Covid-19 Information

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At Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital, we’re working hard and diligently to stop the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide high-quality medical care and to protect the safety of our community, including patients, their families, and our employees.

Visit this page each week, on Tuesday, to read the latest update from Grace Cottage CEO Doug DiVello. This page also provides links to other useful information.

Please let us know if there is additional information we can provide here that would help you. You can email us at info@gracecottage.org or call 802-365-9109.

COVID-19 has put a financial strain on Grace Cottage. Please support Grace Cottage’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

Latest CEO Covid-19 Update

    CEO Coronavirus Update – May 19, 2020

    It’s been just over two months since coronavirus completely captured the attention and the actions of our nation. After more than eight weeks, it’s understandable that many people are getting complacent if they live in an area with a low incidence of the virus, as we are experiencing in Vermont. However, part of the reason we have the lowest growth rate of coronavirus of any state in the nation is that we have been so vigilant and cautious. Yes, we have space in Vermont to physically distance, but that’s not the only reason we have a relatively low number of cases, so far, in this battle. The following four actions need to remain a routine part of our lives in order for us to continue to be successful:

    • Wear A Mask
    • Don’t Touch Your Face
    • Wash Your Hands
    • Stay At Least 6’ Away from Everyone Outside Your Household

    I have been in the habit of putting my mask on as I am getting out of my car to enter Grace Cottage or the market, and wondered why I’ve seen many people wearing masks as they drive alone in their cars. I thought it might be because they didn’t want to go to the trouble of putting them on and taking them off as they go from store to gas station, etc. Then it hit me – when you’re wearing a mask, it’s harder to touch your face! Yes, it’s harder to breathe when you have a mask on, and I don’t particularly like wearing one, but we have to remind ourselves that it would be even more difficult to breathe on a ventilator. A mask protects those we come into contact with if we have the virus, and that helps everyone by keeping the case numbers low.

    You may have heard this, but it bears repeating: “The curve is flattening, so we can start lifting restrictions now” is similar to saying “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent, so we can take it off now.” Keep your mask on and stay safe!

    To date, Windham County has had 77 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with three deaths. At Grace Cottage, we’ve conducted 277 coronavirus tests, with 11 positive tests (the most recent positive result was on April 20th.) Patients are starting to come back, carefully and cautiously, for appointments with primary care providers, occupational and physical therapy visits, and for lab and diagnostic imaging tests. Messenger Valley Pharmacy will open again for walk-in customers on June 1, with a limit of four customers allowed in the store at any one time (curbside service continues to be available until then).

    There has been much publicity about progress being made on the development of a Coronavirus vaccine. Moderna, a renowned Massachusetts-based biotech company, has had tremendous success with early trials, which they say could yield a vaccine for the public as early as January. Moderna is one of eight developers worldwide doing human clinical trials with a vaccine targeting COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. This is extremely promising news, a testament to human ingenuity and intellect, and a demonstration of what can be achieved with razor-sharp focus and determination.

    But as we anxiously wait for the wide availability of a vaccine for the virus, we want you to know that we continue to be concerned about your health and the possible effects of further delays in your medical care for conditions that, if left undiagnosed and/or untreated, may become urgent. Please make an appointment with your primary care provider if there is something you are concerned about and, if you don’t feel comfortable coming in, we can arrange a phone or video visit. We are here for you.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who rapidly and readily stepped in to help ensure that Grace Cottage survived these last two months. We were at a very critical juncture in the hospital’s history, with a 50-60% reduction in patient visits and inpatient stays because people were staying home, as instructed, and elective procedures were cancelled. This translated to a loss of approximately $700,000 per month due to decreased revenues. We reached out to many of our supporters, and donations came pouring in for our COVID-19 Fund, with numerous gifts also coming from those we hadn’t even asked yet. You all built a bridge, helping to get this small, independent community hospital through a very vulnerable time. Fortunately, thanks to these donations and funding which we have now received from the CARES Act, and more appointments now being booked and more patients receiving our competent and compassionate care in the hospital, we’re on stronger financial footing, for now. The financial model for small, rural, independent hospitals remains broken, and we continue to rely on your generosity to make up the difference between the cost of providing care and the reimbursement for care until this situation is remedied by the Federal government, as we hope it will be, in view of the fact that 19 hospitals permanently closed across the country last year, and 12 so far this year.

    On another note, I want to thank our community for stepping forward to support us in other ways, too. Many of you participate in our annual events and, thanks to you, we had our most successful Spring into Health 5K to date. 144 people ran, walked, or strolled virtually (plus one horse and many dogs!) and sent us their photographs, which are posted in an album on Facebook here (You don’t need to have a Facebook account to view this album). It looks as if everyone had a wonderful time being active, and took such engaging and fun photos of themselves!

    We have three more events coming up this summer, and I have updates on all of them (be sure to check back on our website, though, because, as we all know, the only thing that’s constant these days is change):

    Our Tee It Up for Health Golf benefit, originally scheduled for June, will be held on Saturday, October 3 at the Brattleboro Country Club. We have many generous sponsors already, and we look forward to the 111th year of this great tournament, organized with the help of Elizabeth Walker.

    Our 15th annual Tour de Grace will go forward as planned on Saturday, June 27, but the route will be different this year, to allow for physical distancing. The bicycle ride will begin and end at Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital’s Wolff Outpatient Building. The ride will be a 15-mile loop up Route 30, across the Scott Covered Bridge, back over the Townshend Dam, and then along Route 30 and/or wooded trails to River Road in Jamaica, then back to Grace Cottage. Registration is open at www.gracecottage.org/events. The first 100 riders to sign up will receive Tour de Grace t-shirts.

