In consideration of local updates with respect to COVID-19, also known as the Novel Coronavirus 2019, VNH is committed to serving our patients in Vermont and New Hampshire and keeping you informed. Your safety is our priority, and we are continuing to ensure that patients can continue to receive safe and exceptional home health care. VNH is continuously monitoring the activity in Vermont and New Hampshire and responding accordingly to best meet the needs of patients and the community.
As members of your local community, we are deeply rooted in Vermont and New Hampshire and strive to act in the best interests of patient, employee, and community safety by complying with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, following federal and state guidelines, and taking precautions as necessary.
We have assembled the following resources to help you stay informed and protect yourself during this developing situation:
Frequently Asked Questions
VNH is prepared to care for patients with COVID-19, as well as patients who are suspected of having the virus. We are actively screening patients prior to every visit, keeping patient and staff safety our first priority.
The CDC does not recommend that people who are healthy wear a mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a health care professional recommends it.
A mask should be worn by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of masks also is crucial for health care workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Local departments of public health and the CDC are responsible for publicly reporting COVID-19 cases.
D-HH is committed to the privacy of its patients and complies with all applicable laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
D-HH does not share patient-specific information with the media without prior authorization. D-HH collaborates with public health authorities, including the CDC and local public health authorities, as appropriate. These authorities are best positioned to provide public health information.
Background and Transmission
Background information as of March 2, 2020
The NH Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first person in our region, from Grafton County, tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) leadership has established assessment and planning/operational groups to actively address this issue and our High Threat Infection (HTI) team has implemented its response plans.
Consistent with federal and state laws governing patient confidentiality, we will not provide any information on the patient other than to say that the patient is an employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon. The patient is currently isolated at home to limit ongoing transmission and is being monitored by the state for any worsening of symptoms. Risk to patients coming into the medical center remains low at this time.
We are working with the state, and have a clear plan on the travel pattern of this patient and to follow up with any others with whom the patient may have had contact since exposure. This remains a very fluid situation, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.
We know that people in our region are concerned about COVID-19 virus (caused by the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) are closely monitoring this outbreak of respiratory illness.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 (caused by the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV) is the virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, which is spreading worldwide.
At this time, it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. The latest situation summary updates are available on the CDC’s web page Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
How is it transmitted?
Current understanding about the transmission, severity of illness, and other features of the virus is based on continued investigation by the CDC. The virus is mainly thought to spread from person-to-person.
What are the symptoms?
CDC believes that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- CDC situation summary and information you should know
- Surgeon general: Stop buying masks March 1, 2020 The Hill
- How Does the Coronavirus Compare With the Flu February 29, 2020 The New York Times
- Ten pressing questions about coronavirus, answered by experts February 28, 2020 The Boston Globe
Prevention and Treatment
How can I protect myself and my family?
General precautions you should take to reduce your risk of any respiratory viral infection apply in this situation such as:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Travel advisories help inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues in specific international destinations, and updates can be found on the CDC website. The CDC advised against all non-essential travel to Level 3 areas, especially for older and at-risk individuals.
Should I get tested for COVID-19?
If you’ve traveled internationally to any of the Level 3, 2, and 1 areas OR have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, please follow these guidelines:
If you do not have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath
We request that you postpone any elective procedures or routine medical appointments for 14 days after return from travel.
If you have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath
If you are experiencing cough, fever or shortness of breath and have concern that this might be COVID-19, please call your primary care provider for a risk assessment. If your provider establishes the need for COVID-19 testing, they will coordinate directly with your state department of health. If you do not have a primary care provider, please call the state at: NH: 603-271-4496, VT: 802-863-7240.
If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms similar to COVID-19, call your local hospital or health care provider to seek guidance. Do not visit your local hospital or health care provider without calling first.
Is there treatment for COVID-19?
The National Institutes of Health announced a clinical trial at the University of Nebraska Medical Center that will evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 in adult patients.
There is no approved antiviral treatment available, although one is currently entering a Phase 1 safety trial.
How is a patient treated for COVID-19?
The basic approach to prevent disease transmission is to:
- Identify patients who show symptoms.
- Isolate those patients from others for assessment.
- Inform appropriate staff and authorities for further response.
If people appear with symptoms, they will be asked to wear a mask and answer a series of questions about their health and travel. Based on their answers and vital signs, they may be isolated from other patients while COVID-19 test results can be verified.
Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated and treated.
How You Can Help
Personal protective equipment donations
The White House announced a call-to-action for anyone who can donate any expendable personal protective equipment (PPE) to address the nationwide shortages that health care providers are facing. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) echoes the urgent local need and requests donations of masks, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
Donations can be dropped off to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Service Center, Green warehouse building located at 50 N LaBombard Road North, Lebanon NH. Drop-off items will be accepted 7:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 2:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday.
“Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health facilities have already made strategic adjustments to best utilize our supplies, but as this situation gains momentum we will need to address our depleting stock,” said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO, and President of D-HH. “No donation is too small.”
For questions or if you would like to make donation arrangements for pick up/drop off at an alternative location anywhere in New Hampshire or Eastern/Central Vermont, please contact Dave Coombs, D-H Supply Chain Manager at: 603-650-4217.
Sewing Masks for Donations
One way to supplement our ever-changing inventory of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is to join the national movement of volunteers who have started to sew masks. This generous outpouring is in response to the Center for Disease Control’s guidance that fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted.
Below is our general guidance for those who wish to participate and help by sewing masks for donation.
Thank you for donating your time and talent to help Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. We appreciate your generosity.
Important infection prevention
Before starting this project, please ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you been in contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Do you have fever, cough or shortness of breath?
If you are able to answer “NO” to both questions, then proceed with making masks.
If you answer “YES” to either or both questions, please do not make masks. If you are experiencing cough, fever, or shortness of breath and have a concern that you may have COVID-19 please call your primary care provider for a risk assessment.
Instructions for making masks
- 100% unused cotton fabric (front) – no metallic fabrics
- 100% cotton or cotton flannel (back)
- 1/4″ or 3/8” flat elastic
If you would like a kit of fabric to get you started, please call ahead for availability to our Lebanon donation center hotline at 603-650-4217. This number is open Monday -Friday 7:00 am to 3:30 pm.
Dropping off masks
Masks can be dropped off in re-sealable plastic bag to one of our donation centered located at:
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Service Center
50 LaBombard Road North