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Bringing patients and clinicians closer together through the use of technology

By: Garrett Bomba, MD, Chief Physician Executive, Pentucket Medical

The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we interact with each other day by day. More social distancing means medical and behavioral health care clinicians are finding new ways to provide care to their patients. The use of telehealth is making that easier.

What does that mean to you?
It means that healthcare is provided over the phone or web so that patients can stay connected to their clinician. These virtual appointments can be used for initial COVID screenings and routine exams as well as help to support those with chronic diseases, such as diabetes- all while at home.

From pediatric visits to seniors who have a question about their prescription medications, the use of telemedicine, by either phone or video provides greater access to a clinician. For many, this has proven to be an invaluable resource and it is anticipated that telemedicine visits will continue once the pandemic is over.

Though telemedicine is providing greater access for patients to clinicians, there are some clinical situations where in person appointments are necessary.

If you have questions about how your plan covers telehealth and telemedicine, reach out to your insurance provider.

To learn more about a virtual appointment click the video below:

Respiratory Illness Clinic in Riverwalk

 

As of March 30, ExpressCare/ Riverwalk staff will not be providing urgent care services until further notice.

To support our patients growing healthcare needs due to COVID-19/ Coronavirus, we will be providing respiratory care and treatment at this location. To receive this care, patients will have to be seen and referred by a Partners Healthcare clinician.

Individuals who need urgent care services and are NOT experiencing any respiratory symptoms,  please visit our ExpressCare location in Andover.

Thank you

ECare now available to all our Primary Care patients

ECare now available to all our Primary Care patients.

Through the Patient Gateway, patients can directly schedule online appointments with their provider for annual physicals, follow up and same-day sick visits.
Once a patient schedules their appointment, the office verifies the appointment and will only make adjustments as needed.

With these enhanced features to the Gateway, patients will also be able to do eCheck-in and pay office visits co-pays in advance. To learn more click the link below:
https://mychart.partners.org/mychart-prd/Authentication/Login?

Note: To participate, patients will need to have an active gateway account and seen within the last three years by the preferred provider or PCP.

Prevention is the Key to Good Health

 

Preventive care is important because it establishes a relationship with your healthcare team who can help you be your healthiest.  By scheduling an annual physical exams, screenings, and being mindful of your lifestyle choices, you are more aware of how to maintain or improve upon your overall health.   

Continue reading “Prevention is the Key to Good Health”

Mindful Monday: New Year Resolutions

With the New Year upon us, we often reflect on the year and begin to plan for the coming year. We do this by making resolutions- however; most of us break them- so this year, let’s keep it simple and see how long we can stick to our goals.

Continue reading “Mindful Monday: New Year Resolutions”

Free Blood Pressure Walk-in Clinics this December

 

Hypertension when left untreated is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Knowing your numbers is the first step in managing this treatable condition.

During the month of December Pentucket Medical is offering free blood pressure walk-in clinics at the dates/ times below. If you cannot get to one of our locations during these times, you can provide your latest BP numbers by posting them on https://pmaonline.com/patient-guide/patient-gateway/or calling your clinician’s office.

 

 

The Facts about Flu Shots

 

Seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot for the 2019-2020 season as soon as it is available (which is now).

Influenza is dangerous – much more dangerous than the common cold. It can lead to hospitalization, ICU admission or even death. In the 2018-2019 flu season, 116 kids died. Of those children, 70 percent did not receive that year’s flu vaccine, and 50 percent were healthy before they got the flu. That is why getting the vaccine is so important.

Seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, if possible by October. However, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial.

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Viruses also cause colds but generally; do not make the patient as ill. Your health care provider may make the diagnosis based on symptoms and exam or can do a flu swab in the nose. Since viruses cause both types of illness, antibiotics won’t help.

How does the flu spread?

The flu spreads through droplets – sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose – and can stay on surfaces for a period of time. If someone with the flu touches a surface and you touch it a short time after them, you could get it. That’s why hand washing and covering your/your child’s mouth when you/they sneeze or cough is so important.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Many symptoms of the flu are similar to other viruses. You can have fever, chills, sore throat, cough, runny/stuffy nose, headache, stomachache and body aches. The flu is more of a respiratory virus, not so much a vomiting/diarrhea one. Symptoms can last for up to a week. You can also get complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, sinus infections, ear infections, and even blood infections.

My child was tested and has the flu. What now?

