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Mask Mythbusters: Five Common Misconceptions about Kids & Cloth Face Coverings

Submitted by Dr. John Maddox, Pediatrician, Pentucket Medical/ Haverhill

1.        Can wearing a mask make it harder for my child to breathe?

Recommended cloth face coverings do not block the exchange of oxygen or carbon dioxide.  The vast majority of children age 2 or older can safely wear a cloth face covering for extended periods of time; this includes children with many medical conditions.  Begin now having your child wear masks at home.  Start with short periods, when they are doing their favorite activities, and gradually increase the length of time, so they get used to it.  All schools will offer mask breaks.

2.       Can masks themselves spread germs?

Masks get damp over time, from the same respiratory droplets that spread COVID, flu and other germs, so face coverings should washed regularly.  It is important to have cloth face coverings that fit a child’s face well, so that they are not tampering with the mask.  You should perform hand hygiene before and after touching your face covering.

3.       Can a child with special health care needs, like the autism spectrum, wear a mask?

Some children will need extra attention to the way a mask feels and fits and smells.  Some kids will benefit from strategies like Social Story (see below), which help explain new situations with both descriptions and directives.  Schools are prepared for some students with special needs to be unable to wear masks full-time right away.  Occupational therapists and applied behavior therapists will work with students to teach them new and important skills.

4.      Should a kid wear a mask during sports?

Cloth face coverings help young athletes protect their teammates and themselves.  They also help protect the sports season.  Whenever safe and possible, athletes should wear a cloth face covering.  This includes on the sideline bench, in team chats and going to and from the field.  Exceptions include when they are actively exercising.

5.       Do masks really prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Cloth face coverings are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID, flu and other germs.  Very early on in the pandemic, there was concern about having enough masks for health care workers, so widespread mask use was discouraged.  However, it is very clear now that states, communities, and schools that have contained COVID— despite imperfect social distancing, ventilation and hand hygiene— have used cloth face coverings to prevent spread, even in asymptomatic people.

 

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/Cloth-Face-Coverings-for-Children-During-COVID-19.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/spanish/health-issues/conditions/covid-19/paginas/cloth-face-coverings-for-children-during-covid-19.aspx

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R1lSbfZ8TRchbHCiK_4svK7WLH62lS

https://vkc.mc.vanderbilt.edu/assets/files/tipsheets/socialstoriestips.pdf

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/19/well/childrens-face-masks-comfort.html

Telemedicine. Just a Substitute or the Real Deal?

 

I am going to start by saying this is part of the evolution of medical care.  We have gradually moved toward patient-centered medical treatment. I listen to old radio shows of Dr. Kildare from the 1950s (and yes, there was a TV show by the same name in the 1960s).  He and his mentor, Dr. Gillespie, had a very paternalistic approach toward patient care. Doctors “knew best” and it had been that way for a long time. There is no doubt, however, that they had the patient’s best interest in mind.

Fast forward to the 21st century and especially the past decade. We started what we called “Patient-Centered Medical Home” with the patient, not the provider at the center of care. We included “shared decision making” to make sure patients were educated about their illness and treatment options and were active participants in the decision-making process.

There has also been a push toward making medical care more convenient for patients. Years ago, this began with more convenient outpatient testing rather than hospital admission for diagnostic, the Minute clinics. Patient portals have allowed patients to review medical notes, check on lab and test results, communicate with physician offices, and even schedule appointments.

Mass General Brighman (formerly Partners Healthcare) had been dabbling in telemedicine (telephone and video visits) for several at Express Care (our urgent care center). It was a fun experience for both the patient and me.   Then came the sentinel event that shook up telemedicine and moved it by leaps and bounds—the Covid-19 pandemic.  At Pentucket Medical, we jumped from a few telemedicine visits to 90% of our usual visit volume. We tried different video platforms and now have Zoom integrated into our electronic medical record.  It is anticipated that 20-30% of medical visits will be by telemedicine even after the pandemic has passed.

Just like moving to patient-centered medicine, patient education shared decision making, and increased convenience for patient visits, telemedicine has the power to put patient needs at the forefront. Many patient concerns can be handled by a good telemedicine visit. Great for elderly frail patients and maybe Great for elderly frail patients and may be  very well suited for behavioral health.

Millennials, being so tech-savvy, will also be happy about the telemedicine options. There is even a term now for bedside manner called “Webside” manner. It is a learning curve for all of us. I view this is as progress that once again puts patients at the center. It seemed to happen in an instant and is here to stay.

Kenneth Adams, MD, FACC
Senior Cardiologist and Medical Director at Pentucket Medical

Lawrence Community Covid-19 Testing Center

We are pleased to announce a nine-bay drive-thru Covid-19 testing site located on Canal St in Lawrence.   

This testing site is a collaboration between Lawrence General Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and Pentucket Medical/ MassGeneral-Brigham Health in response to the growing need for testing in the community. 

The initial phase of testing will include LGH patients who are scheduled for upcoming procedures, area healthcare workers, symptomatic residents, and non-area residents who meet the following criteria:

Individuals referred through official contact tracing
Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
Homeless individuals
Health care facility workers with symptoms
First responders with symptoms

Please note that a prescription is needed from your primary care physician in order to be screened. Once that is received an appointment will be scheduled.

CDC Symptom Checker:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Hours of operation:
Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm
Saturdays from 10 am – 2pm
Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm

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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

We Screen, We Clean and We Protect.

To everyone who needs us now, come get the care you deserve. Our Safe Care Commitment is in effect at all of our locations providing  you with the safest possible environment for our patients and staff.

We screen to protect you, your families, and our staff

Patients visiting our offices for healthcare appointments are screened for symptoms upon arrival. If symptomatic, patients are cared for via virtual visits.

We also provide urgent care services at our Expresscare Riverwalk location which has a separate area where we use preventative measures.

We adhere to best practice safety protocols in those settings.

We follow special infection prevention guidelines for care provided to protect our patients and our staff.

We also provide telehealth services via video so you can access care and get the treatment you need from the comfort of your home or office.

Our goal is to keep everyone safe.