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2019-2020 Annual Report - February

Breathing easy

Last February, the patient care landscape in our region changed forever. The COVID-19 pandemic came knocking on our doors, and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital had to find new ways to safely connect with patients, especially those patients more at risk for contracting the dangerous respiratory illness.

Nine-year-old Knox is one such patient. He has battled cystic fibrosis since birth. This life-threatening disease causes his body to produce thick and sticky mucus that clogs his lungs. This makes it harder for Knox to breathe, and leaves him more susceptible to lung infections and respiratory illnesses.

Telehealth Call
Physicians meet with patients via video conference in Children’s Hospital clinics

Cystic fibrosis is so dangerous, patients typically have to keep 6 feet of distance between each other, to reduce the risk of catching or spreading communicable diseases.

Knox comes to Children’s Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Clinic for regular check-ups for his condition. And when COVID-19 hit our community, the clinic team took Knox’s – and all their patients’ – safety seriously.

“We got a lot of questions from anxious moms and dads because their kids are at higher risk for complications due to their underlying lung disease,” says clinic coordinator Alison Metcalf. “These parents have devoted pretty much their entire lives, since their child was born, to making them stay healthy – so all the unknown surrounding COVID-19 was so scary.”

Metcalf was instrumental in switching her clinic patients to phone and video appointments in those first crucial weeks of the pandemic. By utilizing video conferencing tools like Zoom, physicians and nurses were able to meet virtually with their at-risk patients, and families were able to keep their important appointments, from the comfort and safety of their own home.

Knox’s mother, Iris, was relieved to be able to meet virtually with her son. “I thought the zoom appointment was brilliant and convenient,” she says.

COVID-19 continues to challenge Children’s Hospital to deliver top-notch health care any way we can. Since February 2020, we have launched an official telemedicine program, which allows formalized charting and ease-of-access over a secure network.

Around The Hospital - Telehealth at East Tennessee Children's Hospital

kinetic machine illustration

Outpatient Stats 2020

Outpatient visits 70,795
       Visits to the Emergency department 50,998
Emergency department admissions 2,964
Rehab visits 17,735
Home Health visits 29,513
Urgent Care visits 22,903

The telemedicine program is crucial to reaching patients like Knox, who could not come to the hospital for his life-saving treatments during an unprecedented health crisis. The program can only continue to serve kids like Knox through generous donor support. Consider making a donation today.

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