Visiting Patients - Porter Medical Center
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Visiting Patients

Effective Date: April 2, 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 wellbeing of our patients. 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.

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:

  • Must follow current VT State Guidelines for quarantine. Those who have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19 must not visit our 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) will not be allowed to visit.
  • Is 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.
  • If vaccination status is required, evidence of vaccination will be required.

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: One healthy, vaccinated support person per day is permitted on adult inpatient units between the hours of 9am-5pm except for patients who are COVID+ or PUI. We encourage patients to limit those that they identify as support persons to one or two consistent family members over the course of the hospital stay but regardless of the numbers identified no more than one person will be permitted per day. An exception to vaccination requirement and visiting hours is permitted for patients with communication or other special needs (including patients who are deaf or who do not understand or speak English and those with cognitive impairments).  
  • 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, two support 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: One healthy designated support person is allowed on the Birth Center. This person is to remain with the patient on the unit and may stay the night. Certified doulas are permitted as an additional support person using current guidelines and regardless of vaccination status.

Emergency Department

  • Emergency Department:
    • One healthy, vaccinated support person is welcome at the bedside, unless the patient is COVID+ or PUI. Support persons are not able to wait in the waiting room but can join the patient once in an assigned room.
    • The care team may make exceptions to the vaccination requirement in response to emergent needs.
    • One healthy parents/guardian at a time are welcome for pediatric patients. An exception may be made to accommodate both parents or guardians as needs and space allow.
    • 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.  

Surgical/Procedural Areas

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


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..
  • 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 rescreened upon each entry. Family members are strongly encouraged to limit repeated entry and return.

Outpatient Clinics

  • Adult Patients: One healthy, vaccinated support person is permitted.
    • All individuals will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status.
  • Pediatric Patients: One healthy support person is permitted, regardless of vaccination status.
    • An exception may be made to accommodate both parents or guardians as needs and space allow

Helen Porter

Key highlights of our modified visitation are as follows:

  • Request visitation by calling 802-385-3661, our dedicated visitation phone line.
  • All individuals will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms regardless of vaccination status.
  • Leave a message and your call will be returned within 48 hours.
  • Visits MUST be confirmed by a member of the Helen Porter Staff at which time we will provide the date and time in advance of your scheduled visit.

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 mask or 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.