COVID-19 UPDATE (archive)

Amherst Pediatrics

May 13, 2020

 

It is truly hard to believe that two months have past since we added this COVID-19 response page to our web site. The world looks very different today than it did way back then, and fortunately some things have remained the same. Amherst Pediatrics continues to work hard adapting to the ever changing landscape with the goal of providing the best care possible to our wonderful families and community. We are proud of our amazing staff, which has learned to adjust to these necessary changes and has developed innovative ways to keep our patients safe while adapting and streamlining processes to optimize care. And we are so very grateful to you, our amazing familes, who have also adapted to these changes and have been so understanding of our "growing pains" in the process.

 

Throughout the course of the pandemic, Amherst Pediatrics has kept in close contact with the Massachusetts DPH as well as our local hospitals and other public health experts to remain at the cutting edge of the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations. As a member of the Boston Children's Hospital network, we are also in constant contact with some of the world's leading experts on pediatric infectious disease and the COVID-19 pandemic. While the news bombards us with a dizzying amount of information that seems to change hourly, we assure you that the care you receive at Amherst Pediatrics will always be of the highest quality and based on the most current, science-based evidence.

 

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 under 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.

 

Virtual Visits

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 PortalPlease 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.

Important Safety Reminders


Practice social distancing

The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit contact as much as possible. Children should not have in-person playdates with children from other households. If children are playing outside their own homes, it is essential that they remain 6 feet from anyone who is not in their own household. When outside the home with the potential to come within 6 feet of another person, children should wear an appropriate mask or face covering which covers their nose and mouth.

To help children maintain social connections while social distancing, help them have supervised phone calls or video chats with their friends.

Clean hands often
Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as washing their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important if they have been in a public place.


(Click above)

The figure shows representation of 52 people who became sick after exposure to one symptomatic person with text describing ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The figure is a photo of an infant receiving a checkup with text about the importance of childhood vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

► Click here to view our COVID-19 UPDATE archive

 

April 20, 2020

 

Amherst Pediatrics continues to modify our operations in an effort to keep our families (both yours and ours) safe, while providing the best possible care to our communities. We will also continue to keep you up to date on the things we think you need to know as we navigate the uncharted waters of this pandemic. To that end, we will be sending these important updates to you via MyChart to keep you informed. We know you are inundated with emails and messages from all directions, but please check all emails that come your way from us so we can keep you up to date on important information. Please also check our website, as it is being updated frequently.

 

Temporary Office Hours

Amherst Pediatrics will be open Monday-Friday 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM.

We are temporarily suspending our extended office hours (5:00 - 7:00 PM).

We are temporarily suspending our weekend office hours.

After hours, we will continue to be available as usual by phone for urgent matters and will schedule you for a virtual visit if indicated by the circumstances.

 

Well Care Visits

We continue to balance the importance of social isolation with the importance of maintaining health. Because your child’s well care visit is an important part of health maintenance, with their vaccines being a critical part of this, we are following the recommendations and guidance of the AAP and scheduling infant and toddler well care visits that are associated with vaccinations. Patients scheduled for well-care visits will be seen during hours designated for well care visits only, and will be roomed in a designated well-care corridor.

 

Sick Visits

On the advice of the CDC and the AAP we are strongly advising that people who are ill remain at home when possible, rather than being seen in person by a health care provider. We are very fortunate to be up and running with the ability to schedule Virtual Visits through our MyChart patient portal. By seeing you "virtually", we can continue to provide you with care and advice, while keeping you safe at home. Please see our Virtual Visits page for detailed information on how to prepare for your virtual visit.

 

We continue to see a small number of urgent care patients in our office for whom virtual visits are not appropriate. All patient seen either virtually or in our office are screend vor COVID-19 risk factors. Only patients who screen NEGATIVE will be allowed to schedule an in-office appointment, when deemed appropriate. If your child is scheduled for an in-office visit, we ask that they be accompanied by a single parent or guardian to protect the safety of our staff and the community. Patients 18 years of age and older will be required to enter alone. A face mask or suitable alternative must be worn at all times when in our office. To protect our staff and others, you will not be permitted to enter our office suite without a mask or other suitbale covering over your nose and mouth.

 

Amherst Pediatrics takes your health and safety very seriously. We continue to keep our exam room spaces cleaned and disinfected between patients, and to facilitate social distancing while you are in our office.

 

March 19, 2020

** Note: information is changing rapidly. We wil update this page as we learn more. **

Virtual Visits
The single most important way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through social distancing. This is true whether you are ill or well. For this reason, Amherst Pediatrics is now able to schedule Virtual Visits to allow you to stay home when you are sick, while still being "seen" by one of our providers. Before you can be seen in a Virtual Visit, there are a few important things you need to do. Please click on the image below to learn more about preparing for and scheduing your Virtual Visit.


