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Is The COVID Vaccine Safe?

A safe and effective vaccine in less than a year? Is it really possible or were shortcuts taken? Or maybe it’s like how Steve Jobs was making computers in his garage and all suddenly created the Apple company. Or maybe it’s like how Chris Stapleton went from obscurity to center stage. Pick your example–all three of these were decades in the making.

From what I’ve observed, it appears too many people believe the COVID19 vaccine was crafted behind closed doors and in the shadows of the obscure and hidden chambers of the unethical and evil big pharmaceutical companies. In these hidden halls, lab tech marionettes controlled by Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci worked to create a vaccine that would surely have secret effects. Fearful “sheeple” would be secretly harmed, while the warriors would stand up against this conspiracy designed to destroy humankind.

While this story-line makes for thrilling and imaginative beliefs (and social media posts), it could not be further from the truth. Mark Denison, MD, is one of the 20 most knowledgeable people in the world about coronaviruses. He has been studying them for over 30 years. His laboratory is responsible for the antiviral discovery now named “Remdesivir” by Gilead. I’m personally thankful for his warnings in the last CME lecture I attended in person at the end of February 2020. Prophetically, he understood the social consequences could be as bad or worse than the medical consequences from COVID and he knew the medical effects were going to be severe.

While I would not race an electric sports car assembled by a car enthusiast neighbor on the interstate, if my neighbor was Elon Musk I would absolutely jump in the Tesla. Musk’s knowledge and expertise in technology are proven. Similarly, Mark Denison, is that neighbor who knows and understands COVID19 as well as anyone in the world. If there is one person I as a pediatrician would turn to to get all the correct information about this COVID vaccine, it is Mark Denison.

For those interested in learning from one of the most knowledgeable experts in the realm of Infectious Diseases, particularly coronavirus, buckle up. I am attaching a video for you and although it is long, I am 100% certain it will answer questions you have had. For me, the best part starts around 33:00.

Click here for Dr. Mark Denison’s answers to your Coronavirus questions! And if you’ve read this far, please get the COVID19 vaccine the first chance you get. I did.

Scott Huitink, MD FAAP

Dr. Scott Huitink loves being a Pediatrician and strives to support parents in the care of their children by encouraging, educating, and providing them with up-to-date medical expertise. His passion to provide high quality, personable, pediatric care can be seen in his face-to-face visits with children, his insights provided through his Facebook Page–“Compass Peds”, and his interest in improving the well-being of the community around him. Dr. Huitink has a wide array of experience in the care of children from newborns to young adults and has been instrumental in the education and implementation of clinical standards. He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be found seeing patients in the Nashville area at Compass Pediatrics.

Service and Pediatrics

I hope today is a day you will take a moment to have a conversation with your child about Veteran’s Day and who a veteran is. We’re not animal doctors (veterinarian) or members of the AARP (retiree), although it is possible for a veteran to be both. Veterans are individuals who served in the active military, naval, or air service and were discharged or released in conditions other than dishonorable. All took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Those who died in combat we celebrate with greater reverence on their own holiday– Memorial Day. But today is for all those who served, whether in wartime or peacetime, who handled their responsibilities to our nation in an honorable manner and were discharged at the end of their service accordingly. All veterans signed the same agreement and took the same oath. Some were deployed overseas. Some saw combat. Some died. All signed an oath and served honorably.

In honor of the veterans I served with and in awe of the courageous warfighters I was deployed with, here is a piece of my veteran’s story:

February 2005 I received notice I would train with and be deployed for one year as a physician with the First Brigade of the First Armor Division. Although a Board Certified Pediatrician, I would deploy as a Battalion Surgeon and care for soldiers on the battlefield. By this time, I had graduated medical school, completed a military pediatric residency, married, and been assigned as a Pediatrician for the military community of Heidelberg, Germany.

In January 2006, I arrived on the military post near Tal Afar, Iraq, not far from Mosul in the province of Ninevah. It was mind-boggling to think this was the area Jonah had been sent so long ago. And I, like Jonah, had no desire to be there.

Early May 2006, a truck stacked with flour entered the marketplace of Tal Afar and began selling flour at ½ price. As crowds surrounded the truck wanting to buy the inexpensive flour, the truck exploded killing twenty people and injuring over a hundred more. US Army soldiers stationed nearby reacted by rushing to help the injured Iraqis and carried them to their military aid station located on the edge of town. When I arrived, the injured–half of them children–moaned beneath blood-stained bandages as they waited atop stretchers lined up near the helicopter landing pad. Scanning the scene, I noted an older boy laid on his stomach, a sucking chest wound bandage adhered to his back, his respiratory rate surprisingly normal and unlabored. With others wearing bandages covering head injuries, some woefully quiet, I had to make decisions about who was the most critical. I continually reassessed those who were waiting and selected the four most urgent who would then be flown by Blackhawk to the more extensive Army combat hospital in Mosul. Helicopter after helicopter would land, be loaded, and leave as we evacuated the casualties. Climbing aboard after loading the last casualty, I flew into Mosul where I briefly spoke with the hospital commander whose military trauma center we had just overloaded with civilians. “Who targets children?” he muttered. While my pediatric training had been the perfect need for the night, my heart and mind were overcome with the reality of evil that caused the death and injuries of so many innocents.

