News

Planning for the Fall and Winter Holidays in the Context of COVID-19

Many families are used to gathering with larger groups indoors during the holidays which can facilitate spread of the virus.  It is well established that private gatherings in homes is a major source of spread of COVID-19. Here is some practical guidance to consider when planning for the holidays and ways to reduce risk if it does not seem feasible to avoid gathering with others.  We hope that everyone enjoys the season and stays safe and healthy!

THE MOST EFFECTIVE MEASURES CURRENTLY TO PREVENT SPREAD OF COVID-19 ARE:

  • Maintaining social distancing (staying greater than 6 feet from others).
  • Avoiding people who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or who were recently exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 within the prior 2 weeks. Those individuals should remain in quarantine per DPH and medical guidelines and should not be socializing with others during that time.
  • Wearing a face mask that covers both nose and mouth during social interactions.
  • Regular washing of hands; avoiding touching face or eyes.

FACTORS THAT INCREASE RISK OF SPREAD OF COVID-19:

  • Smaller indoor spaces without good ventilation.
  • Activities that prevent mask wearing around others (e.g. eating).
  • Singing/projecting one’s voice loudly.

Here are some ideas to consider with each phase of planning your event:

TRAVEL

  • Interstate travel:  Many states (including Massachusetts) have regulations regarding visitors or residents arriving from out-of-state.   Go to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order to see the most recent update. At the time of this writing, there is a significant daily fine for those found not to be in compliance with the law.
  • Mode of travel: Travel by car (rather than by air) makes it easier to avoid contact with others before arriving at your destination.  Stops along the road to should be planned to limit contact with others.  Avoid spending time inside restaurants or other buildings – bring your own food. Wear a mask when outside of the car.
  • Plan on everyone at your gathering to self-quarantine for 2 weeks prior to the holiday to reduce likelihood of asymptomatic spread of the virus at your event.
  • Anyone with a known close exposure to a COVID-19 case should not travel and should remain in self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of any test result or presence/absence of symptoms.

TESTING CONSIDERATIONS

  • A “negative test” DOES NOT rule out the possibility that a person may be carrying and spreading COVID-19. It may provide some level of reassurance however, if that individual is asymptomatic and has not had any known exposures within 2 weeks of the event.
  • Types of tests:  Different types of tests have different levels of “reliability” so it is important to know the type of test being done and the context in which it is being performed.   
    • “Rapid test” – this term refers to how quickly a result may be available, but does not distinguish which type of test was performed, so it is not a useful term.
    • “Antigen tests” – Usually done by nasal swab.  Typically faster results (usually same day), less expensive to perform, but have a higher risk of missing an infection in a person without symptoms.
    • “PCR/molecular test” – Usually done by nasal swab.  More expensive and “turn around time” for results may vary widely (same day to several days).  Less likely to miss an infection in a patient without symptoms. A “positive” test may persist however for a significant period of time after an infected patient is no longer a risk of transmitting illness.
    • “Antibody test” – blood test which does not have use in determining whether a person currently has an infection.  A positive test does not necessarily mean that individual has protection from the disease.
    • https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/coronavirus-testing-basics is a good source of information about types of tests.
  • Cost/insurance coverage: Many insurers are not covering the cost of a test if there is not a known medical indication (e.g. symptoms of illness, pre-operative planning, known close COVID-19 exposure). It is important to be aware that places that offer testing may bill you for the service, which can be expensive.
    • As of this writing, Massachusetts DPH is still offering free testing to state residents at several “Stop the Spread” locations in the state.   Locations may have different restrictions (ages tested, appointment times), change locations, and have varying timeframes to get results.  Residents do not require a referral from a physician. Go to the website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread for more information.

