Porter Medical Center patients allowed visitors – if they are vaccinated

MIDDLEBURY — After keeping most visitors from the hospital and nursing home for a year to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, Porter Hospital and Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing today are easing some visitor restrictions. It is part of a loosening of constraints across the University of Vermont Health Network’s three Vermont hospital, which also includes the University of Vermont Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin.

Based on the latest guidance from the state of Vermont, UVMHN is allowing some fully vaccinated people into inpatient areas at its Vermont hospitals. Some restrictions will remain in place to protect the health and safety of patients and staff.

“We recognize that family members and loved ones are valued members of the healthcare team and play a key role in supporting the wellbeing of our patients,” the new Porter Medical Center welcoming policy states. “As we seek to limit further the spread of COVID-19 during this new surge, our network is implementing temporary changes to our welcoming policy to protect the health and well-being of our patients and families, our staff, and our community.”

Patients in the hospital will now be allowed one fully vaccinated, healthy visitor per day. Visitors will be asked to show proof of vaccination. Exceptions that will allow and unvaccinated person inside Porter facilities may be made for visitors to the end-of-life care, pediatrics and labor & delivery departments.

In addition to showing evidence of vaccination, visitors:

• Must follow current Vermont state guidelines for quarantine, including that people who have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19 may not visit Porter.

• Will be screened for a fever and COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry. Those with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) will not be allowed to visit.

• Will be required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth for the entire time they are in the building. Those not able or willing to wear a mask for the duration of their time in the building will not be permitted entry or allowed to remain in the building. Commercial masks with outflow vents are not permitted. A mask will be provided if you do not have an acceptable face covering.

Family members who wish to visit someone at Helen Porter Rehabilitation and Nursing must request visitation by calling 802-385-3661, the dedicated visitation phone line, to get prior approval.

All family members and support persons will be asked to clean their hands upon entry and exit from any unit, patient room, or clinic and upon entry and exit from the building.

Security will be called to respond to any family members/visitors who present significant safety concerns, including unwillingness to mask or comply with social distancing requirements, or refusing to leave when asked on the basis of these concerns.

For those not allowed to visit, Porter officials said they would make every attempt to enable patients and their families to stay connected by talking or communicating visually — via the use of electronic devices, (patient or hospital-owned) —during this time of social distancing. 

Beginning April 2, the following changes will take effect for inpatient areas and Emergency Departments:         

• Inpatients are allowed 1 healthy, fully vaccinated visitor per day

• Pediatric patients are allowed 2 parents/guardians (vaccinated or unvaccinated)

• For end-of-life care, family presence will be managed by the care team. In general, 2 visitors may be permitted at a time (vaccinated or unvaccinated)

• Limited other exceptions exist for unvaccinated visitors, such as for patients with communication or special needs

The following changes will take effect at outpatient areas:

• While Porter Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center will now allow 1 vaccinated visitor, no visitors are currently being permitted for adult patients at UVM Medical Center to maintain social distancing.

• 1 healthy parent/caregiver should accompany pediatric patients (vaccinated or unvaccinated)

Outpatient visitors may be allowed for the following limited exceptions:

• One support person is permitted in rare circumstances for a patient who requires assistance to access care, such as for patients with communication or special needs

• Patients receiving distressing news or end-of-life planning

• Obstetrics patients are permitted to bring one support person to their 20-week ultrasound appointment.

UVMHM officials noted that visitation rules apply equally to employees who wish to visit friends or family regardless of whether they are on or off duty.

This policy may be modified on a case-by-case basis for unique circumstances.

Paying bills in person is not allowed at this time.

Note: While these guidelines are consistent across the UVM Health Network’s Vermont hospitals, each location may have some small differences in their individual policies.

CONTINUING TO LOOSEN RESTRICTIONS

In March 2020, Porter had a very, very restrictive visitor policy, explained Porter Vice President Ron Hallman. But at least twice in the past year Porter has allowed a few more visitors in the hospital based on changes to Gov. Scott’s directives, which have been allowing hospitals and nursing homes to welcome some visitors into their facilities in a gradual manner based on the data of COVID-19 cases and the number of Vermonters who are being vaccinated.

State officials report that 213,656 Vermonters have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 37.4% of Addison County residents. Statewide, 38.9% of Vermonters have been received at least one vaccine dose.

To see the Porter Medical Center Welcoming Policy click the documents at the bottom of the story.

More information about COVID-19 is available at:

healthvermont.gov/response/infectious-disease/2019-novel-coronavirus

cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

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Addison County Independent