In the News
Shawn Tester: Let’s Get Through This Together
Caledonian Record

The fourth wave due to the Delta variant feels like the “straw that broke the camel’s back” to many of us. In June we thought life was going to get back to normal, then the numbers began to rise.

As I shared with my staff the other day, this past week was supposed to be the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems’ (VAHHS) annual meeting and conference. It is usually a 2-day event, held at various locations throughout the State, and that is what the plan had been in the early summer. It is a great opportunity to connect with our healthcare colleagues across the State, gain new insights, and celebrate our successes. However, as the current wave of Delta began rising, VAHHS quickly pivoted to cancel the in-person event and shift to a one-day zoom-only series of presentations instead. Given our current challenges, I was only really able to join for a few hours in the morning but was really impressed with the keynote speaker, Aron Ralston, the outdoorsman, mechanical engineer and motivational speaker best known for surviving a canyoneering accident in 2003 by cutting off part of his right arm. Given these challenging times, his message of perseverance and hope really resonated with me—he shared that in the darkest moments of his personal crisis, it was gratitude that kept him going: gratitude for his family, his friends, and everything that touched his life. He urged us, no matter how challenging things seem, to never give up.
65+ group now eligible for booster shots in Vermont

Vermonters 65 and older can sign up for a Pfizer booster shot starting Friday.
They’re the latest to go in the age-band approach. It’s only for people who got their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago.

In addition, the following other groups are currently eligible for a booster.

  • Age 18 or older with certain medical conditions that put you at high risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19, or

  • Age 18 or older and are more likely to be exposed to or spread COVID because of where you work, or

  • Age 18 or older and are Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC), or are age 18 or older and live with someone who is BIPOC.
What to expect when getting a Pfizer booster shot
News 10

At Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, health care workers are now administering the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot to those who are eligible.
“If you’re 65 and above and you’ve received your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine greater than six months ago, it’s important to get a booster,” explained Trey Dobson, Chief Medical Officer. “Data has shown that it will help you’re immune response to fighting off COVID.”

But a booster shot is not to be confused with a third dose. While the amount of the vaccine is the same, the time in which it is given is different. Third doses are typically given to those who are immunocompromised 21-28 days after getting their second shot. Boosters are for those who got their second dose at least six months prior.
Rutland County sets COVID record
Rutland Herald

Rutland County set a record for new cases of COVID-19 late last week.

“Pretty much, everybody who isn’t vaccinated is going to get COVID,” said Dr. Rick Hildebrant, chief medical information officer and director of hospital medicine at Rutland Regional Medical Center. “You are at such a higher risk and there’s so much COVID in the community right now.

The county hit a peak Friday with 42 new cases. That number has slacked off since, with 24 reported on Monday. The 14-day case count stands at 386.

Rutland County does not have the highest infection rate in the state — that distinction goes to Orleans County, with a population less than half of Rutland County. It had a 14-day case count of 356.

Rutland County has an overall vaccination rate of 82.5% — far from the worst in Vermont but still below the statewide average of 87.6% of Vermonters getting at least one dose.

The spike is part of an overall upward trend over the last few weeks, which state officials had previously attributed to people mingling without observing precautions during Labor Day gatherings.
NVRH Replaces Emergency Surge Drill With The Real Thing
Caledonian Record

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital staff planned to practice a “mass care” drill on Thursday, but then things got real.

A surge of 20 patients with actual medical needs arrived at the Emergency Room in a short span of time, putting staff and systems to the test on a day originally scheduled to be an orchestrated exercise.

Planners of the exercise said the idea was to “test the capacity and capabilities of NVRH, along with Emergency Operations Coordination, Emergency Public Information and Warning and Mass Care abilities.”

But Dr. Michael Rousse, chief medical officer at NVRH, said that as actual emergencies unfolded at such a high volume, the drill plan was dropped and officials decided to use the real scenario to gauge NVRH capacity and capabilities.

“It was like a mass casualty event,” said Dr. Rousse.

There was no single cause for the high number of ER arrivals, but it underscored the reliance people have on the hospital at a time of staffing and COVID concerns.

Road map for effective diversity, equity and inclusion in Vt. businesses, communities

More and more businesses, organizations and municipalities are adding diversity, equity and inclusion directors and committees. But experts warn it has to be done the right way to be effective.

“Personally, I’m really happy and thankful to be in this role. I feel a deep sense of responsibility,” Marissa Coleman said.
Coleman is the newly tapped Diversity, Equity and Inclusion vice president at the UVM Medical Center. The psychologist is an expert in trauma and social justice.
It’s her job to assemble a team and draft a five-year strategic plan for Vermont’s largest employer.

The goal is to create a sense of belonging for patients and staff, so she’s having discussions with groups of people with shared identities. The hospital will then use that information when making policy decisions.

“My role is going to be in every decision that we make and every meeting that I am a part of that I bring the DEI lens thinking who is this going to impact, who needs to be at the table that perhaps is not part of this discussion,” Coleman said.
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