Community Updates from March 2-22, 2020
Audra Burns, Media Relations Manager (Audra.M.Burns@hitchcock.org 603-650-5000 Pager: 6115)
Below is an archive of our COVID-19 communications. To view the most recent updates, go to our Recent Community Updates web page.
Update, March 21, 2020: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health Unmasks the Good During a Time of Need
Hospital offers community guidance on how to sew masks for health care workers and patients.
The concept of social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 has left the community, and the 490 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) volunteers, feeling unsure how they can help during this time of need. As critical supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) dwindles across the country, there has been a national movement of volunteers who have started to sew masks for hospital staff and patients.
DHMC took notice of the swell of eager volunteers, and is preparing kits with fabric and elastic for local pick-up and launched a website with directions on how to sew the masks.
"Our volunteers play a critical role to support the mission of Dartmouth-Hitchcock by providing services to enhance patient experience and now that they are unable to come to DHMC they and other community volunteers have been asking how to contribute during this time of need,” said Kristin Roth, Director of Volunteer Services at DHMC. "Sewing masks gives them, and others across New Hampshire and Vermont, the opportunity to band together as a community to serve something bigger than ourselves, which is what our volunteers do every day."
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has given guidance that fabric masks are a crisis response option only to be used when other supplies have been exhausted, N95 masks need to be conserved for front line staff. Donated fabric masks will be sanitized by DHMC environmental services and will be given to patients and visitors.
For those interested in helping with this effort, please reference instructions and drop off locations.
March 20, 2020 video update
In today's briefing, Antonia Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician, shares updates about the status of operations at Dartmouth-Hitchcock including the healthcare workforce, delays of non-urgent appointments and procedures, visitor policy, and PPE donations.
March 18, 2020 update: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health reaches out to contractors and others for personal protective equipment donations
Yesterday, the White House announced a call-to-action for anyone who can donate any expendable personal protective equipment (PPE) to address the nationwide shortages that healthcare providers are facing. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) echoes the urgent local need and requests donations of masks, face shields, isolation gowns, gloves and hand sanitizer.
Donations can be dropped off to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Service Center, Green warehouse building located at 50 N LaBombard Road North, Lebanon NH. Drop off items will be accepted 7am-3:30pm, Monday-Friday and 9:00am to 2:30pm, Saturday and Sunday.
"Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health facilities have already made strategic adjustments to best utilize our supplies but as this situation gains momentum we will need to address our depleting stock," said Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of D-HH. "No donation is too small."
For questions or if you would like to make donation arrangements for pick up/drop off at an alternative location anywhere in New Hampshire or Eastern/Central Vermont, please contact Dave Coombs, D-H Supply Chain Manager at: 603-650-4217.
March 17, 2020 update: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health further revises visitor access for patient and staff safety
As the COVID-19 situation rapidly progresses in the Upper Valley and with continued evaluation of precautionary steps to slow the spread of the virus, beginning Wednesday, March 18th, all Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health facilities will no longer allow visitors.
Visitor limitations apply to patient rooms, general waiting areas, emergency departments, clinics, and the Cafe. Exceptions will be made for the neonatal ICU, partner or spouse of patients in our Birthing Pavilion or those visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.
We understand the important role that visitors play in the healing process and this decision will be difficult for patients, their families, and friends. This decision was made to preserve the ongoing wellness of our patients and staff.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health facilities, includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, New London Hospital, Cheshire Medical Center, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H’s) Community Group Practice in Southern New Hampshire.
Video update March 17, 2020
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health CEO, Joanne M. Conroy, MD hosted a Facebook Live Event with Johanna Beliveau, BSN, MBA, RN, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire President and CEO, and Sara Simeone, MSN, RN, LSSBB, Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire Vice President of Quality & Compliance. During the event, they discussed the unique challenges of home-based care and how VNH has been preparing for COVID-19 and answered questions from the community.
Video update March 16, 2020
In today's video briefing, Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, discussed topics ranging from the reason we are delaying some elective surgeries, staffing, screenings when visitors come to D-HH facilities, testing and the continued importance of social distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Update, March 15, 6:00 pm: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health announces the delay of some elective procedures in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency
In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) will begin to delay some elective procedures starting Monday, March 16, 2020. A nationwide shortage of critical supplies is forcing IDH-H, and hospitals across the country, to strategically focus on maintaining the availability of supplies and equipment during this challenging period.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health organizations are proactively reaching out to patients whose elective procedures will be delayed. Any patient not receiving a call about their procedure should arrive as scheduled. Doctor's appointments and well visits are not impacted. All D-HH hospitals remain open and outpatient appointments, urgent, and emergency procedures continue.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health reminds everyone to practice good public health habits, including maintaining social distancing, frequent washing of hands, and staying home if sick. For additional information on COVID-19, go to the Information about COVID-19 web page.
