Fred Co Kid Blogs

  • Dr. James Lee

Well it’s nice to report that we’re finally making some headway on the pandemic front.

In fact it’s almost whiplash with some of the changes we’ve experienced in just the past few weeks: teens getting vaccinated, masking recommendations and group gatherings restrictions being eased, schools returning to full time in the fall. Hurrah!!

So are we ready to return to what once was? Hopefully so but it will take some adjustment. We were living with lots of rules and restrictions

and anxieties and those feelings don’t just disappear overnight. And I suspect we’ve all gotten into some bad habits and ruts.

And that’s what our summer theme is all about - getting back on track and maybe hitting the reset button. That can mean different things to different people. For us at Fredco, it can mean helping our families getting caught up on missed physicals, school forms and vaccinations (and hopefully more and more COVID shots!) On the family / home front, that can mean taking on the technology monster and correcting that imbalance between being outdoors and indoors, just to give a couple examples.

So the summer may be a great reset time for all of this as

we approach “more normal times” in the fall. But we also know this is more easily said than done. Changing habits is hard, especially when there has been some leniency and “comfort food” to ease those pandemic worries.

So here are some pointers, admittedly usurped from other parenting experts, that may point the way or give some encouragement:

  1. Promote getting outside and make it fun!

  2. Do it as a family and ask for suggestions to get buy-in. A hike might sound like work but a scavenger hunt could be cool. A picnic or ice cream reward at the end never hurts!

  3. Be proactive. Talk as a family and do what works for you. Everyone gets (and deserves) input!

  4. Be present. What does that mean? It means that nothing is more important than connecting and enjoying being with your family. This is important!

  5. Change is hard! Negativity and oppositionality is also part of human nature. People (even kids) don’t like being told what to do. Validate negative feelings. Listen - that’s what connection is all about!

  6. Be patient. We can’t change things overnight but we’ll get buy-in o

er time if we’re sincere, sensitive and committed.

And you know what else? It’s the right thing to do! We’ve all gone through and continue to process a difficult ordeal. It may have uncovered fissures in our coping mechanisms or set off some anxieties that we’re trying to overcome. We don’t always get chances for a reset. Mulligans are OK in putt-putt but they’re not a guarantee in life. This summer may be the time to start that reset. I want you to know that you’re not alone and I truly consider this a priority. Family well being and family mental health is critical to both our children’s emotional and physical well being. I’ll keep hammering this message home as we get back to the old normal, or new normal, or some normal - hopefully a happy and coping normal. Let’s do this!

-James P. Lee, MD

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  • Dr. James Lee

4/26/21 Personal Statement- Dr. James Lee

It’s both with pride and some amazement that I can introduce a truly new component to our practice: integrated behavioral health. Opportunities like this come very infrequently- like once a career- so it’s almost like being in the newborn room taking in the amazement of a new baby- full of joy and just a touch of apprehension!

What is integrated behavioral health? At a basic level, it means we work side by side with our behavioral health team - one office serving multiple needs. But it’s deeper than that. It’s about understanding and exploring the interrelationship between how we act and behave to how we feel and function. And it’s imbedded in pediatrics because prevention, education and support is so much better than the consequences and sequela of doing too little, too late.

For me, behavioral health is more than promoting a new service or listing all the diagnosis’s we can better assist in "treating"; it’s about getting to the root of the problem earlier, hopefully, than later. It’s peeling away the stigma that something is “wrong” or needs to be “fixed” to how we can better understand and function as a person and a family.

For all the services and consults and interventions that will be available, the most important one, in my opinion, is yet to be developed- understanding our interrelationships to our children, our families and ourselves. We’ve learned so much in the past 20 years about the biology of the brain and development in children and how it relates to attachment, parenting and family functioning. Each of these are critically important and I can’t wait to share that with you, with our team, and also by reviewing the amazing literature that has been written on parenting and family functioning. There are lots of "how to" guides out there but they’re just words if you don’t understand the why.

