Message to the Community Re COVID

A Message to the Public:

Katrina Taylor, DO, Chief Medical Officer Springfield Medical Care Systems, Inc.

Your considerateness for your neighbors and your diligence wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene and physical distancing have allowed VT and NH to have some of the lowest case numbers of Coronavirus in the nation thus far. That said we are seeing the number of cases increase and are preparing for more as the weather turns colder and more time is spent indoors.

At Springfield Medical Care Systems we are continuing with many of the safety measures we have already put in place, adding some more to accommodate the winter and looking at ways to match access to the needs of the community.

We continue to screen all people entering our clinics with a temperature check and with questions to evaluate for any symptoms that may be COVID-19 related and for any recent travel or exposure.

If you screen in as having a risk for COVID-19 (even if you do not feel you have it) you may be asked to complete your visit via telemedicine rather than in-person, be directed to our respiratory clinic(s), or in some cases you may be asked to return to your car to be evaluated there.   If you are seen in-person it will be by a provider wearing a respirator mask, eye protection, a gown and gloves (full PPE).

Although we are seeing our patients who do not have an identified risk for COVID in all of our clinics we are continuing to take a number of measures to keep everyone safe:

  • requiring a facial covering at all times for everyone over the age of 2,
  • limiting visitors accompanying patients (one in the case of someone who is a minor or someone who needs assistance),
  • limiting the number of people in our waiting rooms to allow for physical distancing (you may be asked to wait in your car if there are too many people)
  • cleaning common areas more frequently
  • our clinical team engaged in direct patient care will wear surgical masks and often eye protection
  • offering telemedicine appointments when appropriate to those who do not feel comfortable coming to the clinic

Currently our Respiratory Clinic is located on level 1 at Springfield Health Center. Patients with any risk for COVID -19 are seen in specific rooms outfitted with HEPA filters. The clinical staff will wear full PPE. In the afternoon there is a room specifically for pediatric sick visits staffed by one of our pediatricians. If you have a PCP in the SMCS system it is always best that you call and discuss your concerns with that office first to make sure you get the right care in the right place. Mountain Valley patients with risk for COVID-19 may be seen in their new Respiratory Rooms on the lower level of the clinic. We are planning to open another Respiratory Clinic in Rockingham in the next month to help increase access.

We are currently doing COVID-19 PCR testing by appointment only at Springfield Health Center M-F 10-3:30 outside in the back parking lot on level 1.   Given that we now have HEPA filters in our respiratory rooms and we have access to anterior nasal swabs for testing we are planning to move the testing into the respiratory clinics for the winter and this may allow for testing during the hours the clinics are open.   You do need an order and a scheduled time for a test. Please do not just show up expecting testing.

The COVID-19 PCR tests are analyzed at the DHMC lab. Due to different computer systems it may take 2-5 days to hear about a negative result. If you are a patient on the Dartmouth portal you may get your result sooner than you hear from us. If your test is positive the Department of Health is notified and you will be contacted.

If you have had close contact with a person who becomes COVID positive the department of health contact tracers will reach out to you and assess the need to quarantine and be tested. If you are asymptomatic it is best to test 7 days after exposure as testing too early can lead to a false negative test. If you develop symptoms you may be tested earlier but cannot end isolation if it is negative. You must re-test at the 7 days mark.

We are testing anyone with even mild possible COVID symptoms: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea.

We are testing asymptomatic people who require a test because of travel: anyone from VT who has traveled to an area that has a high incidence >400 cases/million residents and would like to end their quarantine early may be tested 7 days after their return; anyone who has come from out of state to VT and has been quarantined for 7 days and would like to end their quarantine early or anyone traveling to a state that has a requirement similar to that of VT stating they “have had a negative PCR test result in your home state on or after 7 days of quarantine”. Please note NH allows travel of its citizens to any state in New England without a quarantine requirement. Any travel outside of New England requires a 14 day quarantine (with some essential travel exceptions) that cannot be shortened with a negative COVID test.

We are not testing anyone who asks to be tested out of curiosity or concern without risk or travel. We need to continue to be conscientious in our use of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. We will refer those patients to the Department of Health Pop-up testing sites in VT and the National Guard sites in NH.

As we go into the colder months we encourage everyone who is eligible to get a flu vaccine!! Although we hope that masking, distancing and hand washing will decrease the number of influenza cases, we have already had a few cases in the area. We are being more conservative with flu and RSV testing this year as they share lab reagents (testing supplies) with COVID tests. Under the direction of the Health Departments we will only test patients who are at highest risk for severe complications from the flu. Although it may be reassuring for a patient to know an actual diagnosis in the cases of influenza and RSV the treatment is based on symptoms and timing rather than the result of the test.

We thank you for your understanding as we navigate these unchartered times together.

Wear a mask! Keep 6 feet apart! Wash your hands! Get a flu shot! And please call us if you need us!

Charlestown Health Center 603-826-5711

Ludlow Health Center 802-228-8897

Mountain Valley Medical Center 802-824-6901

Rockingham Medical Group 802-463-9000

Springfield Health Center 802-886-8900