Posts for: March, 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.
New 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 continue to recommend and schedule well care visits that are associated with vaccinations.
On the advice of the CDC and other public health agencies, 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 already 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.
The Importance of Social Distancing
Social distancing is a tool experts recommend to slow the spread of a disease passing from person to person. Simply put, it means that people stay far enough away from each other so that the coronavirus cannot spread from one person to another. Social distancing is the BEST WAY for each of us to do our part to contain the spread of the virus! It is vitally important for everyone to practice social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
Social Distancing Means...
- Staying home as much as possible
- Talking on the phone, texting, or video-chatting instead of meeting up in person
- Keeping 6 feet away from others
- Avoiding public transportation
- Limiting travel
- Working from home if you can
- Skipping social gatherings and crowded spaces
- Disinfecting surfaces frequently
- Not touching others, including handshakes
- Not sharing items you've touched
- Following guidelines for effective hand washing
Health Smart Behaviors...
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (minimum 60% alcohol)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Keep at least 6 feet away from people
- Stay home when you are sick and keep 6 feet away from others
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Don’t share items such as food, drinks, utensils, vapes, or similar items
- If you your child is sick, call us and we can determine if they need to be scheduled for a Virtual Visit or be seen in our office
► Click here to view our COVID-19 UPDATE archive
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 scheduling 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.
** Note: information is changing rapidly. We wil update this page as we learn more **
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
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.
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:
- Hand washing tips from the AAP
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.
Sneezing. Watery eyes. Stuffy nose. These could just be symptoms of a cold or these could be signs that your child has allergies. If you notice that your child’s symptoms flare-up during certain times of the year then this could definitely be a sign of seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, allergies can impact everything from performance in school to participating in outdoor activities such as school sports. If you suspect that your child may have allergies it’s important to talk with your pediatrician.
Childhood Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms can also seem a lot like a cold or other upper respiratory problems. Common symptoms associated with allergies include:
- Watery, red, and itchy eyes
- Itchy nose
- Dark circles under the eyes or puffy eyelids
- Ear pain and chronic ear problems
- Nasal congestion
- Facial pain and pressure
- Persistent cough
- Chest tightness
So, how can you tell that your child is dealing with allergies and not an infection? Some telltale signs include itchy eyes and nose, which are classic signs of allergies. If your child has a fever this is usually a sign of an infection and not allergies. Unlike a cold, allergy symptoms can last for weeks. You may also notice that your child’s symptoms come and go, appearing more often during the spring and fall months. Again, this is a trademark of childhood allergies.
Treating Childhood Allergy
There are many ways in which a pediatrician can help your child manage their allergy symptoms, and the treatments that are recommended will depend on the type and severity of your child’s symptoms. Most treatment plans include a variety of lifestyle changes and medication. Children with minor symptoms may find relief through over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants, while other children may require a prescription-strength allergy medication to tackle more moderate to severe symptoms.
Lifestyle modifications may include using a dehumidifier in your child’s bedroom, wearing glasses instead of contacts during allergy seasons, bathing immediately after being outdoors, limiting outdoor activities during high pollen counts, and keeping pets out of bedrooms (if your child suffers from pet dander allergies).
For severe or unresponsive allergies, your pediatrician may recommend immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Allergy shots may be a good option for your child when other treatment options and medications have not been successful.
Are your child’s allergy symptoms impacting their daily routine? If so, our pediatricians can help them manage their symptoms so they can get back to enjoying days on the playground and time spent with family.