BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is restricting visitor access starting Monday, Nov. 2, because of the recent surge in cases in COVID-19 in New England.
To mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, visitation hours will be 4 to 7 p.m. and patients will be limited to one visitor at a time. Additionally, the time per visit will also be limited to 30 minutes per individual.
"We know that family and friends are an important part of patients’ recovery from illness, injury, or surgery," said Dr. Trey Dobson, SVMC's chief medical officer. "This policy is as open as it can be while still allowing us to adequately protect our patients, staff, and visitors."
The policy has one exception: patients nearing the end of life may have up to two visitors at a time.
The policy for outpatient care has not changed since initial restrictions were implemented in early March to decrease the effects of COVID-19.
• Adult outpatients should attend appointments alone, unless they need physical or cognitive support. Outpatients who need a caregiver may bring one, provided that person is symptom-free.
• Prenatal appointments may be attended by both the patient and one caregiver. Others, including children of expectant families, should not attend appointments.
• Pediatric patients in the outpatient setting may have one adult caregiver with them.
• Visitation to the Emergency Department is limited to one individual.
Both inpatients and outpatients who would benefit from additional support during a visit or stay should request the use of technology to bring important family and friends virtually into exam and hospital rooms.
• Everyone — patients, caregivers, and visitors — is required to stop at the check-in desk located near the hospital and Medical Office Building entrances.
• All are expected to arrive wearing a mask or face covering. Those who do not have a mask will be provided one. All masks must be worn for the entire duration of the visit. Those who do not comply will be asked to leave the premises.
• Patients who are symptomatic or have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be provided with a medical-grade facemask.
• Caregivers and visitors with symptoms of any kind and those who have had contact with someone positive for or suspected of having COVID-19 are not permitted at this time.
All non-staff persons entering an SVMC building will be given a sticker marked with the date and department they are visiting and are asked to keep the sticker visible and remain in the area of service for the entire time they are in the building.
Everyone is expected to sanitize their hands upon entry and exit from the building, units, and patient rooms.
"SVHC has provided safe, high-quality care throughout the pandemic," said Thomas A. Dee, Southwestern Vermont Health Care's president and CEO. "We are open and ready to provide all of our services, and we are doing so safely and as comfortably as possible."
Patients with cough or shortness of breath or any two of the following — fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell — should contact their primary-care provider or the COVID-19 Informational Hotline at 802-440-8844 before arriving to either their provider’s office or the hospital.
For a detailed list of safety protocols, frequently asked questions, visitor guidelines, and COVID-19 information, visit svhealthcare.org.