The First Armor Brigade of the First Armor Division was built for combat and the blast in the Tal Afar market was a singular event highlighting our unit was needed where we could do more. One major explosion in almost five months was too peaceful for our combat mission so on Memorial Day weekend 2006 I was flown with the majority of our medical team ahead of our combat unit to begin training under the outgoing unit as 1AD took over the American military post in Ramadi.

Ramadi didn’t waste time introducing me to casualties. Our medical team was replacing an exhausted and seasoned medical team who had experienced more battle trauma than they cared to talk about. Days after I and the rest of the medical team arrived and before the majority of our combat unit arrived, the enemy launched mortars into our camp. Three successive blasts hit about a hundred yards from the aid station front door destroying a group of plywood huts being assembled for the soldiers who were in route from Tal Afar. One of the soldiers working on the huts had been hit. Carried into the aid station by his friend and placed on my trauma table, a guttural groan was one of the few signs indicating life as I stared at his blood-soaked uniform. Shell-shocked with the severity of the moment I did my best to direct the medical team. Recognizing my state, a physician from the experienced group nudged me aside with a command to stand nearby, observe, and learn. After the team had done all they could do and the unresponsive soldier was pronounced dead, this same doctor guided my gloved hands around the back of the head. Shrapnel from the mortars had removed most of the back of the soldier’s skull. We had done everything we could do to save him. The only thing preventing him from being DOA was how close he was to our aid station when he was hit by the shrapnel. He was my first trauma patient in Ramadi and a nauseous welcome to the reality I was now in a hot combat zone where casualties came from just outside my door.

Over the following eight months, I became more comfortable with handling and directing trauma. Along with another Pediatrician, a Neurologist, and three Physician Assistants, we functioned as ER physicians, stabilizing casualties for surgical intervention and caring for the intermittent medical needs of soldiers, defense contractors, and civilians. We were supported with a top-notch Navy Surgical Team who took over the surgical trauma cases. If blood was needed, a call would go out through the post with the needed blood type(s) and soldiers would line up single file in front of the aid station entrance as a living blood bank, each eagerly waiting their turn to donate, often knowing who the recipient of their lifeblood would be. Fresh, matched and crossed, still warm from the donor, whole blood transfusions were often necessary to keep a soldier alive who had lost a limb and/or was near death from blood loss.

I saw the carnage of battle up close, became too acquainted with the smell of burnt flesh, and observed the grief of officers and the agony of soldiers mourning their friends and fellow warriors. Battle trauma and concussions, most often resulting from IEDs, became my temporary specialty as our unit was embedded in the deadliest place in Iraq (Time Magazine December 11, 2006). We provided medical care to all—friend or foe—and did our best with each and every situation. By the end of the deployment, a casualty who entered our aid station could be assessed, have IV access placed, monitors placed, be intubated and sedated, stabilized, and moved to the operating room within minutes.

Once back home, I began noticing and appreciating the little things I had previously taken for granted. The grass looked greener and the sky appeared a brighter blue than I remembered. Returning to pediatrics, the typical anxieties of a previously emergent or dramatic situation now seemed to be much less severe or worrisome. Handling the rare urgent issue or newborn resuscitation at delivery, I was comforted that even in the worst situation every one of my patients had four extremities and could be intubated.

My experiences as a physician in the United States Army has fostered an ongoing appreciation for life and a more acute recognition of the freedoms I am given as an American. God has blessed me beyond measure to have been born a citizen in a country that allows the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the freedom to peaceably assemble and worship. My children have access to education and my wife has equal rights under the law. Although distraught by the destructive evil of an enemy restrained only by force, I have been awestruck by the selfless sacrifice of the heroic warrior motivated to save his fellow man. As a result, my experience has knitted within my soul a deep appreciation and respect for the American soldier who has given us the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The COVID Exposure Gameplan

Returning to school after being exposed to COVID-19

When your child is sick, what steps should you take? The protocol may feel a bit different right now as we navigate COVID-19. Compass Pediatrics is here to help provide a guideline for making medical decisions. Does your child need to be seen for an office visit? Do they need to quarantine or have a COVID test? When can they return to school? Use the graphic and guidance below from the TN Department of Health as a tool to make those decisions!

COVID-19 Playbook:

  • If your child has had NO exposure and has 1 low-risk symptom (see graphic) they can return to school at or after 24 hours.
  • If your child has had NO exposure and has 2 or more low-risk symptoms (see graphic), consider a Telemedicine visit for an evaluation and a plan for testing.
  • If your child has had exposure and has symptoms, it is probable that they do have COVID-19. Child should quarantine, identify close contacts, and return to school at or after 10 days of isolation AND at of after 24 hours of being fever free and improving symptoms.
  • If your child has had exposure and NO symptoms, they should quarantine and return to school at or after 14 days from last contact. If symptoms begin to develop, then you should have your child tested and continue with quarantining.

