With Coronavirus (COVID-19) active in our communities, we are beginning to experience some disruptions in our day to day lives. School closures, conference cancellations, and difficult decisions about vacations are just are few of the issues being written about each day. Please read below to see what we are doing to keep you and our staff healthy.
Information is coming at all of us very rapidly and is changing daily. We are meeting daily to review and implement the most updated recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Children’s Hospital to make sure we provide the most thorough, current, and safe office management for you and your children.
Current Public Health recommendations are to screen all patients for potential exposure to COVID-19 and to keep people who are considered to potentially have COVID-19 out of the office. To be considered a “Person Under Investigation” one must have a FEVER, COUGH, or DIFFICULTY BREATHING and either:
1) have a close contact (or whose household members have had a close contact) with a person diagnosed with COVID-19
2) have traveled (or had a close contact/household member) to Iran, Italy, South Korea, Japan or China within the last 14 days
Persons Under Investigation (ie: those who meet the above screening criteria), are being instructed by the Department of Public Health (DPH) to REMAIN AT HOME and NOT TO BE SEEN IN THE OFFICE. In the event that a patient does screen positive and become a Person Under Investigation, the DPH will be notified and will provide them with further instructions. If any Person Under Investigation is too sick to remain at home, patients are instructed to call 911 and be transported to a hospital.
In other words, PEOPLE WHO ARE SUSPECTED OF HAVING COVID-19 ARE NOT BEING SEEN IN OUR OFFICE!
The current screening recommendations may change in the future. Because the screening criteria are narrowly focused, we at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics have implemented additional safeguards to keep our office safe and healthy for all.
We have temporarily disabled MyChart scheduling and scheduling sick appointments on request. All sick appointments must be scheduled by a nurse so that they are able to screen appropriately for Persons of Interest, minimize unnecessary office visits and provide the best home care advice. We realize that this means increased wait time on the phones and losing the convenience of being able to self-schedule on-line but feel that this relatively small inconvenience is more than justified if we can help minimize unnecessary, accidental, exposures.
Sick patients who do not screen positive for likely COVID-19 exposure (and are therefore not Persons Under Investigation) but who have a cough and fever and are determined by our nurses to require an office visit will be given scheduled for a visit only AFTER THE NURSE CONSULTS WITH ONE OF THE PROVIDERS for approval. This “two heads are better than one” philosophy is a second-level screening to provide an additional layer of triaging.
Patients with fever and coughs are not going to be in our waiting rooms. If the nurse and provider feel that an appointment is appropriate, patients are going to be instructed to call the front desk and wait in their cars upon arrival at the office. When the provider is ready to see them, they will be called back and met at the side door by the provider who is seeing them and led into a designated room for patients with fever and cough (see below). This provider will be wearing appropriate protective equipment (gowns, gloves, masks) which will be removed following the visit (so as to protect themselves as well as not to risk exposure to other patients).
We have designated a room in the Westwood and Mansfield offices for their evaluation so as to minimize exposure to the rest of the office staff and other patients. This room is thoroughly sanitized following each visit. Unfortunately, due to office layout, no such room is available in Easton and patients will be given appointments in Mansfield or Westwood instead.
Please be aware that our office management plan goes beyond the current recommendations. We have implemented this out of an abundance of precaution to keep our community safe and healthy.
As always, we are so grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to care for you and your children. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Now go wash your hands again!
All of us at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics
PS: If you have not signed up for MyChart (our patient portal), please do so today. The PPOC is moving quickly to get Telehealth Capacity for our practice which would enable patients to complete certain visits from home via computer. You will need to have a MyChart account to take advantage of this so please make sure you are signed up.