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September 14, 2020

Preparing for Back to School

As children across the state return to school, many have asked about the potential for a pediatric COVID surge or a surge as a result of children returning to school. In an effort to prepare for either possibility, SCHA has consulted with leaders from the South Carolina Children’s Hospital Collaborative (SCCHC), the state children’s hospital association.

SCCHC key takeaways or recommendations:

1. The vast majority of children experience less severe disease with COVID. All of our children’s hospitals have provided care and will continue to provide care to children with COVID and/or MIS-C, the syndrome associated with COVID. At this time, we anticipate being able to meet the need for pediatric COVID inpatient care across the state. Pediatric surge plans are in place at each children’s hospitals in case the return to school and/or holidays result in a surge.

2. Currently, the children’s hospitals have adequate bed capacity for pediatric COVID patients. Should a major patient surge occur, bed availability could change due to seasonal fluctuations in occupancy (e.g. high occupancy annually associated with the fall and winter seasonal influenza and other non-COVID related respiratory illnesses) and the maintenance of our specialty pediatric nursing teams.

3. To preserve children’s hospital inpatient beds for the most severe cases, the children’s hospitals are also available for consultation to assist with intensive outpatient or inpatient management of pediatric cases that can be safely managed through the local hospital and child’s medical providers. We will make ourselves available through phone consultation or through telemedicine consults if feasible. Ask for the pediatric service handling intake of COVID, likely either the pediatric infectious disease service or a pediatric hospitalist.

4. We will work with the children’s hospitals going forward to provide updates on trends, patient capacity, and other pertinent information. More information will be provided after we get this process organized. In the interim, in addition to data provided SC DHEC, pediatric COVID prevalence information for the state and the country can be found in the “Children and COVID-19 State Data Report,” updated weekly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

How Your Hospitals and Providers Can Help:

  1. Host or collaborate to offer influenza vaccine campaigns and clinics. As symptoms of COVID can be similar to those of influenza, hospitals should do everything possible to actively promote, partner, or coordinate widespread community flu vaccine campaigns for adults and children.
  2. Inventory availability of local ambulatory nursing to assist with managing pediatric COVID patients locally and/or share nurses with pediatric expertise with the children’s hospitals.

For general questions or information, contact Maggie Cash, Executive Director, South Carolina Children’s Hospital Collaborative, at (843) 270-0533 or by email at

For Children’s hospital-specific questions, contact:

Prisma Health Children’s Hospital – Upstate (Greenville)

Dr. Robin Lacroix, Medical Director, Chair, Pediatrics

Office: (864) 455-3512


Prisma Health Children’s Hospital – Midlands (Columbia)

Dr. Caughman Taylor, Senior Medical Director and Pediatric Chair

Office: (803) 434-7950


Shawn Jenkins MUSC Children’s Hospital (Charleston)

Dr. Mark Scheurer, Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Hospital

Office: (843) 985-2343


McLeod Children’s Hospital (Florence)

Tammy Abel, VP Patient Services

Office: (843) 777-5645