Update, March 14, 6:00 pm: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health announces new hospital precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep patients and staff healthy, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) has implemented new visitor and patient screening protocols.
Effective immediately, anyone entering one of D-HH’s facilities, which includes Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, New London Hospital, Cheshire Medical Center, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H’s) Community Group Practice in Southern New Hampshire, will be asked screening questions about symptoms of respiratory illness and travel history.
At DHMC in Lebanon, visitors exhibiting symptoms, or who have traveled recently, will be asked to return home and contact their primary care provider (PCP) for additional assessment. Patients presenting symptoms will be given a mask and will be risk assessed for further testing. While the same screening questions will be asked at each location, the actions following screening may vary slightly from location to location.
Until further notice, patient visitors to DHMC will also be limited to one visitor per patient at a time, and all visitors must be above the age of 14. Exceptions will be made for people visiting pediatrics, neonatal ICU, obstetrics, or psychiatric care, and for those visiting patients receiving end-of-life care.
Entrances at DHMC will be limited to the Main Entrance, North Entrance, Parking Garage and East Entrances (Norris Cotton Cancer Center). The Emergency Department entrance is open 24 hours.
Video update March 13, 2020
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health CEO, Joanne M. Conroy, MD hosted a Facebook Live Event with Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician, and Carol Majewski, MHCDS, MS, RN, CPXP, Associate Chief Quality Officer, Office of Patient Experience. The event provided additional updates and answered questions about COVID-19, social distancing, and our Incident Command.
Video update March 11, 2020
In the March 11 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health COVID-19 video briefing, Edward Merrens, MD, Chief Clinical Officer, and Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician, address some of the questions received about how we keep our D-HH facilities clean and how we can all do so in our own homes, as well as the decision to change the format of this Friday's CHaD Battle of the Badges Hockey Game out of an abundance of caution.
Video update March 10, 2020
In today’s COVID-19 briefing, Edward Merrens, MD, Chief Clinical Officer, and Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician, discuss our collaboration with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) using telehealth technology for inpatient treatment of the Vermont case, the role of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the healthcare workforce, and the importance of handwashing.
Please note that this video was recorded in the late morning, before the State of New Hampshire released information about a new COVID-19 case in Rockingham County, NH. This person was identified as a contact to a case of COVID-19 in another state, per the DHHS press statement released on March 10, 2020.
Video update March 9, 2020
In an effort to address ongoing patient and public concerns about the COVID-19 situation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH) has initiated regular video briefings. Today’s briefing with Edward Merrens, MD, Chief Clinical Officer and Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Head of Infectious Diseases and International Health at DHMC, provides information about results from this past weekend and discusses CDC’s recommendations around ‘social distancing’ and steps D-HH has implemented to keep staff and the community protected. As this local and national situation continues to rapidly evolve, we remain committed to providing the latest information to our patients, employees and the public.
Update, March 8, 2020: Dartmouth-Hitchcock confirms third COVID-19 patient is not an employee
Last night the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced two new individuals tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, one in Grafton County and one in Rockingham County. This was followed by the Vermont Department of Health’s announcement of their first presumptive positive case. The case of presumptive positive COVID-19 in Grafton County is not an employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock. And as reported by the NH DHHS, this case is from close contact between individuals, known as a chain of transmissions. The case in Vermont has no known connection to D-H.
DHHS is investigating in order to identify and notify individuals who may have been in close contact with either individual.
Per HIPAA regulations we will not comment on any inquiries related to individual patients. It is Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s policy to not comment on any personnel matters and we will continue to adhere to that policy. During this current declared Public Health Incident in New Hampshire, we continue to coordinate with NH DHHS as well as the VT Department of Health.
We remind the public to continue to take personal prevention measures to protect from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, which include staying at home when sick, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing, coughing into your elbow, washing hands frequently, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and avoiding being within 6 feet (close contact) of a person who is sick.
Update, March 6, 2020, 12:05 pm
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health CEO, Joanne M. Conroy, MD hosted a Facebook Live Event with Chief Clinical Officer Edward J. Merrens, MD. This video provides additional updates and answered the public's questions about COVID-19.