Compass Pediatrics is always here as a resource to help you navigate caring for your children. If you have questions or concerns, you can contact our office for guidance and medical advice. Call us at 615-461-0656!

5 Telemedicine “WINS”- Here’s To You!

We have to start by saying “thank you”. In June, we asked if you would help us to advocate for Telemedicine so that we could continue to offer it to our families. You went above and beyond in helping us!

We have been grateful for the resource of Telemedicine. Using it has helped to better serve our families from wherever they find themselves- at home or on the go! Welcome to the 21st Century House Call!

Telehealth Payments at Parity:

“The General Assembly extended patient protections by ensuring access to care via telehealth by passing legislation to ensure payment parity until April of 2022. Telehealth Payment Parity is a huge win for doctors and patients across Tennessee, as now patients can engage doctors via electronic means and know their insurance will bill on par with in-person visits. The legislation requires payers to cover remote patient monitoring services if the same service is covered by Medicare, with the reimbursement amount to be negotiated by the payer and the provider.”

What does that mean?

We will be able to continue to offer Telemedicine! Insurance companies will be required to cover Telemedicine visits the same as they would an in-office visit. We see this as a great victory for Compass Pediatrics as it allows us to provide unique and quality care to our families.

5 Telemedicine Wins

We have been able to help patients from the comfort of their own home since we began offering Telemedicine. There have been five major categories that we have been able to best serve our patients. Those include the following:

  1. Behavioral Health. This includes anxiety, ADHD, depression, and other behavioral health consults.
  2. Rashes. This has been an excellent resource to evaluate all types of rashes, poison ivy, and bug bites.
  3. Trauma. We have been able to assess everything from burns to bruises.
  4. COVID Concerns. It can be hard to know what the ‘right’ decision its. We have been able to assess concerns with COVID and facilitate testing if needed!
  5. Parent Conferences. We have loved being able to meet our parents literally where they are for this. As concerns about your children’s care or behavior have come-up, we have been able to help come up with a course of action to help provide the care your child needs!

Using telemedicine has helped us to make a plan of action with our parents. Sometimes this includes at-home care, picking up medicine from the pharmacy, or if needed, an office or ER visit. We are grateful for YOU and the part you have played in making this happen. Passing this into law was a HUGE win as your healthcare provider to be able to provide continuity of care. Thank you. Thank you for helping to make a difference in the care that doctors across Tennessee will be able to provide. We look forward to seeing you soon. And if you have not tried a visit via Telemedicine, we would be happy to meet you there!

14 Diseases You Almost Forgot About- Thanks To Immunizations!

All of these diseases sound dreadful, and to be honest they are. Thankfully, we have vaccines at our disposal that protect us and our loved ones from such deadly and dangerous diseases. Read below to learn about the things that your immunizations are protecting you against!

  1. Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease that is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis. Polio was eliminated in the United States with vaccination, and continued use of polio vaccine has kept this country polio-free. But, polio is still a threat in some other countries. Making sure that infants and children are vaccinated is the best way to prevent polio from returning.
  2. Tetanus causes painful muscle stiffness and lockjaw and can be fatal. Parents used to warn kids about tetanus every time we scratched, scraped, poked, or sliced ourselves on something metal. Nowadays, the tetanus vaccine is part of a disease-fighting vaccine called DTaP, which provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
  3. Flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu can affect people differently based on their immune system, age, and health. Did you know that flu can be dangerous for children of any age? Flu symptoms in children can include coughing, fever, aches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. Every year in the United States, otherwise healthy children are hospitalized or die from flu complications. CDC estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations among children younger than 5 years have ranged from 7,000 to 26,000 in the United States. It’s important to know that children younger than 6 months are more likely to end up in the hospital from flu, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. The best way to protect babies against flu is for the mother to get a flu vaccine during pregnancy and for all caregivers and close contacts of the infant to be vaccinated. Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine every year.
  4. Did you know that worldwide more than 780,000 people per year die from complications to Hepatitis B? Hepatitis B is spread through blood or other bodily fluids. It’s especially dangerous for babies, since the hepatitis B virus can spread from an infected mother to child during birth. About nine out of every 10 infants who contract it from their mothers become chronically infected, which is why babies should get the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth.
  5. The Hepatitis A vaccine was developed in 1995 and since then has cut the number of cases dramatically in the United States. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease and is transmitted through person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. Vaccinating against hepatitis A is a good way to help your baby stay Hep A-free and healthy!
  6. Rubella is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is especially dangerous for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. If an unvaccinated pregnant woman gets infected with rubella, she can have a miscarriage or her baby could die just after birth. Also, she can pass the disease to her developing baby who can develop serious birth defects.
  7. Hib (or its official name, Haemophilus influenzae type b) isn’t as well-known as some of the other diseases, thanks to vaccines. Hib can do some serious damage to our a child’s immune systems and cause brain damage, hearing loss, or even death. Hib mostly affects kids under five years old. Before the vaccine, over 20,000 kids were infected each year. That’s about 400 yellow school busses worth of kids! Of these kids, one in five suffered brain damage or became deaf. Even with treatment, as many as one out of 20 kids with Hib meningitis dies. Get your child vaccinated to help them beat the odds!
  8. Did you know your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left? Measles is very contagious, and it can be serious, especially for young children. Because measles is common in other parts of the world, unvaccinated people can get measles while traveling and bring it into the United States.
  9. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that can be deadly for babies. Whooping cough can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. Its “whooping” name comes from the sharp breath intake sound right after a coughing fit. In babies, this disease also can cause life-threatening pauses in breathing with no cough at all. Whooping cough is especially dangerous to babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves. Mothers should get the whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy to pass some protection to their babies before birth. It is very important for your baby to get the whooping cough vaccine on time so he can start building his own protection against the disease. Since 2010, between 15,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough were reported each year in the United States, with cases reported in every state.
  10. This disease is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. It causes ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, and even meningitis, making it very dangerous for children. The germs can invade parts of the body—like the brain or spinal cord—that are normally free from germs.
  11. Rotavirus is contagious and can cause severe watery diarrhea, often with vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain, mostly in infants and young children. Children can become severely dehydrated from the disease and need to be hospitalized. If a dehydrated child does not get needed care, they could die.
  12. Mumps is best known for causing puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. This is due to swelling of the salivary glands. Other symptoms include fever, head and muscle aches, and tiredness. Mumps is a contagious disease and there is no treatment. Mumps is still a threat today—every year, people in the United States get mumps. In recent years, mumps outbreaks have occurred in settings where there was close, extended contact with infected people, such as being in the same classroom or playing on the same sports team.
  13. Chickenpox is a disease that causes an itchy rash of blisters and a fever. A person with chickenpox may have a lot of blisters—as many as 500 all over their body. Chickenpox can be serious and even life-threatening, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Even healthy children can get really sick.
  14. Most of us only know diphtheria as an obscure disease from long ago, thanks to the diphtheria vaccine babies get. This vaccine, called DTaP, provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). While preventable, diphtheria does still exist. It can cause a thick covering in the back of the nose or throat that makes it hard to breathe or swallow. Diphtheria can also lead to heart failure, paralysis, and even death.