The most important thing you can do is keep them comfortable and hydrated. If they don’t want to eat, that is okay – most of us don’t want to eat when we’re sick. However, it is important to stay hydrated. Be sure to push fluids – Pedialyte is a good choice for children and even comes in popsicles. With kids two years and older, ensure they are peeing at least three times in 24 hours. In kids who are two years and younger, ensure they are peeing at least four times in 24 hours.

Why do we have to get a flu shot every season?

The flu viruses are constantly changing to get around our defenses and make us sick. The CDC works year round collecting data to figure out which strains of flu will be most prevalent year to year.

I heard the flu shot does not really work. Why should I get it?

There are many misconceptions about the flu shot. Is it 100% effective at preventing the flu? No. Scientists do their best to create a vaccine each year based on the research they have done on the previous year’s flu strains. Although effectiveness does vary from year to year, the CDC estimates the flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu by 40-60% when the vaccine is well matched to circulating viruses. A bigger point is that the flu vaccine has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death in children. A study published in Pediatrics in 2017 showed that between 2010 and 2014, the flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu-related death by 51% (half!) among children with other high-risk medical conditions. It also reduced the risk of death in healthy children by 65%.  It is also important to note that if you get the flu shot and still end up getting the flu, symptoms will last for a shorter period and will not be as severe.

Which kids have to get two doses of the flu shot and why?

If it is your child’s first flu season receiving the vaccine and they are nine years old or younger, they will receive two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart. This helps prime their immune system. The first shot shows their body what the flu viruses looks like and the second shot is a reminder to make antibodies that are even more protective.  Once they get two doses of the flu shot their first season, they only need one dose each season after that.

My baby is under six months old. How can I protect them from getting sick?

The best things you can do is have everyone else in the house (or who will be around your baby) vaccinated and practice good hand washing. If you have older kids in the house, teach them about hand washing, sneezing/coughing into their arm, and avoid kissing the baby if they are sick.

My child is healthy. Do they still need the flu shot?

Unfortunately, every year there are healthy kids and adults who die from influenza. Getting a flu shot reduces the risk of your child being hospitalized due to the flu and/or its complications. Additionally, it protects those around them – older adults who have weakened immune systems, people with cancer, and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

I get sick every time I get the flu shot. Why should I get it?

If you feel crummy after you get a shot that can be a good thing! It means your immune system is up and running, working to create antibodies to protect you in the future. When you get a shot, it triggers an inflammatory response in your body, a very similar type of response that is triggered when you get an infection. It is the same reason kids sometimes get a fever after their childhood immunizations – their immune system is getting to work.

Sometimes you may feel feverish or achy after getting a shot, but it is a small price to pay for how sick you could get the flu. The most common complaint we hear after giving a flu shot is some soreness around the area where the shot was given.

I heard the flu nasal spray is back again this year. Can we do that instead of the flu shot?

Yes – as long as your child does not have a history of asthma/wheezing/respiratory problems and is two years or older. Last year, we still recommended the injections over the nasal vaccine since it was the first year back on the market after being removed in the 2017-2018 season. Based on data from the 2018-2019 season, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends either the injection or the mist.

If you have more questions, please talk to your child’s pediatrician. Remember, it takes about two weeks for your body to build up an antibody response, so the earlier you get the  vaccine, the better.

To schedule an appointment call 888-227-3762.  

Cold and Flu Season is Here

With cold and flu season amost here one of the frequently asked questions from patients is, “when should I get vaccinated?” The answer is, you should get a flu vaccine before flu begins spreading in your community.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

To schedule your flu shot contact your primary care clinician. (Schedule below).

Should you get sick know that you can be treated at one of our ExpressCare locations. (Andover or Riverwalk/ Lawrence) visit https://pmaonline.com/express-care/ to schedule an appointment online and for site hours.

 

Reopening

Pentucket Medical has remained committed to ensuring the safety of our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since June 1, we have been treating patients on-site per the four-phase guidance issued to healthcare facilities by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services.

In the coming weeks, we will continue following stringent infection prevention processes and implementing specific precautions to ensure a safe environment for essential patient care services.

Here are some of the changes you will see on your next visit to Pentucket Medical:

When scheduling an appointment with a clinician, you will be provided a phone number to call when you arrive at the office this will allow you to remain safe in your car until it is time to see your provider essentially cutting out waiting rooms

We appreciate your support.