Visiting Patients - Porter Medical Center
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Visiting Patients

Updated: August 5, 2021

Within the UVM Health Network, we recognize that family members and loved ones are valued members of the healthcare team and play a key role in supporting the well-being of our patients. As we continue to manage the impact of COVID-19, our network is continuing to adjust our welcoming policy to protect the health and well-being of our patients and families, our staff, and our community.

Patient and Family Communication:
We will make every attempt to accommodate, for the patients and their families, the ability to talk or visualize, via the use of electronic devices, (patient or hospital owned) as necessary, so patients/families stay connected to their loved one’s during this time of social distancing. 

For All

Everyone allowed to enter Network healthcare facilities:

  • Will be screened for a fever and COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry. Those with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), regardless of vaccination status, will not be allowed to visit.
  • Are 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 within our facilities. Commercial masks with outflow vents are not permitted. A mask will be provided if you do not have an acceptable face covering.
  • Those who have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must not visit our facilities.
  • Only ADA service animals are permitted. All others animals, including previously approved therapy dogs/support animals, or service animals in training are not allowed at this time.

Inpatient/Acute Care

  • Adult inpatient unit: Two healthy support persons at a time are permitted on adult inpatient units between the hours of 9am-7pm and one person may stay the night. No visitors permitted if patient is COVID+ or a patient under investigation for COVID. Every effort will be made to facilitate remote visitation from loved ones until the patient is discharged or deemed no longer infectious.  
  • Patients in End-of-Life Care: Visitation for patients, for whom death in the hospital is imminent, will be managed by their care team. In general, up to 4support persons will be welcomed when a patient is nearing or at their end of life and permitted to remain at the bedside without restriction on hours.
  • Birth Center: Two DESIGNATED healthy support persons are allowed on the Birth Center and one adult support person may stay the night. These should be the same two throughout the stay—no rotating of support persons. Certified doulas are permitted as an additional support person.
  • All Areas: No visitors under 12 at this time.

Emergency Department

  • Two healthy support persons are welcome at the bedside, unless the patient is COVID+ or PUI. Support persons are generally not able to wait in the waiting room but can join the patient once in an assigned room. Two healthy parents/guardians at a time are welcome for pediatric patients.
  • The care team will make determinations for patients in end of life care.
  • All support persons must follow the Emergency Department visitor sign-in process and visitation may be restricted due to operational limitations and/or as department capacity changes.

Surgical/Procedural Areas

Two support persons are permitted to escort an individual who is arriving for any procedure requiring sedation. As appropriate, the support persons may be present at the bedside in both the Pre-op and PACU settings.

Screening will be completed by Surgical Services personnel at time of admission.


Process for approving exceptions to Inpatient/Acute Care and Emergency Department Policies:

  • Any additional exception to this policy can only be made by the physician and nurse leader of the unit impacted. If the care team cannot reach consensus with regard to limited exceptions, the Chief Medical Officer, or the AOC (evenings, nights and weekends) will be the final decision maker.
  • Support persons will be screened upon entrance to the building before being allowed to visit. Those with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) or have an identified risk based on exposure will not be allowed to visit regardless of vaccination status.
  • All support persons allowed to visit are strongly encouraged to remain in the patient room during the duration of their visit, limit traffic in hallways and avoid congregating in waiting rooms, cafeterias and lobbies before, after or between visits. Family members/support persons are permitted to leave and re-enter the building but must be re-screened upon each entry. Family members are strongly encouraged to limit repeated entry and return.

Outpatient Clinics

  • Adult Patients: One healthy support person is permitted to outpatient clinic appointments, including diagnostic imaging, laboratory and urgent care appointments. All individuals will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status.
  • Pediatric Patients: Two healthy parents/guardians may accompany pediatric patients to outpatient clinic appointments. Siblings may be permitted to attend an outpatient appointment when alternate care arrangements cannot be made.

    Exceptions will be made for other limited exceptions, such as patients with communication or other special needs (such as for those patients who are deaf or who do not understand or speak English and those with cognitive impairments).

Helen Porter- Effective July 7, 2021

  • Welcome hours
    • 9:15 AM – 4:15 PM | 7 days per week
  • All visitors must
    • Sign-in and sign-out at the front reception desk, including telephone number.
    • Complete COVID-19 screening questions, including temperature check.
    • Wear a well-fitting mask that properly covers nose and mouth.
    • Sanitize hands upon arrival and departure.
    • For visitors who arrive at 4:15 p.m. (unless otherwise coordinated) recommended departure time is 6:00 p.m.
  • Each resident may have only 2 visitors at one time and we suggest utilizing outdoor space as much as possible, weather permitting. For gatherings of greater than 2 visitors, please continue to utilize our visitation line 802-385-3661 to schedule an appropriate space.
    • Please note:  Communication among families and friends is important as we may not be able to accommodate visitation if multiple parties arrive at the same time.
  • Length of visit may be limited based upon being in shared room, rehabilitation or care needs.
  • Visits may occur in the resident room, but visitors are expected to:
    • Go directly to the resident room or visitation area, not stroll through facility visiting other residents.
    • Visit only with the resident that you’ve come to see, and not expand to roommate or others.
    • Be respectful of roommate privacy and need for quiet/rest if visiting with a resident in a shared room.

Masking & Physical Touch

  • Visitors must wear a mask upon entering, in all hallways and common areas.
  • Resident and visitor may choose to remove their masks during their visit, IF all are fully vaccinated and they are in a private location.  Please be prepared to put masks back on if other residents or staff enter your location.   
  • A fully vaccinated resident may choose to have unmasked close contact, including physical touch with fully vaccinated visitors.  If a visitor is not vaccinated, mask should be worn by both resident & visitor for physical touch.

Social Outings

  • Social outings must be scheduled in advance by calling 802-385-3661.  Please give staff 48 hours to respond to your message, and call no later than Thursday for a weekend outing.   Advance scheduling ensures residents have been assessed for car transport and can be prepared for the duration of the outing.  A last minute request for an outing may not be accommodated.
  • Social outings are permitted and fully vaccinated residents do not need to quarantine upon return to Helen Porter unless they had a known exposure to COVID-19.
  • Residents may take scheduled social outings such as a drive with a family member or an outing with family or friends. Residents are encouraged to adhere to all recommended infection prevention and control measures including sanitizing hands.
    • If all are not fully vaccinated, wearing masks and socially distancing is recommended for the duration of the outing.   

We are sincerely grateful for your patience, support and cooperation for the past 15 months.  We look forward to seeing you all in the coming days and weeks.  We ask for your patience as we “open” our doors and welcome your feedback along the way!

General Notes

  • 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.
  • Support people are asked to avoid eating and drinking in patient rooms as much as possible. Given that eating in close proximity to others remains a high risk activity, if necessary to eat/drink in the patient room, support people should turn away from the patient, only remove their mask to take a bite or sip and then replace the face covering.
  • Security will be called to respond to any family members/visitors who present significant safety concerns, including unwillingness to maskor comply with social distancing requirements, or refusing to leave when asked on the basis of these concerns.
  • Visitation rules apply equally to employees who wish to visit friends or family regardless of whether they are on or off duty.
  • This policy will be modified on a case-by-case basis for unique circumstances.