BRATTLEBORO —In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH) continues to actively adopt the most up-to-date recommendations for preventing and containing the spread of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, the capital city of China's Hubei province, and has since spread to several countries, including the US. People who have traveled recently to countries known to be affected by the spread of this virus, such as China, Italy, and Iran, are asked to monitor their health closely, as people may be asymptomatic (showing no signs of illness) for up to 14 days following exposure to the virus. If they do begin to show symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to those of other respiratory illnesses, and include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. While many people may recover from this virus without trouble, there are certain factors that increase a patient's risk of developing more serious health complications. People who are immune-compromised, in close and regular contact with the virus, and older people are all more vulnerable to this disease.
"There are some very simple and effective ways to limit the spread and severity of this virus," says Meredith Burt, RN, BMH Infection Preventionist. "The best defense against the novel coronavirus at this time is good hand hygiene; by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and by limiting the number of times you touch your face, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting sick. If you are sick, make sure to cough or sneeze into your elbow, and contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned."
Based on what is currently known about the virus, BMH has placed signage throughout the hospital to inform visitors about infection prevention and action steps to take if they suspect they may have been exposed to the virus. All hospital registration, clinical, and support staff have received training on how best to screen for and respond to a patient matching the CDC's screening criteria. Furthermore, BMH is actively collaborating with state and local agencies, including Rescue Inc., the Brattleboro Fire Department, and local employers to make sure people know what to do and to effectively coordinate prevention and containment efforts.
"BMH is monitoring all updates and new information about this virus, and is ready to respond appropriately to any developments announced by the CDC, WHO, or other infection control organizations," says Chief Medical Officer, Kathleen McGraw, MD, FHM. "Our staff are up to date on the latest screening and treatment recommendations, and we have plans in place to care for any patients who show up at our doors who test positive for the virus. We also have isolation and containment protocols to ensure the safety of the rest of our community so that this disease does not spread."
Aside from observing good hand hygiene practices, BMH recommends following other guidelines from the CDC, including:
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- If you plan to see a health care provider about your symptoms, call ahead to ask about infection prevention during your visit.
- If you are sick and must leave home, ask your healthcare provider about wearing a mask.
- If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a mask to prevent infection; disposable facemasks are designed to contain germs, not to keep them out.
If you have any health concerns, or would like more information about COVID-19, please refer to the CDC guidelines at www.cdc.gov and follow local updates by visiting www.bmhvt.org/coronavirus. If you have health concerns or believe that you have been exposed to the virus, please call your primary care provider to make an appointment to be seen, or if you do not have a primary care provider, contact the Centralized Scheduling Department at 802-251-8777.