Burlington, Vt. – Most COVID-era masking requirements and restrictions on hospital visitation will be rolled back early next week by UVM Health Network hospitals in the state of Vermont.
Effective Wednesday, April 12, The University of Vermont Medical Center, UVM Health Network — Central Vermont Medical Center, and UVM Health Network — Porter Medical Center will lift masking requirements for patients and employees in public areas, and return to pre-COVID hospital visitation guidelines for most clinical units where visitation restrictions were not in place before the pandemic.
Vermont Masking Policy Update
Hospital employees continue to be required to wear masks while in patient rooms, exam rooms, and while providing direct patient care. The hospitals’ updated masking policies make masking optional for staff while they are in public areas, and optional for patients and visitors in all areas, unless they have symptoms of respiratory illness.
Immunocompromised individuals and those with health concerns may request additional accommodations by contacting their care provider or notifying a staff member in the office they are visiting, to ensure all patients are able to safely access medical care. Free surgical/procedural masks will remain available at all hospital entrances, the organizations said.
Vermont Visitation Policy Update
Similarly, the hospitals’ updated visitation policies will roll back COVID-era visitation restrictions for most clinical units, facilities and offices where visitation was not restricted prior to the pandemic. Some high-risk clinical units, such as infusion suites and dialysis clinics, will continue to impose visitation restrictions. Areas where visitation restrictions existed prior to the pandemic, such as Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and inpatient psychiatry clinics, will continue to have certain restrictions in place.
New York Hospital Masking, Visitation Requirements Remain in Effect
The masking and visitation changes do not affect UVM Health Network hospitals in northern New York, where masking requirements and hospital visitation policies remain in effect, in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.
“Alice Hyde Medical Center and CVPH continue to welcome visitors of all ages. However, visitors, employees and patients are required to wear a surgical mask while in our facilities,” said Brenda Murphy, Associate Vice President of Quality and Safety. Patients, visitors and staff at Elizabethtown Community Hospital are also required to mask while on the hospital’s premises.
Detailed information on updates to masking and visitation policies at each hospital are available on each organization’s website:
Officials at the hospitals said the decision to roll back many COVID-era restrictions and requirements, which have been in place for three years amid the global pandemic, was made in consultation with clinical leaders and infection prevention teams across the organizations, and after a thorough review by a panel of clinicians with wide-ranging expertise in infectious disease, infection prevention, critical and emergency care, pediatrics, microbiology, nursing, respiratory therapy, clinical microbiology, and medical ethics.
“For the last three years masking and visitor restrictions have been in place and have done an amazing job of keeping our patients and teams safe,” said Stephen Leffler, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer of UVM Medical Center. “From a clinical perspective, these changes in policy reflect a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to safeguarding public health while allowing our patients, visitors and staff to safely navigate this new phase of the COVID-19 landscape. We continue to have procedures in place to protect our most vulnerable populations. These are positive changes for many of our patients, their families and our staff. I’m excited to see patient and staff smiles when I walk down the hallways again.”
“These changes are consistent with current evidence and the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Vermont Department of Health,” said Jessie Leyse, MD, MPH, Physician Site Leader for Infections Disease at Central Vermont Medical Center. “From a clinical perspective, these changes reflect a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to safeguarding public health while allowing our patients, visitors and staff to safely navigate this new phase of the COVID-19 landscape.”
“Porter is confident that we can keep our community healthy while easing up on COVID policies and procedures, including these masking and visitation guidelines,” said Anna Benvenuto, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Porter Medical Center. “This will not change our priority of providing compassionate care while keeping all patients, residents and visitors safe. All Porter facilities will still have masks available for anyone who wants or needs one.”