Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for Patient Families

COVID-19 is one of a family viruses called “coronaviruses,” which can cause common colds or other respiratory illnesses.  The COVID-19 strain can cause more serious illness in some patients.

This page has information to help our patients and families understand what actions to take and how to protect from seasonal colds, flu and coronavirus, including COVID-19.

Latest Updates

Telehealth: Providing Best Outcomes for Children During COVID-19

Updated 3/31/2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live our daily lives, one thing remains true – Nationwide Children’s Hospital is adapting and innovating so you/your child receives uninterrupted care. We’re doing this through telehealth visits. Click here to learn more.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Donation Drop Off

Updated 3/30/2020: At this time, Nationwide Children’s Hospital is not accepting handmade fabric masks. For donating fabric masks and where they can be most useful, as a starting point, please contact your local public health department.

In terms of medical supplies, Nationwide Children’s is accepting new, in original packaging, never-used, and unopened N95 respirators, surgical masks, ear loop and duckbill masks of all sizes, face shields, exam gloves, hand sanitizer that has greater than 60% alcohol, hand soap, eye protection, no touch infrared thermometers and more. Donations are being accepted at the hospital’s Outpatient Care Center located at 555 South 18th Street, Columbus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. starting on Monday, March 30.

Urgent Care Locations Open

Updated 3/26/2020: All Nationwide Children’s Hospital Urgent Care locations remain open. Due to new visitor restrictions, only one adult may accompany a patient to any outpatient location. Call your child’s pediatrician or family doctor before seeking urgent care unless your child’s physician is unavailable or your child is experiencing a medical emergency. Click here to find the Urgent Care closest to you and view wait times.

Patient and Family Screening Begins at All Entrances

Updated 3/23/2020: As part of Nationwide Children’s on-going COVID-19 prevention efforts, effective Monday, March 23, the hospital will implement additional patient and family screening at all entrances to all health care facilities—the main campus, emergency rooms, urgent care centers and all outpatient centers.

  • Patients or family members reporting a cough or fever at entrance screenings will receive masks to put on prior to entering any clinical areas and to wear throughout their time in the hospital.

Visitor Restrictions

Updated 3/20/2020: Effective Friday, March 20:

  • Inpatient Visitors: At admission, families will identify a total of two adult visitors for the duration of the patient’s hospital stay.
  • Outpatient Services at ANY Location: Only one adult may accompany a patient to any outpatient location.

Postponement of Non-Urgent Procedures

Updated 3/18/2020: Effective Wednesday, March 18th Nationwide Children’s will be postponing all non-urgent surgical, dental and invasive/interventional procedures scheduled for the next 60 days.

  • This change is in line with new guidelines from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and other societies, in order to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and minimize social interactions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Resources for Families

Blog Posts

Medical professional conducting an exam via computer

Telehealth: Providing Best Outcomes for Children During COVID-19

(3/31/2020) As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way we live our daily lives, one thing remains true – Nationwide Children’s Hospital is adapting and innovating so you/your child receives uninterrupted care. We’re doing this through telehealth visits.

Caregiver and child cooking in the kitchen

COVID-19: How to Keep Kids Busy and Connected

(3/23/2020) In these uncertain times, parents have the added stress of keeping their children busy and connected with friends and family, all while staying home to slow the spread of coronavirus. We did some crowdsourcing to get some great ideas for younger and older kids.

Child sitting on dad's lap looking at tablet

Things to Do If Your Child Has a Sibling in the Hospital During the COVID-19 Pandemic

(3/20/2020) For children who have a brother or sister admitted this could raise questions: Is my sibling okay? When will they come home? Why can’t I visit them? What happens at the hospital? Will I get sick?

Mother comforting sad daughter on couch

COVID-19: How to Help Kids Deal With School Closings and Cancelled Plans

(3/13/2020) Schools around the country are being closed to try to slow down the spreading of COVID-19. At first, this may sound exciting, but these closings present us with lots of challenges. Here are a few tips to handle the next few weeks.

Mother sitting in chair, talking to her daughter while holding her hands

How to Talk to Your Kids About COVID-19

(3/11/2020) Kids pay attention to the news when hot topics dominate it, and they are often curious enough to ask questions. If your children want answers about COVID-19, we suggest a multi-layered approach.

