A pediatrician at Children’s Community Pediatrics in Pittsburgh, Lorrie KIGER '04 is seeing firsthand the effects COVID-19 has on children and families. From telemedicine to parking lot exams, pediatric care is evolving every day, and Lorrie is giving us a peek into this changing landscape while sharing helpful tips for parents.
B.A. Classics, Yale University; M.D. Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University; Pediatric Residency, Children’s Hospital Of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Pediatrician; Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics; International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
What does a typical work week look like for you?
I work full time in one of our three outpatient offices, with occasional evening and weekend shifts, and call from home on a rotating basis with the other partners in my practice. I do rounds at Magee, West Penn, and Jefferson Hospitals where I perform the first physical exam for newborns. I also fill in at the Children’s Express Care locations in West Mifflin and Jefferson Hills as needed.
How has that changed since the beginning of COVID-19?
We have rearranged our office structure to separate well and sick patients into different offices and to utilize telemedicine as much as possible. We are no longer allowed to do rounds on newborns at the hospitals. We are seeing about 50 percent of our typical patient volume and have limited in-person visits to non-COVID illness and essential Well Visits for infants and children under age two who need weight checks or routine vaccinations. We are taking temperatures for every patient and staff member. Sometimes we are doing ear exams in the parking lot or strep swabs from patient’s cars. Telemedicine is new for us and has been essential in allowing us to connect with and care for the rest of our patient population remotely. Virtual visits have been a very interesting and new experience. I’ve “examined” a patient in a field next to her two horses and watched several fashion shows put on by toddlers wanting to show off their collections of princess dresses.
As a frontline worker, what is something you'd like fellow Ellis alumnae and the greater Ellis community to know?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing materials remain in short supply. Please contact your members of Congress and state representatives and ask them to advocate for these badly needed supplies.
Do you have any advice for members of the Ellis community during this time?
I think it’s incredibly important to be cognizant of mental health during this stressful time. Kids (and adults for that matter) may not know how to express the emotions they are feeling, such as disappointment, loneliness, worry, fear, or sadness. Try to name these emotions and help them work through their feelings in different ways such as through talking, drawing, or doing yoga. Explore apps like Headspace that are offering free access to meditation and mindfulness during the pandemic and piloting programs for children such as Monster Meditations which Headspace has created in partnership with Sesame Street. There are also many pediatric mental health providers utilizing teletherapy to help kids through this difficult time, so reach out to your pediatrician if you think your child needs assistance.
How have you been recharging after your workday?
I listen to various podcasts during my drive home to unwind. I love playing with my daughters Genevieve (3.5 years) and Adelaide (15 months) outside now that the weather has improved. We enjoy exploring Frick Park and visiting the eastern screech owl who currently resides in a tall tree along one of the trails. I’ve been running a lot since my club field hockey team SteelStyx is on hiatus due to the pandemic. I’m also starting a book club with my sister Lesley KIGER ’06 and we have two books lined up already; I’m excited for the first book to arrive in the mail soon.