Visiting Patients - Porter Medical Center
Skip to Main Content

Visiting Patients

Updated: January 3, 2022

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

  • ED patients are allowed 1 designated visitor for the duration of their ED evaluation, provided the patient is not COVID positive or a PUI.
  • The visitor will be instructed to make every attempt to limit their coming and going from the department.
  • The visitor must remain masked at all times while in the department and respectful of social distancing.
  • Visits to patients receiving end-of-life care will be managed by the ED staff and would be the exception to the 1 designated visitor per patient policy.

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 November 22, 2021

Revised Long Term Care guidance from VDH and CMS supports unrestricted visitation in nursing facilities at all times. Visitation is allowed for all residents at all times, regardless of COVID cases, investigation or outbreak status.

Key facts of revised guidance

  • Residents have the right to accept visitors or deny visitors at any time. 
  • Visitation will not be restricted while investigating COVID-19 cases among staff or residents.  Helen Porter will maintain a posting at front entrance and front reception with information regarding any active COVID-19 cases or investigations.  Visitors may assess their own situation and risk, and decide if they want to visit or come back another time.
  • During a potential COVID-19 outbreak, visitation may be structured in consultation with Vermont Department of Health and Department of Aging and Independ Living to reduce the risk of transmission, but would not suspended.

Visitors must follow the core principles of Infection Prevention

  • Complete COVID-19 pre-screening log upon arrival.
  • Wear a properly fitting mask, covering nose and mouth at all times.
  • Practice hand hygiene upon arrival and departure.
  • Visitors should go directly to the resident room or designated visitation area.  Visitors may not participate in resident group activities or resident group dining.

Note:  Visitors who have a positive viral test for COVID-19 in the past 14 days, symptoms of COVID-19, or currently meet the criteria for quarantine, should not enter the facility.

Physical Touch

A fully vaccinated resident may choose to have unmasked close contact, including physical touch such as a hug or holding hand with fully vaccinated visitors.  If a visitor is not vaccinated, mask should be worn by both resident & visitor for physical touch.  Please be prepared to put masks back on if other residents or staff enter your location.   

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.
  • Wearing masks and socially distancing is recommended for the duration of the outing.   

We are sincerely grateful for your continued support and cooperation