May Updates for the CHCA family… read on for our expanding hours, COVID19 updates and some FAQ
We want to extend our gratitude to all our patients and families for your continued understanding and to our incredible staff who have allowed us to remain open 7 days a week throughout the pandemic. The tremendous efforts and sacrifices everyone has made during this stressful time will allow us all to get through it!
We wanted to share with you some very encouraging data both about Onondaga County and our practice specifically that may just be an indication of “light at the end of the tunnel” and answer some frequently asked questions, both about COVID and CHCA plan for going forward into the summer.
1) What is COVID19 prevalence in Onondaga County and how does this compare to March/April as well as other Upstate cities? The positive tests and hospitalizations for COVID19 saw a peak in mid-April and are on the down-trend at all 3 major hospitals in Onondaga County. As of May 1st, there were 947 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Onondaga county and 33 deaths. The number of positives has increased since then due to increased testing and clusters of cases in nursing homes however the day to day positives are the lowest since the shut-down started. Many are concerned about a second peak once the state opens up, and while this is possible we are optimistic that the gradual loosening of restrictions as well as continued good hygiene and social awareness will be helpful in preventing such a surge. More encouraging is that of COVID-19 serology tests that resulted in the last 7 days, 6.9% have been positive, again indicating low overall prevalence locally.
2) What is the risk of COVID19 exposure at private medical offices like CHCA? Very low. We are not using waiting rooms so when you come for your appointment, you will will text us to check in and we will call when a room is ready and you will go right into your room. Each room is sanitized- completely wiped down between patients. We have been open and testing patients throughout the pandemic and our positive rate remains less than 1%.
3) Is testing for ill patients still available? Yes, we now have rapid PCR tests.
4) Is serology (antibody) testing available? Yes, but there are several caveats and to discuss these and make sure you understand all potential risks and benefits of testing we are offering telemedicine appointments.
-If you or your child have no symptoms, you should make a telemedicine appointment to further discuss if serologic testing is right for you.
5) When should my child get their physical if they are due? We have been following the guidance of the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) throughout the pandemic, and their current recommendation is for children and teens to be seen when they are due and NOT delay. The guidelines state all well children should be seen for their check-ups so that they do not fall behind on routine preventative care. Our Liverpool office will remain WELL only for the time-being as the state opens up again and we will continue to reassess, however after considering the AAP recommendations to expand check-ups, our extremely low exposure numbers and excellent infection control measures, we will open the other wing of Kirkville to limited well visits as well starting May 15. If you would like to have a WCC in Kirkville, please call ASAP as appointments will be on a limited basis for the time being.
6) What kinds of visits are appropriate for telemedicine? This varies on a case by case basis but generally speaking, some medication follow-ups for ADHD, anxiety, depression etc, acute visits such as rashes, feeding and developmental questions and discussion of COVID antibody testing are all appropriate.
6) What about a COVID19 vaccine? We are confident there will eventually be an effective vaccine, which will provide us with a means of avoiding the disease to begin with and to limit the spread of it, especially to those who are vulnerable to life-threatening complications. Currently there are a number of vaccines being formulated and some are already making their way to adult clinical trials. This process takes a long time because not only will it be necessary to assess the effectiveness and safety of these various vaccines, but we will need to determine how “durable” or lasting the protective effect each particular vaccine is, first in adults, then in children. Once such a vaccine becomes available, we will make an announcement, however there is no such vaccine coming to market in the immediate future so the best preventative measures remain good personal hygiene and social distancing.
7) Are there any medications I should stock up on just in case? We caution you not to run out and obtain or stockpile the various medications being suggested in the media until we are sure they are truly safe and effective as they may have unpredictable or dangerous side effects. Specifically, no child should ever take aspirin or hydroxychloroquine that was not prescribed and monitored by a pediatric physician.
As new treatment or preventative options and recommendations become available, we will keep you informed.
There continues to be a lot of conflicting information from multiple sources, and we continue to use the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations for guidance.
We hope that this information has been helpful to you. Please call if we can answer any related questions. We are happy to do telemedicine for issues that can safely be treated outside the office. We are thrilled to be opening up Kirkville to well visits on a limited basis. We will continue to keep you updated as things change. Please stay healthy and safe and know that we are all here to assist you with caring for your families in these uncertain times.