TUPELO • While the pandemic temporarily halted operations, CATCH Kids, Inc. has found ways to see children for well-child care and hope to find ways to resume services for children who need care.
“Our motto was to try to catch children before they fall through the cracks,” CATCH Kids Executive Director Valerie Long said. “By not being able to see the medical children, we feel like children probably are falling through the medical cracks, so we would like to fill that need once again.”
CATCH Kids re-opened all of its evening community-based clinics on June 15, after closing clinics in mid-March following Spring Break. This excludes school based clinics, which are closed for the time being. The clinics operate weekly on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Mondays, the clinics open in Tupelo at 1616 N. Green St.,#3 and Pontotoc at 329 W. Oxford St. On Tuesdays, the clinic is open at Haven Acres Community in the Boys and Girls Club Building at 3288 Willie Moore Rd. On Thursdays, clinics are open in Tupelo at 1616 N. Green St.,#3 and 224 W. Main, Okolona. All clinics are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At this time, care is limited to a physical or check up for patients with no COVID-19 symptoms. At this time, they limit visits to one parent and one child at a time. Using CDC guidelines, temperatures are checked, and volunteers will ask questions to ensure patients show no COVID-19 symptoms or haven’t been exposed. If more than one family arrives at a time, patients may be asked to sit and wait in their car for safety.
Long said their guidelines are consistent with medical facilities. They take precautions to sterilize clinic spaces and ensure patients are asymptomatic. So far, the public has understood the need for the guidelines.
The CATCH Kid board includes physicians and pediatricians, and it was a board decision to see only children requiring well care to limit the chances of a sick child going undiagnosed for COVID-19 and potentially spreading to others. Long explained this was a precautionary measure taken due to the clinic not offering COVID-19 tests. Instead, the clinic refers sick children to the nearest clinic or to the emergency room.
“That’s the biggest change for us, because we see children without insurance or Medicaid,” Long said. “We’re accustomed to seeing those children, the sore throats, the rashes, the runny noses.”
While CATCH Kids is seeing less patients than average, Long said it was important for them to continue serving children. Prevention and wellness plays a big role in services CATCH Kids offers, and when the organization reopened in June, many parents called requesting a place to get physicals needed for children pursuing extracurricular activities, such as sports.
The community response to reopening has been positive, with many parents calling and requesting services. The pandemic is a concern for CATCH Kids, and Long said the next step will involve looking at ways to see children that need care, which could include partnerships.
“We’re looking for ways to remedy that as time goes on,” Long said. “[The pandemic] is absolutely a concern of CATCH Kids because we are going to be coming up to strep throat and upper-respiratory flu, that season quickly approaching, and we would certainly like to be able to see those children because for so many, we are the provider for them.”
The organization is thankful for donors and community support. CATCH is staffed by volunteer nurses and physicians.
“We’re open and we’re willing to see the children, and we once again want to thank the community, the physicians, the volunteers, who are just the lifeblood of us, really,” Long said.
For more information, call the CATCH Kids office at 662-377-2194.