Message From our Interim President and CEO
By Mike Del Trecco, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer

My name is Mike Del Trecco and I recently stepped in as interim president and CEO of VAHHS. Many of you who are regular readers of VAHHS Update and followers of hospitals in Vermont know me from my nearly 18 years at VAHHS leading efforts to support our hospitals. On the personal side, I live in Essex with my wife Donna, a nurse, and our two kids, Jeffrey and Jillian. I enjoy all that Vermont has to offer—especially spending time exploring the back woods of the Northeast Kingdom.

I am honored by the opportunity to serve in this new role, and I recognize that we are at a pivotal place in health care. I believe in the mission of our organization, and I know how important your local hospitals are to you and your communities.

Just four days into my role I had the opportunity address the issue of violence that is taking place within our health care organizations. As I related in recent media interviews, violence of any type is not acceptable. The increase in acts of violence, however, is just one example of the difficult issues that we are facing in health care.

As a state and as a society, we are at a crucial moment. Each challenge—whether it be health care, housing, mental health, childcare, workforce, substance misuse, violence, the economy or the environment—is connected to the last. We cannot make progress on one without addressing the others.

Over the next several months, our hospitals, like so many important institutions, will need your support and the support of the state administration, regulatory agencies, legislature and local communities to re-build and stabilize after a very difficult two years. This is a time for collaboration and we all must work together to make sure our hospitals and Vermonters come out of this challenging time stronger than ever.

For its part, VAHHS will be at the table with a spirit of teamwork and creativity to help navigate these important issues.

I love Vermont for so many reasons, but among them is that we live in a place where we can roll up our sleeves, assess a problem and then get to work on solutions that work for all of us.

Thanks for listening and I look forward to working with you in the coming months.
In the News
‘Constantly weighing the risk’: Emergency room nurses contend with rising violence

Myla Lindroos was at the end of her shift Saturday night when a patient tackled her and kicked her in the stomach, she said. 

Lindroos, a registered nurse at Rutland Regional Medical Center’s emergency department, said she had her back against a hospital gurney. She later found a bruise on her back the size of the gurney’s metal rail.

The patient, an unhoused woman who refused to be discharged from the hospital, had aimed for Lindroos’ pregnant belly, Lindroos said.

“I had this flashbulb moment with her face over mine where all I could think was, ‘Our nursery isn't finished. My daughter's life isn't worth this,’” said Lindroos, who is eight months pregnant with her first child.

Emergency departments, often the provider of last resort, have long been a place where violence and healing coexist. Staff must treat everyone who walks through the door — from patients in the throes of addiction or a psychotic break to people with a history of violent outbursts. 
As US Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, abortion remains protected in Vermont

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday struck down the federal right to abortion by overturning its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, ending nationwide protections that have stood for nearly 50 years.
In Vermont, where abortion will remain legal, response to the decision from health care providers and politicians was swift and furious. Abortion-rights groups prepared for protests Friday afternoon and evening in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland. 

The high court’s 6-3 ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization upholds a Mississippi law limiting access to abortions to 15 weeks gestation, before fetal viability. The Supreme Court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision — which was also overturned Friday — established the viability test.
UVM Health Network pediatrician on getting young kids vaccinated following federal approval
Vermont Public Radio

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available to younger children in Vermont for the first time.

On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old. Soon after, the state Health Department announced providers would begin distributing those vaccines in Vermont this week.
COVID subvariants gain foothold in New England: Vt. case levels remain low

Two new omicron subvariant strains continue to gain ground in Vermont and across New England, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.

The number of infections from the BA.4 and BA.5 strains accounts for a combined 25% of COVID-19 cases in New England and approximately 35% of COVID-19 cases nationally.

The Vermont Department of Health syndromic surveillance report released Wednesday shows BA.4 and BA.5 accounted for 8.5% of the specimens sequenced but that data is nearly a month old now.

Public health experts have cautioned that the new variants may be more transmissible and can bypass immunity from earlier omicron strains. They were first detected in South Africa where they swept through the country earlier this spring.
Vermont Covid cases dip below 100 per day on eve of test site closures

Vermont reported an average of 86 Covid-19 cases in the past week, the lowest seven-day average since the start of the Delta surge last August, according to data from the Department of Health.

Officials have long cautioned that the meaning of Covid case totals has changed since the rise of at-home antigen testing, which is not included in case data. The numbers may be affected even further after the closure of state-run testing sites on Saturday.

But there are other signs of progress in Covid metrics. The average positivity rate has fallen to 6.6%, suggesting that the decline in case numbers is not just because of a decline in tests.

Covid hospitalizations have dropped as well, remaining below 30 patients on Monday and Wednesday, according to the health department. (The department releases hospital data only for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.) New hospital admissions for Covid have also fallen from their peak of about 15 per day in May to about five per day in recent weeks.
Hospitals in the News
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