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COVID-19 Testing Changes Ahead for St. Johnsbury Area

by | Dec 22, 2021 | In the News

A strong partnership between Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) and Northern Counties Health Care (NCHC) has provided accessible COVID-19 testing and vaccination services to meet the needs of our local community throughout the pandemic. NVRH was able to quickly erect the COVID Operations Center drive-through model to offer testing and vaccines, and at the beginning of the pandemic, NCHC developed systems to offer both services at various locations throughout the Northeast Kingdom.

As the pandemic continues, and treatment and intervention therapies evolve, NVRH will be shifting their focus from community-wide testing services to pre-operative and provider-ordered testing. Supported by a state contract, the community-wide COVID-19 testing services will be absorbed by NCHC effective January 3, 2022. NVRH will end walk-in and community-wide testing services effective December 30, 2021. NCHC will expand their testing schedule at Caledonia Home Health Care & Hospice (located in the parking lot at 161 Sherman Drive in St. Johnsbury) as of January 3 to include the following days and times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8:30am-1:30pm; Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30-7:30pm; and Saturday from 8:30am-12:30pm.

Chris Towne, Northern Counties’ Chief Strategy Officer said, “NCHC is well poised to be able to take on the additional testing at our Caledonia Home Health Care & Hospice location. We are committed to doing what we can to provide these essential services. Our partnership with NVRH is crucial to helping our communities stay as safe and healthy as possible throughout the pandemic, and beyond. It has led to expanded opportunities for testing, vaccinations, and treatment to efficiently utilize our resources to meet the needs of our community.”

What will NVRH be focusing on, you may ask? As treatment options for COVID-19 have evolved, NVRH has been nimble in integrating these therapies into existing operations, including Monoclonal Antibody Treatment (MAB). MAB infusions are administered to patients who are COVID positive and are at high risk for severe symptoms or hospitalization. MAB infusions, when administered to the right patients at the right time, can be effective in heading off potential hospitalization. NVRH’s COVID Operations Center team will be working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure consistent availability of MAB infusions for eligible patients. NVRH will continue to offer testing services by provider order and for pre-operative testing, as well as COVID-19 vaccine and booster services for the community.

“NVRH is fortunate to host one of three FEMA teams assigned to VT to broaden availability of Monoclonal Antibody Treatments for early COVID as these treatments reduce the need for hospitalization by 70%,” stated NVRH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Rousse. “NVRH was the first location in the state to offer these treatments back in December 2020. We have given 161 infusions on-site to date. Our pharmacy has distributed a total of 250 MABs to our community. Additionally, NVRH’s Emergency Department has given many doses acutely, 30 doses were distributed to the Health and Rehab across the street when they had a COVID outbreak, and Little Rivers Health Care in Wells River has begun giving injections of MAB using our pharmacy. If you use the original study statistics as predictors…that’s possibly 18-20 hospitalizations and 2-4 deaths prevented. Good stuff!”

NVRH’s COVID Operations Center coordinates MAB infusions. Call your primary care provider if you have recently been diagnosed with COVID and they can help arrange MAB treatment. To access the NEK COVID-19 testing site and vaccine flyer with locations and schedules as of January 3, 2022, please visit: https://bit.ly/NEKCovidSites2022. Appointments are encouraged for all testing locations and can be made online through the Vermont Department of Health at https://bit.ly/COVIDSchedulingVT or by calling VDH at (802) 863-7240.

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