Health Care Professionals

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This page contains information concerning COVID-19 specifically for the health care community. It includes current guidance, health alerts, and resources for protecting patients and health care workers in different settings.

New Alert for April 8, 2020:
Guidelines on Requesting and Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

See all alerts

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

If you suspect that a patient with a fever or respiratory illness 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
  • COVID-19: What to do if you are a health care worker
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Key Resources

Personal Protective Equipment

Infection Control FAQs (CDC)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Strategies For Scarce Resource Situations

If you anticipate depletion of any COVID-19 specific resource stocks within the next 7 days, please submit a resource request.

Completion of this COVID-19 resource request form assumes facility implementation and practice of Contingency Operations Personal Protective Equipment Conservation (PPE) measures. PPE conservation measures are based in part on the CDC's Checklist for Healthcare Facilities: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators during the COVID-19 Response.

Homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment, but in settings where face masks are not available, health care providers may be able to use them as a last resort. 

Find crisis and alternative strategies for PPE (CDC)

Lab Testing

Health care providers are encouraged to order a test for any adult who is showing symptoms of COVID-19. Health care providers should continue to refer their patients to the same testing locations (e.g., at the hospital where they usually refer their patients or at a local FQHC). When possible, testing should be referred to centralized centers rather than having each practice attempt to collect their own specimens to preserve PPE. Exceptions to this can be made on a case by case basis with factors including extreme stress on patients and families with the use of drive-through test centers.

Samples must be submitted to the University of Vermont Medical Center Laboratory (UVMMC) for prioritization. Because testing resources in Vermont and in the U.S. are currently limited, specimens from high-priority 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.

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 hospital for pickup.

Receiving Test Results

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

Results will be reported to the patient by their health care provider. However, in the event of a positive result, the Health Department will also be reaching 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.

Resources

Instructions for the laboratory testing process from the March 25, 2020 Health Alert
Instructions for Collection and Packaging of Specimens for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Clinical Test Request Form - Leave the insurance portion on the form blank.
Handout for patients "Waiting for test results for 2019 Novel Coronavirus?"

Contacts

UVMMC Laboratory Customer Service for providers only: (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.

Hospital Patient Care
Long-Term Care Facilities

Visitors

Visitors should be excluded from entering congregate care settings, except for medically necessary personnel and visitors to residents who are receiving end-of-life care. Hospitals should be screened before entry. Visitors' movements and interactions with people in the facility should be limited. They should frequently wash their hands. Read the Health Advisory from March 20, 2020.

Infection control

The general strategies CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities are the same strategies these facilities use every day to detect and prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses like influenza.

Guidance

Useful Posters

Caring May Mean Not Visiting
Keep Germs from Spreading

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

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

Medical Volunteers Needed

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.

Vermont has eased licensing requirements for the purposes of aiding this emergency response. Physicians, Physician Assistants, Podiatrists who are licensed in other states or who were previously licensed can visit the Health Department website and review the guide on emergency licensure. Other previously licensed medical professionals, including nurses, can learn more at 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 in the system 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 our 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 make sure that VTHAN alerts are not going to your spam, clutter, or junk folders. If you have an Outlook account and use the “Focused” inbox feature, please check to see if HAN 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.