Local Hospital Response To Rising Cases

ST. JOHNSBURY-The Northeast Kingdom has now reached up to one hundred Covid cases, as cases rise around the country. Although Vermont continues to be a model state during the covid-19 crisis, its hospitals must be better prepared for the possible uptick in covid cases.

According to the Vermont Health Department, the Northeast Kingdom has seen more cases raising. As of the beginning of November, Caledonia County has up to forty six cases, Orleans County had forty three, and Essex County with eleven. Northern Vermont Regional Hospitals CEO, Shawn Tester, says that the hospital is far more prepared to handle covid, then they were earlier in the year.


"I have to say we are in a much better position to support a surge in cases here than we were, eight, nine, months ago. Even then we reacted quickly to get the hospital ready," Tester explains.

The changes that have been made at the facility over the last several months involve cleaning out their ventilation systems. Creating these rooms referred to as, "negative air pressure rooms." This system allows the hospital to attract air molecules out of the rooms, refreshing it so that germs don't continue to manifest in that space.

"We have several negative pressure rooms in our emergency department, on our medical serge floor, and within our intensive care unit," Tester goes on to say.

The hospital also reconfigured some of their bed space into the ICU so the hospital can support more patience if need be, during this time. The hospital has also been spending time getting the staff extensive training. As well as getting the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment.

NVRH is also a testing site for residents in the area, the hospital tests six days a week. Anyone who feels they need to get tested may do so, by going through the drive through testing center. The hospital is fully prepared for the uptick in testing demands.

"We are currently doing between sixty and eighty tests a day, and we could add to that capacity by adding additional staff," Tester explains.

If there is a higher demand for patients as the covid cases rise, Tester explains that the hospital intends to separate Covid patients from regular patients. Putting covid patients in the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit.

"What that does is, it gives us space to safely care for those patients, but also keeping them segregated from the rest of the floor."

Tester's only concern through all this is the amount of staffing that the hospital has in order to keep the covid cases under control. To ensure that this concern does not become a problem, the hospital must depend on their partners to shift staff to the hospital if need be.

If the hospital receives a patient that is considered "high risk," and needs more medical attention, NVRH would transfer that patient to a hospital like Dartmouth Hitchcock.

Tester wants people in the community to know that this responsibility to keep everyone safe and healthy is a team effort. The hospital certainly is a recourse, but NVRH would like everyone to work on lessening travel time, washing hands, keeping a safe distance, and keeping away from large groups.

"What I want to stress is, that this is a partnership. We're here for the community, and we need the community to be here for us."