VAHHS Annual Meeting
VAHHS Annual Meeting: September 29 to 30, 2022
In the News
Gov. Scott appoints new chair, members to Green Mountain Care Board

Gov. Phil Scott has appointed a new chair along with two new members to the Green Mountain Care Board, which regulates health care in Vermont.

Owen Foster, of Jericho, will assume the role of chair effective Oct. 1. Dr. David Murman, of Waterbury, and Robin Lunge, of Berlin, will serve as members on the five-member board.

Foster, an assistant United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, will replace Kevin Mullin, who retired last month. His term as chair expires in 2024.

Murman is an emergency physician and educator at Central Vermont Medical Center. His term expires on Sept. 30, 2028.
The Omicron booster is coming. Here’s what you need to know about the new Covid vaccine.

New Covid-19 vaccine booster targeted at Omicron strains, called the bivalent vaccine, is coming to Vermont this week, according to the state Department of Health. 

Vermont pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens list bivalent vaccine appointments starting Wednesday, although availability is limited. The health department is also offering the bivalent vaccine starting Wednesday at walk-in clinics listed on its website.

Both Pfizer and Moderna’s bivalent vaccines were authorized by the federal government last week, with Pfizer offered to anyone 12 and older and Moderna to those 18 and older. The department has ordered an initial 17,000 doses to start arriving this week, with thousands more on the way in the coming weeks.
No consensus on solutions to Vermont’s criminal mental health challenges

Across-agency working group tasked last year with providing new strategies for treating criminal defendants with severe mental illness has been unable to agree on what proposals to back. 

The internal debate underlines the challenge in addressing one of the root causes of some of Vermont’s most high-profile violent crimes. 

“The Legislature really wants some concrete ideas,” Karen Barber, general counsel for the Department of Mental Health, said at the working group’s Aug. 31 meeting. “We’re not going to be able to get to consensus.”

Last year, Act 57 tasked the Forensic Care Working Group with studying the gaps in the mental health and criminal justice systems “related to individuals incompetent to stand trial or who are adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity.”
Addiction Is a Medical Problem': A Vermont Doctor Explains Why Nonjudgemental Treatment is Good Medicine
Seven Days

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, impacted more than 40 million people in the U.S. in 2020. Alcohol is the most frequently reported substance of concern, but more than 107,000 Americans died in 2021 due to drug overdoses — a record number. Vermont saw its highest ever overdose death rate last year, as well. Substance use disorder is destroying lives all across the state.

It’s possible to treat patients struggling with this condition and help them achieve recovery. To do that successfully, health care professionals must have a mission-positive and nonjudgmental approach, says Dr. Mark Depman, an attending physician in the emergency department at Central Vermont Medical Center.
Cyberattacks targeting health care organizations on the rise

Cybersecurity attacks have reached record highs nationwide. Criminals often target health care because they have access to tremendous amounts of personally identifiable information and deep pockets.

Our Christina Guessferd spoke with Samantha Baltzersen, a supervisory special agent with the FBI’s Cyber Task Force in Albany, about how authorities are working to keep up with the crooks.

“I would compare it to a chess match. It’s that strategic thinking, ‘OK, where are they going next? How are we going to block this?’ Every defense we put into place, the cyberattackers are constantly evolving,” Baltzersen said.

She says it’s her team’s job to adapt to that evolution and play their moves will pose.

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