SVMC: COVID-19 Pep Talk

Submitted by SVMC Chief Medical Officer Trey DobsoPrint Story | Email Story
Trey Dobson, MD, is the chief medical officer of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.
Your COVID Pep Talk
Back in April, when the leading doctors made recommendations about how to handle COVID-19, they were sharing their best scientific guesses. By now, nearly every primary care and hospital medicine doctor in America has observed COVID-19 firsthand. Together with our nurse colleagues, we have seen patients contract the disease, fight it, and recover or, sadly, die. Although there are still some questions that we don't have answers for, we are now operating on experience.
Public health experts and contact tracers have spoken with hundreds of families right here in Vermont. As we approach what might be the most difficult time of the pandemic so far, we are better prepared regarding how to handle it. What we know now comes, not from far-off experts or from research, but from our own experiences. That is going to help us, as cases increase. 
Here's what I know:
Number 1: We can control this. By following all of the recommendations as best as we can, we can reign in this most recent spike of cases and keep it low. Even though we have all heard them a thousand times, I am going to repeat the complete list of mitigation steps here:
• Socialize outside or in well-ventilated areas.
• Stay 6 feet apart or more.
• Keep in-person visits short, 15 minutes or less, especially if you are visiting inside.
• Wear masks when in proximity to those you don't live with.
• Avoid contact with others and wash your hands.
• Limit travel to only essential trips. (The dictionary definition of "essential" is "absolutely necessary or extremely important." This rules out almost everything.)
• Wipe down frequently touched areas.
• Quarantine and get tested if you've done something risky.
• Isolate if you have symptoms.
While no one of these efforts will solve the problem entirely, all of them together will provide the best protection we can get. Cases will still happen, even among those who are careful. When they do, healthcare workers have been working hard to ensure (and continue to improve) the availability of testing and fast and easy results communication. Their goal is to keep isolated cases from turning into clusters and clusters from turning into outbreaks.
Number 2: But it's not easy. Everything about this pandemic is hard to hear, hard to believe, and hard to endure. We are all in situations we could not have imagined before now. It is unsettling and unnerving. I have three pieces of advice that I have been sharing with my colleagues, family, friends:
Let's live in the middle ground between paralyzing fear and relaxed complacency. It's certainly not a comfortable place to be, but it is manageable. If you feel yourself deviating too far to one extreme or the other, come back to that middle place. That middle place is one where you live cautiously. There's equal emphasis on both words: live and cautiously.
For me, and for others, I have spoken with, it is helpful to look for the joy in everyday life, even in the face of adversity. For me, I find joy taking a run with my dogs. (Maybe it's because they have no idea there's a pandemic going on. They are still having just as much fun as ever, and that is so refreshing.)
Let's take comfort in the fact that pandemics end. They always have, and this one will end faster than most. Widespread vaccination will allow us to return to traveling and gathering in the ways we always have.
In short, stay with me everyone. We are going to make it, if we can just hold on a little bit longer. 

Tags: COVID-19,   SVMC,   

More Coronavirus Updates

Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 news:

0 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Healthy Eating on a Budget

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Since COVID started, many of us have been trying to spend less money on food and make fewer trips to the grocery store. You can do both of these things and increase the healthy foods you eat, too. Use these simple tips to stretch your food budget, shop no more than weekly, and get healthy meals you and your family will love.
Cut back on dining out. According to Business Insider, at this time last year, the average American ate out 5.9 times per week. The average Vermonter spent $3,185 per year on dining out.  While both figures have likely decreased while we aim to reduce our COVID exposure, many families could still afford to decrease meals out. Reducing meals out by two or more a week to just one or two would save significant funds. Also, home-cooked meals are typically much healthier than those purchased in restaurants, which makes this a double win. 
Look for sales. Take the time to look up store deals in advance. Most stores publish their weekly flyer online and even have electronic coupons to use. When you find a great deal, especially for whole non-perishable items, stock up. Deals on dried beans and peas, whole grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, frozen fruit and vegetables, and low-sodium or no-salt-added soup stock are particularly valuable, because they keep well and can be made into healthy foods. Avoid highly processed, high-sugar foods, even if they're on sale.
Plan your meals to use what's fresh. Meal planning saves a ton of money, because you only buy what you need. Shop in season to save even more, because seasonal fruits and vegetables are often the least expensive. Plus, foods eaten in season are often perfectly ripe and especially delicious. Finally, following the season makes variety a snap. As new things are available, you'll plan exciting menus to incorporate them. 
View Full Story

More Vermont Stories