In consultation with public health and clubfoot treatment experts, MiracleFeet has sent guidance for program activities during the COVID-19 outbreak to all partner organizations in 28 countries strongly recommending that they suspend all treatment for 30 days. The numbers of cases in many countries is still low, and some governments, particularly in Africa, have resisted suspending outpatient and non-emergency care at hospitals.
At this time, we believe it is in the best interest of children to avoid clubfoot appointments given the growing global risk of spreading COVID-19 to their families and communities, and the heightened risk to health workers who provide treatment. Even if hospitals where clinics operate are providing non-essential outpatient or ambulatory care, MiracleFeet highly recommends that partner organizations take the following actions:
Suspend treatment for at least 30 days. We have strongly urged all partners to cease treatment and clinic appointments as a precautionary measure to stop of the spread of coronavirus. Families with children in casts should remove them at home to avoid exposure to a clinic, and they should resume care when conditions are safe. Partner staff and treatment providers will work with families to postpone brace appointments, provide guidance about taking off casts, and delay starting new patients until clinics resume normal operations.
Maintain ongoing communication with patient families and providers. To support families and ensure that treatment resumes quickly and efficiently when conditions permit, MiracleFeet partner staff need to stay in frequent contact with all patients and providers. Our goal is that every single child whose treatment was suspended, or who is born during this time with clubfoot, will resume or begin treatment with full correction of their condition. To facilitate frequent communication with families, MiracleFeet will assist partners with compiling patient lists and contact information using our global EMR system (CAST) and will provide guidance on key information and resources parents need depending on their child’s stage of treatment using mobile calls and SMS.
Devise a plan to resume treatment. Once conditions return to normal, we are committed to working closely with each program to resume treatment. We are already working with partners to develop and maintain plans for prioritizing existing and new patients to help manage high caseloads, calculate inventory needs, and provide equipment to keep patients and health workers safe.
Our medical advisors agree that in the case of clubfoot, the risk posed to health workers, patients, and families outweigh the benefits of immediate treatment. The well-being of the workforce and patients are our highest priority.
MiracleFeet-supported clinics are subject to different government and hospital/facility-level safety procedures in response to coronavirus, and we recognize they must comply with those policies as well. We will continue to review the COVID-19 situation and offer new guidance to partners when alternative action is advised.