COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Safe Care at Nuvance Health

What’s Nuvance Health doing to ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff as our communities reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Safety measures, such as social distancing, have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. As a result, our hospitals and communities are observing a decrease in the rate of new COVID-19 infections. We can safely resume more procedures, surgeries, and routine healthcare for our patients, following state and federal government guidelines. We understand you may be concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 as you return to our hospitals and medical offices. Rest assured — safe care is our top priority, now and always. We have many safeguards in place at all Nuvance Health locations so you can feel confident and at ease when you visit us.

Please expect these positive changes during your next visit to a Nuvance Health hospital or medical office:

  • Screening Protocols: Patients will be pre-screened for COVID-19 risk factors over the phone before their appointment. Patients and staff will be screened before entering any Nuvance Health facility. All surgical patients will require a pre-surgery COVID-19 test.
  • Check-In/Out Processes: To limit the number of people in our facilities and ensure proper social distancing, patients may be asked to wait in their vehicles until their appointment begins, or in waiting areas with fewer chairs set more than 6 feet apart. Pre-registration and follow-up appointments will be done by phone.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Face masks will be worn by patients, approved visitors, and staff. Clinical staff may also wear additional PPE including face shields, head coverings, gloves, or surgical gowns.
  • Infection Prevention: Stringent cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities will take place through the day with a deep clean daily.

For more information, please visit nuvancehealth.org/safecare.

Is it safe to see my doctor for routine healthcare?

We’re here for all of your healthcare needs. Please call your doctor to schedule an appointment if you need non-emergency medical attention. While the above protocols are in place to keep you safe during your in-person visit, Nuvance Health also offers Virtual Visits so you can have a remote consultation with your doctor using a computer or mobile device. For more information, to schedule an appointment, or to find a doctor, visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Is it safe to go to the hospital if I’m experiencing a medical emergency?

Please don’t delay emergency care if you’re experiencing signs of heart attack, stroke, or another health concern that may require immediate attention. Signs of an emergency include: trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion or inability to wake up; or bluish lips or face. Our emergency departments have strict protocols in place to keep patients who need emergency care safe, such as cohorting and separation of patients according to symptoms.

What’s the visitor policy at Nuvance Health?

To continuously ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, no visitors are allowed at any Nuvance Health hospital or facility until further notice. There are very few exceptions for patients under age 21, maternity patients, and other special circumstances. Please go nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus to see the full visitor policy and the exceptions that apply.

COVID-19 Symptoms, Spread, and Reducing Risk of Exposure

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and have at times caused more severe respiratory illnesses such as SARS and MERS. While there’s still much to be learned about COVID-19 because it’s so new, we have experience dealing with other novel and emerging infectious diseases.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or a combination of symptoms may have COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; or, at least two of these symptoms: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. This list is not all inclusive. Contact your doctor if you’re experiencing any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and based on limited information available, older adults and people who have underlying medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease or diabetes, seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. Visit cdc.gov/coronavirus to learn more about people at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread?

According to the CDC, COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. It may also be possible to catch COVID-19 by touching a surface (like a kitchen counter) or object (like a door handle) that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose, or eyes.

COVID-19 seems to be spreading between people easily and sustainably (goes from person-to-person without stopping). Also, recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic).

What can I do to reduce the risk of possible exposure to COVID-19 and protect myself and my family?

By following all of these guidelines, you’re helping to keep yourself and your family, friends, and community safe from possible exposure to COVID-19:

Limit possible exposure to COVID-19: Connecticut and New York launched reopening plans because our communities have observed a decrease in the rate of new COVID-19 infections. The best way to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 is to limit possible exposure to the virus. So although we’re excited to be able to resume some of our normal activities, it’s still important to limit group gatherings and practice social distancing, which means staying at least six feet away from each other when in public.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. According to the CDC, close contact is being within about six feet of a person for a prolonged period of time. This includes caring for, visiting or sitting within six feet of an infected person, being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person, or touching used tissues with a bare hand.

Practice proper hygiene: Because we know COVID-19 is primarily spread from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, it’s important that we all practice proper hygiene.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with the bend of your arm
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds at a time. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) with your hands
  • When greeting people, avoid shaking hands, hugging, or kissing
  • Regularly clean often-touched surfaces with disinfectant. These types of surfaces include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Wear cloth face coverings when out in public: The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings, such as the grocery store, to slow the spread of COVID-19. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N95 respirators. These are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. Visit cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information about cloth face coverings.

COVID-19 Testing

What should I do if I think I’m experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you think you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it’s important for you to stay home and limit your interactions with other people as much as possible. Then, call your doctor for medical advice. At Nuvance Health, you can schedule a Virtual Visit and have a remote consultation with your doctor.

Please don’t go directly to your doctor’s office, emergency department, or another medical facility without calling ahead first to let them know about your symptoms. Only go to the emergency department if you need emergency care.

Can I be tested for COVID-19?