GUESTS

  • Individuals at high risk (advanced age or medical risk factors): it is not medically advised to attend group gatherings in person.  Consider connecting “virtually.”
  • Community considerations: Consider the data about how active the spread of a disease is in the communities people are traveling from/to.   It may not be advisable for people traveling from/to high risk communities to gather. Massachusetts DPH publishes a community risk map weekly on the web at  https://www.mass.gov/info-details/community-level-covid-19-data-reporting.
  • Limit number of people/households:  Currently, a maximum of 10 persons at a private indoor gathering is allowed in Massachusetts. https://www.mass.gov/doc/covid-19-order-54/download.
  • Limit duration of the gathering: Avoid day-long events and set specific start/finish times.

LODGING

  • Out of town guests: lodging at a local hotel may reduce contact time and therefore may reduce potential exposure more than staying at relative’s home.

DINING

  • Serving pre-plated food rather than “buffet style” dining is preferred.
  • Space people from different households as far apart as possible (e.g. opposite ends of the table or at multiple tables) to maintain social distancing.
  • Request use of masks when not in the act of eating/drinking.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.

SETTING/LOCATION   

  • Use larger rooms with adequate space (6 feet or more) to maintain social distancing.
  • Ventilation:  outdoors is best if possible; consider opening windows for air exchange.
  • Identify bathrooms for guests to use and provide opportunity for regular use of hand-washing and/or hand sanitizer.

Last updated: November 11, 2020

Returning to school/daycare

Many parents have asked how our providers feel about our patients going back to school, preschool and daycare. This is an unprecedented situation, and unfortunately parents don’t have a lot of information on which to base their decision. You can however, take a few factors into account when figuring out what is best for your family:

  1.  What does your household look like? Are there high-risk family members in the home? You can refer to this link for the most up-to-date list of risk factors for severe COVID disease: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html
  2. What does your child need for their learning and overall social/emotional development? You can refer to the AAP statement on back to school and safety: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/
  3. What is your individual school or school district’s plan? If your child is attending daycare, consider visiting the center first to see what their safety protocols are. 

This is a personal situation for each family informed by your individual circumstances. We hope this gives you some information to use when making your decision.

An Important Message From Weston Pediatric Physicians

We at Weston Pediatric Physicians (WPP) want to express our deep sadness for the tragedies related to racism, hatred, and violence that disproportionately affect people of color in our country. We support raising awareness that such tragedies can have on the health and wellbeing of our children, their families and the community at large.

We at WPP embrace all who come to us for care, regardless of ethnic or racial background, by providing a medical home that is both welcoming and culturally sensitive. We aim to work together as partners with patients and their families to promote their health and wellbeing and to foster a community of tolerance and respect for each other. More than ever, the emotional health and wellbeing of each and every one of us is vital, especially for our kids.

Please click here for information on how to talk with your kids about these difficult issues.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 testing is now widely available in Massachusetts.

The department of health recommends that anybody with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, even if mild, should have testing.

Testing is also recommended for anybody who has been in direct contact with somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19.

We have received many calls from families whose children are well, without any symptoms,  yet need COVID-19 testing in order to go to camp, visit Maine or for a job. Unfortunately we do not have the resources to do this in the office. There are many pharmacies and urgent care centers that do perform this service. The best way to find them is with the locator tool found on the Massachusetts Board of Health website:

https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-testing

Please call to schedule a Virtual Visit if you prefer to discuss whether you think you or your child needs testing for Covid-19.

About the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is most commonly spread through coughing or sneezing between people in close contact with each other.  It presents as a mild to severe respiratory illness, with symptoms that include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Please see the links below for some helpful information and resources.

www.mass.gov

www.cdc.gov

Articles About COVID-19

Helping Teens Navigate Disappointment in Uncertain Times

Working and Learning From Home During COVID-19 Outbreak

The Importance of Social Distance

How to Talk to Kids About COVID-19

If You Are Sick or Caring For Somebody with Known/Suspected COVID0-19

Patient Gateway

patientgatewayWe have developed a service on the Internet that will help you communicate more effectively with our office. This is called the Partners Patient Gateway, and will provide you with access to our office staff and health information using your web browser.

