BENNINGTON, Vt. — Patients at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) are now permitted to have a visitor as long as the individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The change follows the loosening of visitor restrictions at hospitals enacted by Vermont Governor Phil Scott last week.
"Vaccination has made visiting hospitalized patients much safer for everyone, including our staff, other visitors, and patients," said Trey Dobson, SVMC's chief medical officer. "A loved one can play an important role in a patient's wellbeing and recovery, and we are pleased to be able to safely welcome one vaccinated visitor per patient back to SVMC."
The immediate past policy, directed by the Governor, indicated that only a required caregiver, someone whose presence is necessary for the purposes of delivering care, was allowed to accompany a patient in the emergency department, perioperative department, adult inpatient units and outpatient appointments for adults, and pediatric appointments and inpatient stays. Narrow exclusions allowed for expectant parents to have a certified doula in addition to their required caregiver and those at the end of life to have up to two visitors at a time.
The new policy allows patients in several departments and who do not need a required caregiver to have a fully vaccinated visitor instead. Those departments include the emergency department, inpatient units, and adult outpatient visits. A person is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their last required dose of vaccine. Hours are noon – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday and 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on weekends. The previous policy remains in effect for the perioperative, women's and children's, and pediatric departments, allowing patients to be accompanied by a caregiver when needed regardless of vaccination status.
Everyone — patients, caregivers, and visitors — is required to stop at the check-in desk located at entrances in the hospital, Medical Office Building, and standalone practice sites.
Those visiting under the new visiting policy will be asked to present their vaccination card or a photo of their vaccination card on their mobile device.
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 over the mouth and nose for the entire duration of the visit. Those who do not comply will be asked to leave the premises.
Everyone will have their temperature checked at the check-in desk. Patients who are symptomatic or have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be provided with a medical-grade face mask. Caregivers and visitors with symptoms of any kind 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.
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.
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