In the News
VAHHS urges support for hospital budgets after pandemic year as GMCB begins hearings
Vermont Business Magazine

Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems President and CEO Jeff Tieman today issued a warning about the ongoing pandemic response, workforce shortages and increased patient care needs as the Green Mountain Care Board began its annual hospital budget hearings.

VAHHS lobbies on behalf of the hospitals. Tieman is advocating for the regulators to support hospitals budget requests. Typically the GMCB would trim, to a greater or lesser extent, the requests made by the hospitals. Tieman said the hospitals have been under tremendous workload and cost pressures since the beginning of COVID and are more recently dealing with an increase in inflation in the general economy. 
In Memoriam
I am sad this week to share the obituary of Greg Voorheis, a personal friend of mine and a long-time contributor to Vermont. Greg was a gentle and thoughtful person whose warmth and compassion were always on display. He had great, provocative questions and ideas to discuss and, in my experience, Greg’s view was informed by a lens of social justice and seeking ways to do the right thing. I looked forward to our lunches and enjoyed spending time with Greg and his partner Bill too. I am grateful to Greg for his friendship and for his service to the Boards of VAHHS and some of our hospitals. Greg will be missed by so many people in health care, state government and of course by a great network of family and friends.

UVM Medical Center under pressure from Delta variant

The state’s largest hospital is straining to care for “a very high number of patients” amid Vermont’s rising coronavirus cases, according to information the hospital provided on Friday afternoon.

The rise of Covid-19 cases “as the Delta variant spreads,” plus other critically ill patients and those seeking care that was delayed earlier in the pandemic, has prompted staff at Burlington-based University of Vermont Medical Center to reschedule some non-urgent procedures to make space, according to an email from spokesperson Neal Goswami. The hospital is “utilizing a high percentage of inpatient beds at this time,” he said, although the number varies throughout each day.

“Although we are experiencing a high number of patients, we are confident in our plans for these types of situations,” he wrote. 
NVRH Balances Patient, Staff Health In Vaccine Policy Considerations
Caledonia Record

Should the COVID-19 vaccine achieve full FDA approval by the end of the summer, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) recently announced plans to craft a policy to require vaccinations for providers and staff in order to best protect patients, staff and our community.

Vermont Health Department shares new guidance on booster shots

Vermont continues to lead the nation when it comes to vaccinations. The state's health department is sharing new information about who should be getting a booster shot.

“An additional dose is only recommended if you have moderate or severe immunocompromise. It’s not recommended you take an additional dose if you’re in any other population," said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont's Health commissioner.

This guidance only pertains to individuals who received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As of now, there is not enough data on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in regards to additional doses.
Vermont plans for COVID booster shots
Bennington Banner

Health Commissioner Mark Levine expects a rollout of booster shots against COVID-19 to roughly follow the roadmap used for initial vaccinations, where timing was guided by age and vulnerability.

“We have already been planning for this type of event,” Mike Smith, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, said at the governor’s weekly news conference on Tuesday.

The Biden Administration is expected to announce that booster shots should be administered to most Americans eight months after they are fully vaccinated with two-dose vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer. Smith said the federal government anticipates the effort will begin around the middle to late September and state officials will provide more details in upcoming weeks.
5 things every Vermonter should know about how the state regulates hospital spending

At $9,995 per person in 2018, Vermont residents spent more on health care than people in many other states in the nation, according to data from the Green Mountain Care Board. That average rose to almost $10,442 per person in 2019, an almost 4.5% increase, the data shows.

Exactly how hospital systems arrive at that cost is a process that often happens behind closed doors in other states. In most cases, consumers are not involved in these discussions, but they may see the impact on their medical bills. 
Not so in Vermont, which is one of a handful of states where hospital budgets are subject to government oversight. In Vermont, that job falls to the Green Mountain Care Board — a five-person panel that has the final say over how much hospitals can grow and charge their patients each year. 
Vt. vax rate hits 85%; officials say delta expected to peak soon

Vermont officials Tuesday said the surge in delta variant cases seen this month is expected to peak soon and that Vermont remains in a good position with its 85% vaccination rate.

“All of these signs point to the Northeast entering a time where cases will continue to slow and then fall over the next couple of weeks,” said DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak. His latest forecast modeling shows COVID infections and hospitalizations are expected to continue to increase through the end of August, but that Vermont continues to have the fewest hospitalizations per capita nationally -- 71% -- among those not fully vaccinated. Since January, officials say 630 fully-vaccinated individuals have tested positive (0.15% ); 18 have been hospitalized (.004%); and eight people have died (.002%).
New England blood shortage ‘unlike any that we have seen in years’

Some hospitals in New England have had to postpone elective surgeries because they don’t have enough blood on hand, says Neal Goswami, spokesperson at UVM Medical Center. 

Hospital association leaders in all six New England states have issued appeals for people to donate blood to help overcome critical shortages.

“We have not had to [postpone procedures] here,” Goswami said, “nor do we believe we will have to do that here,” he said.

Still, patients in Vermont hospitals “are always in need of blood,” said Dr. Sarah Harm, a pathologist at UVM Medical Center whose specialties include blood banking and transfusion. 
Hospitals in the News