We would like to invite you to participate. By enrolling you can reduce the time you spend on the phone with our office and help us respond more efficiently to your requests.

You must log in when you receive your password to keep your account active.

Patient Gateway features:

  • Password-protection—offering secure access to messages and medical information
  • Simple, pre-filled forms that streamline your requests for:
  • Prescription renewals
  • Appointments requests
  • Referral authorizations
  • Registration updates
  • Ability to view health information available in your child’s medical record ages birth–12, and limited access for both you and your teen ages 13–17
  • Appointment information (past and upcoming)
  • Medication and Allergy data
  • Immunization history
  • Conditions and procedures
  • Lab results and letters
  • Radiology Reports
  • Health Forms
  • Clinician-approved health information in clear, everyday language

To sign up for your child or teenager, please click here to download the authorization form. Please print the form, fill it out, and bring the completed form with you on your visit. The patient representative (parent or guardian) must be present to be signed up. All patients 13 years of age and older must also be present in the office to sign the form.

There is just ONE more thing you need to do. Once you receive your username by email, and temporary access key through the mail, you MUST log in to activate your account.

CPR Certification Class

Weston Pediatric Physicians is happy to announce that we will now be offering CPR certification. Classes will be offered monthly and are not limited to our parents. This course is appropriate for parents, grandparents, babysitters or any adult interested in becoming CPR certified.

When scheduling please give your preferred contact information to insure we can reach you if we need to change the date. We do require at least 3 participants in order for a class to be held.

This course is designed to teach the skills of CPR and foreign body airway obstruction for the infant, child, and adult, and provide instruction in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Participants will receive official certification from the American Red Cross. Certification is good for one year.

Please call (781) 899-4456 for more information.

Prenatal Information Meeting

During these uncertain times, Weston Pediatrics would like to continue offering monthly prenatal meetings virtually.  We understand that this is an exciting time in your lives and you may have many questions. The meetings are for newly expecting parents, to answer any questions you may have regarding your newborn. This will also give you the opportunity to meet one of our Pediatricians who will be hosting the meeting.

The next meetings are scheduled for:
November 17 with Dr. Brownell-Krupat
December 2 with Dr. Andler
January 12 with Dr. Bernstein
February 9 with Dr. Bui
March 11 with Dr. Dieffenbach

If you are interested in signing up for a meeting, please call our office at (781) 899-4456.

Cancellations of Scheduled Appointments

We recognize that it is sometimes a challenge to schedule appointments to meet our patients’ various time schedules. In order to better accommodate your requests, we are asking that you notify the office as soon as possible regarding appointments that need to be cancelled or rescheduled. This will allow us time to fill that vacancy with someone on our waiting list.

Because of the frequency of missed appointments there will be a $25.00 charge if the office is not notified at least 24 hours in advance.

Thank you for helping us to provide better access to our practice.

Sincerely,

The Physicians of Weston Pediatrics

Ear Piercing

We now offer ear piercing for children 5 years of age and older. Please call your Provider’s secretary to schedule an appointment.

WPP’S Statement Regarding Use of OTC Cough/Cold Medications

Despite the popularity of use for treatment of the common cold, over the counter cough and cold preparations containing antihistamine and decongestant have been shown NOT to be helpful, and in some cases, harmful to children, especially those less than 6 years of age. For this reason, these products are no longer available over the counter.

Uncomplicated upper respiratory infections have been shown to resolve equally well with symptomatic treatments such as saline nasal drops, humidified air and encouraging reasonable fluid intake.

Additionally, recent studies of the use of codeine for cough suppression indicate that there is no data to support its use as a cough suppressant in pediatric patients.

Therefore, WPP does NOT recommend the use of these medications for the treatment of common cold symptoms (in children less than 6 years of age) and there is little evidence of their effectiveness in older children.