Opinion: Care and cooperation will get us through the pandemic

This artwork by Donna Grethen refers to preserving health care for our neediest and for children.
This artwork by Donna Grethen refers to preserving health care for our neediest and for children.Donna Grethen / Tribune Content Agency

In recent weeks, greater Danbury and New Milford have seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and local public health officials, in concert with our hospitals and community clinics, have worked diligently to prevent further spread and expand testing efforts. Danbury city officials are to be lauded for their quick action. As our communities continue to work together to address this uptick in COVID-19 cases, we want to remind residents that the following public health guidelines are key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.

Some residents may be experiencing “COVID-19 fatigue” due to months of wearing masks and social distancing. We absolutely understand these concerns, but it’s important to stay vigilant. Wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing with non-household members, and staying home if you’re sick are essential steps that everyone can take to protect themselves and their families, friends, and neighbors from COVID-19 infection.

Another very important step that residents can take to protect themselves as we head into the colder winter months is to get a flu vaccine. Although getting a flu shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, it does decrease your chances of infection and lowers your risk for serious complications — which is especially crucial during a pandemic.

Additionally, we want everyone in our communities to know that Nuvance Health is continuing to monitor local COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations. Danbury and New Milford hospitals are ready to respond to your needs.

We have developed a COVID-19 “playbook” based on what researchers and our clinicians learned during the initial COVID-19 surge earlier this year. The playbook details the care pathways and processes our team members will follow in the event of a second surge in COVID-19 infections. Our infection control and prevention, infectious disease, critical care, and administrative and clinical leaders continually update the playbook. How to care for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, and how to protect patients who need care for non-COVID-19 conditions continues to evolve as we learn more about this novel coronavirus.

Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital can quickly diagnose COVID-19 and influenza infections, allowing for more effective monitoring and containment of these illnesses. Our teams are constantly working to ensure that adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medications are available to treat patients who have COVID-19 and the flu.

Be mindful of the stress this situation may cause for you and others. Practice relaxation techniques, exercise, eat right and spend time outdoors. If you, or a friend feel the need to talk with someone, there are many services available by calling our hospitals or simply dialing 211.

We are thankful for the collaboration with local elected officials, first responders, and experts from local and state public health departments. We regularly meet to keep each other informed and develop COVID-19 prevention and response plans that best meet the needs of our communities.

If you do get sick and aren’t sure whether you have COVID-19 or the flu, please contact your healthcare clinician — especially if you’re at a higher risk of complications from respiratory illnesses.

Our patients may have the option to schedule a Virtual Visit, which is a safe and secure way to connect with your Nuvance Health clinician from your home. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a clinician, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

For more information about COVID-19 testing at Nuvance Health’s primary care practices and outpatient locations, please visit: www.wchn.org/novel-coronavirus-covid19-update/covid19-testing

Information about COVID-19 testing throughout Connecticut can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Covid-19-Knowledge-Base/COVID-19-Testing

As we work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic — and as we enter flu season — please remember that we’re in this together and can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Rest assured that our hospitals are prepared for a potential second surge of COVID-19 and we’re here for you and your loved ones.

Sharon Adams, RN, is President of Danbury/New Milford Hospitals.