HEAL thyself

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October 4, 2016 12:00 AM

Site empowers with education on childhood illnesses

Alberta Health Services (AHS) launched a new website for parents, a handy resource that gives them information on common childhood ailments and injuries, which can be taken care of without a trip to the doctor.
The site, that’s been dubbed HEAL, standing for health, education, and learning, was made by pediatric emergency medicine physicians at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and from the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, with a goal to help empower parents with education regarding common childhood illnesses.
“The reason we created the website was just that a lot of parents have questions about common medical conditions in their kids and don’t know where to get accurate trustworthy information,” said Robyn Hutchings, emergency physician at the Stollery.
“So rather than going to Dr. Google, we hoped to create this website just to give parents a safe and trustworthy place to get reliable information, because the website was created by pediatric emergency medicine physicians, it will be the same information that you’d get if you brought your child to the hospital.”
The website has separate tabs for a number of common childhood illnesses and injuries, with each one telling expected symptoms and suggested treatments, and how bad the symptoms can get before a parent should seek medical attention.
Some of the ailments on the site include croup, cough and wheeze, common cold, ear pain, nose bleeds, head injury, fevers and rashes.
Hutching stressed the site is not meant to substitute for medical opinion, however, and if parents have real concerns they should always have their child checked out by a family physician or at the emergency department.
“We always emphasize that if parents are worried, they don’t self-diagnose, that they get seen by a medical professional, but we hope the website will help parents to be educated about the conditions and make those smart decisions for their kids,” she said. 
There is also some helpful video content that shows children and parents what to expect if they do have to take a trip to the emergency department, like who the respiratory therapist is, the nurses they can expect to see and some other faces they might meet as well.
These features are just a way to try and decrease any anxiety about going to emerge, added Hutchings.
There’s been a lot of traffic to the site in the three or so weeks it’s has been online, and according to AHS, the feedback has been positive.
“We’re hoping to add more topics and further content as we go, so there’s more information available for parents,” Hutchings said.
Anyone curious about the HEAL website is encouraged to check it out at www.ahs.ca/heal.

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