As coronavirus information and recommendations seem to change hourly, it is difficult to keep up and know what we should be doing to keep our families and communities safe. Amherst Pediatrics strives to keep up as well, and will continue to provide you with the most accurate information we can. That said, there may be no single answer to some of the questions that you have about this outbreak.

Kids and Social Distancing
By now, we have all likely heard that the single most important thing we can do to stop the spread of this virus is social distancing – limiting contact with others as much as possible in order to prevent transmission of the virus. But how do we do this, exactly, and how far do we take it?

On March 15, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting gatherings of over 25 people in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. After reviewing the recommendations of many public health experts, Amherst Pediatrics advises our community for now to limit contact to your immediate family or household. The ability of our healthcare system to care for those in need (both those sickened by Coronavirus as well as those with other serious healthcare needs) depends on slowing the spread of this virus.  This must be taken seriously, and it must happen now. The only way to do this is with very strict adherence to social distancing – it must become the new norm, at least at this critical moment in the outbreak.

Here are some common questions we would like to address that have come up frequently:

Is it safe to go outside?
Although staying in your home will certainly help prevent you and your family from getting the virus or spreading it to others, it isn't the most practical thing to do, it isn’t sustainable, and isn’t even necessary. You will need to go outside, get fresh air, and move your body around. It’s fine to go out for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, but it is important to avoid close proximity to others - the recommendation being a minimum of 6 feet apart. If you do go out and encounter others, be respectful, say hello, but keep your distance. If you have it, bring hand-sanitizer with you if you go out, and use it if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as playground equipment or door handles. And remember to wash hands as soon as you return home.

Can my kids go on play dates?
Again, it is critical to minimize close contact for now. Though children are spared the worst of this illness, they can have mild illness or have asymptomatic infection – this makes them potentially silent vectors of transmission.  That said, maintaining social connection is extremely important, so be creative. Video calls, phone calls, texts, or even letter writing can be important ways for your child to stay connected to friends and family.

Can we visit friends and family?
It is imperative that we stick to our nuclear families for now. While the vast majority of those who become infected with this virus will have mild illness, some are at higher risk for much more serious illness. This is particularly true of older people (those over 65-70), and people with certain underlying heath conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or immunodeficiency. We must act as if we are all carrying this virus, and do our part to prevent spread to those more vulnerable members of our community.

Can I go out to eat?
For now, all our local restaurants are closed for business, though many are open for take-out and/or delivery.  This is an okay option, but remember the following:

  • If taking out, keep your distance from others
  • Use hand-sanitizer if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as door handles
  • Wash your hands when you return home and after discarding boxes or bags that have been touched by others

Can I continue to use my babysitter?
Your babysitter can come to your home if appropriate social distancing, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette measures are maintained, and the babysitter is not a member of a vulnerable group.

How should I clean my home
At home, continue to follow your usual hand hygiene practices. Clean surfaces regularly with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe; this includes counters, table-tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets & toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

Can my child get tested for the Coronavirus?
At this point in time, the capacity to test is limited. While the situation regarding testing is very fluid and likely to change soon, we are not currently performing coronavirus testing at Amherst Pediatrics. If you feel you or your child needs to get tested, please call our office and we can discuss the current indications and procedures for testing.

What should I do if my child is ill
Please call us right away if you or your child has fever for more than 3 days, a worsening cough, or difficulty breathing, or if you have known exposure to someone with COVID-19 infection.

We cannot stress enough the importance of frequent hand-washing, and staying away from others as much as possible when you are sick yourself.

More Information
Your child is hearing about this virus from many sources, some of which may not be reliable. Even with reilable information, this is a confusing and alarming time for everone, and children in particular are likely to have concerns that need to be addressed. The following are good resources for talking to your children about the virus:

Here are some useful places to get additional information about COVID-19, and how you can keep your family and community as safe as possible:


Please remeber to follow these general recommendations for prevention of infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Wearing a mask is unlikely to keep you safe but is important for medical professionals and for people who are ill. Leave masks for those that need them.


** Please note temporary office hours for the week of March 16-20, 2020 **
For the week of March 16 - 20, 2020 Amherst Pediatrics will be open 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM.
There will be NO extended office hours (5:00 - 7:00 PM) during this week.

Due to the elevated level of illness in our communities, please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.

The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.

March 16, 2020

Kids and Social Distancing
By now, we have all likely heard that the single most important thing we can do to stop the spread of this virus is social distancing – limiting contact with others as much as possible in order to prevent transmission of the virus. But how do we do this, exactly, and how far do we take it?

