In the News
To Improve Medical Wait Times, Vermont First Has to Decide How to Measure Them
Seven Days

Vermont Human Services Secretary Mike Smith announced in early September that his agency would investigate the problem of people being forced to wait months — and, in some cases, more than a year — to see physician specialists. A team of state officials and regulators has assembled in the weeks since, meeting regularly as it embarks on what will be Vermont's most comprehensive assessment of wait times ever.

The charge: Establish benchmarks for how long people should wait for medical care, collect data to find where backlogs exist, pinpoint the root causes and brainstorm solutions — all by the end of the year. 
Northwestern Medical Center postponing elective surgeries

A Vermont hospital will begin postponing elective surgeries, citing a shortage of available nurses.
Officials with the Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans announced the facility will postpone all elective procedures. That will include any cosmetic and orthopedic surgeries, among other procedures.

Leadership told NBC5 News some nurses have been forced to take care of children who missed school after a possible COVID-19 exposure. They did not specify how many staff members were absent from regularly scheduled positions prior to the suspension of services.

"Things that are elective doesn't mean [sic] they're not important," said Jonathan Billings, vice president of the facility. "So our focus is on making sure we can provide the care the community absolutely needs."
UVM Health Network enacts plan to address patient wait times

The University of Vermont Health Network announced today additional measures to reduce delays in patient access to outpatient and inpatient care, and help ensure access to emergency care in the face of record patient volumes and other challenges.

The Network’s Access Action Plan includes new investments in staffing, technology and infrastructure, and enhanced partnerships with health care institutions outside of the Network and with state and local governments. 

The Action Plan addresses three main goals: hire successfully amid national staffing shortages, reduce wait times for specialty care, and improve hospital inpatient and emergency capacity.
Vermont state leaders break ground on Essex mental health facility

State and local officials broke ground Friday on a brand new, $16 million psychiatric facility in Essex. The state has taken a few strides to put more inpatient beds online since Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the Vermont State Hospital in 2011, but the need for acute care has grown exponentially over the past decade, putting the state perpetually one step behind.

Actual construction on the new 16-bed residential recovery facility will begin next week, starting with the demolition of the former Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center. lawmakers agree the project is long overdue.

The vision was originally born out of Tropical Storm Irene, a crisis that Vermont officials say became a blessing in disguise. Governor Phil Scott says the state-of-the-art building will give struggling Vermonters the proper level of mental health care in the most appropriate settings. “The facility will use the latest programming and treatment designed to support recovery, giving individuals the tools they need to be successful when they’re ready to transition back to their communities,” Scott said.
North Country Hospital receives “Most Wired” recognition for 6th straight year
Newport Dispatch

North Country Hospital has been awarded The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Digital Health Most Wired recognition for the sixth consecutive year.

The national program conducts an annual survey to assess how effectively healthcare organizations apply core and advanced technologies into their clinical and business programs to improve health and care in their communities.

“This award may sound like a broken record, since our hospital has received Most Wired Recognition for six straight years now,” North Country’s Chief Information Officer, Kate Pierce said. “What is important to note is that each year the bar for being recognized as a Most Wired facility gets higher, making it increasingly difficult to achieve.
St. J Man Accused Of Assaulting ER Nurse
Caledonian Record

A St. Johnsbury man is accused of assaulting a nurse in the Emergency Room at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) this summer.

Roberto A. Gines-Reyes, 39, pleaded not guilty in Caledonia Superior Court on Monday to misdemeanor charges of simple assault on a protected professional and disorderly conduct. According to the Vermont Department of Corrections, Gines-Reyes is being held at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury.

Caledonia Superior Court

Police say Gines-Reyes was in the NVRH Emergency Room in St. Johnsbury on July 15 when he allegedly began yelling profanities and threats and physically assaulted registered nurse Christina Rosten, 44.
Hospitals in the News