Hospice, home care continue during pandemic

At a time when Vermont’s health care delivery system is being tested, home health, hospice and other medically necessary services provided by The University of Vermont Health Network – Home Health & Hospice continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At this time, only two agency programs are closed — adult day care sites in Colchester, Essex and South Burlington, and community and private foot clinics. The decision to close these programs was driven by leadership’s commitment to reducing the spread of the virus.

It is critically important for patients and providers alike to know that all other services continue to be provided to patients at home, in assisted living and senior living facilities, and at the McClure Miller Respite House.

“We understand the crucial role our services play for Vermonters who are healing and at the end of life,” said Judy Peterson, Home Health & Hospice president and chief operating officer. “We will continue coordinating closely with our partners across The UVM Health Network to provide the essential care our community has relied upon for more than 100 years.”

The UVM Health Network is focused on providing quality care to our patients while maintaining a safe workspace for our staff. Response protocols have been developed across the Network based upon the organization’s significant experience with similar health care scenarios.

A multidisciplinary team is continuously coordinating preparedness and tailoring plans as more information about the virus becomes available. This group includes front line health care providers, senior leadership, patient placement, supply management, industrial hygiene, staff educators, emergency preparedness practitioners, facilities management, pharmacy, communications, infection prevention and infectious disease. We continue to remain up-to-date with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vermont Department of Health and New York State Department of Health guidelines.

COVID-19 is spread through droplets in the air, so coughing and sneezing can spread to nearby people. It’s likely it can contaminate surfaces as well. The incubation period is thought to be 14 days. While coronavirus is front and center in the news, we are also still in the peak of flu season. There are several simple steps that can help prevent the spread of the flu and coronavirus, including:

  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Clean your hands frequently – use portable alcohol hand sanitizer and wash your hands before you eat.
  • Cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hands.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Avoid crowded spaces.
  • Avoid traveling to countries the CDC has highlighted as having widespread, sustained transmission.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, fever and/or shortness of breath – similar to the flu. If you have mild symptoms, you should stay home and rest. If you have more severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing or inability to eat or drink, call your doctor right away. If you have been in a place where the virus is circulating, you should also call your primary care doctor to get advice. Do not go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Department unless you’re short of breath, or otherwise need urgent medical help.

More information is available at www.uvmhealth.org/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx, or HealthVermont.gov.