Coronavirus Update
If you're following the news, you have very likely heard a lot about COVID-19, a new coronavirus. Across the country, people scramble as they try to follow the guidelines set forth by health officials, which can change by the day. Additionally, social media articles and pictures can easily distort the truth, making it even more difficult to tell fact from fiction. Here's what you need to know about COVID-19 now.

Right now, the chance that you have COVID-19 is relatively low if you have not been exposed to the virus and have not traveled to affected areas outside of the country: Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy or China. If you have recently traveled, please call the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) at 802-863-7240. VDH will be in regular contact with you for 14 days to help you monitor for symptoms. Those affected by COVID-19 may develop a fever, dry cough, fatigue and shortness of breath. Less common symptoms are sneezing and sore throat. Some people have no symptoms at all.

Healthy individuals do not need to wear masks and doing so could cause shortages of masks for those who need them, like health care providers and people who are sick. If you do have symptoms, wearing a mask can help you avoid transmitting the virus to others. You can best prevent the virus spreading the same way you prevent the cold or flu—wash your hands often and for 20 seconds duration, wipe down and disinfect often-used surfaces, cough into your elbow, cover your mouth and don’t touch your face. If you haven’t already gotten a flu shot, do so now. While there is no vaccine for COVID-19, it’s important to keep yourself free of other illnesses that would reduce your resistance should you come into contact with COVID-19.

Learn more about COVID-19 here , and check out these recent news stories about national and state response:

In Other News
Springfield Hospital and health centers to go separate ways

Springfield Hospital and its health centers are splitting up as a result of bankruptcy. 

The hospital and the health centers filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy as separate organizations last June and they’ll file separate exit plans. The two organizations will be governed by separate boards going forward.

"The belief was that if that was the direction we were moving in — to have both the organizations operate on their own — then that would be the best way to file bankruptcy petitions,” interim CEO Michael Halstead said.

Halstead said despite the governmental changes, there were no plans to close any of the health centers.

“We have projections that we are a viable organization running just as we are today,” Halstead said. “We’re not going to have any significant changes in services in the foreseeable future.”

Doctors now have automatic access to Vermonters’ health records

On March 1, thousands of Vermonters’ medical records became available to doctors, even for patients who have not given consent for their records to be shared.

The new sharing policy went into place Sunday for records on the statewide health information exchange, a database run by Vermont Information Technology Leaders.

Previously, Vermonters had to give consent for doctors to access their lab tests or medical history on the exchange, which stores the health records of all patients in the state. This week, that changed. The records are automatically open to doctors unless patients “opt out,” or decide to keep their medical histories private.

The new policy roughly doubles the number of patient records accessible to doctors, from about 45% to about 92% of Vermonters, according to Andrea De La Bruere, director of client services for VITL.
First: Pass S288 to help reduce vaping among our youth
Vermont Business Magazine

Since becoming chief of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital 25 years ago, I, along with the pediatricians and staff at our hospital have dedicated our professional lives to keeping children healthy.

Doing so means not just providing the highest quality state-of-the art evidence-based care to treat pediatric illness, but also to prevent illness from occurring by encouraging healthy behaviors.

Unfortunately, the most recent findings in the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) suggest that our efforts to prevent middle and high school students from the adverse consequences of nicotine addiction are being hampered by the pervasive use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices by youth in our state. 

This year, lawmakers in Montpelier are considering a bill (S288) that would eliminate all flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol--electronic and combustible products. 

We need to rally together in support of S288 to keep our youth healthier and combat the alarming increases we’ve seen recently in teen smoking and vaping.  

According to the 2019 YRBS, 26 percent of high schoolers are using e-cigarettes. That rate has more than doubled in the last two years. 

SVMC’s ExpressCare practice in Bennington welcomes Family Nurse Practitioner Brooke McBride
Vermont Business Magazine

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s (SVMC) ExpressCare in Bennington is pleased to welcome Family Nurse Practitioner Brooke McBride. With this appointment, McBride also joins the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Medical Group. McBride earned her master’s degree in Nursing from East Tennessee State University. She received her bachelor’s in nursing from Carson-Newman University in Tennessee. She is certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Most recently, McBride worked as a family nurse practitioner at Bennington Endocrinology. In addition, she worked for a year as a circulating registered nurse at Smoky Mountain Ambulatory Surgery Center and for 2 years as a registered nurse at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, both in Tennessee.

Mark Your Calendar!
Every other Tuesday, February 18-June 23rd, 6:00 p.m.
Trinity Episcopal Church, Swanton

Thursday, March 19
Hilton Lake Champlain, Burlington

Mon, March 23, 2020

March 24, 2020, 6:30 p.m.
Burlington High School, Burlington

Wednesday, March 25
Hilton DoubleTree, Burlington