Save the Date
VAHHS Annual Meeting: September 29 to 30, 2022

In the News
Monkeypox in Vermont: What health experts want you to know
Vermont Public

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency. The first case of the virus was confirmed in Vermont last week. So, what do you need to know about the virus, and who's at highest risk? This hour, we talk with health experts about monkeypox in Vermont.

Our guests are:

Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease physician at the University of Vermont Medical Center
Vermonters start getting vaccinated against human monkeypox virus

Vaccines for the human monkeypox virus or HMPXV are starting to go into Vermonters’ arms after the state confirmed its first case.

The Vermont Department of Health says in an effort to reduce stigma, that’s how they will refer to the virus while the World Health Organization works to rename it.

Some Vermonters have already been vaccinated against it.

State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said the state is able to apply for about 140 vaccine doses as of Monday. This comes after the CDC’s first allocation of 86 doses.

It’s a two-dose vaccine, and Kelso said only a few doses have been distributed to Vermonters so far.
Local doctors explain the current risks of Covid, monkeypox for Vermonters
Mountain Times

Local residents are worried about endless variants of Covid-19, and the new Monkeypox. As usual, these important topics are clouded by unanswered questions and misinformation.

Both Dr. Rick Hildebrant, Rutland Regional Medical Center’s chief information officer and department chair of medicine, and Dr. John Perras, Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center’s CEO, cited the Center for Disease Control for official national and county statistics.

There have been 90,895,306 Covid cases since its first identification. Deaths to date total 1,024,611, and there are 36,996 hospitalized Covid patients in the U.S. right now.

Rated according to community level, based on the numbers of beds in use by Covid patients and of new-case admissions, Rutland County was ranked medium and Windsor County was ranked low.
Vermont’s Covid levels ‘low’ but state’s booster progress is falling behind

Vermont’s Covid-19 levels remained “low” in the past week, according to the state Department of Health, even as the nation continues to face a surge driven by the BA.5 subvariant.

In its latest weekly surveillance report, the health department reported 493 Covid cases in the past week, about the same as the week before. But Covid-related hospital admissions and the share of hospital beds taken up by Covid patients ticked up this week, even while both remained within the “low” category.

There were 49 new admissions for Covid in the past week, up from 33 the week before, according to health department reports. About 2.7% of beds statewide were taken up by Covid patients, which other data sources from the department show include about three to six intensive care patients at any one time.
Estimated Covid infections may be 5 times higher than official counts

A project by Yale and Harvard researchers includes new estimates of how many Vermonters have gotten sick with Covid-19, showing the extent to which traditional reporting on case counts and PCR tests may be failing to capture the spread of the virus.

The researchers behind the tool, called Covidestim, used data on hospitalizations, reported case counts and the dynamics of the Omicron variant to project backward, estimating the number of infections in recent weeks.

And those estimates are fairly high: For the most recent week of data, ending July 28, Vermont had a median estimate of 2,700 infections in a week, more than five times higher than the official case count of about 500.
Green Mountain Care board to raise insurance premiums

Health insurance premiums for tens of thousands of Vermonters are going to get significantly higher next year.

On Thursday, the Green Mountain Care Board approved double-digit rate hikes for Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP Health carriers.

Under BCBS, the board approved an 11.7% rate hike for small businesses and an 11.4% increase for individual and family coverage.

Under MVP, an 18.3% hike for small group plans and 19.3% for individual and family plans.

The board says the higher cost is driven by inflation, workforce challenges, and specialty pharmaceuticals. While the rate changes are lower than the original requests, the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign is slamming the board’s decision.
Health care regulatory board faces pivotal budget season with no leader

With the start of Vermont’s hospital budget season 10 days away, Gov. Phil Scott has not yet appointed a new chair of the Green Mountain Care Board.

The five-member board regulates hospital growth in Vermont. Its outgoing chair, Kevin Mullin, often cast the deciding vote between the board’s conservative and liberal camps. Mullin’s departure could thrust the board into gridlock as health care costs continue to spiral upward.

Mullin announced his departure in April but said at the time that he would stick around for budget season should Gov. Phil Scott need more time to pick a successor. Last month, Scott’s press secretary, Jason Maulucci, said the governor intended to appoint a new chair by the end of July.
Hospitals in the News
Mark Your Calendar