An update and some FAQs for the new week

Happy Monday Everyone, 

As the new week begins, we wanted to provide some updates and answer some frequently asked questions that we are hearing from our patients.

This has been a trying few weeks for our community – words like “unprecedented” and “pandemic” and “flattening the curve” combined with mass school closures, empty grocery store shelves, and event cancelations have everyone on edge.  We are worried about our parents, our children, and our livelihoods.  If you feel like the stress and anxiety are affecting you, please contact your doctor.  In addition, our behavioral health providers may be available for an appointment to help parental coping (potentially via TeleHealth – see below) – please call us if you are struggling.  

As a primary care office, we are on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis.  We are being faced daily with multiple clinical scenarios and questions for which the public health guidelines are not yet clear. It has been our experience that the guidelines for care are getting passed down after we have already been handling an issue for some time. This lack of certainty contributes to the sense of unease felt by many.  

We appreciate your patience with our longer phone wait times right now as well as your patience with our terrific triage nurses who are doing a great job incorporating all the new information that keeps coming.  Unfortunately, there are times when they may not have the answer to your question (and, frankly, the providers might not either).  While we have been so impressed and thankful for the respect and appreciation shown from the overwhelming majority of our patients, we ask that you don’t let the stress of the moment overwhelm you. Let’s remember to be kind to one another now more than ever!

Now, some of our more frequently asked questions.

1) Who should be tested for COVID-19?
According to the Department of Public Health, patients with a fever and cough who have had a known close contact exposure to an individual with confirmed or presumed COVID infection should be tested.  If you fall into this category, you should stay home and contact our office.

2) How can I get tested for COVID-19?
Right now, we have NO ACCESS TO TESTING FOR COVID-19 and no timeline for when we will have testing.  We are unable to test patients in the office and currently have no place to refer patients for testing.  Obviously, we hope and expect that this will change soon – we will be sure to let you know as soon as community resources become available and we have more information.  Please refrain from calling for this reason as it unnecessarily ties up phone lines for other issues.

3) What should I do if a household contact has a fever and cough?
It is our opinion that, if a household contact has a fever and a cough, the responsible thing to do is for all household members to self-quarantine. Stay home, do not go to work and call our office (or your doctor) for further guidance.  You may also call the Department of Public Health public information number 2-1-1 or Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Hotline at 855-281-5730.

4) What sort of contacts are appropriate for children while they are not in school/remote learning?
In order for the school closures to be effective, individuals must honor the intent of the order.  Failure to stay away from significant groups of people will defeat the purpose of school closure and provide the virus with additional opportunities to spread in our community.  It is the opinion of the providers at Westwood Mansfield Pediatrics that social contact should be extremely limited.  Please read this article (Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day) for a better understanding of this rationale. 

Try to avoid going into other people’s houses (ie: play outside and remain 6 feet apart if possible).  Do not share drinks or snacks or other foods.  Wash hands frequently and each time you return home.  It is not unreasonable to avoid contact with friends all together.  Ultimately, you must decide if the risk of potential exposure is worth it. 

5) When will you be able to do visits by TeleHealth?
We are moving very rapidly in this direction and hope to be rolling it out this week.  Stay tuned for more information!  

We continue to meet (remotely!) daily to stay abreast of the latest updates and to work out new protocols and policies to minimize the potential for illness.  As we initiated last week, there are no sick patients in our waiting rooms as our sick patients are being asked to wait in their cars until we are ready for visits.  In addition, any patient with fever and cough is being asked to use a separately designated room (with a designated provider) that is removed from the rest of the office.  New protocols may come as the situation change. For now, please know we are working to keep you all healthy and safe during this outbreak.  

Thank you for being our patients!

All of us at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatric Associates