This information is brought to you by the Center for Disease Control. You can find more information here!
We are on your team and we are eager to help your protect your family against such deadly diseases. One thing you can do is be sure that your child makes it to their routine well-child exams. In the chart below, you will see a list of when your child should receive their well-child exam. It also lists the immunizations your child will receive at each specific visit!

Understanding COVID:19- Part 2

Today, we complete our two-part series on understanding the aspects of COVID-19. From further understanding this virus, we are able to make educated decisions about our daily activities- such as safely attending school. Part two of this series will cover going back to school and what to do if your child has been exposed to COVID-19.

Watch this video as Dr. Huitink covers both of these topics!

Part 2:

Should your child return to school?

For many households, you may be in the process of determining what returning school is going to look like for your family in the next few weeks. I have compiled some research and studies for you that I feel may help you as you make that decision.

I recently watched a Facebook live video of Sumner County School’s re-entry plan, I am very impressed with the choice to make the policies flexible based on the transmission within individual communities, schools, and even classrooms. I believe this will enable us to best serve the individual needs of each student and family. I feel that they have done an excellent job of supporting the academic, social, and nutritional needs of their students.

It is vital that I mention once again, this is an individual decision. You must decide what is best for YOUR family, whether that is going to school, homeschooling, or virtual school.


Physician, Tracy Høeg with a PhD in Epidemiology compiled research on the relationship between children and COVID-19. Based on scientific studies and research, here are some important things you should know:

  1. Kids 13-14 and below (likely around puberty) do not appear to be driving the spread of COVID. They rarely (one can never say never) transmit the disease. Tracing the source case with 100% certainty can be very challenging, but the data overall indicate pediatric transmission to be quite rare compared with adults.
  2. Kids up to 18 years of age tend to get mild sickness if any symptoms and death in this age group is less likely than getting hit by lightning. (though as we see higher prevalence in the US, the numbers will be rising)
  3. In school settings, adults can and will give to adults and kids, so teachers need to be socially distancing while at work. Adults also should be wearing masks and getting tested and staying home if they have symptoms.
  4. Data and guidelines from Holland suggest distancing among children under the age of 14 may not be necessary. And reopening of schools in Scandinavia has been successful even without children wearing masks. It should be pointed out that these countries opened schools as the FIRST step of reopening their economy and as stated above, the wearing of masks in elementary schools by students could further decrease any risk of transmission in the US.
  5. I have previously discussed the many downsides of not having kids in school in person this fall: further entrenching socioeconomic disparities, job loss for parents who can’t afford childcare worsening poverty and neglect, abuse of children (which will be underreported), lack of support for children with special needs, anxiety, depression and lack of physical activity and peer relationships in children. The list goes on and on. But I want this post to focus more on the science of the disease so it can inform our public policy decisions.
  6. I hope the above data are reassuring. The more we know, the better we can tackle and live with this disease.

View this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics as it explains the recommendation for School Re-Entry:
As mentioned in the video, there was a study done in Korea on the reopening of schools. To read more about that, click here!
Studies on the return to school in Germany- click here!