Criteria for COVID-19 testing continues to evolve as testing capacity expands, and state and federal governments announce reopening requirements. Please call your doctor to determine if you meet criteria for a COVID-19 test based on the latest guidelines.

Where do I go if my doctor orders a COVID-19 test for me?

You can go to a Nuvance Health drive-through collection site if your doctor orders a COVID-19 test for you. Pre-screened people can use drive-through collection sites to give a specimen sample. These are not testing sites. Testing is done offsite and results are usually available within 48 hours. For more information about the COVID-19 collection sites, please go to nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus.

Stronger Together: How You Can Help

What can I do to help others during this public health emergency?

Nuvance Health has launched three Convalescent Plasma Donation Centers, giving people who have recovered from COVID-19 an opportunity to donate potentially life-saving plasma to critically ill patients fighting the virus. The Plasma Donation Centers are located at three Nuvance Health hospitals: Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.

To qualify, donors must meet the following criteria as set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • COVID-19 confirmation with either positive swab or antibody test
  • 14-day, symptom-free interval with a repeat negative swab
  • 28-day, symptom-free interval with no need for a repeat swab

Potential donors can register by filling out an online questionnaire located at nuvancehealth.org/plasmadonorregistration.

For more information, visit nuvancehealth.org/plasmadonorcenters.

How can I give to Nuvance Health?

Philanthropic efforts to fund equipment — including PPE for frontline staff — COVID-19 testing, and investing in safety of clinical environments have been critical to the progress Nuvance Health has made in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and treating seriously ill patients. Funds are also being used to support ongoing emergency preparedness efforts, such as research, education, and enhanced testing. For more information about how philanthropy can make a difference or to make a gift, please visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus/givenow.

Where can I go for more information?

Stay informed with accurate facts from trusted sources about COVID-19. Focus on facts, take a deep breath, and remember that we’re all in this together.

COVID-19 Community Hotline

For general questions or concerns, call the Nuvance Health COVID-19 Community Hotline at 888-667-9262. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

COVID-19 Hub and Social Media

Nuvance Health is keeping the communities informed on our website at nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus, and on social media @NuvanceHealth, or search for your hospital’s name. Nuvance Health hospitals include: Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Sharon Hospital in Connecticut; Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital, Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.

Local and National Sources of Information

  • For information regarding Connecticut, visit gov/coronavirus or call 211.
  • For information regarding New York, visit health.ny.gov or call 1-888-364-3065.

The CDC is updating information on its website daily. Stay informed by visiting cdc.gov/coronavirus

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions — Patients

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, and have at times caused more severe respiratory illnesses such as SARS and MERS. While there’s much to be learned about COVID-19 because it’s so new, we have experience dealing with other novel and emerging infectious diseases.

How long will my symptoms last?

People with COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, including but not limited to: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and how long they last varies per person and depend on the severity of the illness.

What can I expect while I’m in the hospital?

Your care team

If you’ve been hospitalized for COVID-19, please know we’re well-prepared to care for you and we’re here for you. A hospitalist or intensivist (your lead physician) will see you in-person daily. Your care team will also include a nurse, a case manager to help coordinate all of your care, and a lung or infection specialist if needed. You may also be seen virtually by other care team members if further consultations are necessary.

Your care team will meet every day to discuss your progress and address any changes in your care that may be needed. They will wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves for your protection and theirs.

Treatment and procedures

Your care team will determine the appropriate treatment plan for you and keep you informed every step of the way. You may need lab work done, which may not be every day.

Can I have visitors while I’m in the hospital?

At this time, for your safety and the safety of your loved ones, visitors are not allowed for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. Limited exceptions apply, which your care team can review with you. We know visitors play an essential role as partners in healing and wellness and how difficult this may be for you and your loved ones. Please know your care team will help you stay connected with your loved ones using technology and other forms of communication.

When can I leave the hospital?

Your care team will determine when you’re well enough to leave the hospital safely. They will review your progress daily and look for improvements in your symptoms. For example: Has your fever gone down? Has your breathing improved? Are your vital signs stable?

Before leaving the hospital, your care team will review what you need to do to continue protecting yourself and others. This may include self-quarantining and monitoring your symptoms.

Depending on your specific situation, you’ll either be able to go home and continue healing on your own, or your care team may recommend home care services with a visiting nurse. Some patients may need to go to a rehabilitation center after leaving the hospital. Other factors that may determine if you can return home include your ability to self-quarantine if living with others and your ability to do self-care.

What can I expect after I leave the hospital?

Schedule a Virtual Visit

To ensure your safety and to address any ongoing questions you may have, you will be offered a telemedicine visit with your primary care doctor or a specialist. Your care team will provide you more information about Nuvance Health Virtual Visits. To learn more, you can also visit nuvancehealth.org/virtualvisits.

