Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital preps for novel coronavirus

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TOWNSHEND — Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital has had plans in place since January to address the situation if the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, becomes widespread in this area.

Initial preparation began in late January with signage about this new coronavirus at all entrances on the Grace Cottage campus. Using CDC standards, Grace Cottage also developed and implemented a protocol to screen patients based on their symptoms and travel history.

Grace Cottage's COVID-19 strategy includes staff training with prompt, regular updates dictated by the changing nature of this crisis. This training involves staff in all departments, including the outpatient clinic, rehabilitation services, emergency department, inpatient services, retail pharmacy, support staff, and administration. The internal website provides staff with detailed instructions specific to their roles including information on phone triage, health department contacts, and refreshers on how to use protective equipment if there is exposure to coronavirus.

The Grace Cottage website, gracecottage.org provides reliable information about COVID-19 provided by health officials in the state of Vermont and federal government. For more information on COVID-19, go to healthvermont.gov or cdc.gov.

"We are closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation and are focused on being prepared should the virus reach our community," said Dr. George Terwilliger, Grace Cottage's chief medical officer and director of the emergency department, in a press release. "So far, no cases have been reported in our service area. We are doing all that we can to protect and care for our patients and staff. We will continue to educate ourselves and the community in an effort to minimize the impact that any cases may have on the community."

Heather Boucher, director of infection prevention at Grace Cottage, added: "Simple measures like thorough handwashing, staying home when ill, and avoiding others who are ill can help decrease the spread of illness. Get an annual flu vaccination!"

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