I headlined this as the new age of pediatrics and in fact it is. But I want you to know that behavioral health can and should be so much more than fixing a problem or managing a condition. It’s about insight, self reflection and maybe some vulnerability. It’s OK to say I don’t know, it’s OK to seek answers, it’s OK to apologize. We can be a safe harbor for your child and your family. I also want to say thank you, in advance, for entrusting your care to all of us working together to make our patients, our families and our communities better, as best we can. That has always been my vision and this is a core mission of pediatrics that I’ll always stay committed to.

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  • Dr. James Lee

Welcome to 2021- Vaccines and School Return

I’d dropped off the blog /commentary routine as our pandemic unfortunately resurged and intensified as we moved from fall into winter. The holidays and colder weather resulted in the anticipated but regretful resurgence. Vaccine roll out excited us as we indeed made vaccines available in record time. And, in the midst of all this, we had a national election and post election controversy that co-dominated the headlines and consumed much of our time and energy. This collision of pandemic and politics has affected us all. We have been left, in part, questioning facts and beliefs and even our trust in our institutions. There is polarization and most unfortunately an undermining of credibility regarding our scientific institutions and organizations. The vaccine should not be politicized.

As we move into the later part of January, we see, fortunately, a plateauing of covid numbers and vaccines are coming online but in limited supply and availability. That’s true nationally and locally. However, hospitalization and deaths remain high and the numbers are almost unfathomable. We’ve exceeded 400,000 deaths with no obvious end in sight. The nightly news numbers seem like Ground Hogs day.

Locally, we’re in the same boat. Despite the recommendation of the governor to open up vaccine availability to all high risk populations and workers, the vaccine supply is inadequate and there is no short term solution in sight. Public health officials have rightfully targeted the elderly as the highest priority. They face the highest mortality rate and are the most vulnerable.

At the same time, as the governor has strongly recommended, school systems are preparing to reopen schools- hybrid style at least. This is not met with open arms but public health officials analyzing national data feel that school reopening, at least in its hybrid, limited group way, does not pose an undo public health risk. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be easy or not controversial. Kids will get sick. Parents will need to scramble to find alternative care arrangements and, as I’m fond of saying - we may have control of the class room but not of the parking lot. Many of our families have adjusted to virtual learning, but some have not and the disparity between those two groups is ever widening. That is not good and return to school is a priority- scary but a priority.

The role of vaccines is similarly bipolar. Some are desperate to get vaccinated, some are hesitant. This spreads across occupations and socioeconomic status. Part of this is human nature and part of this has been amplified by our current political climate.

So what’s ahead? Schools will reopen, in some format, and vaccines will become available, even if the time line or supply chain remain unclear. And there will be ongoing uncertainty. Will new COVID strains trigger another resurgence? Will the vaccines live up to their reputation? Will we be be able to hang in there with our current public health measures? Can we get any way near "back to normal"?

So here are my personal reflections.

1) The push to school return is justified - from a public health and child advocacy standpoint. But I’m not an educator. I hardly understand the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. How do you teach to a classroom and a computer screen simultaneously? How can you feel safe in a school environment without at least the availability of a vaccine? Those are tough questions. These are tough times.

2) Vaccinations matter! The technology was in place, the vaccine experts made it priority #1, the timeline was streamlined but no corners were cut and reputable corporations and researchers made this work. Hopefully over time their work will stand on the pantheon next to Jonas Salk as a remarkable vaccine achievement that will have saved millions of lives. And just as there most certainly was fear of the unknown and it consequences to combat polio with a new vaccine, we ultimately eradicated a terrible disease with trust and faith in science and scientific institutions.

A critical tool to combat this pandemic is now available to us too. It’s now our time to stand up and support and embrace our fellow researchers and public health experts. We, especially health care workers and educators, need to be role models. We need to trust the science and our scientific institutions. They are us and we are them. Join me in rolling up our sleeves. We can make it through this pandemic but it will take all of us to be committed and for those of you who have placed your trust in us and me for the care of your children and families, continue to hold my hand as I (and we) lead the way.

With caution and awareness but ultimately determination we forge ahead. Together.

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