Over the past month, the state of Massachusetts has seen a reduced number of people testing positive for COVID19 and has started to allow reopening of businesses. Our office, which has remained open through the past few months, albeit at reduced hours, has also started to see some increase in well and sick patient visits. We have decided that starting August 1st, our office will resume our usual office hours of 9 AM-8 PM for Monday-Friday, and 9 AM-1 PM on Saturday. However, Sundays will remain closed for August, because we anticipate that there will still not be many sick patients for that month. We encourage our patients to not postpone any well visits that include vaccinations that are due.
The sick visits so far have mostly been attributable to insect bites, joint sprains, cuts and bruises related to increased outdoor activities. There have been a few patients who did test positive for COVID19. These patients most likely got the infection by contact with a close adult relative who had the infection. Our office does process the nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs and send to the Quest Laboratory to do the test for COVID19. Because of a nation-wide increase in testing, the Quest Laboratory’s capacity to do the test has been strained, and the waiting period for test results has increased from 2-4 days in the past to 9-10 days recently. As we have only a limited supply of testing kits for SARS-COV2, we do not do tests on patients who are asymptomatic. The state has several sites in Chelsea, Everett, and Revere which provide free testing. The protocol below has been established in our office since March in order to ensure that our office is safe for our patients:
- Cleaning/disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces*Before the day starts and then every 2 hours for the waiting room during the workday.*For exam rooms, the disinfection occurs after each patient visit. Frequently touched surfaces include: door knobs, door handles, light switches, chairs, and exam tables. The disinfectant we use currently is diluted bleach (Clorox).
- All staff members wear masks when interacting with each other, patients and visitors during work hours. Handwashing is done before each patient contact.
- A staff member is advised to not come to work if he/she has any symptoms of cough, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting or fever, or if he/she has been exposed to anyone with these symptoms or anyone with a known diagnosis of COVID19 without wearing mask/gloves, until he/she has been tested negative for SARS-COV2.
- All well patients > 2 years of age and accompanying visitors must wear masks upon entry to our office.
- All well patients will be asked the screening questions about respiratory symptoms and exposure history upon entry to the office or when calling to make an appointment.
- All patients who screen positive for respiratory symptoms or fever and need to be seen as a sick visit will wait in the back parking lot upon arrival and call in to inform our receptionist. Our staff will come out in full PPE (gown, facial covering, gloves) to bring the patient/accompanying adult to the second floor through the back entrance.
We encourage all patients to sign up for access to MyChart, the patient portal to our electronic medical record system Epic. It allows non-urgent communication by email, virtual visit by Zoom between patient and physician, request for medication refills, request for appointment scheduling, and access to lab test results.
In preparation for the flu season, we have ordered flu vaccines, which should arrive in September. We will notify every patient via MyChart when the vaccine is available and when our flu clinic hours will be. Vaccine for SARS-COV2 will be unlikely to be available for children this year. Wearing of a facial covering, washing hands often, and keeping distance from others are the only sure things we can do to prevent the spread of this and other respiratory viruses.
Pediatric Associates of Malden