Northampton Area Pediatrics: Article on Covid Testing Procedures

Nov. 14, 2020.  From our friends at Northampton Area Pediatrics...here's a very helpful summary of managing covid-like symptoms:

NAP Covid-19 Update Nov 13th 2020

We would like to update everyone on the most recent new developments regarding Covid-19 in our area and at NAP. We are seeing more cases of infection, but we are all very hopeful that this “wave” will not result in as many cases as the first wave. We have several reasons to feel hopeful. Unlike what we thought back in March, we now know that masks and social distancing make a huge difference and our community has been good at both. We have enough PPE to protect our staff and each other and have testing available to rapidly diagnose, isolate, contact trace and quarantine when necessary, all to prevent further spread of the disease.

We want to make sure everyone understands the testing procedures we have available and the recommendations that the state and the Department of Early and Secondary School Education (DESE) have in place.

  1. Testing of children who have symptoms of COVID: Below is a list of symptoms that may require testing for return to daycare or school. If a test is required along with a note to return to school or daycare, your child should have an evaluation with one of our providers, either by a tele-medicine visit, or in our separated (VIP) section. You can call our office and our staff will help determine which is best for your child. If a tele-medicine visit is appropriate, then a test can be performed in our parking lot.

Symptoms of COVID that require a COVID test and doctor’s note to return to school or daycare under DESE:

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms
  1. Testing of asymptomatic people who have had an exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID: The best time to get this test done is 4 to 5 days after the exposure. A positive test can help you know who you might have exposed, but remember, a negative test does not mean you will not get the disease in the coming days because the incubation period is up to 14 days. Therefore, you still must quarantine for 14 days after the exposure. This is the CDC and MA DPH guidelines.
  2. Types of test: We are currently using what is called a PCR test that is collected at NAP and processed through Cooley Dickinson Hospital. The PCR test is the most accurate and has the best predictive value. Our turnaround times are typically between 24 to 48 hours. We have just changed from the deep nasal pharyngeal swab to a nasal swab. The nasal swab is the one that our patients like better because it involves only the front portion of the nose and is not as uncomfortable for the patient. Later this year we hope to be able to run rapid COVID testing machines in our own office. We will keep you posted on when that testing is available. 
  3. As this pandemic drags into the 8th month, we recognize that each and every one of us has been significantly affected. While so far children have not been the most vulnerable to the medical consequences of this disease, we know that they are the most vulnerable to all the other social and mental health aspects of this pandemic. To help meet your child’s mental health needs we want you to know that we recently added a fourth behavioral health clinician to our team. Please know that you can call your provider and get a referral to one of our behavioral health clinicians if you feel that your child would benefit from these services.