I will conclude this section by stating once again, this is not a simple decision for our counties and school boards. We know that there is a tremendous social cost and risk within some families and children and I believe it will be in the best interest of many to return to school. Personally, my family is returning to school the first week of August. This is not a decision my family has made lightly, but with the right tools (see this blog post) I believe we can safely send our children back to school!

What to do if your child is exposed to COVID-19:

Per the CDC, if you have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 you should self-quarantine for 14 days due to the time it takes for the virus to develop.

It is important to note what qualifies “being in contact”. Per the CDC:

  • The individual must be within 6 feet of the COVID positive individual
  • The individual must be in contact for 15 minutes or longer
  • If BOTH of these are true, the recommendation is that the individual self-quarantine for 14 days.

You are welcome to be tested, however it is not recommended as of now. This is because if you are in contact with a positive case, you are to quarantine for 14 days- regardless if you were to test positive or negative.

Lastly, I really believe that we all must look out for not only our interests but for the interests of others. I know that not everyone is going to agree with the measures that our schools are taking or with the COVID-19 protocol set in place. I do believe that these protocols have been established with the best interest in mind for our children, families, and communities.

Know that if you feel you would like further assistance in processing some of these decisions, I would be happy to schedule a time to do so. Contact our office at 615-461-0656!

Understanding COVID-19: Part 1

Over the past weeks and months, we have talked with many of you about all the different aspects of COVID-19. In a 2 part video series, Dr. Huitink is going to address many of those questions, concerns, and reservations! Today, we will start with Part 1 where we will answer the questions of “Who is at greatest risk and How do we minimize risk?”.

Watch this video of Dr. Huitink explaining the answers to these questions!

Part 1:

Who is at greatest risk?

Those at greatest risk have been listed by Vanderbilt Children’s hospital as the following:

  1. Chronic Kidney Disease
  2. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  3. Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  4. Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
  5. Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  6. Sickel cell disease
  7. Type 2 diabetes
  8. This also includes children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, and metabolic conditions.
    For more info, check out this graphic:

How do we minimize risk?

There are 3 action steps we recommend to help minimize our children’s risk of contracting COVID-19:

Wear a mask.
As we approach the start of school here soon, it is a great time to practice wearing a mask! Have your child/teen wear a mask around the house as they are watching TV or playing games. This will help introduce them to the feeling of wearing a mask for long periods of time. It may also help them to desensitize so that wearing a mask in school does not become a distraction.
If you are able, have your child be a car rider.
If you are able, using the car rider line will help reduce your child being in large and congested groups.
Equip your child with their own hand sanitizer.
Give your child a hand sanitizer that they can attach to their backpack or stick in their pocket! This is a great opportunity for them to take ownership of their handwashing. It will also help reduce the spreading of germs!

What to expect:

There are no perfect answers as this is a new, nine-month-old virus with no long term studies to help us determine the best course of action to take. We do know that thus far, the statistics have been strongly in favor of our children as the overall death rate is below 1%. See the chart below for a visual on the statistics of COVID deaths vs. Influenza deaths

For now, we encourage everyone to stay up-to-date on the latest information that is published by reliable resources such as the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and follow the guidelines that have been suggested. As always, we must remember that is our duty to not only look out for our own interests but the interests of others!

10 Things to Know about COVID-19

Today, we are sharing the TOP 10 things to know about the current state of COVID 19:
Wow, what a difference a few months make.

Just around four months ago I wrote about an emerging virus which was spreading across a province in China. I urged awareness but not panic as we were seeing a few cases spread outside the local area.

Within the next couple of months, our kids were asked to stay at home. Schools were canceled and professional sports were postponed, activities were stopped, and even doctors’ offices slowed down the types of visits we were doing.

Today we are modifying vacations, staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks out in public.

Everything moved so fast, it’s been hard to keep up. So as a quick summary and with the way everything has changed, I thought it might be helpful to put together the top 10 things we’ve learned about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19:

1. SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus that began circulating in the Wuhan province of China. The disease associated with the virus was named COVID-19. You might hear those terms used one in the same. There is a subtle difference, but not enough to dive into right now.

2. The symptoms of COVID-19 have been varied and what has been recognized as symptoms has changed over time. Upper respiratory (cough and congestion) and lower respiratory symptoms (rapid or difficult breathing) as well as fever or a flu-like illness are the core symptoms and the following have also been reported: loss of smell and taste, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, headache and muscle soreness.

3. Many people who are exposed and contract COVID-19 will not have symptoms. It’s not clear how these people without symptoms contribute to the spread of COVID-19. However, even those who develop symptoms later are likely contagious before their symptoms develop.

4. Kids have been relatively spared from severe illness from COVID-19, but not entirely. Children can develop classic symptoms and severe illness. Caution should be used for children with chronic medical conditions and infants under 1 year of age.

5. In addition to classic COVID-19 symptoms, children have also developed a condition known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome, which is similar in nature to a known syndrome called Kawasaki disease. The symptoms are varied but include prolonged fever, belly pain, vomiting, neck pain, a rash, red eyes without discharge and extreme irritability or fatigue.

