Kids. Germs. Kids and germs. Sadly, they just seem to go together. It’s a perennial problem. Daycares and schools can incubate infections as effectively as any petri dish, and most parents expect an onslaught of sniffles on schedule several times a year. While it’s a big ask to keep the little ones totally germ free at all times, the last place parents want to worry about microbes is in the doctor’s office. Here are a few ways for your practice to help keep the germs at bay, and prevent a few of those colds and flus.
Make it easy to get a flu shot
Parents are busy, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let preventative methods slide. Host a series of flu shot clinics at convenient times, and promote them aggressively to your patients with children. Print up attractive postcards and fliers, start a mailing campaign, include a notice in your newsletter, and advertise on social media.
Educate parents about what requires a visit-and what doesn’t
We all know over-cautious parents who bring children into the office with a simple cold, but one unnecessary runny nose in your waiting room can spell disaster for other patients. Hand out leaflets about the differences between colds, flus, ear infections, strep, and other easily confused conditions. Outline the symptoms which indicate that a child does need to be seen, but aim to reassure parents that home rest and OTC medications are enough to handle most commonplace colds and flus. Make it clear that your practice is always available to answer questions, and encourage parents to call with any concerns or if they’re undecided about scheduling an appointment.
Make antibacterial gel easily available
You probably already have dispensers in the bathrooms and at strategic doorways, but consider adding a few more to the waiting room. Parents are pretty good at using them, but children (who probably need it most) can be less diligent. Place hand sanitizer at kid level to encourage small patients to use it: they love doing things for themselves.
Rethink waiting room toys
Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to kids and germs. Shared toys, especially stuffed animals or other playthings that are not easily washable, can quickly become vectors. Focus on books, coloring pages, and individually wrapped favors that kids can take home with them.
Germs are a natural part of life and an inevitable part of childhood. Once you’ve taken all the possible steps to prevent the spread of germs, sometimes all that’s left to do is reassure parents. Give them information on ways to encourage good hygiene in their kids and helpful actions they can take to foster a healthy immune system. Then just let them know you’re only a phone call away.