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Looking to the Future

February 28, 2022

It seems surreal to write it in black and white, but it appears the cloud of COVID may finally be starting to lift, restrictions are easing, tensions are subsiding, and we at NAP have enough bandwidth to start looking to the future again. For two years, we have had to adapt to constantly changing regulations and guidelines, reinventing ourselves over and over to meet the need of the moment. We are eager to get out of that cycle and direct our thoughts to recreating the NAP that we hope will be successful for decades to come.
NAP’s founding principles remain the same: providing excellent, evidence-based clinical care with a focus on access, wrap around supports, and compassion for all of our unique patients. We will continue to strive to provide the best care in the timeframe that it is needed for each and every child and family in our community. With this goal in mind, we are announcing several updates to our care delivery model that we sincerely hope will benefit all of us.

1. We are going to be making our VIP (“sick”) visit space a permanent fixture of NAP! We have all recognized the benefit of keeping children with symptoms of contagious illness separated from those without these symptoms. Our new space will be directly wheelchair accessible and will be able to flex to have 2-6 rooms available, depending on the need of the season. The entrance will be at the front of the building to the right of the main entrance. We will continue to have patients wait in their car until their appointment is ready to begin to minimize further risks of exposure in the office. Please excuse any temporary change in our appearance as we make these updates.

2. We are going to emphasize the importance of the primary care provider (PCP) role. Many of you likely already have a PCP, the provider at NAP that you know best and who knows your child best. There is incredible value in this relationship, most importantly the development of trust and understanding of your family’s health goals and improved continuity of care for managing chronic issues. If you have not yet identified a PCP, or you do not know who this person is currently, please log into the MyChart portal to see which provider is listed. If you feel this provider is not your child’s PCP, please call our office so that we can update their chart. Moving forward, we will make every possible effort to schedule all visits for well child care, medication rechecks, or management of chronic issues with your PCP. To help us in this, we would appreciate your flexibility in choosing times, dates, and locations for appointments that allow this scheduling with your PCP.

3. We are going to adhere to new guidelines on appropriate use of portal messaging through MyChart. With the onset of the pandemic, use of portal messaging skyrocketed across the country. This has been a wonderful tool to allow access to care without needing to physically enter the office space during times of high concern for COVID transmission. Now that this phase is largely behind us, we need to think about how we can use this technology in a sustainable way. 

From now on, for any new medical issue or worsening problem you will be asked to schedule a visit with a provider, either in person or via telehealth. This will allow the appropriate time to be dedicated to this concern and will result in better care and a better outcome. 

We do hope our families will continue using the portal messages to communicate with our office about other needs. Several examples of appropriate use of the portal include 1) asking for advice on simple, non-urgent issues that otherwise would not need a provider’s input, similar to when you call our nurse triage line for advice on constipation or congestion. 2) uploading pictures and videos that can then be saved to the chart and reviewed with providers during your office or virtual visit; and 3) updating your PCP on a chronic issue, such as whether the ADHD medication change that was made is working, if the abdominal pain your child was having improved with the prescribed treatment, or letting us know whether you were able to schedule a recommended appointment with a specialist. If a portal message exchange becomes more complicated and requires multiple back and forth messages, you may be asked to schedule a visit so that adequate time can be dedicated to the concern. We hope that we can continue using the new features of the portal message technology in ways that are safe and sustainable.

4. Finally, we are going to start implementing a policy around rude or disruptive behavior.
 COVID has been an incredibly stressful time, and in times of stress, one does not always behave in the most appropriate way. Unfortunately, these actions have significant impacts on those around us and interfere with our ability to provide the proper care for your child. Profane language, threats, physical altercations, and other significant disruptions will not be tolerated. These incidents will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may result in being discharged from the practice. NAP must be a place where we have mutual respect, compassion, and understanding for all of us to give and receive care.
We are so fortunate to be a part of such a strong, vibrant community in the Pioneer Valley. We have made it through one of the hardest periods in modern history, and we at NAP could not be more excited to start a new chapter in our journey together!

With gratitude,
All of us at Northampton Area Pediatrics