Presumed Positive COVID-19 Patient Being Treated at SVMC
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/ Categories: NEWS, 2020

Presumed Positive COVID-19 Patient Being Treated at SVMC

BENNINGTON, VT—March 8, 2020—On Thursday, March 5, 2020, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) had an adult individual present to its Emergency Department (ED) with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The person was admitted, immediately placed in isolation in a negative-pressure room, and tested for COVID-19. Early testing results from the Vermont Department of Health came back as presumptive positive. Conclusive results are expected from the CDC on Monday. The individual is stable and currently hospitalized in an airborne infection isolation room. 

Health officials are investigating the person’s travel history and are conducting contact tracing for anyone who has been in close contact with the person. Those individuals will be assessed for their exposure risk and provided with guidance for testing, their health, and recommendations for self-isolation or other restrictions.

“Our thoughts are with this patient and for their recovery,” said Tom Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care. “The continued care and safety of our patients is of the utmost importance and, while we hoped the virus did not spread into Vermont, SVMC and the Department of Health have been preparing for when COVID-19 crossed our border.”  

For patients who have a referral for COVID-19 testing from their primary care provider, SVMC offers drive-up testing. The service allows patients to remain in their cars. The process was initiated over the weekend to minimize potential viral exposure to other patients and staff for patients who do not need emergency care or monitoring. ED staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE), swab patients in their cars, and remind patients to practice self-isolation until results are known. Samples are sent to the  VT lab for results, which typically arrive to the primary care provider within 72 hours. The State of Vermont is not charging for the test, and the patient will not incur ED charges.

Following Department of Health protocol, outpatients have been instructed to contact their healthcare providers if they have traveled internationally and have symptoms. Their provider will contact SVMC’s nurse designee in the Emergency Department, who will coordinate a time for the patient to drive to SVMC to be tested.

The hospital, campuses, and departments are open and safe for patients. Upon arrival to SVMC campuses and the SVMC Emergency Department, patients are screened for cough, fever, or international travel. This allows for early isolation of patients with potential COVID-19 symptoms. SVMC is prepared to care for all patients, including those diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19. SVMC’s Infection Prevention Team—comprised of doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and respiratory therapists—is on hand to care for any patient who arrives at SVMC and who is suspected of having a high-threat infection.

The best way to prevent the virus is to avoid being exposed. Southwestern Vermont Health Care recommends everyday preventive actions to help decrease the spread of respiratory diseases, including: Avoid close contact with people who are sick; Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; Stay home when you are sick; Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe; and Practice good hand hygiene.

In addition, the public is asked to follow SVMC’s flu season visitors’ policy, which has been posted at our entrances since shortly after flu season began. It indicates that children not visit patients in the hospital at this time, that patients’ visitors not have respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, vomiting, or diarrhea), and that no more than two people visit a patient at a time. These precautions will help us reduce risk to those most vulnerable to the flu and other infections.

More information can be found on the health system’s website,; the website of the Vermont Department of Health,; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center provides exceptional care without discriminating on the basis of an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.

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