Message From the CEO
Time to Prevent Another Tulsa

By Jeff Tieman
Last week, our nation’s gun violence epidemic spread to a Tulsa, Oklahoma hospital where an aggrieved patient shot and killed four innocent people including another patient, two doctors and a receptionist.
Hospitals and health care settings are places of healing and hope. Together we must do everything possible to ensure they are not sites of death and destruction. More broadly, it is vital that our nation and state work to understand the tragic problem of mass shootings and summon the courage to address it.
We have made solid progress here in Vermont. A few years ago Gov. Scott approved a gun safety bill that expands background checks, limits magazine capacity and requires people under 21 to take a safety course before purchasing a gun.
And earlier this year, the legislature passed and Gov. Scott signed a bill to ban guns in Vermont’s hospitals. As I wrote in a previous column, this was an important step to protect the safety of patients and staff alike.
I hope we can build on these helpful measures and strike a better balance between freedom and safety—and do so quickly. 
In the News
Phil Scott rebukes Vermont health board, calls for ‘active oversight’ from executive branch

Tension between the Green Mountain Care Board and Gov. Phil Scott came to a head this week as the administration announced it plans to tighten regulation of the independent body. 

Scott outlined his intentions in an incendiary letter that accompanied his signature on S.285, a bill that gives the care board more than $4 million to come up with a “patient-focused, community-inclusive plan” for setting hospital budgets. 

Scott said he “reluctantly” signed the bill, but also instructed the executive branch to hold the Green Mountain Care Board “accountable for providing thoughtful and effective regulation in the upcoming hospital budget and health insurance rate reviews.”

The letter is the latest indication that the Scott administration and the care board are out of step when it comes to health care in Vermont. The administration wants the Green Mountain Care Board to regulate, not legislate. 
Workforce Issues Compound Financial Troubles for Rural Hospitals
The Daily Yonder

Rural hospitals, already struggling with financial strains due to Covid-19, face an even more significant threat, experts said – the workforce shortage.

Hospitals say they are short on workers in all areas of the healthcare system, not just the clinical ones. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), about 20% of all hospitals across the country expect worker shortages to reach dire levels.

“It (the pandemic) has really stressed the workforce in ways that we’re not going to recover from for decades,” said Julia Harris, a senior policy analyst with the Bipartisan Policy Center. According to Haris, 2021 saw the biggest drop in the number of nurses in the workforce in history. Over 100,000 nurses disappeared from the hospitals’ nursing supply, putting a lot of pressure on smaller facilities to hire nurses.

Local hospitals triage imaging procedures amid global dye shortage
New Hampshire Business Review

Local hospitals are triaging medical scans and procedures in an attempt to ration a widely used contrast dye that is in short supply around the globe.

The dye, made by General Electric, is used for a variety of purposes. The liquid is typically injected into a patient’s veins and provides higher contrast than imaging procedures, like CT scans, without it.

The dye helps doctors to more easily see several issues, such as how organs are functioning, diagnosing brain bleeds or determining if a tumor has grown or shrunk.

Shortages of the dye were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May, traced to General Electric Healthcare’s Shanghai plant, a facility that produces most of the world’s supply of contrast dye.

The plant began rationing orders in mid-April after a Covid-19 lockdown temporarily shut down its production of the dye, according to the American Hospital Association.

Inside the search for new Green Mountain Care Board members

The Green Mountain Care Board — a powerful player in Vermont’s health care sector — is about to gain some fresh new faces.

The board regulates the health care sector, which accounts for about a fifth of Vermont’s economy. Its members set hospital and insurance rates, regulate large purchases and construction projects and oversee OneCare Vermont, an organization that has become almost synonymous with health care reform in Vermont. 

In May, board member Tom Pelham announced he will step down in September. That followed board chair Kevin Mullin’s April announcement that he’ll retire in July. 

The nomination process to replace them has already begun. 

The process is similar to how Vermont judicial appointments are made. A nine-member nominating committee for the board assembles a short list of possible members, but the governor has final authority over appointments. 
Hospitals in the News
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