How to find medical care up here
So far Litchfield County is one of the counties with the fewest confirmed cases of COVID-19. As of press time, there had been one death in the county (see story, Page A1).
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is doing an outstanding job of making data available on a daily basis, with lots of meaningful graphs and charts including a town-by-town listing of confirmed cases. Keep in mind that just because a town doesn’t show any confirmed cases, it doesn’t mean no one is infected; it just means no one has tested positive yet.
So far in the six-town Northwest Corner region, there are no confirmed cases in North Canaan (the farthest north town in our region; it is the town popularly referred to as “Canaan”) and Canaan (the town that everyone calls “Falls Village”).
To access all this useful information, go to www.portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus. Click “Test Data” to get the town-by-town list, county-by-county statistics and much more.
How to get a test
Tests are now available on a limited basis at some area hospitals, notably Charlotte-Hungerford in Torrington. Torrington is the closest thing the region has to a city; it has large hospitals and chain stores. It is about a 30 to 45 minute drive from most of the six towns in The Lakeville Journal coverage area; Kent residents are more likely to head to Danbury or New Milford.
To get a test, you must first get a “prescription” from a doctor. In the Northwest Corner, it’s always difficult to find a general practitioner. This was exacerbated recently when several senior doctors retired. The remaining doctors have a surplus of patients and many won’t take on new people.
And now, of course, most doctors are not seeing patients in their offices. The emergency room is also not an option these days.
There are some doctors who will see new patients and part-time residents, most likely via a telemedicine portal where you use Zoom or Skype or another program that lets you speak and be seen through the camera on your phone or computer.
How to find a doctor
To find someone who is willing to speak to you, and possibly authorize you to get a COVID-19 test, you can go online and do a search through one of the two major health care systems that serve this area.
Those two systems are Nuvance and Hartford Healthcare.
Nuvance is based in Dutchess County and has seven hospitals in New York state (under its Health Quest group) and Connecticut (Western Connecticut Health Network).
To find a doctor, go to the Nuvance home page at www.nuvancehealth.org. At the top right of the screen, click on “Menu.” The top of the next page will say, “Looking for a Doctor?” with the choice of finding a Western Connecticut Health Network physician or one with Health Quest, which is primarily made up of Dutchess Country practitioners.
Some local options
This is counterintuitive, but here’s what you need to do: The Northwest Corner’s local small hospital (78 beds) is Sharon Hospital. Many of our area doctors are affiliated with the hospital through Nuvance but you won’t find them on the list for Western Connecticut Health Network caregivers. Sharon Hospital is considered a Health Quest hospital even though it’s in western Connecticut; so to find a Northwest Corner doctor linked to Sharon Hospital, click on
“Find a Doctor within Health Quest.”
The selection of doctors in our area includes at least four longtime and respected local physicians (Dr. Jared Zelman in Lakeville, Dr. Michael J. Kelly in Salisbury, Dr. Suzanne Lefebvre in Kent and Dr. Kristie Schmidt in Millerton).
Hartford Healthcare is the larger Connecticut medical network and has taken on many of the medical providers in the region in recent years, including Charlotte-Hungerford Hospital.
To find one of their doctors, go to www.hartfordhealthcaremedicalgroup.org.
Making a choice
With both Nuvance/Health Quest and Hartford Healthcare, keep in mind that there are some very good nurse practitioners in the area who can very competently serve many of your more modest needs, such as an old-fashioned cold or a tick bite or a sprained ankle from doing Social Distance Hiking.
As you look at the lists of doctors and their locations, you will find a majority of them are in places that are not easily accessible to Northwest Corner residents. However, many towns you might not be familiar with are easy to reach and have excellent medical staff; and if you’re doing a telemed visit the distance is less important.
Many very good doctors are clustered around the Avon and Farmington areas, in part because of the proximity to the University of Connecticut medical compound. The one-hour drive can seem long but it’s not as though we all have a lot of appointments to keep and places to go these days.
Torrington has many good medical specialists. Many of them are at Charlotte-Hungerford.
Cancer care is in Torrington through Yale-New Haven’s Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center. Yale-New Haven also offers excellent medical care but its doctors are primarily in the farther south regions of the state.
For obstetrics and gynecology, the popular local option is Sharon Obstetrics and Gynecology, which is affiliated with Sharon Hospital and is part of Women’s Health Connecticut.
As with all questions you might have, we at The Lakeville Journal are happy to help provide information when we can; send an email with your question to