    With the cancellation of so many large gatherings this summer, it will probably not come as a surprise that we must change Hospital Fair Day 2020 to a virtual event. There is so much uncertainty about the virus in the future, and out of an abundance of caution we must do all that we can to keep our volunteers, our employees, and our fairgoers safe. Fair Day and physical distancing do not go together, either in the process of collecting and sorting items that takes place months in advance, nor at the actual event. So we will be taking the Auction, t-shirts, and other booths online, and asking you to help us raise the $50,000 that the hospital relies on from our annual Fair Day for needed improvements and updated equipment (during the past two years, Fair Day funds have paid for a new generator for Grace Cottage Family Health and an air-handling system for Grace Cottage Hospital). Visit our website at www.gracecottage.org/events to keep up-to-date on Hospital Fair Day plans. And we’ll look forward to seeing you on the Townshend Common in August, 2021!

    Due to the Memorial Day Holiday, I will not be sending an update next week, but will resume on June 2nd.

    Best wishes for a safe holiday weekend,

    Doug DiVello
    President & CEO

Other Grace Cottage Covid-19 News

    CEO Coronavirus Update – May 12, 2020

    These messages, which I’ve been sending out weekly since March 24th, have generated such a tremendous outpouring of support, including countless e-mails from many of you with positive messages, as well as donations in the form of financial contributions and personal protective equipment. Grace Cottage has been here for almost 71 years and we feel genuinely and completely embraced and cherished by our community — a community which, as we have learned, extends across many states and several countries. We thank all of you who have reached out to Grace Cottage in one way or another, from the bottom of our hearts.

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – May 5, 2020

    Since the Governor’s March 24th ‘Stay Home Stay Safe Order’, many of you cancelled medical appointments for wellness visits or the continuing treatment of chronic conditions. Now that the Governor has approved the resumption of outpatient medical services, we are ready, willing, and safely able to schedule your visit, the sooner the better.

    The Medical Director of our Rural Health Clinic, Dr. Timothy Shafer, shared with me his extreme confidence in inviting patients to the clinic to see him. As Dr. Shafer says, we have set up many procedures to keep patients safe throughout our facility, including our medical offices, outpatient rehab, X-ray, and lab. In fact, coming here for an outpatient visit or test is safer than going to a grocery store or a gas station.

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – April 28, 2020

    As the COVID-19 curve continues to flatten in Vermont, with a total of 855 cases in the state and just 11 patients with COVID-19 currently hospitalized statewide, we are beginning the process of gradually and safely welcoming patients back onto our campus for medical visits. We are concerned that you and your loved ones may have been postponing necessary medical care for chronic and/or urgent conditions, either because you were afraid of contracting the disease, or because you felt guilty about imposing upon a medical staff that was preparing for a possible surge due to the pandemic.

    Not only has our ER remained open 24/7, but our Grace Cottage Family Health Clinic and Outpatient Rehabilitation Services have been open as well, for important medical issues not requiring ER care. As of this week, our clinic and outpatient Rehab Department are expanding hours and visits.

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – April 21, 2020

    I hope that you’re continuing to stay safe and well. This week, I am turning my weekly message over to our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. George Terwilliger, so that he can address your concerns from a medical perspective.

    Before I do, though, I’d like to bring your attention to an article that appeared in VTDigger last week about the financial challenges that Grace Cottage and other hospitals are facing. Kevin O’Connor did an excellent job of summarizing the issues, and I want to take this opportunity to thank our community for your overwhelming support that you have given in so very many ways.

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – April 14, 2020

    For many of us, this was the first Passover or Easter we have spent without gatherings of family members and friends, and it felt very strange and disconcerting. However, there have been many silver linings during this unprecedented time, as we all find a variety of ways to connect with our loved ones.

    Here at Grace Cottage, we’ve been overwhelmed and gratified by the outpouring of community support, which has been extended to us in countless ways, including letters and e-mails of encouragement, donations of personal protective equipment, and an amazing number of generous financial contributions from individuals and organizations from far and wide.

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    Telehealth Offered at Grace Cottage Family Health

    Grace Cottage Family Health is offering Telehealth appointments to provide additional access to primary care health needs in view of social distancing necessary because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Telehealth is a virtual (video chat) appointment with your healthcare provider. Telehealth appointments are available for both established and new patients.

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    Child Immunizations Should Continue

    If you are the parent of a very young child, you may be wondering, “What do I do about my child’s immunizations?” Grace Cottage Family Health has procedures in place so these can be done safely.

    “Remember that the recommended immunization schedule for very young pediatric patients follows a frequent pattern. They are recommended at ages of two months, then four, six, twelve, fifteen, and eighteen months. It’s important to stick with this schedule so your child is fully protected,” says Grace Cottage Pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Linder.

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – April 7, 2020

    We are working hard and diligently to stop the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide high-quality medical care and to protect the safety of our community, including patients, their families, and our employees. As the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases nationally has reached 331,000, it has been shown that coronavirus may be transmitted […]

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – March 31, 2020

    Dear Grace Cottage Community Members, Each new day of the COVID-19 crisis brings so many changes. However, what never changes is Grace Cottage’s 71-year commitment to delivering quality and compassionate care to all members of our community, whether they be our employees, lifelong residents of the area, people who have moved here more recently, or […]

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – March 24, 2020

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 Dear Grace Cottage Community Members, I am writing to update you and to follow up on my e-mail of March 17th because so much has changed since last Tuesday. We are working hard and diligently to stop the spread of COVID-19, while continuing to provide high-quality medical care and to protect […]

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    CEO Coronavirus Update – March 17, 2020

    Dear Grace Cottage Community Members, I am writing to inform you about Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital’s preparedness for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our patients, our caregivers, our employees, and the communities that we serve. Our hospital, our rural health clinic, our outpatient […]

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Other COVID-19 Resources