COVID-19 UPDATE (archive)

Amherst Pediatrics

August 4, 2020

 

Though Summer is in full swing, Fall and the new school year (whatever that may look like) will soon be upon us. While we may welcome the cooler air and the beauty of the season, the dramatic rise in the number of people coming to our region will also bring an increase in the risk of contracting COVID-19. It is therefore vitally important for everyone to play a role in limiting the spread the virus, and in keeping eachother safe. That means mask wearing must become universal. Recognizing the importance of this simple measure, the Board of Health for the Town of Amherst has issued an emergency order mandating the wearing masks in the downtown area.

 

Map showing boundaries of the COVID-19 Required Face Covering and Mask Area:

 

Likewise, to keep our staff and patients safe, no one age 2 years and above will be allowed to enter our office without an approriate face covering.

 

Please drive the following deep into your consciousness and share with everyone you meet:

 

Practice 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.

 

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.

 

COVID-19 Testing

As more and more people seek and require testing, our regional testing capacity has become more strained. At the moment, Amherst Pediatrics recommends the following options for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 testing:

 

Symptomatic testing - Anyone with possible symptoms of COVID-19 will need to be tested either offsite (see below) or in our outdoor facility at Amherst Pediatrics. Our capacity to test symptomatic patients at Amherst Pediatrics is very limited, and will be determined by our clincal team. COVID-19 symptoms include:

Fever or chills
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fatigue
Muscle or body aches
Headache
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Diarrhea

 

Asymptomatic testing - An increasing number of individuals are seeking or requiring testing in order to begin school, to work, to see relatives, or to travel. Amherst Pediatrics has a limited on-site capability to perform coronavirus nasal swab testing. Please call well in advance to schedule a testing appointment. If we are unabke to provide on-site testing for your particular needs, we will arrange for off-site testing (see below).

 

Off-site testing locations

Baystate Medical Center - Testing can be performed at several Baystate locations. Appointments are arranged by Amherst Pediatrics, but the location and time is set by Baystate. Appointment information will be sent to you as a portal message. The current Baystate locations are Springfield, Greenfield, Ware, and Westfield.

 

Cooley Dickinson Hospital - Drive-through testing as well as urgent-care evaluation and testing can be performed at CDH in Northampton. Scheduling is initiated by Amherst Pediatrics and patients are then called by CDH to complete the scheduling process.

 

Turnaround time for receiving test results varies by location and testing demand, and is beyond our control.

 

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:

A guide to negotiating a COVID "bubble" with other people

How do you decide if children can play together again?

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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 - 6:45 PM
Saturday:8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Sunday:8:00 AM - 12:00 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

Patient Care Hours:
Monday-Friday

8:00 AM - 4:45 PM: In-office and MyChart Telehealth visits
4:45 PM - 7:00 PM: MyChart Telehealth visits only

Sat-Sun
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
: MyChart Telehealth visits only

Due to the pandemic, we ask that you 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.