Monitor your health

Call your primary care doctor if your symptoms recur or worsen. Go to the emergency department or call 911 if you need emergency care. Before arriving to the emergency department, please call ahead to tell them you tested positive for COVID-19. Signs you need emergency care include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake up, and bluish lips or face.

Contact your local health department

COVID-19 is a public health concern, which is why local health departments are tracking COVID-19 information. Before leaving the hospital, you’ll be provided the phone number for your local department of health. It’s important for you to contact them when you arrive home for further monitoring. Additionally, your case manager will follow up with you within 48 hours after you’ve been discharged from the hospital.

Is there anything I can to do to help others who have COVID-19?

Nuvance Health has developed a convalescent plasma program to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. If you tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, you may be able to donate your blood plasma. This blood plasma contains antibodies that can be transferred to patients fighting the virus. In order to donate, you must have had a positive COVID-19 test, be symptom-free for at least 14 days with a repeat negative swab, or 28 days symptom-free with no need for a repeat swab. If your treatment plan at the hospital included a convalescent plasma donation, you’re not a candidate to be a future donor.

Nuvance Health is recruiting volunteers. Potential donors can register by filling out an online questionnaire located at nuvancehealth.org/plasmadonorregistration, or call 888-410-1211 for more information.

Where can I go for more information?

We understand how unsettling these times are, and we are here for you. Please call your doctor if you have specific medical questions about your health. Please also stay informed with accurate facts from trusted sources:

COVID-19 Community Hotline

For general questions or concerns, call the Nuvance Health COVID-19 Community Hotline at 888-667-9262. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

COVID-19 hub and social media

Nuvance Health is keeping the communities informed on our website at nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus and on social media @NuvanceHealth, or search for your hospital’s name. Nuvance Health hospitals include Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Sharon Hospital in Connecticut; Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.

Local and national sources of information

  • For information regarding Connecticut, visit gov/coronavirus or call 211.
  • For information regarding New York, visit health.ny.gov/home or call 888-364-3065.
  • The Centers for Disease Control is updating information on its website daily. Stay informed by visiting gov/coronavirus.

COVID-19 Temporary Visitation Policy

To continuously ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, no visitors are allowed at any Nuvance Health hospital or facility until further notice. Please consider using technology to stay connected and offer support remotely. The following exceptions apply:

  • Any patients under age 21 — Two parents or support persons are permitted; only one allowed in the hospital at a time
  • Maternity patients — One support person and/or a doula are allowed if the following criteria are met. Doula must follow the same process as support person before being allowed to attend the birth:
    • Support person drops the patient off at the appropriate hospital entrance and waits in their vehicle while the clinical team assesses the patient.
    • If the patient is in active labor, support partner will be screened for COVID-19 risk factors, including fever, and only allowed to join the patient if they pass the screening.
    • Support person can then stay with the patient during labor through discharge from the hospital. If at any time support partner exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, they will be screened again by the clinical team, and may be asked to leave the hospital. At that time, an alternative support person may be allowed, and will have to follow the same screening process.
  • Extenuating circumstances — Two visitors are permitted; only one allowed in the hospital at a time:
    • The patient’s care team will determine if extenuating circumstances apply and discuss these with the patient and their family/appropriate person.
    • Extenuating circumstances may include imminent end-of-life situations, or support person is determined to be essential to the care of the patient/medically necessary (patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, or patients with cognitive impairments including dementia).
    • If the patient is a parent of a minor child (age 17 and under), one adult family member and one child may be permitted at the patient’s bedside.
    • The duration of a single visit may be limited for those who meet extenuating circumstances.

All allowable visitors need to meet specific requirements before they are approved to visit, and Nuvance Health care teams will discuss the potential risks and benefits of visiting patients at the bedside. Allowable visitor requirements include:

  • All allowable visitors will be subject to an active screening for risk factors of COVID-19. Temperatures will be checked. Visitors with symptoms will be asked to go home.
  • Approved visitors must stay in the patient’s room at all times, and follow all personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines as instructed by the care team. If support person exits the room, they may not be permitted to return.
  • Single support person is allowed for transportation purposes (drop off and pick up only).
  • Although individuals age 70 years or older may meet allowable visitor criteria, they are encouraged not to visit at this time due to their increased risk of COVID-19.
  • Visiting hours may change as this situation develops. Please call the hospital to confirm visiting hours before coming to the hospital.

No visitation:

  • Any support person/visitor suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 will not be allowed to visit any patient at the hospital.
  • Non-medical visitation — No visitation will be permitted for non-medical purposes such as going to the café. In addition, no food or personal items can be dropped off for patients by visitors unless it’s a communication assistance device (examples: mobile devices, laptops, chargers, glasses, hearing aids).

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this visitation policy may cause you and your family. This is a very important way to limit the risk of possible exposure to COVID-19 to you, your loved ones, and the community. We know that visitors and loved ones play an essential role as partners in healing and wellness. That’s why this visitation policy will be reevaluated daily and removed as soon as conditions allow.

Visit nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus for the latest information.

This visitation policy is subject to change.