The Emergency Preparedness team at Northwestern Medical Center has been actively working on getting ready for possible COVID-19 exposure here in our local area.
Under the leadership of Chief Medical Quality Officer Dr. John Minadeo and Chief Nursing Officer Deanna Orfanidis, NMC has been preparing appropriate steps toward our goal of protecting patients and staff, allowing us to continue to care for our community.
A set of those protective steps will go into effect at 6 am tomorrow, Thursday, March 12. They include:
- Temporarily routing all patient and visitor access through two entrances, the Medical Office Building and the Emergency Department. Reducing points of entry allows us to better screen individuals who arrive at our facility. Please note, this means the “main Hospital Entrance” will be closed as of tomorrow morning, Thurdsay, March 12.
- Temporarily reducing visitation: Hospital visitors will be limited to one visitor per day per patient (plus one additional for Family Birth Center patients). No visitors under age 16 or younger will be allowed. All visitors will now be screened verbally by NMC staff for COVID-19 and this screening and reduced foot traffic will allow us to keep the environment as safe as possible for patients, staff and the community at large. When you arrive at one of these two entrances, you will answer a brief set of questions before entering, and we will give you a temporary “badge” for the day. Please be patient with us as this process is likely to cause delays in registration and access. We also ask that if you are sick, you avoid visiting patients at the hospital to ensure a safe and healthy environment for healing.
- Temporarily suspending our volunteer and valet programs: The majority of our Valets and Volunteers are in the population of people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and it is important that we protect their health and safety during this outbreak. Keep in mind that this means our Gift Shop will be closed for the time being.
- Temporarily suspending community use of the NMC Courtyard Café’: Limiting Café use to patients, staff and the visitors of our patients further reduces the number of people with access to our facilities. We recognize that this is an inconvenience for community members who often eat in our Café and we are grateful for your cooperation with this temporary change.
- Temporarily suspending community use of the NMC Conference Center: Closing the Conference Center further reduces the number of people with access to our facilities. We will be reaching out to all individuals and groups who have meetings booked in our Conference Center and can recommend alternative locations.
This is a brief summary of these changes, and given the dynamic nature of this evolving outbreak, our approaches may also change and evolve over time.
We recognize that these changes will cause inconveniences. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 situation at this time, these are necessary steps to reduce opportunities for possible transmission. We must protect our patients from illness – and we must protect our staff so we can continue to provide exceptional care to our patients.
There are some steps you can take on an individual level that will help prevent the spread of illness:
- proper handwashing and use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- avoiding touching your face with your hands;
- avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
- staying home if you are sick;
- covering your coughs and sneezes;
- and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Please visit the Vermont Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention websites for credible, accurate, up-to-date information on the outbreak. NMC related communication and updates will be posted to our website as information becomes available.