September 17, 2021
Hello NAP Families,
As the 2021-2022 school year has begun, we have faced an absolute crush over the past month in requests for appointments, refills, forms, clinical advice and COVID testing. While we are glad that kids are getting back to school and sports, the visits and refills that were deferred over the first 18 months of the pandemic are now creating a huge surge in demand. In addition, many of you understandably have questions and concerns about COVID—masks, testing, exposures & quarantine, vaccines, etc. — and non-COVID related issues. Our call volume has skyrocketed to 3-4 times more calls each day than average.
NAP is proud of its response to the pandemic. We have stayed open every day, continued weekend and evening hours, offered telehealth visits, provided in-office PCR COVID testing, and tried with our Integrated Behavioral Health program to meet the enormous mental health burden that children and families are facing during the pandemic. We have done our best to sustain operations despite staff shortages, provider absences, and supply chain issues. Many thanks to our amazing staff for continuing to work tirelessly to respond to each and every one of your needs in a timely fashion. While we think of them as heroes, they are not superhuman, and they want all of you to know that they are working their hardest. We so much appreciate when you can be patient and civil on the phone, and apologize for any increased call or portal message wait times recently.
To help our nurses and front desk do the best job they can, we are asking for your help and understanding in a few areas:
- Calls: Please only call once per 24 hours if you need a medication refill, have a question, or are looking for a completed form. Repeat calls, portal messages, and emails create more confusion for our staff and cause delays in getting their tasks completed.
- Refills: Please remember that we require at least 48 hours advance notice for any refills to be completed, though we make every effort to fulfill them same day. The fastest way for refills to be processed is through the MyChart portal where you can select the exact medication(s) from the list and add a comment if needed. You may also call our Refill line, but please be sure to leave complete information about the patient, and specifically identify all medications that need refills.
- Forms: Forms should be submitted at least 3 business days ahead but due to recent volume may take up to 7 days. Forms should be filled out by the parent or patient to the best of their ability before giving them to our staff. If you have a more urgent need we will try our best to get it done but are unable to guarantee this. We are working hard to shorten our turn-around as the back-to-school surge lessens.
- Appointments: Please be flexible whenever possible when scheduling appointments. For example, we may have an opening at our Amherst office instead of Northampton, or at a time that is not your first choice. We understand making these accommodations can be difficult but it is very much appreciated as our goal is to get your child the care they need as soon as we can.
- Please call early in the day for a same day appointment when needed. We are finding our appointments are being booked very early in the day and then we are running out of appointments before the end of the day. If we do not have a same day appointment, or parking lot COVID swab, available we will do our best to have this scheduled for the very next day. We apologize for any delays or inconvenience; we are truly doing the best we can to meet all of these needs.
• School attendance: If you have questions about a child’s ability to attend school or daycare, we ask that you contact your school nurse or daycare provider, or local DPH contact tracer. Each situation or facility may have different criteria for attendance, accepted testing, and timing.
• For questions about COVID symptoms, managing infection, testing or quarantine, please feel free to reach out to us.
• Testing: We continue to offer rapid, molecular-based testing (equivalent to a PCR test) at our office for any child with COVID symptoms, or pre-procedure testing requirements. Unfortunately, the volume of requests for COVID tests has increased substantially and supply chain bottlenecks have reduced supplies for testing to a such a low level that we can no longer meet the demand for all requests.
o At this time, therefore, we must prioritize the testing done at our office to patients who are sick and are either seen in our office or are seen via a virtual visit.
o For now, we will no longer be able to test patients who do not have symptoms but need a test because of exposure to a person with COVID. As resources improve (and hopefully the need for testing goes down!) our goal is to able to meet all of our patients’ testing needs.
o There are several resources in the community for those who need a molecular COVID test for exposure. A list of testing sites and the websites where you can book an appointment can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/gettested
Perhaps more than ever during the pandemic, we realize every day what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to care for and share in the lives of your children.
With our gratitude,
David Steele and the entire NAP team
P.S. We encourage you to visit our new website www.napeds.com !