs. It is a privilege and an honor to serve you and the South Jersey community. Until we may have the chance to meet, stay safe and be well.