COVID-19 UPDATE (archive)

Amherst Pediatrics

 

Amherst Pediatrics

May 29, 2021

 

Summer is near, and we can finally see the tables turning on this long, difficult ordeal. Vaccine availability is picking up, and our numbers continue to decline, but there is still so much we need to and can do, collectively, to get through this.

 

We must continue to:

 

Wear a mask (?)

The MA COVID-19 restrictions, in place for so long, have finally been lifted. That means you are no longer required to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated (2 weeks out from your last vaccine dose). That said, mask-wearing is still necessary for those not fully vaccinated. Even if you are vaccinated, wearing a mask adds additional safety, and many feel more comfortable continuing to wear them for now. Some businesses and establishments may still require mask wearing for the safety of their staff and the public. Also, masks continue to be required for the following individuals or locations, regardless of vaccination status:

  • On public and private transportation
  • Inside K-12 public schools, collaboratives, special education schools
  • Healthcare facilites (like Amherst Pediatrics!)
  • Congregate care facilities
  • Emergency shelter facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Health care and day services/facilites run by the Commonweath
  • Home health care workers

Please click here to read more about mask and COVID-19 precautions ► COVID-19 Mask Requirements

 

Get vaccinated!

We urge you to get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. This remains the single most critical element for ending the pandemic. It can only be achieved if the vast majority of us gets the vaccine. We know that many people have reservations about the vaccines, because they are perceived to have been developed and rolled out so fast. In fact, safety has not been sacrificed during this process. The historic speed with which the vaccines have beeen readied is due to the unprecedented efforts of scientists and the huge amount of resources poured into the effort. It is a process that will likely be replicated in the future, and in which we can all be proud. The vaccine is extremely effective and SAFE!

 

Please read this piece written for The Atlantic by pediatrician, author, and journalist Perri Klass for an excellent perspective on the importance of having your child vaccianted:

 

 

COVID-19 Vaccines

Amherst Pediatrics is not currently admiistering COVID-19 vaccine to children of any age. We will make sure to let you know if this changes. In the meantime, COVID-19 vaccine is readily available in the community. Please see below for information about scheduleing an appointment.

 

There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in people 18 years of age and older. One vaccine (the one made by Pfizer) has received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA and is now recommended by the CDC for use in people age 12 and older. Trials are underway in younger children, but as of yet there is no information regarding the timeline for availability of a COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 12.

 

Massachusetts is currently in Phase 4 of the vaccine rollout. People age 12 and older who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can now get vaccinated against COVID-19. People ages 12-17 can only recieve the Pfizer vaccine. People age 18 and older can receive any COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective. You don't need an ID or insurance to get it.

 

People who live, work, or study in Massachusetts can pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at one of several mass vaccination locations around the state. To pre-register for a vaccine appointment, use the link below.

 

 

 

 

 

Appointments can also be scheduled at the Amherst Bangs Community Center by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can search for appointments at pharmacies and other community locations through vaxfinder.mass.gov

 

COVID-19 testing

Asymptomatic testing remains available at the UMass Mullins Center for anyone 10 years of age and older. For information and scheduling follow this link:

>> Asymptomatic Testing at the UMass Mullins Center 

 

Symptomatic testing is available offsite or, in some cases, in our outdoor facility at Amherst Pediatrics. COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle/body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (in addition to at least one other symptom)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Our capacity to test patients at Amherst Pediatrics is very limited, and will be determined by our clincal team. If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call us at (413) 253-3773 and speak to a member of our clincial team for guidance.

January 1, 2021

 

We at Amherst Pediatrics would like to wish you all the the best in the coming new year. We have been through quite a lot this past year, and we look hopefully foreward to what we believe will be a much better year ahead. That said, the next couple of months will be difficult as the pandemic continues to rage out of control, with the winter months looking to be possibly the worst we have seen so far. The good news, and it is very good news indeed, is that two very effective and safe vaccines are being rolled out as we speak. Providers and staff at Amherst Pediatrics have been among the first in the region to receive the vaccine, making our office that much safer and more secure for our patients. Soon, the vaccine will be available to the general public as well. We will be sure to keep you informed as soon as we have more information about that phase of the rollout.

 

We urge you to continue to take all of the pandemic safety precautions very seriously.

 

Wear a mask

The single most important and effective strategy to prevent spread of this virus is to wear an appropriate face covering. Please follow this link for complete information about what that means: CDC Guide to Mask Wearing

 

Socially distance

Maintain at least a 6-foot distance between you and others who are not in your household - both indoors and outdoors.

 

Stay home

Please refrain from going into indoor spaces outside of your home. That includes restaurants, shops, gyms, salons, grocery stores, and other people's homes. If you can, try to order items by delivery or curbside pick-up.

 

Get vaccinated

When it becomes available, we urge you to get vaccinated as soon as possible. This will be a crucial element to ending this pandemic. It can only be achieved if the vast majority of us get the vaccine. We know that many people have reservations about this vacceine, because it is perceived to have been developed and rolled out so fast. In fact, safety has not been sacrificed during this process. The historic speed with which the vaccine has beeen readied is due to the unprecedented efforts of scientists and the huge amount of resources poured into this effort. It is a process that will likely be replicated in the future, and in which we can all be proud. The vaccine is extremely effective and SAFE!

 

COVID-19 Testing

As more and more people again seek and require testing, our regional testing capacity has become increasingly strained.

At the moment, Amherst Pediatrics recommends the following options for 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 attend school, to work, to see relatives, or to travel. Amherst Pediatrics has very limited on-site capability to perform coronavirus nasal swab testing. We are therefore recommending the following off-site testing options for our patients:

 

Off-site testing locations

UMass State Testing Facility - Mullins Center

The State of Massachusetts offers free community testing on the UMass campus. Please follow this link for complete details and information:

>> UMass Asymptomatic testing

NOTE: This testing is available only for those age 10 years and older who are asymptomatic.  

 

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.

 

► Click here to view our COVID-19 UPDATE archive

 

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:
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: [email protected]
 

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.