Health Care Professionals

Find guidance for the health care community, including health alerts and resources for protecting patients and health care workers in different settings. Read What to do if you are a health care worker

Vermont has increased and strengthened its testing for COVID-19. We urge all health care professionals to refer patients with even mild symptoms for testing. People who are looking to end quarantine early are encouraged to contact their health care provider to arrange a test. The Health Department continues to offer pop-up testing clinics to serve people with no symptoms who are unable to get a test elsewhere. See the coordinated testing plan for Vermont

New Alerts

Updated Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)-Related Quarantine Recommendations for Congregate Care Staff and Residents (08/14/2020)
Updated COVID-19 Testing Guidance and Collection Kit Ordering Information (08/12/2020)
Pre-operative/Pre-procedure COVID-19 Testing Guidance (08/05/2020) View the guidance document.
See all alerts

Hotlines

  • COVID-19 UVMMC hotline for questions about screening patients for testing: 802-847-2700
  • 24/7 emergency or urgent patient care assistance from CDC Clinicians: 770-488-7100
Report all suspect cases to the Health Department - 802-863-7240 (24/7)

Report all suspect cases immediately to the Vermont Department of Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology by calling 802-863-7240 (24/7).

If you suspect a patient has COVID-19:

  • Give the patient a surgical mask.
  • Notify facility infection control personnel immediately.
  • Use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and use eye protection when entering the room.
  • Evaluate the patient in a private room with the door closed, ideally in an airborne infection isolation room

Guidance and Resources

Testing and Symptoms

Testing Patients

Read the coordinated testing plan for Vermont

Read the Guidance for Inpatient and Outpatient Procedures

Health care professionals are encouraged to order a test for any adult or child who is showing symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild. Send patients to centralized testing sites such as local Federally Qualified Health Centers, hospitals and associated test centers, rather than collecting samples at practices, in order to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE). Exceptions to this can be made on an individual basis. See the list of COVID-19 Specimen Collection Sites

People who are looking to end quarantine early are encouraged to contact their health care provider to arrange a test on or after day 7 of quarantine. Health care providers can test them in their office or refer them to a centralized testing site.

The Health Department continues to offer pop-up testing clinics to serve people with no symptoms who are unable to get a test elsewhere. If the person's test results are positive, they will get the results within a few days. If their test results are negative, within a few days we will try to connect with them by phone. If we don’t reach them, they'll receive a letter explaining the results, and that letter will reach them within a week.

Healthcare Providers should prioritize certain patients for anterior nares testing. Read which patients should be prioritized, where to refer patients for testing, and how to request collection kits.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever (100.4 F or higher)
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Ordering Test kits

The Vermont Department of Health Lab and the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) have partnered to provide COVID-19 test kits, free of charge, to certain health care providers in Vermont. Get more information about ordering test kits. 

SEnding Samples

Send samples to the University of Vermont Medical Center Laboratory. Specimens from certain groups will be prioritized, including health care workers who are symptomatic, patients who are hospitalized, long-term care facility residents, people who are incarcerated, and those who are immunocompromised, require dialysis or are deceased. All other non-priority samples will be tested as quickly as resources allow. 

All specimens must include a Clinical Test Request Form for COVID-19. Label all specimens with the patient's name and the collection date. If you have questions, call UVMMC Laboratory Customer Service at 800-991-2799.

Courier Service

Hospital labs that have daily courier pickup for the University of Vermont Medical Center, please include your sample in that pickup. Otherwise, send your samples to your nearest clinical laboratory for pickup.

Receiving Test Results

  • Priority Specimens: typically 24 hours
  • Non-Priority Specimens: typically 1-3 days 

Test results are reported to the hospital or clinical laboratory where the test was collected, which in turn notifies the ordering health care provider. Test results are sent using the fax, email, or phone number that was provided on the clinical test requisition form or through the Lab Web Portal

The health care provider notifies the patient of the results. However, in the event of a positive result, the Health Department will also reach out to the patient to convey public health recommendations and collect information on contacts. It’s possible that Health Department notification may occur prior to the provider’s conversation with their patient. Patients awaiting lab results should contact their provider with questions.

Receiving Results through the Lab Web Portal

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory is pleased to announce that health care providers can now receive COVID-19 test result reports through our Lab Web Portal. 

