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Restrictions Return in Region as COVID-19 Cases Surge

By Stephen DravisPrint Story | Email Story
With COVID-19 cases surging throughout the Northeast, areas bordering Berkshire County are beginning to see increased restrictions in a post-Thanksgiving surge of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday afternoon, Bennington, Vt.'s, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center announced that it is suspending in-person visits for hospital patients beginning Monday, Dec. 13.
Earlier Friday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state will require face coverings to be worn in all indoor public places unless the business or venue has a vaccine mandate in place, also effective on Monday.
"Caring for patients during a pandemic involves making difficult choices," said SVMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Trey Dobson. "As much as we appreciate families' in-person contributions to their loved ones' healing, restricting visitors is necessary to protect our capacity to meet our patients' and staff needs and ensure their safety amidst an increase in cases."
The Bennington hospital's new visitor restrictions also will apply to the health system's off-campus offices. SVMC noted that other regional hospitals, like its affiliate in Lebanon, N.H., also initiated visitor restrictions this week.
Southwestern Vermont's announcement included some exceptions to the new restriction:
 ♦ Adult patients who "require someone of physical or cognitive support" may have one healthy person accompany them. And patients in the emergency department can have a visitor at the discretion of ER staff.
 ♦ Patients at the end of life may have up to six visitors at a time.
 ♦ Expectant or delivered mothers are allowed "one unique care partner."
 ♦ Pediatric patients may have two healthy care partners as conditions and space allow.
 ♦ Members of the clergy may visit on the request of the care team.
Dobson said SVMC will reassess its visitor police regularly.
New York's Hochul said the new statewide mask mandate will say in place until at least Jan. 15.
"As governor, my two top priorities are to protect the health of New Yorkers and to protect the health of our economy," she said. "The temporary measures I am taking today will help accomplish this through the holiday season. We shouldn't have reached the point where we are confronted with a winter surge, especially with the vaccine at our disposal, and I share many New Yorkers' frustration that we are not past this pandemic yet. I want to thank the more than 80 percent of New Yorkers who have done the right thing to get fully vaccinated. If others will follow suit, these measures will no longer be necessary."   
"I have warned for weeks that additional steps could be necessary, and now we are at that point based upon three metrics: increasing cases, reduced hospital capacity, and insufficient vaccination rates in certain areas."
Since Thanksgiving, New York has seen the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases rise by 43 percent and hospitalizations increase by 29 percent, according to the governor's news release announcing the mandate.

Tags: COVID-19,   svhc,   SVMC,   

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Medical Matters Weekly Welcomes Dartmouth Institute Leader

BENNINGTON, Vt. — Amber E. Barnato, MD, MPH, MS, director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, will be the next guest on Medical Matters Weekly at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25. 
The show will cover Barnato's wide range of expertise, including public health/preventive medicine, hospice/palliative medicine, the institute's work, health equity, and Barnato's research regarding life support decisions families and physicians make for patients in the ICU.
The show is produced by Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) with cooperation from Catamount Access Television (CAT-TV). Viewers can see Medical Matters Weekly on and The show is also available to view or download as a podcast on
In addition to her role as director of the Dartmouth Institute, Barnato is the John E. Wennberg Distinguished Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. The Institute is both an academic department and a cross-campus institute bringing together more than 150 faculty who serve the mission of improving health and health care by conducting research jointly with staff and academic, health system, and community partners and by teaching and learning from more than 200 graduate students annually in the department's MS, MPH, MHCDS, and PhD programs.
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