Update March 5, 2020, 8:03 pm
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health CEO shares latest information about COVID-19 response and plans for Facebook Live on Friday, March 6, 2020
Joanne M. Conroy, MD, CEO & President:
The health and safety of our patients, the public and our employees is of the utmost importance to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. When confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the U.S. escalated early last week, we immediately implemented established appropriate response protocols. These protocols included activating internal, multi-disciplinary teams that work closely with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and that are trained to respond to rapidly-evolving situations such as COVID-19.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health recognizes that, unfortunately, an employee who was directed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock to self-quarantine did not comply. We understand the public’s concern. All appropriate procedures were followed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock and we are confident that no patients at Dartmouth-Hitchcock were put at risk of exposure.
We are in near constant communication with state and national officials to gather the most up-to-date information; we are issuing daily updates to all D-H employees; and we are providing regular updates to the public through our website and social media channels.
Yesterday we initiated a daily video briefing, which can be viewed on our website and social media channels, to provide updates and address concerns relative to the COVID-19 situation hosted by Edward Merrens, MD, D-HH, Chief Clinical Officer and, Antonia Altomare, DO, MPH, D-H Hospital Epidemiologist and Head of Infectious Disease and International Health. In today’svideo update they discuss what qualifies as close contact for exposure and why masks will not protect you from COVID-19.
On Friday, March 6 at 11:30 a.m. EST, I will host a Facebook Live event at www.facebook.com/DartmouthHitchcock to provide additional updates and answer questions about COVID-19. I will be joined by Dr. Merrens, and we invite the public to submit questions to us by email at email@example.com. We will respond to as many questions as possible.
As this situation continues to evolve, we remain committed to providing the latest information to our patients, employees and the public. DHMC, our clinics and member hospitals remain open and safe, and there has been no disruption to the high-quality patient care that we provide.
Video update March 5, 2020
The March 5 Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health COVID-19 video briefing addresses some of the questions we have received about the use of masks and how a "close contact" is defined.
- Chief Clinical Officer Edward J. Merrens, MD
- Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist, Infectious Disease and International Health
Video update March 4, 2020
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health video briefing on the latest COVID-19 updates. The March 4 briefing features our Chief Clinical Officer Edward J. Merrens, MD, and Antonia L. Altomare, DO, MPH, Hospital Epidemiologist, Infectious Disease and International Health.
Update March 3, 2020, 7:00 pm
The NH Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) has identified a second patient who has tested positively for COVID-19. This patient is also an employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. As with the first patient identified on Monday, March 2, we have determined that this second patient has had no contact with patients. This patient was a close contact of the first identified patient and had gone into quarantine.
Consistent with federal and state privacy laws, we will not disclose any personally identifying information about this latest patient. We are working with NH DHHS to determine close contacts and they are reaching out to those contacts to establish quarantine and monitoring.
In an effort to reduce the spread of the virus we encourage everyone to reduce your risk of any respiratory viral infection by washing your hands frequently and staying home when you are sick.
We will continue to update our community and the public as more information becomes available
Update March 2 as of 8:30 pm
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is OPEN and SAFE. We have done a thorough analysis and at this time we know of no exposure to any patients in clinical areas, and there is no on-going risk to patients. We have communicated with anyone who had a potential exposure to the employee who tested positively for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) causing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). These exposed individuals are being required to stay at home in self-quarantine for a period of up to 14 days. This was done out of an abundance of caution. If you haven’t been contacted, you did not have exposure to the employee who tested positive and you do not need to do anything differently at this time.
Update March 2 as of 3:00 pm
Out of an abundance of caution, we have now identified all staff who may have had close contact with the individual who has tested positively for COVID-19. We are in the process of communicating to those staff members that they must stay at home and be monitored in order to help prevent any additional risk of exposure. If you are among these staff you will be contacted directly and provided guidance in how to respond.
At this time we know of no exposure to any patients in clinical areas, and there is no on-going risk to patients. At present, the hospital remains open and safe.
Update March 2 as of 12 noon
The NH Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the first person in our region, from Grafton County, tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus, now known as COVID-19. D-HH leadership has established assessment and planning/operational groups to actively address this issue and our High Threat Infection (HTI) team has implemented its response plans.
Consistent with federal and state laws governing patient confidentiality, we will not provide any information on the patient other than to say that the patient is an employee of DHMC in Lebanon. The patient is currently isolated at home to limit ongoing transmission and is being monitored by the state for any worsening of symptoms. Risk to patients coming into the medical center remains low at this time.
We are working with the state, and have a clear plan on the travel pattern of this patient and to follow up with any others with whom the patient may have had contact since exposure. This remains a very fluid situation, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.
- Information about COVID-19