6. Specific treatment for COVID-19 has been challenging. Multiple reports of various treatment options showed promise in small studies but have failed to produce results when brought into larger studies. The most promising treatments recently are a specific antiviral called remdesivir and for severe illness, a steroid called dexamethasone.

7. By far the best defense against COVID-19 at this point is avoiding exposure. Studies have demonstrated a clear benefit to maintaining social distancing, washing your hands and mask wearing as a safe means of slowing the spread of COVID-19 through communities.

8. Speaking of masks, they are a courtesy to others. They protect people who are more vulnerable to the disease, such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses. Masks should cover the mouth and nose to keep others safe. Also, they are perfectly safe to wear.

9. Vaccine trials are ongoing for many versions of a COVID-19 vaccine but we currently don’t have any time frame for when a vaccine will be available. Vaccine trials take significant time to demonstrate safety and effectiveness.

10. Science changes. Yes, at first we were told we didn’t need to wear masks and now we know that masks are vital in protecting others from COVID-19 and that they actually save lives. So what happened? Science. This disease is so new, scientists and doctors are gathering information, or data, as quickly as they possibly can to make sure we are safe. We have gained a lot of information in a relatively short period of time and we will continue to gather more.

COVID-19 has been and will likely be the biggest disruptor to “normal” life of our lifetimes.

Keeping up with the latest information and the behavior of the virus is challenging for scientific experts. Keep in mind that as recommendations appear to change, that they are based on the latest information as we know it about the virus.

We will get through this but, as we have learned, it will only be as we can do it together.

We have to reiterate that last statement, We will get through this it will only be as we can do it together.

This new way of looking at life will take time to adjust to, but it will be important that we stay up-to-date with the most accurate and reliable research, humbly consider the well-being of those around us, and stay positive! We are here for you as a resource!

This research is provided by fellow pediatrician, Justin Smith, M.D. He is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, Texas. For more excellent information, you can visit Cook Children’s website here.

Why a Mask?

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have seen waves of varying information. As we have learned more about the virus and how it spreads, we have implemented practices to best protect our patients, ourselves, and our families that we each go home to.

Watch this video for a moment with Doctor Huitink and his approach to best maintaining heath throughout this pandemic.

We are seeing evidence of mask-wearing being one of the BEST ways to keep not only yourself safe from the spread of sickness, but your neighbors and loved ones as well!

The AAAS Science journal released an article in late June 2020 explaining the science behind the way that COVID-19 is spread and the steps we can to to help reduce that. It states:

“…there are two major respiratory virus transmission pathways: contact (direct or indirect between people and with contaminated surfaces) and airborne inhalation. Identifying infected individuals to curb SARS-CoV-2 transmission is more challenging compared to SARS and other respiratory viruses because infected individuals can be highly contagious for several days, peaking on or before symptoms occur.”

This explains the reasoning for quarantining when someone has known direct contact with a positive case of COVID-19. It also helps to further understand why social distancing, mask-wearing, and thorough hand-washing are helpful practices, because it is not known at any time if you may have an asymptomatic case.

“After evidence revealed that airborne transmission by asymptomatic individuals might be a key driver in the global spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommended the use of cloth face coverings. Masks provide a critical barrier, reducing the number of infectious viruses in exhaled breath, especially of asymptomatic people and those with mild symptoms. Surgical mask material reduces the likelihood and severity of COVID-19 by substantially reducing airborne viral concentrations. Masks can also protect uninfected individuals from SARS-CoV-2 aerosols and droplets. Thus, it is particularly important to wear masks in locations with conditions that can accumulate high concentrations of viruses, such as health care settings, airplanes, restaurants, and other crowded places with reduced ventilation.

As we see our local government require facemasks, it is important that we understand that in doing so, we are helping to promote the health of our communities. An article written by UCSF supports the data listed above with a specific account:

“Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19. In another case, in late May, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.”

If you are able, dive further into the article by UCSF linked here and noted above which does an excellent job of explaining all of the “big” COVID-19 questions such as: Why did the CDC change its guidance on wearing masks?, What evidence do we have that wearing a mask is effective?, Who do masks protect?, How many people need to wear a mask?, Does the mask type matter?, and Do you need a mask if you are social distancing?

Expecting? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Expecting a child brings BIG change in every way! We want to help you piece together some information that will be helpful as you prepare for this new step in life. Here you can find what to expect for your first encounters with our office, the forms you will need for your first visit with us, a schedule of your child’s well visits and immunizations, and a run-down on all things insurance!

Congratulations! We are excited for your new addition and the opportunity to serve you at Compass Pediatrics!

What to bring with you:
Insurance card, ID, Prefilled forms (if not done electronically), your preferred method of payment, and we ask that anyone 2 years and older to wear a facemask to protect yourself, other families, and our team from any spreading of germs.

Follow this link to fill out your new patient form! Then, you can email it to: CPD.Admin@compasspeds.com. If you are not able to send your form prior to your appointment, we ask that you arrive 15 minutes prior to your visit to fill out any necessary forms!

