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Do You Know When To Call 911 – and When You Shouldn’t?

When it comes to dialing 911, the general rule is: Dial any time there’s a threat to your life or property. In some cases, however, it’s not often as clear if it’s worth picking up the phone and calling for emergency assistance.

PCCSF’s Dr. Gerald Lavandosky spoke with Reader’s Digest on the “8 Times You Should Call 911 – and 7 Times You Shouldn’t.”

Call: You or someone else is experiencing a severe allergic reaction

If anyone begins showing signs of a severe allergic reaction—increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, swelling tongue—call 911. Severe allergic reactions can lead to death quickly—in under an hour—so you may not have enough time to get to the emergency department. Emergency responders can give immediate treatment with epinephrine.

“Parents and caregivers are not trained medical professionals, so making a medical decision as to whether an allergic reaction is 911-worthy can be challenging,” says Gerald Lavandosky, MD a pediatric critical care doctor at Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida. “Factors that need to be considered when calling 911 include distance to the nearest emergency department, traffic, weather conditions, and transportation capabilities of the family.” Dr. Lavandosky says mild allergic reactions can be brought to a doctor’s office or emergency department by a family member, but when respiratory symptoms, swelling of the mouth, drooling, or difficulty breathing show up, it’s time to call 911.

To read the full story, visit Reader’s Digest.

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8 Back to School Tips!

After three months of summer fun, it can be challenging to transition the kids back into their school routine. Following are eight tips to kick off the new school year on the right foot!

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Discussing Meningitis Symptoms with HealthyWay

What may seem as regular cold or flu can sometimes turn out to be the potentially life-threatening infection, meningitis.

Because acting quickly is the best way to lessen the consequences of the disease, it’s important to know and understand the telltale signs of meningitis and take the appropriate medical action. PCCSF’s Dr. Allan Greissman spoke with HealthyWay and shared what symptoms you should look out for.

Everyone gets sick from time to time. But sometimes, what we think of as a normal cold or flu might actually be far more dangerous. With flu season fast approaching, it’s important to understand and recognize the difference between normal illness and more serious conditions.

If flu-like symptoms come on and escalate quickly, it may mean you or a loved one has actually contracted meningitis. Meningitis is an infection that causes our meninges—the membranes that provide a protective barrier for the brain and spinal cord—to swell.

Meningitis is a serious condition that requires immediate attention from a medical professional. It can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it is important to understand the telltale symptoms. When you can spot symptoms early on, you can quickly seek out medical attention that can mitigate the negative effects of the disease.

Understanding the Types of Meningitis

There are a few different types of meningitis, but bacterial and viral meningitis are the two most common.

Bacterial meningitis is the most severe form of meningitis and can be fatal, especially if treatment is delayed. There are many types of bacteria that can cause meningitis, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Group B Streptococcus, and Listeria monocytogenes.

Thankfully, the introduction of and increased access to safe and effective vaccines resulted in a steady decrease in bacterial meningitis cases since the 1990s. However, cases that do occur are dangerous and can be fatal if left untreated.

Bacterial meningitis is treated with oral or IV antibiotics, and treatment can last between 10 and 21 days, according to Allan Greissman, MD, of Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida.

The second most commonly experienced meningitis is viral meningitis. Although there is no vaccine for viral meningitis, you can be vaccinated against some of the viruses that could cause meningitis, like measles, mumps, or influenza.

It helps to think of viral meningitis as a potential complication of these other viruses. This means that, although you might catch measles, mumps, or the flu from someone with viral meningitis, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will also develop viral meningitis.

“Viral meningitis will run its course and should not [be], and is not, treated with IV antibiotics,” says Greissman. He notes that one exception is a form of viral meningitis caused by the herpes viruses, which is treated with an antiviral medication.

Other types of meningitis do exist—fungal, parasitic, and non-infectious—but these are rare when compared to the other two types.