On March 15, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting gatherings of over 25 people in an effort to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. After reviewing the recommendations of many public health experts, Amherst Pediatrics advises our community for now to limit contact to your immediate family or household. The ability of our healthcare system to care for those in need (both those sickened by Coronavirus as well as those with other serious healthcare needs) depends on slowing the spread of this virus.  This must be taken seriously, and it must happen now. The only way to do this is with very strict adherence to social distancing – it must become the new norm, at least at this critical moment in the outbreak.

Here are some common questions we would like to address that have come up frequently:

Is it safe to go outside?
Although staying in your home will certainly help prevent you and your family from getting the virus or spreading it to others, it isn't the most practical thing to do, it isn’t sustainable, and isn’t even necessary. You will need to go outside, get fresh air, and move your body around. It’s fine to go out for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, but it is important to avoid close proximity to others - the recommendation being a minimum of 6 feet apart. If you do go out and encounter others, be respectful, say hello, but keep your distance. If you have it, bring hand-sanitizer with you if you go out, and use it if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as playground equipment or door handles. And remember to wash hands as soon as you return home.

Can my kids go on play dates?
Again, it is critical to minimize close contact for now. Though children are spared the worst of this illness, they can have mild illness or have asymptomatic infection – this makes them potentially silent vectors of transmission.  That said, maintaining social connection is extremely important, so be creative. Video calls, phone calls, texts, or even letter writing can be important ways for your child to stay connected to friends and family.

Can we visit friends and family?
It is imperative that we stick to our nuclear families for now. While the vast majority of those who become infected with this virus will have mild illness, some are at higher risk for much more serious illness. This is particularly true of older people (those over 65-70), and people with certain underlying heath conditions, such as chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or immunodeficiency. We must act as if we are all carrying this virus, and do our part to prevent spread to those more vulnerable members of our community.

Can I go out to eat?
For now, all our local restaurants are closed for business, though many are open for take-out and/or delivery.  This is an okay option, but remember the following:

  • If taking out, keep your distance from others
  • Use hand-sanitizer if you touch objects that may be frequently touched by others, such as door handles
  • Wash your hands when you return home and after discarding boxes or bags that have been touched by others

How should I clean my home
At home, continue to follow your usual hand hygiene practices. Clean surfaces regularly with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe; this includes counters, table-tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets & toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.

Can my child get tested for the Coronavirus?
At this point in time, the capacity to test is limited. While the situation regarding testing is very fluid and likely to change soon, we are not currently performing coronavirus testing at Amherst Pediatrics. If you feel you or your child needs to get tested, please call our office and we can discuss the current indications and procedures for testing.

What should I do if my child is ill
Please call us right away if you or your child has fever for more than 3 days, a worsening cough, or difficulty breathing, or if you have known exposure to someone with COVID-19 infection.

We cannot stress enough the importance of frequent hand-washing, and staying away from others as much as possible when you are sick yourself.

More Information
Your child is hearing about this virus from many sources, some of which may not be reliable. Even with reilable information, this is a confusing and alarming time for everone, and children in particular are likely to have concerns that need to be addressed. The following are good resources for talking to your children about the virus:

Here are some useful places to get additional information about COVID-19, and how you can keep your family and community as safe as possible:


Please remeber to follow these general recommendations for prevention of infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Wearing a mask is unlikely to keep you safe but is important for medical professionals and for people who are ill. Leave masks for those that need them.


** Please note temporary office hours for the week of March 16-20, 2020 **
For the week of March 16 - 20, 2020 Amherst Pediatrics will be open 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM.
There will be NO extended office hours (5:00 - 7:00 PM) during this week.

Due to the elevated level of illness in our communities, please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.

The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.

March 11, 2020

 
Office Hours
Monday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Tuesday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Wednesday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Thursday:8:00 AM - 6:45 PM
Friday:8:00 AM - 4:45 PM
Saturday:12:30 PM - 3:45 PM
Sunday:12:30 PM - 3:45 PM

Contact Us

Our Address
31 Hall Dr.
Amherst, MA 01002
Tel: (413) 253-3773
Fax: (413) 256-0215
Email: mail@amherstpeds.com

 

Please note temporary office hours
during the COVID-19 pandemic

New Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM.
We are temporarily suspending our extended office hours (5:00 - 7:00 PM).

We are temporarily suspending our weekend office hours.
After hours, we will continue to be available as usual by phone for urgent matters and can schedule you for a virtual visit if indicated by the circumstances (see below). 


Due to the elevated level of illness in our communities, please remain at home if you or your child is ill. If you have concerns about how your child is feeling, please contact us by sending a message through this patient portal. The clinicians will be able to respond to you during our regular hours. Calling the office may present a further delay in response times.

The COVID-19 situation is ever unfolding. We are dedicated to the safety of our patients and staff. Please refer to our website for updates on this changing situation.



* Please note: It is our policy that we do not approve referral requests for visits to outside urgent care centers during times that our office is open.

Holidays
We are open for urgent visits only on most Holidays. Our office is closed on Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.