With the Lab Web Portal:

  • Reports are delivered securely and in a more timely and efficient manner.
  • Authorized users can view, print, and download patient reports in a PDF document soon after they are released by the Health Department Laboratory.
  • Positive result reports are flagged so that users can prioritize those as needed, and reports can be printed as a batch. 
  • Users can set up notifications to be emailed when reports have been uploaded to the portal.

At this time, the Lab Web Portal can only be used for COVID-19 results reporting. Test requests must still be made using our Clinical Test Request form.

If you would like more information about the Health Department Laboratory’s Lab Web Portal,  please email us at AHS.VDHVTLWPSupport@vermont.gov

interpreting Positive PCR test results

False positives are considered very rare. Therefore, the Health Department considers all FDA approved PCR COVID-19 positive results to be true positives unless there is concern about contamination from the performing laboratory. Not having any known exposures to COVID-19 or being asymptomatic should not change the interpretation of a positive PCR lab result. Asymptomatic patients typically have lower viral loads than symptomatic patients, which means they are more likely to be closer to the threshold of detection for PCR tests. Because of this, retesting of the same sample is not generally recommended. Similarly, subsequent testing with a negative result may mean there was viral clearance, but this does not change the interpretation of a previous positive result, isolation recommendations for the case, or quarantine recommendations for close contacts. Because of this, additional testing is not recommended following a positive PCR result.

Your own Health

COVID-19: What to do if you are a health care worker
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Resources

Clinical Test Request Form - Leave the insurance portion of the form blank.
COVID-19 Specimen Collection Sites
Instructions for Collection and Packaging of Specimens for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Guidance for Inpatient and Outpatient Procedures
Waiting for test results (information sheet for patients)
Information sheets for patients
Considerations for Implementation of SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Testing (Association of Public Health Laboratories)

Contacts

UVMMC Laboratory Customer Service for providers: (802) 847-5121 or (800) 991-2799
UVMMC has a COVID-19 Hotline for providers to call if they have questions regarding screening patients for COVID-19 testing: (802) 847-2700

Personal Protective Equipment

COVID-19 PPE Resource Request Form - submit if you anticipate depletion of any COVID-19 specific resource stocks within the next 7 days. Completion of this COVID-19 resource request form assumes facility implementation and practice of Contingency Operations Personal Protective Equipment Conservation measures.

Resources

COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment Guidance (Vermont Department of Health)
Infection Control FAQs (CDC)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Strategies For Scarce Resource Situations (Health Alert)
Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators (CDC)

Dental Services

Dentists can resume all procedures, including those that generate aerosol.

Read the Interim Guidance for Resuming Dental Services in Vermont (Vermont Department of Health, 5/29/2020)
 

Pharmacists

On April 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests for the duration of the national public health emergency. Pursuant to Executive Order 01-20,15-16, the Commissioner of Health and the Secretary of State authorize Vermont pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests approved by FDA for pharmacy-based sample collection or administration.

See the Health Alert about Pharmacist Ordering and Administration of Testing for COVID-19 in Vermont.

Interested in offering COVID-19 testing?

Read the Pharmacy COVID-19 Testing Checklist and the Board of Pharmacy Emergency COVID-19 Guidance

Find a script to use if providing positive COVID-19 test results here. 

Home-based Services

Service providers should work with their funder to determine how services should best be carried out in accordance with funding requirements and state/federal regulations.

Guidance

Patient Care Resources

Guidance

Clinical Management of Critically Ill Adults COCA, 4/2/2020 webinar, CDC
Clinical Questions about COVID-19: Questions and Answers (CDC)
Discontinuation of Isolation for Persons with COVID -19 Not in Healthcare Settings (CDC)
Information for Healthcare Professionals About Coronavirus (COVID-19) (CDC)

Clinical Information

Ordering Remdesivir

Remdesivir is available in limited supply in the state of Vermont. Working with the Vermont Department of Health, The University of Vermont Medical Center main pharmacy is facilitating distribution throughout the state. To obtain Remdesivir for your patient, please call the UVMMC main pharmacy at 802-847-2880 to talk with a pharmacist. Then fax a request form to 802-847-4832.

