Behind the Scenes: Making hospital policies
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Behind the Scenes: Making hospital policies

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s policies, like those that indicate how many visitors are allowed and what type of mask to wear, may seem confusing to patients in our hospital and clinics.

A lot of careful thought and attention goes into every decision at the hospital and our practices. By sharing some of the process and the factors we consider, we hope to give patients a greater sense that we are working in their best interest and focused on keeping them and our community safe.

Eyes on the Numbers A specialized dashboard compiles data from national, regional, and organizational sources to give us an up-to-the-minute picture of COVID risk in our area. It includes our hospital census, the number of COVID inpatients, the percentage of our COVID tests that come back positive, a positive results timeline, positive COVID tests results by town, our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Community Level, our supply of critical personal protective equipment, and more.

Putting Our Heads Together Key leaders from every department in the health system meet virtually twice a week to discuss the changes in COVID numbers and evaluate whether any changes are needed. They work to balance the three principles below.

Safety Above All While COVID is mild for many, due to the vaccination rate in our community, it can still be life-threatening for the unvaccinated and those with certain medical conditions. We need to protect every one. For example, when we see changes in key data points, such as an increase in COVID transmissions locally, we adjust the numbers of visitors allowed. By reducing the number of visitors, we reduce the risk of infection among our patients and our staff. Patient and staff safety is our highest priority.   

Quality Care The transmission of infection is dangerous. It also causes increased staff absences. If many staff are out sick, the quality of our care decreases for you. This is why we require patients to use surgical masks, rather than cloth ones. This has helped keep patients and staff safe throughout the pandemic and ensures that we maintain excellent quality of care for you and your family.

Patient Comfort Patient comfort is another high priority. We know having the people they love nearby helps patients heal, so we want to include as many as are safe.

We appreciate all of the patients who follow the policies posted around the health system. We are happy to explain the policies, so patients and visitors who don’t understand can learn more about how we are protecting them and ourselves.

Pamela Duchene, PhD, APRN, is the chief nursing officer and vice president for Patient Care Services at Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington. 



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