From the CEO
One of the best parts of my job leading the hospital association is seeing members at our annual meeting. Each year we gather to share ideas and information, network with one another, meet new colleagues and spend some thoughtful time away from our daily work lives.

Last year, we lost that important opportunity because of COVID-19. Over the past 18 months, we have accomplished so much as a community of hospitals but we have done it largely on Zoom screens and phone lines.

Now we are fortunate to be part of the nation’s best pandemic response, including a high vaccination rate and low virus transmission rate. That means it is safe to be together again, and it is time to make it happen!

I am pleased to announce that we will hold the VAHHS Annual Meeting in person this year at the beautiful and historic Equinox Inn in Manchester. We look forward to seeing everyone on September 23 and 24 to explore our theme, “Forward Together.”

While we are still working out details for the program, our keynote speaker will be Aron Ralston, outdoorsman and mechanical engineer known for cutting off his own arm to survive a hiking accident.

Aron will relate how his canyon entrapment and self-rescue is evidence of how we can overcome our own “boulders.” I attended middle and high school with Aron and we both competed on the debate team. While we didn’t keep up with each other through the years, what I remember about Aron is how smart and fun he is. I think he will bring a great energy and message to our group.

The program will also feature:
  • retrospectives on our COVID response, including a conversation with Vermont policy leaders
  • the premier of a mini-documentary about COVID-19 in Vermont in 2020 and 2021
  • a program on promoting resilience and reducing burnout among health care providers
  • a presentation by Dr. Mercedes Avila, who was keynote speaker for our virtual 2020 conference
  • a visit from producing director Bess O’Brien, who will have just wrapped up the tour of the Listen Up Project, an original musical inspired, created and performed by Vermont teens through a multi-year health outreach program.

We will share more details about the agenda and activities in coming days and weeks. And look for an announcement later this week about registration being open. This year, more than ever, we look forward to connecting with you!!
In the News
Walk-In Vaccine Clinics at July 4th Celebrations in Vermont
US News and World Report

A number of walk-in clinics issuing the COVID-19 vaccine, including some at Fourth of July celebrations, will be available throughout the weekend, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Thursday.
“Even with our state’s high vaccination rate, we still need as many Vermonters as possible to protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting vaccinated," Scott said in a statement.

More than 452,000 of Vermont residents, or 82.1% , have already received at least one dose of vaccine.

Venues include a skate park, a church, and a flea market. On Sunday, the holiday, eight pop-up clinics are scheduled throughout the state. The Barton Fairgrounds, the Stowe Independence Day Celebration, and the Champlain Valley Expo are among the clinic sites.
Understanding and Mitigating Cyber Risk in the Healthcare System
Info Security

According to the hospital, the hackers hit some 5000 computer systems and 1300 servers with a ransomware attack, first shutting down internal hospital applications, then targeting its electronic health records database. It was only at the end of December that services were nearly fully restored, with the outages costing the hospital tens of millions of dollars. Even worse, officials said the attack prevented the hospital from providing essential services – such as chemotherapy for cancer patients – who had to be sent out to other institutions for care.

Given the damage hackers inflicted on just one hospital in one attack, imagine the fallout that would ensue if hackers launched a coordinated attack against several hospitals in a major metropolitan area? And if such an attack happened at the height of a pandemic like COVID-19?
Donors urgently needed: Red Cross still facing severe blood shortage
Vermont Business Magazine

The American Red Cross continues to experience a severe blood shortage that is negatively affecting blood product availability across the country. Donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – are urged to make an appointment to give now and help ensure hospital shelves are stocked with blood products over the Fourth of July holiday and beyond. 

Right now, the Red Cross is working around the clock to provide blood products to hospitals responding to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants. As a result of the blood shortage, some hospitals are being forced to slow the pace of elective surgeries until the blood supply stabilizes, delaying crucial patient care.

In addition, while summer is traditionally a time when blood donations decline, this year is particularly challenging as many Americans receive their vaccinations and resume summer activities after more than a year of limited interactions and travel, leading to lower donor turnout. The need for blood doesn’t take a holiday break − patients still depend on lifesaving transfusions.
What's driving an increase in hospital admissions across Vermont? It's not COVID-19.
The Burlington Free Press

Vermont health officials are urging residents to get caught up on care they may have delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic since infection and hospitalization rates from the virus are currently low. 
In fact, almost half of Vermont's hospitals say they are seeing more admissions lately for people experiencing non-COVID health problems, said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine on Tuesday at the weekly pandemic news conference.
“A number of them appear to be a result of people having delayed regular health care and therefore being susceptible to more serious illness,” Levine said. “Sicker patients may mean longer stays in the hospital and more complex needs.”  

Levine said he also recently caught up on his own care that he delayed during the pandemic. He urged others to do the same, specifically those who put off preventative care, screenings, or children's immunizations during the last 16 months. He also said that people experiencing "any important symptoms you’ve been ignoring or waiting for a better time to address" should find time to see their provider. 
Celebrating Pride
Brattleboro Reformer

A group of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital staff members and their families recently painted the crosswalk in front of the Richards Building in the style of the inclusive Pride Flag.

Hospital CEOs stayed in place during a hectic year for health systems
Fierce Healthcare

Hospital CEO departures were down again in 2020 as more executives stayed with their organizations during a hectic pandemic year.

According to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), CEO turnover among nearly 4,400 U.S. hospitals was 16% in 2020, the lowest seen since 2011.

“The year 2020 was an unprecedented year and strong leadership teams were essential to taking care of patients. Our recent data suggest that turnover remains relatively stable,” Deborah Bowen, ACHE's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Hospital CEO turnover had stabilized around 18% for much of the decade but trickled down to 17% in 2019 before matching its decade low last year, according to the group. Departures had peaked in 2013 at 20%.
Hospitals in the News
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