Woman wearing a face mask

What Parents Need to Know About Coronavirus

(3/5/2020) The new virus COVID-19 has been making headlines around the world. But what is it, exactly? And should you be worried?


PediaCast 457: COVID-19: Our New Routine

(3/25/2020) In the midst of a pandemic, life goes on. This week we discuss new routines and an important job that never stops: parenting! Dr. Yolanda Evans is our guest. She is a pediatrician and mother living in the Seattle epicenter of COVID-19.

PediaCast 456: COVID-19: Social Distancing and Flattening the Curve

(3/19/2020) In this episode, our COVID-19 coverage continues with an update on the pandemic and the important concepts of social distancing and flattening the curve. We also begin a series of check-ins with pediatricians across America and discover how coronavirus is impacting their families, medical practices and communities.

PediaCast 455: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

(3/11/2020) In this episode, Dr. Mike discusses everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease.

Coping with COVID-19 | Stress Management for Parents

(Updated 3/23/2020) You might have to get creative when it comes to managing stress during the COVID-19 crisis. This is especially true for parents. Dr. Molly Gardner from Nationwide Children's Hospital's has some creative stress management ideas for moms and dads.

Coping with COVID-19 | Setting Boundaries With Children

(Updated 3/23/2020) It can be hard for kids when their predictable schedule suddenly becomes unpredictable. Here's how you can help your children maintain some normalcy. 

Coping With COVID-19 | Supporting Those Who Are Struggling

(Updated 3/23/2020) Feeling anxious or down is normal during a times of uncertainty and crisis. Here's what you can do to support those who are struggling. 

Coping with COVID-19 | Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

(Updated 3/23/2020) Emotional health can be challenging during this COVID-19 crisis. Dr. Molly Gardner explains what you can do to stay emotionally healthy, plus what you should do if you need behavioral health support during this time.

Coping with COVID-19 | Feeling Isolated

(Updated 3/23/2020) Limited contact with friends, family, classmates or co-workers can feel isolating to parents and children. Dr. Molly Gardner explains how you can help get through this while also keeping your family safe.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Helping Children with Uncertainty

(Updated 3/23/2020) This is a question on the minds of many parents: How can I help my child deal with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic? Here's what Dr. Molly Gardner recommends.

Coping with COVID-19 Concerns | Rescheduling Appointments

(Updated 3/23/2020) If someone in my family has a behavioral health condition and regulary scheduled appointments. Should we be rescheduling them? Here's what Dr. Molly Gardner wants parents to know. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) | What You Need To Know 

(Updated 3/13/20) Are you concerned about how to best protect your family from COVID-19? Here’s what Nationwide Children’s Hospital's Chief of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention wants you to know about this global pandemic.

More Information About COVID-19

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

Symptoms of infection include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The severity of symptoms range from mild to severe and can mimic a regular cold or the flu.  Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Tiredness, body aches.
  • Dry cough.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • The vast majority of patients have mild/moderate symptoms and don't require hospitalization.
  • People at highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include those with pre-existing pulmonary disease, immune-compromised, and the elderly.
What Should I do if I Think my Child has Symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Seek medical care right away by calling your doctor’s office to tell them about your potential exposure to the virus and your symptoms.  Don’t go to the doctor’s office or emergency room without calling first.
  • Avoid contact with others.  Show your child how to cough or sneeze into their arm, not their hands, or try to cover their mouth or nose for them with a tissue if they are too young to do it themselves. Make sure to throw away used tissues.
  • If possible, avoid traveling by plane, bus or other mass transportation.
  • Wash your and your child’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
How Can I Protect my Family?

The same precautions you would take to avoid catching seasonal cold or flu are the right ones to take now:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cough or sneeze into your arm or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
How is Nationwide Children's Hospital Preparing?

The staff at Nationwide Children’s are on the alert and ready for these types of outbreaks. Regular training ensures that they know what to do during an outbreak. The hospital maintains supplies of protective equipment and special facilities to protect all patients, staff and visitors.

  • Hospital leaders communicate with local, state and federal public health officials to stay up to speed on the latest developments and care standards.  
  • The hospital’s staff are trained to handle patients with infectious diseases and are equipped with special equipment to protect patients and themselves. In addition, the hospital has special facilities to care for patients without increasing risk to others.
  • Response plans are regularly updated for quick implementation in the event of a local COVID-19 outbreak.