Clinical Resources

Burden of COVID-19 and Epidemiologic Risk Factors in Children (CDC)
Detection of COVID-19 in Children in Early January 2020 in Wuhan, China (New England Journal of Medicine)
Journal of the American Medical Association COVID-19 page
UpToDate COVID-19: Open Access Clinical Content

Infection Control

Infection control guidance (CDC)
Personal Protective Equipment Guidance (Vermont Department of Health)

Population-Specific Guidance

Asthma
Important Information About COVID-19 for Those with Asthma (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology)

Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Visual Communication Card for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Pregnancy, Infants, Breastfeeding
Care for Breastfeeding Women (CDC)
Guidance for infants born to mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (4/3/2020)
Guidance for pregnant and postpartum women with COVID-19 infection (4/3/2020)
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (CDC)

Substance Use
VT Helplink Alcohol and drug support center: Vermonters can access alcohol or other drug treatment and recovery support by calling VT Helplink at 802-565-LINK (toll free at 833-565-LINK) to talk directly with a specialist.

Patient Education Materials

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions (Vermont Department of Health)
Handouts and posters (CDC)
Resources for the public (Vermont Department of Health)
Translated resources for the public (Vermont Department of Health)

For Children

How to talk to your kids about coronavirus (PBS Kids)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and COVID-19 (Vermont Department of Health)
Resources for Families (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Coping with Stress

An outbreak impacts the mental health of the helpers, as much and in some ways more than the public. Just as they might suggest to their patients, health care providers should take steps to take care of themselves, reduce stress and avoid burnout.

Tips for coping with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak

  • Stay connected to others, giving and accepting support
  • Take mini-breaks
  • Keep up physical activity
  • Maintain regular sleep patterns and healthy eating
  • Limit excessive exposure to distressing media
  • Practice stress management techniques such as mindfulness and deep breathing
  • Connect to your sense of purpose
  • Seek help from a professional if you experience symptoms of significant stress or impairing anxiety

Resources

Caring for yourself and others During COVID-19 (Webinar from Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare)
Coronavirus and Mental Health: Taking Care of Ourselves During Infectious Disease Outbreaks (American Psychiatric Association)
Guide to COVID-19 Mental Health Resources for Health Care Providers (Massachusetts General)

Serologic Assays

The Public Health Role of COVID-19 Serologic (Antibody) Assays in Vermont
In April, 2020, a working group of content experts from the fields of laboratory medicine, public health, infectious diseases, and ethics from the Vermont Department of Health, Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, and the University of Vermont Medical Center met to review the current data on the use of serologic testing in individuals and populations.

See the final recommendations of the Serology Working Group

Medical Volunteers Needed

Become a medical volunteer

Medical volunteers are urgently needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19 in Vermont. If you are a health care, mental health or other clinical professional or have health care administrative experience (translators, medical data entry), or have experience working with displaced people, then Vermont's Medical Reserve Corp needs you. 

Learn how to join the Medical Reserve Corp

Get an Emergency License

Vermont has eased licensing requirements for the purposes of aiding this emergency response. Physicians, physician assistants, and podiatrists can learn more about emergency licensure at the Board of Medical Practice. Other medical professionals, including nurses and osteopathic physicians, can learn more at the Secretary of State's Office of Regulations.

About Alerts

The Vermont Health Alert Network (VTHAN) is a targeted messaging system. Messages are sent to specific groups in our system. Examples of groups are long term care facilities, nurses, and veterinarians.

Most messages are also available on the Health Department's website.

Contacts are added based on profession and mainly consist of health care providers and emergency responders. Contact information is provided to the system through state licensing boards. If you are licensed with the Office of Professional Regulation, the Board of Medical Practice, or Vermont EMS, you are likely in the VTHAN system with the contact information used to register for that license.

Please make sure that noreply@everbridge.net is on your list of safe senders and check that VTHAN alerts are not going to your spam, clutter or junk folder. If you have an Outlook account and use the “Focused” inbox feature, please check to see if VTHAN alerts are getting sorted into the “Other” inbox.

If you work for a health care or social service facility but are not a licensee it is likely that we message the facility directly, and expect that they are forwarding relevant messages to employees. Please check with your facility administrator.

If you would like to stop receiving health alerts and advisories, please send a request to vthan@vermont.gov.