From the CEO
The pandemic has taught us to adjust, and to be resilient in the face of adversity. COVID-19 required us to find and show strength we may not have known we had. Whether it was staying away from loved ones, quarantining from household members, forgoing trips, moving to remote work and learning, closing businesses, or otherwise altering our normal course of life, the pandemic has been hard on everyone.

As we learned to manage these variables and developments, we also learned to be careful, strong and patient.

This past week, we needed to tap into that inner strength and resolve as many Vermonters had their long-awaited vaccine appointments cancelled when the federal government temporarily paused administration of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine.

If there is one thing about the pandemic that has been consistent from the start, it is the “COVID curveballs” that continue to be slung our way. Just when we are settled into a new routine or a set of expectations: WHAM! There it is. The fact remains, this pandemic is far from over.

So, we’ll need to keep digging deep, setting expectations reasonably and moving forward thoughtfully and collaboratively, as we have since COVID first crossed our borders. With infections and vaccinations both growing, there is cause for both concern and celebration.

To address the concern, we need to keep doing all the right things with distancing, masking, hand washing and vaccinating. To celebrate, we begin cautiously seeing our friends and relatives again. We safely visit restaurants. We enjoy the spring weather that allows us to gather outside in ways that do not spread COVID as easily.

It is not yet time to count the home runs, but to be ready for more curveballs as we move toward broader immunity and normalcy. We are making great progress. I expect the coming weeks to bring more good news than bad, including on the availability of vaccines. At the same time, with so many unknowns, our continued patience, resilience and vigilance is required for a bit longer.
Legislative Update
By Devon Green
Vice President of Government Relations

Last Week

Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact: The House Government Operations Committee took testimony on S.48. The Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact is an important health care workforce initiative and a key recommendation from the Rural Health Services Task Force 2020 Report. Under the compact, nurses can apply for a license in one compact state and have access to all the other compact states without applying for separate licenses, which is an appealing option for new graduates. Maine and New Hampshire are currently compact states and New York and Massachusetts have bills pending in the legislature.

In addition to VAHHS, other supporters of the bill include the Office of Professional Regulation, Board of Nursing, American Nurses Association-VT Chapter, Organization of Nurse Leaders, and a coalition of health care provider organizations including the long-term care facilities, home health and hospice agencies, federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and others.

Forensic Care Working Group: VAHHS testified in favor of a working group proposed in S. 3 to explore forensic care options for individuals in need of mental health care who are involved in the justice system. The original bill requires a report from the working group in November, but VAHHS along with the Department of Mental Health and other supports would like to see more time and resources allocated to this group to provide more comprehensive analysis and recommendations.
In the News
Why were Johnson & Johnson vaccinations suspended? What happens now?

“An abundance of caution.” That’s the phrase state and federal officials have repeatedly used to describe the reasoning behind the temporary suspension of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccinations.

Vermont paused Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics within hours of a recommendation by federal health agencies Tuesday morning.

Six people out of the roughly 6.8 million recipients of the vaccine experienced a rare blood clotting issue after their shots, according to a joint statement by officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agencies are now investigating a potential link between the vaccine and the clotting issue, the statement said.

The delay has raised questions for Vermonters who have recently received the J&J vaccine, have scheduled future J&J appointments or are generally concerned about vaccine side effects. VTDigger compiled responses to frequently asked questions about the J&J suspension based on information from Tuesday’s state press conference, global news reports and emails with medical experts. This information is subject to change.

All Vermonters 16 and older eligible for vaccine TODAY!

All Vermonters 16 and older can register for Covid-19 vaccine appointments starting at 6 a.m. on Monday (today).
Vaccine appointments can be scheduled through four sites: The Vermont Department of HealthKinney DrugsCVS and Walgreens.
Each has its own registration system. You may choose to schedule an appointment with whichever is most convenient. However, the Health Department has said you should not book an appointment on multiple sites — please pick one.

State officials have requested that those registering:
  • Use the online system, if possible, to keep the phone lines from getting overwhelmed.
  • Register for the site closest to where you live.
  • Keep your appointment — no-shows or last-minute cancellations could lead to vaccine doses being wasted
BFA graduate and nurse reflects on high school, pandemic
Saint Albans Messanger

Hailey Blanchard (Class of 2016), a recent graduate of McGill University (Class of 2020), has experienced a number of milestones since graduating from college — transitioning from an urban to rural setting and hitting the ground running with her career as a nurse at Northwestern Medical Center.

Along with her interest in science and the human body, Blanchard’s mother, who is a palliative care nurse at Northwestern Medical Center, inspired Blanchard to work with people in health care.

  • After a fulfilling college career at McGill, Blanchard looked back on her time at Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans, and how the community aspect of the high school drew her back to the small-town feel of St. Albans.
Volunteers Return To NVRH
Caledonian Record

Fully vaccinated volunteers Mildred LaBeur, Laurel St. James-Long, Dyanna Thresher and NVRH Auxiliary President Lorraine Matteis returned to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) for a brief re-entry orientation on Tuesday, April 13.

NVRH had paused its volunteer services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic, LaBeur and Thresher continued to serve NVRH as patient escorts at Corner Medical through the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

Gov. Phil Scott updated his guidance to allow fully vaccinated volunteers back into hospitals in March 2021. Although they were briefed on new policies and protocols, these four volunteers are not new to NVRH: LaBeur has been volunteering for five years, St. James-Long for 10 years, Thresher for 12 years and Matteis for five. They will be escorting patient, and assisting with the gift shop and support services.

Vaccines given to half the county
Rutland Herald

A little more than half of the residents of Rutland and Washington counties have gotten at least one vaccination shot to protect against COVID-19, according to the Vermont Department of Health online vaccination dashboard.

In Washington County, the percentage is 51.7 and Rutland County is slightly behind at 51.2.

Overall, 49.1% of Vermont’s population has gotten one or both of the necessary shots.

Barbara Quealy, a registered nurse and administrative director for primary care and COVID-19 support services at Central Vermont Medical Center, said staff at the Berlin hospital was “very proud.”

She said the vaccines were first given at the hospital at the end of 2020.

“When it was hospital-based, here, we had a team working through our convergence room and even in the corner of a lobby. They had provided over 8,400 vaccines. Since we opened up the new facility over at the former JC Penney, over at the Berlin Mall, we have been ale to administer now over 8,500 vaccines for a total of over 17,000 vaccines administered,” she said.

Hospitals in the News
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