In the News
Vt. COVID hospitalizations trending upward; BA.5 dominant strain in Northeast

Vermont health officials say the COVID hospitalizations are trending upward again although the statewide community levels remain “low.” It comes as the CDC reports that the new, highly-contagious omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 continue to become the dominant strain across the country.

After several weeks of a downward trend, the seven-day number of new Vermont hospital admissions with a COVID infection rose throughout the past week with 53 total new admissions, according to the latest weekly surveillance report. There were also five additional deaths in the last seven days, bringing the total death toll now to 687.

The CDC says the subvariant strains of BA.4 and BA.5 now account for about 60% of cases in the Northeast.
UVM Health seeks 19.9% rate increase as CFO says system faces 'most challenged financial position' of his career

The University of Vermont Health Network is asking the state's healthcare cost regulator to approve a 19.9 percent commercial rate increase for fiscal year 2023 to cover the cost of inflation, according to a July 1 report from Vermont Business Magazine.

The requested rate increase is part of the system's proposed the fiscal year 2023 budget submitted to the Green Mountain Care Board, which works to regulate healthcare costs in the state. The system estimates the total cost of inflation for the fiscal year 2023 is $164.6 million.

The Burlington-based organization is facing significant financial challenges and has been forced to tap into its cash reserves to stabilize operating expenses, according to a statement from UVM Health Network CFO Rick Vincent cited by Vermont Business. It is implementing a series of initiatives to help stabilize its financial condition while continuing to work on improving patient experience and access to care.
2nd-largest hospital in Vermont asks regulators for double-digit increase in charges

Days after the largest hospital operator in Vermont asked regulators for hefty budget increases, Rutland Regional Medical Center is following suit.

The independent community hospital has asked regulators at the Green Mountain Care Board to allow it to increase charges on commercial insurers by an average of 17.8% in fiscal year 2023. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and runs until Sept. 30, 2023. Rutland proposed a $313.9 million budget for the next fiscal year, a $43.6 million increase from the current fiscal year.

If regulators at the Green Mountain Care Board approve Rutland’s budget request in full, consumers with private insurance could see significant increases in their premiums next year. Without the increase, however, hospital leaders warned that Rutland would be “forced to curtail our services,” according to the hospital’s proposal.
Fatal overdoses have soared since the pandemic began. Narcan distribution has, too

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Vermont has experienced a surge in opioid overdose deaths — setting records in both 2020 and 2021 — and the greatest percent increase in the country.

During the same period, the state’s distribution of naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote known by the name-brand Narcan, also skyrocketed, nearly tripling between 2019 and 2021, according to the Department of Health.

In 2018, the state distributed 16,559 doses of Narcan, and that number remained relatively stable in 2019. But only a year later, the health department supplied 27,937 doses to community partners, and that number jumped again in 2021 to 47,157.

Area hospitals continue to deal with shortage of IV imaging dye

Hospitals around the region continue to deal with the fallout from COVID shutdowns in China which significantly decreased supplies of a vital dye used in common medical procedures.

GE Healthcare’s iodinated contrast media is used for imaging including CT scans and angiograms. But most of the world’s supply is made at a facility in Shanghai, which was been under strict COVID lockdowns for weeks. Last month Chinese authorities brought the plant back to full production, however, hospitals around Vermont are still feeling the pinch.

“It’s just taking a lot of resources and with health care now, resources are very tight across the board as we are really trying to utilize what we do have in order to reduce the impact on our patients in the community,” said Erica Finnegan, the diagnostic imaging director at Northwestern Medical Center.
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