CHOP and the Community Meet Challenges of COVID-19

Published on in CHOP News

The global COVID-19 pandemic has hurt millions, shuttered businesses and upended our daily lives. Glimmers of hope, however, will lead us to better days ahead. With the help of generous friends and members of the community, here are some ways Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is extending our reach to touch more lives.

Responding quickly to a transformational crisis

hospital employee wearing PPEWhen COVID-19 first emerged globally in January, CHOP’s Emergency Department, Infection Prevention and Control, Emergency Preparedness, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Supply Chain and others developed proactive plans to safeguard patients, families and staff.

With these plans at the ready, we responded quickly and effectively in March, when the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in the Philadelphia area. CHOP re-engineered the way we deliver care, developed new processes and policies in real-time, and worked around the clock to meet challenges the healthcare system had never faced before.

Expanding offerings and testing abilities

A top priority at CHOP is to ensure staff can provide patients with the care they need, as safely as possible. Our teams expanded a state-of-the-art isolation unit for patients with highly infectious diseases like COVID-19.

CHOP's Infectious Disease Diagnostics Laboratory developed a unique-to-CHOP COVID-19 test. CHOP received emergency FDA-approval for this test, becoming the second hospital lab in the U.S. to offer accurate testing for COVID-19. Tests were initially performed on hospital patients and clinical staff, then extended to others through drive-through testing stations at CHOP facilities in Philadelphia and Bucks County.

CHOP clinicians are caring for patients in new ways. Our Telehealth Program has experienced an enormous surge in activity as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first week of our COVID-19 response, CHOP conducted more telemedicine visits than it had in the previous three years combined. We now have about 8,000 telemedicine visits each week.

Healthy meals for families in the community

The COVID-19 pandemic added additional stress to families already facing socioeconomic challenges. CHOP's Healthier Together Initiative has partnered with the Philadelphia Housing Authority to expand its food offerings. "This initiative addresses food access and affordability, which is a priority health issue in our community and has been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic," says Alonzo South, senior director of Community Engagement at CHOP.

Sharing what we know beyond our walls

CHOP physicians and scientists advise government and public health officials on “return-to-normalcy” strategies. Our Poison Control Center is hosting the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline, which has answered more than 25,000 calls from the public since it launched in March. The helpline, which averages about 200 calls a day, supports concerned families and helps many avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital.

CHOP's infectious disease specialists also work tirelessly to investigate new ways to treat COVID-19, advise on policies and procedures and update CHOP staff on the latest developments. All the while, they continue to respond to the rapidly evolving situation. To help accelerate COVID-19 research, CHOP experts serve on the advisory board of the Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens.

Overcoming uncertainty with friends

CHOP is receiving a tremendous outpouring of support from the community during this trying time. Support comes in many ways including:

  • in-kind food donations,
  • a local distillery producing hand sanitizer for the hospital,
  • nail salons and other businesses donating personal protective gear,
  • and individuals sewing masks for visitors and staff.

Teams of clinicians, scientists and allied staff have rallied with the community during this historic public health challenge. With your generous support, we can move quickly to marshal resources, expand testing and accelerate research initiatives to protect the greatest number of people possible.