To read the full story, visit HealthyWay.

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Keeping Children Safe and Healthy During the Summer

When the weather heats up, so do health and safety concerns. As children enjoy more recreational time during the summer, parents should remain attentive about their activities and distinctive needs during this season. Following is information that will keep your child’s summer as carefree as possible.

  • Food – The summer months are not the time to ease up on smart food choices.  Most fruits and vegetables are in season and plentiful during the warmer months. In addition, as children’s diets allow, parents should include foods that are high in fiber and protein.
  • Exercise – Kids need to stay active during the summer. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous in order to be beneficial. It can be as simple as turning up the radio and dancing, playing a game of tag, hide and seek, Twister or taking a few laps in the pool. The idea is to keep your child moving
  • Dehydration – Strenuous activity during warmer weather makes it difficult for children’s bodies to regulate changes in body temperature. It’s imperative that children stay hydrated by consuming more water than other times of the year or drinking sports drinks with electrolytes. Parents should schedule outside activities during early morning hours, late afternoons, or early evenings in order to avoid the hottest part of the day
  • Sunburns – Serious sunburns can increase a child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Children should use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 each time they head outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Children should also wear lightweight, loose clothing in light colors in breathable fabrics during the summer
  • Injuries – Injuries can increase during the summer months when kids spend more time outdoors and are more active. Children should be supervised at all times and, as needed, should use protective equipment, such as helmets, eyewear, gloves and pads to protect against injuries
  • Drowning – Never leave children unsupervised when they are near or in the water. Children should wear life-jackets or vests whenever they are near water and should learn how to swim as soon as they are physically able.
  • Burns – While outdoor cookouts, barbeques and campfires are some of summer’s greatest pleasures, they can also lead to serious burns. Parents should always keep a close eye on children and have a “no play’ zone around open fires and hot surfaces that children should keep away from. Teach children that a grill or barbeque is similar to the stove inside the home. If possible, keep a fire extinguisher near the area
  • Hot Cars – Of course, a child should never be left alone in a car, even for a few minutes. Temperatures in a car can go up extremely quickly. Before getting into a car, check seats and seat belts to assess the temperature. If the interior is too hot, let the car cool off before letting children inside
  • Road Trips – Parents should use age-appropriate car seats during road trips. Most experts agree that the back seat is the best place for children under 13 to sit, but parents should follow their state’s laws and regulations, as well as their  pediatrician’s guidance
  • Summer First Aid Kit – Prepare a First Aid kit with essentials and keep it handy for emergencies with insect repellent, sun protection, water, icepack, an antibiotic cream and bandages
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PCCSF Manages Complex Chronic Care Coordination Program at JDCH

Providing top-notch quality care to critically ill pediatric patients is our mission at Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida. In addition to managing Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, we also manage the hospital’s Complex Chronic Care Coordination Program.

Led by our very own Dr. Jason Adler, the group’s medical director, the team is made up of three pediatric palliative care specialists; a physician assistant, PCCSF’s Alison Davis-Lavandosky; and a social worker. Together the team provides healthcare to children and adolescents who have multiple complex healthcare needs and whose care often requires the aid of medical devices such as home ventilators or feeding tubes.

Services provided by the Complex Chronic Program Team include:

  • Coordination of care for medically complex children
  • Transition of care visits for medically complex children including when children experience the following changes in care environments:
    • Hospital to home
    • Skilled nursing facility to home
    • Geographic relocation
    • Shift from one care provider to another
  • Office visits and on-call support for children with medical complexity
  • Expert medical consultation and diagnostic services for children with rare diseases
  • Expert medical consultation for complex medical decision-making for providers and/or caregivers of medically complex children
  • Needs assessments for home and community based medical services for medically complex children
  • Medical diagnostic and treatment services for the medically complex children
  • Short- and long-term medical planning for medically complex children

For more information on the Complex Chronic Care Coordination Program, please call 954-265-6301.

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