Visit Schedule:
At Compass Pediatrics, we follow the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Schedule of Well-Child Care Visits or “Periodicity Schedule

If your baby is healthy enough for both of you to be discharged after delivery, we will plan to see them for their newborn well visit 3-5 after birth. This may vary if they need to stay in the hospital a bit longer for further care. Regardless, give our office a call to update us on how everyone is doing!

This schedule of screenings and assessments recommends the following visits, up to age three.

  • The first-week visit (3 to 5 days old)
  • 1 month old
  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 months old
  • 9 months old
  • 12 months old
  • 15 months old
  • 18 months old
  • 2 years old (24 months)
  • 2 ½ years old (30 months)
  • 3 years old

Vaccine Policy and Schedule:
We have personally evaluated and proudly agree with the scientific and medical community’s overwhelming body of research showing the benefit of childhood vaccines. It is our policy to follow the immunization schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, the American Academy of Family Practitioners, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In addition to the risk vaccine-preventable diseases create for other children in our waiting room, we do not believe there is a healthy opportunity to assist in a child’s health and well-being if there is an antagonistic foundation toward our expertise and experience. We have elected not to develop or maintain professional medical relationships with those who reject our immunization policy.

Here, you can find the recommended vaccine schedule from the CDC that we follow here at Compass Pediatrics!

Whether your child is covered by TN Care or Private insurance, you will need to ACTIVELY apply them for insurance or add them to your insurance plan! We recommend doing this while you are in the hospital waiting to be discharged. They are covered for the first 30 days of life under their mother’s insurance, and after that, they will need to be active on their own TN Care plan or active as a dependent on your insurance plan. For more on understanding the wild world of insurance.

We are open Monday through Friday 7:30 am- 4:30 pm. When our office is closed, your Compass Pediatrics provider can be accessed via Telemedicine. To access a visit, download the Zoom App on your computer or smart device. Be reminded, that although our office is not open on the weekend, we have the ability to serve you as needed on the weekend!

Life happens. We get it! As much as possible, we as that you kindly give us a 24-hour notice when canceling or rescheduling an appointment so other families can be seen.

Once again, congratulations! We are excited to serve you and your family! Give us a call at 615-461-0656 to schedule your appointment.

Speak Fluent Insurance with Compass Pediatrics

The language of insurance can seem like trudging through muddy waters.
When applying for health insurance, can determining your benefits feel confusing? Furthermore, what does your policy look like when it is put into action?

We have gathered some resources for you that we hope will be a guide to better understanding the world of health insurance. First, is a resource from our website explaining many of the terms you may hear when it comes to your plan as well as the function of those terms. Here, you will find an explanation of the costs and responsibilities you many have, a description of what is included in your child’s well check, the EOB, and a glossary. We LOVE this resource and the detail that it includes as it levels the “playing field” when it comes to understanding your benefits and the costs that may come with your visits!

Next, we receive many questions about bills after well visits. Most often, a routine well visit is completely covered by your insurance plan. However, there are MANY different insurance plans that have MANY different negotiated contracts and benefit plans. Our two pieces of advice:

As a service of convenience to our families, we are happy to offer additional services at their routine well visits. However, it is important to know that your insurance plan views this as a separate visit, which may include additional costs. This article by the American Academy of Pediatrics further explains why you may receive a bill following your child’s retina well-visit.

Article: Why Did I Receive A Bill From Compass Pediatrics?

Lastly, know that our billing team is happy to answer your questions about charges on your child’s account. We know that sometimes these things can be difficult to understand and we are happy to help! We hope that the above information can serve as an educational tool to better understanding your health insurance!

We Are on Your Team!

We are on your team! Above all, we want to see your family and our community remain healthy and safe.

What we are doing to make sure that happens here at Compass Pediatrics:

  • We will advocate that each child maintains their well-child appointments, especially those that include immunizations.
  • We will continue to offer Telemedicine visits for appropriate visit types to minimize traffic in our office.
  • We will continue to maintain a high level of cleanliness with consistent and heightened cleaning procedures.
  • We will continue to wear masks to maintain our safety and yours.
  • We will stay up to date with the most recent evidence and recommendations from reliable resources.

What you can do:

  • Each person 2 years of age and over to wear a mask or face covering while in public, including our office, as recommended by the CDC.
  • Maintain cleanliness by doing frequent handwashing and wiping of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Maintain your child/children’s well-child exams. Especially those that include immunizations.
  • Continue to practice social distancing by minimizing outings that are not necessary and maintaining 6 feet of distance from others.
    This recent article by NPR states the concern that many doctors and healthcare professionals have about the dangers of vaccine-preventable illnesses becoming a serious concern as many parents are fearful to bring their children to these routine visits:

“To prevent outbreaks of serious diseases that pose an even greater threat to children than COVID-19, it’s imperative that the kids not skip their usual shots…if too many other parents delay or skip their well-child checks and vaccinations, ‘we may have a generation that may be under-vaccinated. You run the risk of these diseases making a ‘come back,’ ‘ ”

We want to see our community be as healthy as they can. So let’s all do our best to be a good neighbor! “…look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

Am I Making The Right Choice? Advice from Dr. Huitink

This weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about their new baby. They wanted to know what my recommendation is for their child’s well-checks. The big question is this, “Do we keep our child’s appointment, or are we risking exposing our family to a greater sickness by going?”

