E'town Hospital prepared for bridge closure

ELIZABETHTOWN - Officials at Elizabethtown Community Hospital are prepared to offer help for patients who once relied on care in Vermont.

"Whenever there's any kind of community emergency, we try to put some of our plans in place to be able to offer services wherever needed," said community relations director Jane Hooper.

With the recent closing of the Crown Point Bridge, the hospital is expecting to field many more patients who have been going across the lake, either for outpatient or emergency care.

"Basically what's happened is we've put all our staff on alert," Hooper said.

In addition to they're newly renovated Emergency Room, Hooper said the hospital can provide services such as physical therapy, chemotherapy, radiology, and lab tests to patients who may now find travel to Burlington or Middlebury too inconvenient.

"Any lab tests could be done here and we can send the information to their doctor [in Vermont]," she said.

The "critical access" hospital is technically not equipped to handle surgery, trauma, or births, but Hooper said the staff there can stabilize patients for transport to a facility that does.

"We have an Emergency Room with highly capable and well-trained staff," she said.

Though hospitals equipped to handle trauma and maternity cases are now more than an hour's drive from some locations, Hooper said the concern has not elevated to the point of bringing in contingency staff or services to Elizabethtown.

"At this point, we're not seeing anything that's leading us to believe that we need to be on high alert," said Hooper, noting there has yet to be a significant increase in the number of Emergency Room patients. "We just want people to know that we're here and we're available."

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