COVID-19: Our Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Pediatric Residency Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a challenging and evolving time in Medicine and Medical Education.  Across the country, institutions rapidly transitioned from the initial stage of preparation and learning into a mode of execution and mitigation.  Throughout this time, the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Pediatric Residency Program also quickly adapted to ensure that we could continue to provide high-quality training while delivering safe and effective patient care. 

Over the course of the initial few weeks...

COVID-19: Our Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Pediatric Residency Experience

leadership throughout the institution collaborated to secure adequate supply of PPE, procure testing kits, and develop clinical pathways and treatment guidelines. Early on, the effect of COVID-19 on our freestanding children’s hospital was starkly different from what adult institutions across the country were experiencing. Inpatient volume decreased, elective surgeries were suspended and outpatient practices transitioned to telemedicine visits. While resident rotations in the inpatient wards, PICU, NICU, ER and hospital-based ambulatory pediatric clinic continued without interruption, sub-specialty outpatient and community-based electives were temporarily replaced with remote self-directed learning electives. Didactics and educational activities were also immediately transitioned to a virtual platform. Additionally, residents and fellows were credentialed in telehealth, which has added a new and promising element to our training. After several weeks, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital began to implement its recovery plan, which consisted of slowly resuming elective surgeries, recommencing outpatient visits and returning remote staff. Our resident elective rotations also resumed in mid-May, and the program’s clinical curriculum has continued uninterrupted since.

So where are we now?

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital welcomed its new intern class amidst the South Florida’s upswing in COVID cases. Despite this surge, the demand on our resources, including PPE, inpatient and ICU bed availability and ventilators, never exceeded our capabilities. NCHS now tests all patients admitted to the hospital, and we have designated floors in both the PICU and inpatient floors for children with confirmed COVID-19 infections. As Miami-Dade County progresses in its phased recovery plan, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 cases numbers in our institution and community and will be ready to respond rapidly to resurgence needs. Some of our daily routines have certainly changed, as they have in institutions across the country. We go through the temperature screening station each morning. We require all clinical staff, inclusive of all our trainees, to always wear a provided mask and face shield with each patient encounter. We continue to have our didactics virtually and practice social distancing at lunch! Yet, our residents have transitioned into what is now the new normal, and we are prepared to face whatever new challenges our evolving profession brings as we strive to learn, collaborate and most importantly safely care for the children of South Florida!