This is one of the main questions and concerns we are currently receiving. Should patients keep their scheduled appointments, or reschedule them “until this thing passes”?

If I truly believed that this virus would be gone at the end of this month, I would absolutely recommend waiting just a few more weeks. But here is the reality– we are not going to see Coronavirus go away next week or next month. Rather, based on the evidence we have, this is going to be around for the foreseeable future… easily the next one to two years until there is a safe vaccine available for those who have not already had it and recovered from it at that point.

So, what does that mean for these appointments? Based on the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, I recommend maintaining your well-child appointments. During these visits, I have my best opportunity to assess each child to be sure they are progressing and growing properly. If they are due for vaccinations, then we can keep them healthy by protecting them against vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Part of our mission as a clinic is:

TO EMPOWER families’ capacities to address and prevent illness and injury from birth to young adulthood, as well as TO ADVOCATE for each child’s maximum potential by identifying needs, providing solutions, AND GUIDE them in their journey for optimal health outcomes.”

During this time of uncertainty, Compass Pediatrics will maintain our mission to prioritize the health and safety of your family and our community. In doing that, we will be here as a resource for your family’s health needs.

  • We will continue to offer Telemedicine visits for appropriate visit types to minimize traffic in our office.
  • We will continue to maintain a high level of cleanliness with consistent and heightened cleaning procedures.
  • We will stay up to date with the most recent evidence and recommendations from reliable resources.

We are here for you! Join us for a Q&A on Instagram and Facebook with Dr. Huitink to have your questions addressed!

We Care About You: Our Daily Happys!

We care about you.
“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapter in our lives won’t have a title until much later. Live in grace; Walk in love.”

-Bob Goff

The Development of a New Routines

It is abundantly clear that our daily routines have been significantly impacted by the onslaught of COVID-19. It has disrupted our family lives, work lives, and finances, causing stress, uncertainly, and anxiety. Regular routines create stability and aid in focus and productivity. Circumstances beyond our control are now forcing us to develop new habits, a process that uses both cognitive and emotional energy, slowing down our functioning, increasing stress, and making us less efficient. But, don’t fret, you know we are going to share some good news!

Despite these real and sometimes profound challenges, we are not only finding new ways to perform our normal daily functions, but broadening our daily experiences to include new ways of connecting, performing, and playing, providing us benefits in the long term. Our hope is that these new behaviors, new actions, become permanently engrained in our daily lives so that we continue them past the current risk point we are experiencing.

We are already seeing the positive transformational community and global impacts from the adjustments being made to comply with social distancing and shelter in place orders, such as the rise of community spirit and generosity, a closer focus on the needs of the elderly, the reduction in pollution, particularly in our largest cities, to name a few.

To drill it down more personally and perhaps more tangibly, we are sharing some of our new habits or behaviors we have developed in the past several weeks that have had a positive impact on us. We hope you find as much joy in them as we did. Here are a few:

  • My family and I take a walk every afternoon, we have even gone on the days it rained! I find that it opens up communication for all of us, it brings smiles and laughter and when we come back we are always more likely to play an activity in the house together or outside and the TV stays off.
  • I am remembering that I actually do like to cook! My family is actually home for dinner now to share a meal together!
  • Being more mindful of daily/weekly check in’s on people. It has definitely made me feel more connected to folks when I don’t have that daily face to face time!
  • I’ve recently added walking on the Greenway daily. While I enjoy the movement and fresh air, I’ve been able to watch trees bud out and I’ve noticed that strangers are becoming familiar faces- of course from 6 feet away!
  • Scheduling weekly “thank you’s”. There is always a need to thank people.
  • We have begun Zoom family connects! The connection allows everyone to say hello and have some family time. It bolsters all of our spirits, but also gives us the peace of mind that some of our older family members remain connected to people they love.

We would love to hear from you! What routines are you and your loved ones adding to your days to remain positive? Tag us so we can see what you are doing!

The Doctor Is In: The History of Vaccines

Welcome to The Doctor Is In! Today, Dr. Huitink is talking about the history of vaccines and the people who made them! This segment has a bit more research involved. We are excited for you to learn and discover alongside us!

Learn with us here!


  1. Who was Edward Jenner?
  2. What did Edward Jenner discover?
  3. What did Ben Franklin say about Edward Jenner?
  4. Who was Louis Pasteur?
  5. Can you use 3 words to describe Louis Pasteur?
  6. How did Louis Pasteur change the world?

Video: The History of Vaccines

Video: How Vaccines Work

Today, we asked you to do a lot of research. We want to hear what you have learned! So let’s see you film your own segment from what you learned with us this week!

Here is a recap for you:

This week, we learned about viruses vs. bacteria, specific viruses and how they spread, and the history of vaccines and how they protect us from diseases.

Interact with us:
So get creative! We hope that you have enjoyed learning with us, and we hope to see your own videos soon! Please tag us in your posts and as always, be sure to let us know the future content you want to learn with us about!