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UVM Health Network Extends Suspension of Elective Surgeries and Procedures

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Network Affiliates Continue to Provide Care Through Video Appointments and in-Person Emergency Visits
(Burlington, VT) – The University of Vermont Health Network is extending its directive to suspend elective surgeries and procedures across the Network to continue our efforts to protect patients and staff and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Network is continuing to analyze the current state of the pandemic, but to stay in-line with continuations of social distancing measures and executive orders in New York and Vermont, we are extending the suspension of “non-urgent elective” encounters through at least May 15, 2020. We will re-evaluate the continued need for this action over the next six weeks.
“This decision is difficult for patients, but these extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. We remain focused on protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff. We’re continuing to make sure our patients are receiving the care they need by replacing in-person visits with eHealth appointments. However, if someone is in a medical emergency, it’s absolutely critical they call their primary care doctor or visit the hospital,” said John Brumsted, MD, President and CEO of the UVM Health Network. “Our actions, along with social distancing and proper hygiene among the public, is helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and our collective efforts must continue to keep people safe and healthy.”
Non-urgent elective encounters are defined as any surgery, procedure, diagnostic test or clinic visit that can be safely delayed or deferred, without threat to the immediate health and safety of the patient.
By postponing non-urgent elective procedures and visits, the Network is able to:
• Reduce the community spread of COVID-19 by limiting person-to-person contact to only those who require urgent care.
• Redirect our care teams to patients who most need our help.
• Preserve acute care beds to accommodate a surge in demand related to COVID-19.
• Conserve the supplies and equipment required to safeguard our patients and staff.
This action has and will continue to cause inconvenience for both our patients and providers. However, the Network has been able to quickly increase its e-Health capabilities to meet the health care needs of patients who do not need to be seen in-person for their appointment. The extension of this directive should not affect the continued use of e-health visits.
Additionally, there is concern across the Network that some patients are not seeking emergency or essential medical care out of fear of contracting COVID-19. We have been making efforts to communicate to our patients and the public that they should not hesitate to seek care in the event of an urgent medical situation. All proper precautions are being taken to keep both patients and staff safe.
Patients impacted by the suspension of elective surgeries and procedures will be contacted. If patients do not hear from a provider they should continue to prepare to attend appointments as scheduled. The Network is asking that patients refrain from calling clinical practices and hospitals at this time to check on the status of appointments so that workers can prioritize the significant number of incoming calls about COVID-19.

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