From Our Annual Meeting
During the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, “Achieving Health Equity: A VAHHS Virtual Meeting,” VAHHS was proud to welcome Dr. Mark Levine, whom VAHHS CEO Jeff Tieman introduced as Vermont’s Dr. Fauci. Levine, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, discussed the state’s response to COVID and the effect it had on several populations.

He began with a familiar graphic—one most of us remembered from the earliest days after the COVID patient in Vermont—the “flattening the curve” slide.

“This was really about VAHHS,” he noted, pointing out that a surge like the one shown if the curve was not flattened could have overwhelmed the health care system.

“The last thing we wanted for Vermont was for it to look like China, where hospitals were overwhelmed. We were looking at the anxious faces of Italian citizens and doctors. And we would soon see in New York City families devastated by losses and not allowed to see their loved ones as they lay dying. Inpatient care was being delivered in hallways; there was a debilitating lack of personal protective equipment; and refrigeration trucks were compensating for overfilled morgues,” he said.

“Thanks goodness, we—VDH, and you—collaborated and creatively financed our response so that the surge was an outcome that never came to be,” he exclaimed.

He enumerated the hardships hospitals had to endure to create that eventuality, listing sacrifices such as empty hospital beds awaiting COVID patients, teaching hospitals that had to reimagine medical school, rigorous testing protocols and the fear that many health care professionals faced.

“You wondered what would happen to all the other medical problems that weren’t being taken care of because of people choosing to ignore them or consciously delaying seeking attention for them,” he added. “And when re-opening would occur, what if no one came?” he remembered.

“Fortunately, that was a false prophecy,” he noted.

“And thought it wasn’t terrible, the health care workforce did suffer out of proportion to the rest of the population, leading to abundant concerns about staffing,” he stated.
In the News
An Update On The Outbreak In Shoreham From A Nurse On The Ground
Vermont Public Radio

This week, public health officials announced that 27 employees at Champlain Orchards in Shoreham have tested positive for COVID-19. All are men who traveled to Vermont from Jamaica to work seasonally through the H2A visa program.

Vermont Edition spoke with Julia Doucet from the Open Door Clinic in Middlebury, about what is being done at the orchard to ensure that those who are ill have access to medical care and have other needs met, and don't spread infection to those around them. She joined the show after working at the orchard for the morning, handing out COVID care kits.

OneCare Vermont submits 2021 budget, reports increased participation
Vermont Business Magazine

OneCare Vermont, Vermont’s Accountable Care Organization (ACO) on Thursday filed their 2021 budget with the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) as part of their annual budget review process. The budget supports the cooperative effort of thousands of providers across Vermont to stabilize health care costs and improve health for Vermonters.

Highlights of the budget include:

  • An additional 28,000 Vermonters will receive care from providers participating in OneCare and this new participation will contribute to meeting the scale targets.
  • There is increased and more in-depth hospital and provider participation in OneCare payer programs from last year.
  • Primary care providers in OneCare are projected to receive over $18 million dollars in investments to primary care, a focus of Vermont’s All-Payer ACO model, in addition to payments received for care delivery.
  • Of the total OneCare budget, 1.1% is designated for operating costs.

“The pandemic has made it clear that fee-for-service is unsustainable, and we’re fully committed to value-based care as the solution to stabilizing Vermont’s increasing health care costs,” said Rutland Regional Medical Center President and CEO Claudio Fort. “We’re excited to be joining the Medicare program with OneCare for the first time this year. OneCare’s approach provides the best opportunity to achieve meaningful health care payment and delivery reform here in Vermont.”

Primary Care Health Partners signed up for the OneCare Comprehensive Payment Reform program (CPR), which pays providers for better health outcomes instead of for each visit to the doctor’s office. Independent primary care practices that participate in CPR can earn 49% more during patient visits. Jon Asselin is COO of the group.

At Governor Scott's press briefing Friday, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said that the state is working to "re-boot" the All-Payer model, which has worked well during the pandemic.

Vermont goes two months without COVID deaths
Rutland Herald

Vermont and its residents are on a streak: As of today, it has been two months since a death attributed to COVID-19 has been reported.

At the time of this reporting, there have been 58 deaths caused by COVID according to the Vermont Department of Health. The Johns Hopkins University & Medicine website said there have been 211,405 COVID deaths throughout the United States.

At the end of July, a run of more than six weeks without COVID deaths in the state was broken when the number went from 56 to 57.

The last COVID death was reported to have occurred Aug. 6.

Dr. Mark Levine, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, qualified what he called “good news.”

“That doesn’t take away the fact that there were 58,” he said.

Levine said most states reported the deaths among their populations were mostly elderly or people with other chronic conditions. They were the same people at risk in Vermont, he added.

Governor Phil Scott reappoints Jessica Holmes to Green Mountain Care Board
Vermont Business Magazine

Governor Phil Scott announced the reappointment of Jessica Holmes, PhD, to serve as a member of the Green Mountain Care Board. Holmes has served on the Board since 2014. “Jessica has been a great asset to the Board, and I’m pleased to see her continue her service,” said Governor Scott. “Her extensive background in health policy and economics is so valuable as we work to make healthcare costs more affordable for Vermonters and ensure a strong healthcare system.”

Holmes is a professor of economics at Middlebury College, teaching courses covering microeconomics, health economics and the economics of social issues. She has published articles on topics including philanthropy, economic development, health economics, labor economics and more. Holmes has additional experience as a litigation consultant for National Economic Research Associates, directing projects and drafting expert testimony using economic and statistical analysis related to securities fraud, product liability and intellectual property.

Hospitals in the News
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