From Our Annual Meeting
Sarah Ward at the Moth-Inspired Story-Telling Hour
At our Annual Meeting kick-off event, Sarah Ward, director of Vermont's Child Welfare Training Program, told a story about how launching a new technique took a leap of faith.

Watch a video of Sarah's story.
In the News
New recovery program meets people in the moment
The Commons

For people ready to seek treatment for substance-use disorder, timing is everything.

The more quickly someone receives support, the more likely they are to enter a recovery program, said Kurt White, director of ambulatory services at the Brattleboro Retreat as he and a number of colleagues introduced the Rapid Access to Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) program.

The program, a collaboration among the Retreat, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, and Turning Point of Windham County, will provide another pathway to recovery.

“I have often colloquially said that we need to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ — and work to capture the person’s moment of readiness,” White said. “It is in the nature of addictive disorders that moments of willingness can come and go, and in a very real way, there is always a pull toward use and relapse.”

This program aims to provide fast, low-barrier access to treatment through BMH’s emergency department. The 24/7 program surrounds people in active withdrawal from opioids with a variety of services.
UVM Health Network launches $151 million medical records system
VT Digger

When pediatrician Anna Hankins tried this summer to contact all of the families whose kids were overdue for a checkup, it required the work of a data analyst and then personal calls to each family. 

Central Vermont Medical Center, she found, had no more efficient way to do it.

That changed last weekend, when the University of Vermont Health Network launched a $151 million electronic records system, which doctors say will “fundamentally change” the way they provide care to patients.

The platform, built by the national health care software company Epic, will allow doctors to schedule, bill and view a patient’s history all in one place. Patients can also go online to view their past procedures and lab test results, as well as schedule appointments and refill prescriptions. 

Addiction help offered in BMH emergency wing
Brattleboro Reformer

Beth will insert story here

What's Best for the Children of Vermonters With Opioid-Use Disorder? 
Seven Days

In April of last year, my sister Maddie was led from her cell at a New Hampshire jail to a telephone, where she called in to a hearing that was taking place in a Vermont family court. The matter before the court was not related to her incarceration, which was for failing to report to her probation officer, but the fate of her 3-year-old son.

I wasn't at the hearing, which was closed to everyone except the parties directly involved, but Maddie and our sister Maura each called me later crying. Maura told me Maddie had sobbed as she informed the judge she was voluntarily terminating her parental rights to her son, Ayden, and that the judge commended her for her bravery in taking the step, which would allow Maura and her husband to adopt him.

This outcome was what Maura had been advocating for over the past year and a half, but she knew that separation from her son had been an almost unbearable source of pain for Maddie, and we all feared what this final and permanent severing would mean for her.

Record tick-related hospital visits this fall
VT Digger

The Vermont Department of Health reported a little over 1.5% of the state’s emergency room and urgent care visits were tick-related in the last several weeks of October. Those numbers were well above the historic average (from 2004-2018) of closer to 0.5% of visits being tick-related during the fall peak of tick season. 

The recent numbers, however, are on-par with the first peak of the 2019 season, in May and June, when the Lyme-spreading black-legged tick was in its nymph form. 

State Public Health Veterinarian Natalie Kwit said an important difference between the two seasons is that while Lyme is the primary area of concern during the spring, another tick-borne illness, anaplasmosis, makes up a big portion of hospital visits in the fall. 

White River Junction VA celebrates veterans

White River Junction VA celebrates veterans

The Lyme Town Band kicked off Monday's ceremony at the VA, where upwards of 25,000 vets receive care annually.

"As injuries are experienced both in combat and through service, the VA is an extension of the caring of the nation," said the VA's Capt. Richard Kirby.

Injuries that fromer Marine Lloyd Asbury knows first hand. "A lot of us has survivor's guilt, you know. Why the guy next to me and not me?" Asbury said.

Asbury served 10 years in the Marine Corps. He now gets treatment here for PTSD. He showed up Monday to recognize his fellow soldiers. "It didn't matter where he came from, what color his skin was, what his political or religious beliefs were. All of that was secondary. We had a job to do, we had to do it together and we had to count on the person next to us," he said.

Agencies partner for local suicide prevention effort
Rutland Herald

Supported by a three-year grant from the Bowse Health Trust, several Southern Vermont health care organizations are working together to bring the Rutland Safe Suicide Care Project to the local community in pursuit of the goal of eliminating suicide in Rutland County.

During Thursday’s Project VISION meeting, JoEllen Tarallo, executive director of the Center for Health and Learning, said suicide was a “priority health issue,” especially right now in Vermont.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 112 suicides in 2017, making it the 19th highest-incidence state for suicides.

“We are in an upward trend, not only here in Vermont but nationally on suicide. It’s a public health issue and we need to address it just like we try to address cardio-vascular disease, just like we try to address tobacco use, and I think we’re going to have to address marijuana use, and opiate use,” she said.

Tarallo said the rate of suicides in Vermont in 2014 made it the highest in New England.

DEA issues warning over counterfeit prescription pills from Mexico
Vermont Business Magazine

The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public of dangerous and deadly counterfeit prescription pills that have infiltrated the black market in the U.S.

According to the DEA, drug cartels from Mexico are manufacturing mass quantities of these pills, which are laced with fentanyl – which can be deadly, even in very small doses. Based on a sampling of pills that were seized by the agency earlier this year, 27% contained potentially lethal doses of the drug. The agency says these type of counterfeit pills are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths each year in the U.S.

Vermont Medicaid sees sixfold increase in spending on urine drug testing
VT Digger

Vermont Medicaid's spending on urine drug testing at independent labs has increased sixfold in three years, a spike state officials attribute to more patients seeking treatment for opioid use disorder. 

In 2016, $2.4 million was spent on 28,000 tests for 4,800 patients. In 2017, $10 million was spent on 120,000 tests for 9,300 patients and in 2018, $15 million was spent for 180,000 tests on 11,500 patients.

Not included in that spending is testing done at state hospitals or by the Department of Corrections and the Department for Children and Families.

That translates to an average increase per Medicaid patient in drug treatment programs from five tests per year in 2016 to 15 per year in 2018.

The sudden increase raised questions for officials in the Department of Vermont Health Access, which administers Medicaid spending. 
Get vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving and seasonal gatherings
Vermont Business Magazine

With cases already reported in the state, flu season is upon us and Vermont health officials say now is the time for everyone 6 months and older to get their annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks for full protection from the vaccine to kick in, making it a just-in-time step as people prepare for holiday travel and family gatherings.

“Getting a flu shot is the best protection we have against the serious risks of flu illness,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “The vaccine markedly lowers the risk of illness, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu. Preventing the flu also means avoiding extra doctor visits and missed days of work and school.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s vaccine looks to be a good match for the expected influenza virus strains. “Vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season,” said Dr. Levine, “but bottom line, vaccination is your best bet to avoid illness. And if you do get the flu, your symptoms will be less severe.”

People in the News
Mark Your Calendar!
Monday, November 18, 9 a.m., Thursday, November 21, 2 p.m.
Copley Health Center, Morrisville

Thursday, November 21, 1 p.m.
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, St. Johnsbury

Tuesday, December 3, 12 p.m.

Wednesday, December 4, 5:30 p.m.