How to Remain Healthy and Safe During COVID: A Conversation with Dr. John Costello

We have all come a long way since the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 overtook our lives. Recently, ERHF had the opportunity to speak with Dr. John Costello, pediatric cardiologist at MUSC who is currently helping with a COVID vaccine trial in children, about the current state of COVID and tips on how to remain healthy and safe.

Dr. Costello shared that the availability of rapid testing has been huge for hospitals. No longer are patient procedures being postponed, and hospitals are working at pre-pandemic levels of productivity since test results have a quick turn-around time. 

He believes that stress related to COVID has had the biggest long-term impact, particularly on heart families. Children who are immunocompromised after a heart transplant or those with single ventricle congenital heart diseases have had to take extraordinary precautions to avoid being exposed. 

“The biggest thing right now is the availability of vaccinations, so for kids who are older than 12 years of age and parents in the household, getting vaccinated is key. It’s not 100% in terms of protection, but it can minimize the severity of infection,” emphasized Dr. Costello. “Patients who have underlying medical conditions, cardiac or otherwise, are the most vulnerable to the virus and stand to benefit the most from the vaccine.” 

Dr. Costello also recommends that families get their hands on N95 masks since they are much more accessible now than at the start of the pandemic. These masks do a better job of protecting the individuals wearing them, unlike regular surgical and cloth masks.

It should be relieving for families to know that medical staff have found treatments, therapies and options for antibody infusions that work to help manage the effects of COVID and keep patients out of the hospital if they test positive. Positive patients are placed in isolation units to eliminate the spread of the disease.

In general, if a family has a child in the hospital, Dr. Costello shared that at MUSC, they welcome families to join and participate in rounds of bedside visits that occur two to three times a day where doctors review medical information, vital signs and other data. It is a great opportunity for families to get updates and plans for the coming days for their child.

If the family is not present at the hospital, they can