SVMC Postpones Non-Urgent Care
Ashley Jowett
/ Categories: NEWS, 2020, 03

SVMC Postpones Non-Urgent Care

Visitor Restrictions Take Effect, Putnam Café Closes. ​

BENNINGTON, VT—March 17, 2020—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), is continuously working to minimize the spread of COVID-19, while ensuring safety for patients and their families. The most recent actions include the postponement of all non-urgent appointments and procedures, further restriction of visitors, and the closure of the Putnam Café.

“We have a dedicated and talented team of professionals here,” said Tom Dee, SVHC’s president and CEO. “We are making changes that allow them to focus their complete attention on reducing the impact of COVID-19 in our community.”

Postponement of Non-Urgent Appointments

SVMC practices and inpatient departments have postponed non-urgent visits and procedures beginning Thursday, March 19 until at least Sunday, April 5. Office staff will notify patients directly. Generally, patients should expect that well visits and annual exams will be postponed. Somewhat urgent needs—such as follow-up visits or appointments to address the need for changes to medications, for instance—will be evaluated and held at the discretion of the provider. Appointments for acute problems will be scheduled. Lab studies, imaging, and physical therapy will continue, using social distancing and other techniques to minimize exposure.

According to Trey Dobson, MD, SVMC’s chief medical officer, the decision to postpone non-urgent appointments was based on recommendations and federal guidelines, the need to ensure patient and staff safety, to mitigate the spread, and to allow for the reallocation of resources to the areas of greatest need.

“SVMC is committed to our community, and the health and safety of our patients,” said Dobson. “We believe that this decision is the best way to provide care right now.”

Updates to Visitors Policy

SVMC has revised its visitor policy to align with Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s recommendations. They reflect what is necessary to maintain patient safety at this time and may change as conditions warrant.

Effective immediately visiting hours in all hospital areas have been reduced to 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. Visitation is limited to one symptom-free individual per patient at a time.

Patients on the Women’s and Children’s Unit are allowed one visitor, with prior notice, during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in addition to the second parent, who is welcome 24 hours a day. Due to risks associated with flu and COVID-19, siblings are not able to visit at this time.

Complete details will be given to visitors as they check in and are available from COVID-19/VisitorGuidelines.

As previously announced, no non-medical visits are allowed at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation on SVMC’s Bennington Campus or at the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hoosick Falls.

“While we understand the comfort patients receive through visitors, we also need to prioritize safety,” said Dee. “These are necessary steps to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Closure of Putnam Café

In response to Governor Scott’s executive order that restaurants and bars discontinue seated service, the Putnam Café, the hospital’s on-campus restaurant, will close to the public at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17th. Visitors can use a coffee machine outside the Café and vending machines in the West Wing waiting area. Meals for employees will continue at an alternative location.

Previous Announcements:

A COVID-19 information hotline, 802-440-8844, includes the most commonly requested information delivered via a recorded message. A representative answers between the hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays.

SVMC recommends primary care providers as the best source for individual guidance and information. The hotline offers support for primary care providers and ensures those who do not have a provider get the information and services they need.

Patients and visitors to the hospital and medical office building are asked to stop at the respiratory etiquette check-in, where they will be greeted and asked whether they have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Those with symptoms are given a mask, and all are given a sticker with the date and which department or unit they are visiting. 

For patients who have a referral for COVID-19 testing from their primary care provider, SVMC offers drive-up testing. The service allows patients to remain in their cars. Clinical staff wear personal protective equipment, swab patients in their cars, and remind patients to practice self-isolation until results are known. Samples are sent to the Vermont lab for results, which typically arrive to the primary care provider within 96 hours. The State of Vermont is not charging for the test, and the patient will not incur ED charges.

Complete COVID-19 information, including frequently asked questions and helpful resources, is available at The site is updated continuously.

About SVHC:
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices. For more information, visit

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center provides exceptional care without discriminating on the basis of an individual’s age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, language, physical or mental disability, socioeconomic status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.


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American Red Cross Blood Drive

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Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is hosting an American Red Cross Blood drive 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday, December 5, 2019, in its employee cafeteria.

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