UVM Medical Center President details visitor policy expansion

Local News

UVM Medical Center recently scaled back some limitations on its visitation policy, but there’s still concern about how rising COVID-19 cases elsewhere in the country might impact Vermont’s progress.

Last week, it was announced that patients are allowed one family member or support person for inpatient and procedural areas, as well as within the emergency department. Two parents can accompany pediatric patients.

UVM Medical Center President Dr. Stephen Leffler said that it was possible because everyone has done their part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“That coordinated, careful response has allowed Vermont to have a low enough case rate right now that we can allow patients and families to be together in the hospital which is very important to them and very important to us,” Dr. Leffler said.

With Fourth of July weekend comes an increased likelihood that large gatherings could set progress back, particularly amid reports of overcrowded bars in Burlington.

Dr. Leffler said the focus needs to remain on public health.

“The key is to keep taking safety precautions, people should be socially distancing, wearing masks, being smart about getting into large gatherings so we can open Vermont back up,” Dr. Leffler said. “We control this by how we act in social situations.”

As the summer goes on, COVID-19 is spiking – 40 states saw their cases rise on Friday, and Dr. Leffler said it’s a cautionary tale for Vermont. Future expansion to UVM Medical Center’s visitation policy is directly tied to how that plays out.

“I do think that it’s likely as we have students coming back and visitors coming in, as our policy loosens a little bit, we will likely see spikes in cases at different times so right now we have loosened up, but we’re ready to tighten back down if we need to or eventually go back to what we consider normal with visitors and families 24/7, but we’re a ways away from that right now,” Dr. Leffler said.

Earlier this week, Central Vermont Medical Center took similar steps to allow more visitors. Everyone visiting facilities across the UVM Health Network will be screened for temperature and symptoms, as well as be required to wear a mask.

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