SVMC Expands Electronic Access to Primary Care
Administrator Account
/ Categories: NEWS, 2020

SVMC Expands Electronic Access to Primary Care

BENNINGTON, VT—April 10, 2020—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), continues to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances related to COVID-19, including innovating new ways to provide primary and specialty care.

“While the SVMC staff is focused on fighting COVID-19, we recognize that patients’ needs for other care do not disappear,” said Bob Schwartz, MD, a primary care physician at SVMC Northshire Campus. “We are making it as easy as we can for patients to receive the same care they are used to remotely through telemedicine.”

Telemedicine services are available from all of SVMC’s primary and specialty care sites and are simple to use. Accessing services requires no special equipment or expertise. There is no app or other software needed.

Patients access telemedicine with a device that has video capabilities and an Internet connection, like a smart phone, tablet, or computer.

As in the past, patients call their primary care office for an appointment. They receive a special web address.   They check in electronically and meet their provider via video. The communication is private and compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Those without an Internet connection or video-enabled device may be able to meet with their provider over the phone. Some patients, depending on their condition, may need to be seen in person.

A link to more telemedicine information, including a get-started guide, is available at


Drive-up testing for COVID-19 is available at SVMC with a referral from a primary care provider.  The test will only be recommended for those with symptoms, including cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Those who have symptoms and are concerned that they have COVID-19 but do not have a primary care provider, you can call 802-440-8844. Those who are referred receive specific instructions from their primary care provider. Results can take up to 72 hours to be returned and will be delivered to the patient by the primary care provider by phone. Most people are directed to return home after the test and self-isolate until results are in.

The COVID-19 Informational Hotline, 802-440-8844, which was launched March 12, now connects patients who are in need of housing, food, or other necessities due to challenges related to the pandemic to social workers and community resources.

“The decision to use our skilled team of social workers on the hotline really grew out of what we were hearing from the community,” said Billie Lynn Allard, MS, RN, FAAN, SVMC’s administrative director of Population Health and Transitions of Care. “There were patients whose circumstances warranted that next level of assistance, and we wanted to be able to respond with the help they needed.”

The hotline is answered 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

COVID-19 Relief Fund
Those who are able are greatly encouraged to support the hospital and the vitally important work happening in the public’s interest by making a gift to the COVID-19 Relief Fund. Already, the fund has collected $300,000 in contributions, including a generous $100,000 match from the SVHC Auxiliary. The fund is already in use meeting crucial needs, and additional support is urgently needed. Members of the community should visit to contribute.

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.

A COVID-19 information hotline is available for community members. The number, 802-440-8844, is answered 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on weekdays. A recorded message provides the most frequently requested information. Telephone numbers and other COVID-19 information, including frequently asked questions and helpful resources, are available at

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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