A Video Message from the CEO
Legislative Update
By Devon Green
Vice President of Government Relations

Happy crossover! Last week, we reached the theoretical halfway point of the legislative session. I say theoretical because with the latest federal COVID-19 relief/stimulus package, the legislative calendar may extend beyond mid-May or legislators may come back in the fall. Regardless, the crossover deadline remained—meaning that all bills not involving money had to be passed out of legislative committees to stay alive. Any bills not passing out of committees on Friday are left “on the wall” and the legislature will have to wait until next year to take them up again.

Last Week 

Workforce Incentives/Partnership with Higher Education: The House Commerce Committee passed H.159 after incorporating $20 million of one-time federal funding to address critical areas of need, including health care training and workforce. Included in the proposal is free tuition for one year for the following programs:
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program at Vermont Technical College (VTC)
  • Nursing programs at Castleton University, VTC
  • Allied Health Certificate at CCV
  • Mental health counseling at Northern Vermont University
  • Paramedicine and dental hygiene at VTC
  • Radiologic Science and Respiratory Therapy at VTC
In the News
A grim anniversary, with hope on the horizon
Brattleboro Reformer

“We cannot be paralyzed by anxiety, but we can’t be lulled into complacency.”

Those words have guided Dr. Trey Dobson and the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center through a year unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic officially reached Vermont on March 7, 2020, when the state Department of Health announced that an adult patient was being treated for the coronavirus at SVMC.

In the year since, 1,480 residents of Bennington County have developed COVID-19, and nine have died. Statewide, the death toll is 207, with nearly 16,000 cases recorded.

The disease’s arrival on Bennington’s doorstep resulted in a ripple of anxiety that had already begun to reverberate across the country: would there be enough protective equipment and ventilators to go around?

That anxiety was simultaneously being realized abroad, as Italian hospitals overflowed and the virus began popping up in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Protecting SVMC’s staff was the first priority for Dobson, who reasoned that his staff couldn’t reasonably maintain the capacity to care for the community through a crisis if they weren’t also cared for in turn. The classic, “put your oxygen mask on before helping others” approach.

Health care pros urge Rutland residents to get vaccinated
Rutland Herald

During a call-in show with health care providers from Rutland Regional Medical Center, many of the questions were about safety and the availability of a third vaccine that requires one shot instead of two.

The Rutland hospital’s Dr. Rick Hildebrant, chief medical information officer and director of hospital medicine, and Amy Martone, a registered nurse and director of nursing excellence, spent an hour answering questions about vaccines from callers and Mike Cameron, Catamount Radio news director.

Hildebrant said he and Martone wanted to tell people the vaccines are very effective.

“We have not seen any cases of individuals who have been vaccinated and who have contracted COVID,” he said.

Martone said since Rutland Regional has moved its vaccine clinics to the Holiday Inn, they have been able to administer up to 800 shots a day.

“I’m just so very proud of that, that we’re able to do that for the community,” Martone said.

Senate Judiciary Committee approves scaled-back firearms ban
Bennington Banner

A proposal to restrict firearms from hospitals, child care facilities and certain public buildings has been whittled down to hospitals and has emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee with a favorable recommendation.
The bill, S. 30, has been replaced with a “strike-all amendment” that bans firearms from hospitals and charters a study by the Capitol Complex Security Advisory Committee on the regulation of firearms in the complex. The study will look at situations when people have brought firearms onto the property, how those incidents were handled, and whether the issue should be addressed in legislation.

Bennington hospital doubles down on nursing care; fewer patients admitted

About seven years ago, the leadership team at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center realized, because of dwindling numbers of people being admitted as patients, they were going to need to rethink the hospital’s staffing system.

Inpatient care, a main source of revenue for many hospitals at the time, have been declining for years. SVMC flipped from 80% inpatient and 20% outpatient in 2000 to 79% outpatient and 21% inpatient in 2014.

The downturn could have spurred the hospital to cut staff, but instead, it redeployed nurses who previously cared for patients in the hospital to new programs.

Those initiatives have helped SVMC reduce unnecessary hospitalizations by more than half.

UVM Health Network urges continued vigilance in fight
against COVID-19
Vermont Business Magazine

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and as vaccination rates rise in our communities, the University of Vermont Health Network urges everyone to continue practicing the proven simple measures that help to stop the spread of COVID-19 to keep our family, friends and neighbors healthy.

“Vermont, Northern New York and the nation are making steady progress in this unprecedented COVID-19 vaccination effort,” said John Brumsted, MD, president and CEO of the UVM Health Network. “However, it is critical that we look out for each other so we can end the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. Practicing public health precautions is the best way to ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

Vaccine eligibility is constantly expanding in both Vermont and New York. You can find the most up-to-date information here(link is external).

The UVM Health Network is among the many institutions now working vigorously to distribute available vaccines in accordance with state guidelines in Vermont and New York. Research on the three COVID-19 vaccines now in use shows that vaccines make symptomatic disease less likely and greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. However, scientists are still researching how well the vaccines prevent asymptomatic transmission and how well they work against the new variants.

Hospitals in the News
Mark Your Calendar