Spring 2020 Newsletter | Pediatric Associates of Malden

As everyone knows, the Coronavirus that originated in China is now a pandemic across the globe.  It is now named SARS-COV-2.  A person who has symptoms due to the infection is someone who has COVID-19 (coronavirus induced disease-2019).  A national emergency has been declared by the president, and the governor of Massachusetts has also declared a state emergency, banning any gathering of >25 people, and shuttering schools and restaurants across the state for the next month.  Locally, so far there has been only one patient with confirmed case of COVID-19 in Malden and another in Medford.  Even though Mystic Valley Regional School was closed before the declared emergency because of a concern for possible exposure to a student who had returned from China via Vietnam, there was no confirmation that the student actually has COVID-19.   

What does this emergency mean for our pediatric practice and our patients?

1. Our practice will remain open to our patients.  We continue to see patients who are scheduled for Well Child visits. We understand that some parents may be concerned about possible exposure to a sick child in the office.  This is why we have the policy statements below to minimize that risk.  To reduce unnecessary office visits, we would like to remind everyone that in addition to telephone calls, you can use MyChart, the patient portal to our electronic medical record system, to send in emails on any questions.  Soon you can even do video virtual visits via Zoom with MyChart.  For those who have not yet signed up for MyChart, please do so now by contacting our office.

2. We ask all patients who are sick to call ahead for appointments.  

3. We will not accept Walk-in patients (who has not called ahead.)  If a patient shows up without an appointment, we will provide him/her with our telephone number so the patient can call and set up an appointment.

4. To separate well patients from sick patients, our schedule will be changed for sick and well visits: sick patients will be seen from 9am to 12pm and from 6pm to 8pm, and Well Visits will be limited from 1 PM to 5 PM.

5. We will follow the recommended protocol by DPH for COVID-19 screening:  All patients who call for an appointment will be asked:  

i. Within the last 14 days have you/your child or a household member had close contact with a symptomatic person diagnosed with COVID-19?

ii. Have you/your child traveled to Europe, China, Iran, South Korea, King County WA, Westchester County NY, or Solano County CA in the past 14 days?

  • ‍If the answer to either of the 1st two questions is yes, a third question is asked:

iii. Do you/your child have fever OR cough OR difficulty breathing?

  • ‍‍If the response to question iii is also yes, then the patient has screened positive.

‍The patient may be scheduled to be seen in the parking lot first by a physician in mask, gown and gloves to assess the severity.  A nasopharyngeal swab test for SARS-COV2 can be done with the patient in the car/parking lot.  If the patient is deemed well enough to go home, he/she will be instructed to be in quarantine at home for at least 2 weeks or until the test is negative.  

If the answer is No for first 2 questions, but Yes to the 3rd question, an appointment may be provided, and the patient will be given a mask and gloves to wear on entry to the office.  An alternative to an actual visit is to have the physician do a virtual visit by phone. 

6. Our medical staff will wear mask and gloves or washing hands before treating patients with any respiratory symptoms.

7. There will be no toys or books in the waiting room or examination rooms.  

8. Because we are short on masks, we strongly recommend that families limit the number of people that come with the patient to only 1 responsible adult.If you want your child be tested for SARS-COV-2, even though there is no history of exposure, please call and speak to one of our physicians to determine if it is necessary. We do not test everyone who wants a test. We are hopeful that the policy and protocol above will be followed and will keep our patients and our staff healthy through this pandemic. 

Best Wishes,
Pediatric Associates of Malden