NMC Commentary

Meeting Challenges, Adapting to Change, Continuing to Care

These are not easy times in our community, our state, our nation, and even our world with the COVID-19 concern. It is real and is being taken seriously. Doing so challenges each of us to meet new challenges, adapt to change, and most importantly, to continue to care for one another. I appreciate how difficult the disruption associated with COVID-19 is and thank you for your efforts to move through it and help prevent the spread of illness.

Here at NMC, we have activated our formal emergency preparedness process known as ‘Incident Command’ and it is being run by Incident Commanders Chief Medical Quality Officer John Minadeo, MD; Chief Nursing Officer Deanna Orfanidis, RN; and Vice President of Physician Services, Amy Putnam. We have a specially trained team focused on planning, operations, medical services, logistics, public information, safety, infection prevention, and connection to our community. This team is working with focused sub-groups on the emerging tasks necessary to ensure NMC’s preparedness and response. Meanwhile, the full NMC team continues to care for our community. We are in flu season and we continue to be a very busy across the organization. We will continue to strategically deploy our resources and adapt our services to provide the best possible balance of COVID-19 response and other necessary care.

Going forward, we believe it is inevitable that COVID-19 arrives in our community as it increases in Vermont. Still, we are pressing for prevention. We support the difficult decisions local leaders are making to reduce avoidable opportunities for exposure, such as canceling large events, etc. The goal of ‘social distancing’ is to reduce how rapidly it spreads, so that the numbers of people needing care at any one time stay within the healthcare system’s capacity to provide care. Achieving that to any degree is so important and beneficial.

Each of us has a part in that. Google’s front page now carries a nicely condensed summary: “HANDS: Wash them often; ELBOW: Cough into it; FACE: Don’t touch it; FEET: Stay more than 3ft apart; and FEEL sick? Stay home.” If each of us do these, we will all be healthier.

Here is the current important information each of us must know and follow, from the Vermont Department of Health: “If you have questions about COVID-19: Dial 2-1-1. If you have trouble reaching 2-1-1, dial 1-866-652-4636. If you are returning from Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Iran or South Korea: Call Health Department Epidemiology at 802-863-7240. If you are sick or concerned about your health: Contact your health care provider by phone. Do not go to the hospital, except in a life-threatening situation.” Please be attentive to the updated information on VDH’s website at https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus as rooting our reactions in credible information is key.

This is an amazing community. Leaders are making good decisions and partners are working together for the common good. I am grateful for their efforts. Here at NMC, our team is going above and beyond and I am so proud of them and grateful to be part of it. As we have been saying — we are in this together, we will get through this together.

— Jill Berry Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer