Fred D. Archer III, M.D

By Chris Motola

Interim division chief of UBMD Pediatrics discusses how a stable routine at home can contribute to kids’ success in school, stress reduction

Q: You’re currently the interim division chief of general pediatrics. Do you see yourself eventually assuming the position fully?

A: I always say that’s up to the powers that be. I’ve only been in this position for about a month, so it’s still pretty early.

Q: What kinds of duties have you had to take on?

A: Oh, about 10,000 meetings. I always joke about that. There are always clinical duties that you have, but a lot of the administrative role is making sure we have our schedule all set, making sure we’re up to date with our protocols — and going to 10,000 meetings.

Q: Parents seem to be wanting to get their kids back into a normal routine after two years of crisis. But some are also concerned about ongoing COVID-19 risks. What’s a good approach for them to take to balance those factors?

A: The base of operations always begins at home. If you create a stable routine at home, they’re going to be a little more stable. During COVID itself, we talked about trying to maintaining schedules, which of course was difficult with everyone at home, everyone trying to jump on the WiFi at the same time, being taught virtually. But trying to keep that schedule: here’s when we do movie time, here’s when we do breakfast, here’s when we do family time. Keeping structure is helpful to kids. Not rigid structure, but having a sense of familiarity. So even if there’s drama going on out in the world, home is still a safe environment. So it always starts there. When it comes to routine COVID precautions, get involved with your school and see what the policies are. If they’re following along with what the Erie County Department of Health and the CDC are recommending, then your school’s doing the right thing. Make sure you’re involved in those decisions, not necessarily to drive those decisions but to have a better awareness of what’s going on. Talk to your kids’ pediatrician; they should be able to freely answer any of the questions you’ve got. I am going to say that if your kid is eligible and you don’t have any risk factors or concerns, get vaccinated. I do recommend the COVID vaccination and it’s now approved down to the age of 6 months. Definitely make sure your kids have their routine school vaccinations, as that can be an impediment to getting back into school, your diphtheria, your pertussis, your chicken pox. And make sure you get your kid’s physical scheduled. And if your kids need any medications to be given in school, it’s a great time to discuss this with your pediatrician. Things like, is your kid’s asthma controlled? Do you have the right medication? Are they using them appropriately?

Q: Any other issues to be
aware of?

A: We’re paying a lot of attention to the fact that everyone is stressed right now, COVID notwithstanding. Your kids are going to manifest that stress in ways an adult wouldn’t. An adult might complain, ‘Oh, I can’t believe about such and such!’ They can vocalize it. Some younger kids may not. You may notice your kid being extra moody, extra sleepy, maybe spending more time on their electronic devices as their way of coping and escaping from all the stresses that they’re dealing with. So, engage with your kids. Sit down and play with them. Engage with them away from the electronics, but also on them so they’re not just sucked into the internet with god-knows-who. When you engage with your kids, you reestablish that human contact.

Q: What kinds of issues are parents bringing up to pediatricians?

A: I would like to say it’s all the same old things like ‘my kid has a cold,’ and ‘can you refill my kid’s prescriptions.’ But I would say parents are concerned about what we would have called behavioral concerns back in the day. The child might have been labeled defiant or ADHD and, again, many of them we believe are manifesting these stress symptoms I mentioned earlier. We are trying to make sure all kids are screened for anxiety, for depression. If the kids are manifesting stress or as they like to say ‘feeling some kind of way,’ make sure mental health resources are available. One of the good things to come out of COVID is an awareness that mental health took a real beating and that we probably need to do a better job of screening, reaching out to people and getting them connected to counselors and outpatient services. A lot of the counseling groups in Western New York have increased their staffing to meet demand. Mental health is just as important as your physical health. And again, kids may not manifest symptoms in the same ways an adult would. One thing that I really try to talk to parents about is making sure kids are dealing appropriately with all of the things they’re seeing in the media. The tragic event that recently happened at Tops downtown; the kids are going to hear about it and are going to have questions about it. They might be scared to go to a store, going out, so talking to your kids at an age-appropriate level and bringing in counseling if you need to, is never a bad thing to do. We try to make sure parents have the tools they need to help their kids.

Q: What kinds of tools can you offer parents?

A: We can refer them to counselors, and we can even sit down with families ourselves. Acknowledging that you have the same emotions that kids do validates their emotions. ‘I’m scared to go to the store.’ ‘Well, I am, too.’ Back in the day, we might have said don’t worry about it, or don’t cry; but that limits children’s emotional vocabulary. A child with a limited emotional vocabulary can’t really express themselves and that’s when you see things manifest as anger outbursts or even physical outbursts because they don’t have that many options for expressing themselves.


Name: Fred D. Archer III, M.D

Interim division chief of general pediatrics at UBMD Pediatrics;
medical director, Niagara Street Pediatrics; clinical assistant professor, department
of pediatrics, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, UB

Hometown: Amherst

Education: Howard University
College of Medicine

Affiliations: John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital; Kaleida Health

Organizations: American Academy of Pediatrics; National Medical Association

Family: Wife (Melissa), three children (Samantha, Alexis, Fred IV)

Family: Wife (Melissa), three children (Samantha, Alexis, Fred IV)

Hobbies: Comic books, sci-fi, Legos, swimming, martial arts