COVID-19 Update (June 8, 2020)
June 8, 2020
As Spring turns to Summer, we thankfully find ourselves on the declining edge of the COVID-19 curve. With fewer and fewer cases and hospitalizations, we are now moving slowly along with the phased reopening of society. Having completed phase 1, we now move onto phase 2 - the gradual and stepwise re-opening of restaurants (for outdoor seating) and some retail business with restictions. While this re-opening brings well-needed relief to our economy and our senses, it by no means signifies the end of this crisis. In fact, with the opening up of society comes an increase in the risk of exposure. Understandably, many of our families have come to us with questions about how to adapt as we navigate these uncharted waters. Should our children go to day camps if they open? Should they finally be allowed to play with some of their friends? And what about us, can we begin to mingle more with our friends, neighbors, and family? As quarantine fatigue sets in and the warm weather beckons, these are the questions we all find ourselves asking. Though the temptations are huge, we must remain vigilant to successfully enter our "new normal".
Every family is unique
This is obvious but when it comes to how we segue into a more open society, every family's unique situation is important. Some families have decided to form a "COVID Bubble" - that is, to merge with one or more people or families who practice equally strict infection preacutions. This is possible to do safely only if you can trust in everyone's strict adherence to the same rigorous standards of safety. It is difficult to do if some of the adults work outside of the home or regularly come into contact with others outside of "the bubble". Likewise, children must limit contact to those within "the bubble". The more people or families allowed into "the bubble", the less safe this is.
The uniqueness of each family situation is also important when it comes to weighing the risks and benefits of attending summer camps, classes, shopping, and dining out. While the benefits of these activities are huge in terms of physical activity, child development, and emotional and psychological health, the risks involved must be considered. If your family or social circle includes people at higher risk of complications from infection (for example older individuals and those with underlying health conditions), then you will need to consider these factors when making decisions about how to change your social movements.
Respect the 3 W's and the 3 C's
When making these important decisons about moving through society, it is critically important that we adhere to the 3 W's:
1. Wear a mask at all times when you may come within 6 feet of someone outdoors, or 10-12 feet indoors.
2. Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer when not near a source of soap and water.
3. Wait at home if you're sick.
It is equally important to avoid the 3 C's:
1. Closed spaces with poor ventilation.
2. Crowded places with groups of people.
3. Close-contact settings, such as one-on-one conversations.
Here are some useful articles to help with your social planning:
As we work through this together, we at Amherst Pediatrics continue to be available to answer your questions and to provide you with all of your pediatric health care needs. All of our staff have been trained to meet the requirements of the phased approach to reopening.
Amherst Pediatrics in the era of COVID-19
Keeping you safe in our office
As discussed below, most of our visits are being conducted virtually. However, while we are making every effort to keep you home, there may be some occasions for which an in-office visit is most approprate. Please be assured that Amherst Pediatrics takes your safety extremely seriously, and we have put work-flows in place to make sure your in-office visit is as safe and stress-free as possible.
- Physical distancing: Floor markers have been placed throughout our office reminding people to keep a safe distance from others.
- Mandatory mask policy: Anyone over 2 years of age entering our office is required to wear an appropriate face covering over their mouth and nose at all times. There are no exceptions to this policy. If for some reason you do not have an appropriate face covering, please call our front desk upon arrival and a staff member will meet you at your vehicle to provide you with one.
- Provider use of PPE: Our providers always wear N-95 masks, eye protection, and gloves when interacting with patients. Providers come to work wearing a clean set of hospital scrubs or office-only clothing.
- Meticulous cleaning: Our office is cleaned meticuloulsy on an ongoing basis. All exam rooms, clinical-use surfaces, and equipment are disinfected after each and every use.
- Managed appointment times: Appointments are scheduled so that well-vists and illness-related vists occur during different times of the day.
- Strict precautions for respiratory and COVID-19 patients: Patients we believe may have COVID-19 are typically directed to appropriate outside facilities for testing and/or evaluation. Any patients we see with respiratory illness or who are thought to possibly have COVID-19 are seen outside of our office in a rear parking lot. For these encounters, our providers take all appropriate precautions, including the use of full PPE.
In-Office Well Care Visits
Because many children have understandably been kept home over the past couple of months, many have fallen behind on receiving vitally important immunizations. Becasue of this, and based on current recommednations, we are requesting that all children and adolescents who are due for well care visits and are in need of immunizations be scheduled for in-office well-care visits. If you or your child is due for a check-up and is need of immunizations, and you have not already been contacted by our office, please schedule an appointment now through the MyChart - Patient Portal.
In-Office Urgent Care Visits
While we are making every effort to keep you home, there may be some occasions for which an in-office visit is best. If you think you or your child may need to be seen in our office, or are unsure if an in-office or virtual evaluation is more appropriate, please send us a message with your concern through the MyChart - Patient Portal so we can help determine the best way for us to help you.
Amherst Pediatrics continues to make every effort possible to keep you safe at home during this unprecedented time. To that end, we have successfully implemented telemedicine or Virtual Visits for many types of appointments. These visits may be scheduled through the MyChart - Patient Portal. Please see the Virtual Visit page for more information about scheduling and participating in a Virtual Visit.
- Virtual Well Care: We are successfully conducting modified check-ups through our integrated Zoom video interface. These well-care visits are being scheduled for patients of any age who are not due for immunizations and who do not have another specific need to be seen in-person in our office.
- Virtual Urgent Care: Many illnesses or other concerns can be managed through Virtual Visits rather than through typical in-office visits. If you are unsure whether your particular concern is suitable for a Virtual Visit, please send us a message through the MyChart - Patient Portal and we will determine which type of visit is most appropriate for your particular concern.
- Virtual Follow-up Care: Many of our patients require regular, routine follow-up care to manage chronic issues such as asthma, diabetes, eczema, acne, and ADHD. These visits are exprementy important to make sure your condition is being managed appropriately and to reassess any medications you may be taking. If you or your child is due for a routine follow-up visit, please schedule one now through MyChart. The typical recommended timeline for these follow-ups varies, so please check with us if you are unsure when you need to be seen back.
- Virtual Behavioral Health Care: Regular follow-up care for behavioral health issues is extremely important. If you are in need of a follow-up visit, please schedule one now. Again, if you are uncertain whether you are due for a follow-up, please send us a message through the MyChart - Patient Portal and we will be happy to assist you.