Hello NAP Families,
We would like to address a concern that has come up from many of you when calling to schedule your child’s annual well visit over the past few months. We realize that many children need their annual visits in order to go to camp and participate in sports over the summer. Unfortunately, our capacity for these visits to be scheduled is very low at the moment, which is causing significant frustration on the part of our parents as well as for our schedulers who are unable to accommodate all of these requests.
We feel it is important to be transparent about our challenges so that you may better understand the reasons why we are having such difficulty. Below is a list of a few of the barriers we are currently up against:
· We are down three providers and have been provider challenged for quite some time. This is due to a mixture of providers retiring, cutting back on days in the office, or transitioning to other fields.
· There are not many people coming out of residency for pediatric primary care so it is hard to hire new providers. New residency graduates are choosing to go into pediatric specialties or hospital settings where the hours of work are limited and they can get paid more. Despite this, we continue to recruit aggressively and have several new providers we hope will be starting in the fall.
· We closed our practice to new patients last fall because we know we are struggling to meet our current patients’ needs. At this time, almost all area practices are closed to new patients because they are having the same difficulties.
· We are constantly trying to balance availability for sick visits with well visits because we strongly believe in keeping little ones out of the ED or urgent care facilities whenever possible. Typically, by this time of year we are seeing fewer illnesses and able to shift to seeing more kids for well visits but this year the illness wave isn’t ending!
· We have had baby boom on top of baby boom on top of baby boom and infants require many more well visits in their first year of life than other patients.
· We have seen a drastic increase in behavioral health struggles and these patients require frequent appointments for their treatment and monitoring.
· We get up to 330 appointment calls and 200 triage calls per day. The volume is huge and our team is truly doing their very best to get to everyone as quickly as they can.
If your child needs a physical exam for camp or sports, please contact the organization and ask if a “sports physical” done by an urgent care facility would suffice, or if they might accept a letter from our office stating the child is in good health (if we are able to confidently state this). If your child does get a “sports physical”, they should still schedule an annual well visit with their primary care physician at our office at a later date so that we can make sure they get a full evaluation and examination by the doctor who knows them best.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and we hope that you may be able to better understand the challenges we are up against when you call to request an appointment. Please be kind to our staff that answer the phone, they are not the cause of the problem and are only trying to help as best they can. We are working every day to fix this issue and hope that we will be in a better place by the fall.
Have a wonderful spring weekend!
Northampton Area Pediatrics