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Patient Updates and Reminders

February 9, 2023

Dear NAP Families,

It has been a while since we checked in and we thought this might be a good time for a few important reminders. First, some good news: the crush of illnesses we experienced at the start of the fall has come back down to more typical levels! We’re still seeing COVID, flu, RSV, strep, and all the other fun infections in kids that go around each year, but not in every kid at the same time! Thank you for your patience as we navigated that difficult period. Our call volumes and wait times for appointments have improved significantly over the past month and we are now typically able to offer same day or next day appointments for urgent issues. We have also increased the number of these appointments each day to make sure we are meeting the needs of our patients. Please call us if you feel your child needs to be seen urgently in the office.

On to the reminders:

  1. Don’t forget about the portal! Now that the vast majority of our families are signed up for the MyChart portal, we are using this tool as our main form of communication with you. This includes sending messages to follow up on issues addressed in a recent visit, sending lab results and our thoughts on what they mean, and responding to messages that you send to us. We get an alert when messages are left unread and this seems to be happening more often recently. Please remember to log in and check for any important information from our office whenever you get the email alert that a message has been received, or sign up for email alerts if you have not done so yet.
  2. The portal is not for urgent issues or to replace appointments! Please remember that if you have an issue that needs to be addressed urgently (< 48 hours) you need to call our office as messages sent through the portal are not consistently able to be responded to right away. Also, if you send a message about a new or worsening problem you will likely be asked to schedule an appointment with your PCP so you can receive the attention you need for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
  3. It’s not too late for your Covid and flu shots! Our office currently has nurse visit appointments available for these vaccines. We know that COVID continues to circulate and is likely not going away any time soon, and the flu usually comes in two waves with the second in the mid to late spring. Please strongly consider protecting your children from these viruses if you haven’t done so already. Note: we are no longer planning to offer the primary COVID vaccine series for ages 12+ as there does not appear to be a significant demand for it anymore and we do not want to waste doses that expire.
  4. Please wear a mask into our office! While most public spaces and businesses are mask-optional, healthcare offices are still mandated to have all people who enter wearing a well fitting mask. We appreciate you remembering to bring yours when you come in for an appointment.
  5. Lead testing is important for young children! It is strongly recommended that all children at ages 1, 2, and 3 be screened for the presence of lead or anemia (low iron) with a quick blood test. Either of these conditions can cause long-term impacts on cognitive functioning and, if caught early, can be addressed. Even if you live in a newer home where there is no lead paint, there are many older homes and buildings in our towns and your child may still be exposed. Please do not put off this testing – it is easiest to get it done when you are in the office for your child’s check up appointment, and our staff in the lab do a great job with kiddos!
  6. Please call us if you cannot make your appointment! We continue to struggle with no-show appointments, meaning a patient or parent schedules an appointment but then does not come for the appointment and does not contact the office to let us know ahead of time. We are in the process of developing a policy around no-shows and will be tracking this more closely. We may ask that families who have multiple no-shows have a conversation with our office about what the barriers to accessing care at NAP might be. Remember that you can cancel appointments by calling us, by using the MyChart portal, or by replying to the text reminder you receive on your phone. Even giving us a couple hours of notice that you will not be coming could allow us to use that slot for another patient who needs to be seen.

Stay well in these last months of winter!

Northampton Area Pediatrics