Porter ExpressCare changes protocols

AMANDA SEARS, MA, (left) and Diana Tutelo, NP, are two of the critical staffers at Porter ExpressCare, which is trying to become more easily available to patients while maintaining protections from COVID-19.

MIDDLEBURY — UVM/Porter Medical Center today changed some of the procedures for how it is operating its urgent care service as positive milestones are achieved in the battle against COVID-19. The goal is to make care more easily accessible.
As part of UVM/Porter Medical Center overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Porter ExpressCare remained available to care for patients with urgent medical needs, operating during their regularly scheduled hours. However, early in the pandemic, ExpressCare changed two important access details in order to minimize exposure risk for patients and staff. 
First, they had to change how patients arrived to the clinic. Porter initiated a single point of entry through the Emergency Department entrance. Second, they had to change the policy on who they could safely care for with respect to seeing patients with urgent needs who also had respiratory symptoms and/or a fever. 
As the pandemic evolved, so did the modifications to their healthcare environment to reflect current understanding of how COVID-19 is transmitted and how to resume the Porter ExpressCare “normal” function in a careful and thoughtful way. The following changes, effective May 11, are in alignment with UVM Health Network recommended policies and procedures for re-engaging with patients: 
Specific to ExpressCare at Porter Medical Center: 
•  The ExpressCare entrance will remain locked. However, patients arriving to Porter ExpressCare can be allowed in by staff after a phone screening and registration has been completed. Exterior signage will assist patients understand and use this new process. 
•  ExpressCare has put into place another new process to minimize risk to patients and staff that involves the patient waiting in their vehicle for an exam room. 
•  Masks over the nose and mouth for patients and their support person is a necessary requirement to be seen at ExpressCare. Masks can be provided for those that do not have them. 
•  Patients with respiratory complaints like cough and shortness of breath will be encouraged to call their primary care providers to determine the most appropriate place for care. 
•  For patients with respiratory complaints, ExpressCare will have designated exam areas that will evaluate these issues and refer patients to the ER as necessary. 
•  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will be used in accordance with CDC and Vermont State guidelines. 
ExpressCare evaluates acute medical conditions for patients older than age two, including simple cuts, minor burns, sports injuries, urinary complaints, foreign body removal (skin, eye), ear wax impaction, tick bites, skin rash, abscesses, ingrown toe nails and dental pain.
The Emergency Department continues to be the most appropriate location for evaluation of all patients age 2 and younger and anyone who has the following conditions: congestion, sore throat, cough, fever, (call your primary care provider to discuss these symptoms and get further advice on where it makes sense for you to be seen), abdominal pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, altered mental status, malaise, stroke-like symptoms and headache.
As UVM/Porter transitions and continues to develop new strategies for making services more accessible to the community, they will continue to reach out with updates and new information as appropriate. 

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