VAHHS Annual Meeting
VAHHS Annual Meeting: September 29 to 30, 2022
In the News
FDA backs Omicron-based booster, paving the way for shots in Vermont next week

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Covid-19 booster shots from Pfizer and Moderna on Wednesday that are targeted to the newest variants of the virus.

The Department of Health plans to start distributing an initial shipment of 17,000 doses on Sept. 6 or 7, assuming that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approves it later this week, said department spokesperson Ben Truman.

Vermont state epidemiologist Patsy Kelso told Vermont Public on Tuesday that boosters will be available at pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

The new shots contain viral material from SARS-CoV-2’s original strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, the FDA reported, giving people who get it “increased protection against the currently circulating omicron variant.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses nursing shortages with medical professionals

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders visited the University of Vermont Medical School on Friday to discuss key issues regarding a lack of nurses in the state.

Sanders brought Carole Johnson of the United States Health Resources and Services Administration to help advance the conversation around the widespread staffing issues and learn more about how shortages are affecting medical professionals.

“We don’t have the space, we don’t have the faculty, we don’t have scholarships,” said Dr. Noma Anderson, University of Vermont.

Sanders said he empathized with how many hospital employees are feeling regarding the lack of staff.
Top 5 things to know about mosquito-borne illness
Bennington Banner

So far this summer, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, along with the Vermont Department of Health, have tested 48,441 mosquitoes from 984 pools for West Nile Virus and other diseases that can affect humans and animals.

They expect to find West Nile Virus (WNV), the most common of the mosquito-borne illnesses in Vermont, and on Tuesday, they announced that a pool in Alburgh was found to have mosquitos infected with WNV. These governmental agencies do the testing and announce positive results to raise awareness among Vermonters and to caution them against mosquito bites. Here’s what you need to know.
CMS Approves Renewal of Vermont’s 1115 Demonstration

On June 28, 2022, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a five-and-a-half-year renewal of Vermont’s Global Commitment to Health (Global Commitment) Section 1115 demonstration. The Global Commitment demonstration covers nearly all of Vermont’s Medicaid program; Vermont provides Medicaid services and supports to more than 200,000 Medicaid enrollees—nearly 30 percent of the state’s population.1 In addition to authorizing five home- and community-based services (HCBS) programs and providing flexibility to design and implement innovative payment reform initiatives, the Global Commitment demonstration has permitted several flexibilities that are unique or unusual among states.

These flexibilities include the ability to strengthen its health care system and social safety net by using accrued savings to fund a diverse set of “investments” in public health, health care, and health-related services and coverage expansions for Vermonters with disabilities and/or serious mental illness (SMI).
Covid cases, hospitalizations on the rise, but overall still 'low'

Vermont’s Covid-19 levels were “low” this week, but several metrics tracking the virus are on the rise, the Department of Health reported in its weekly surveillance update on Wednesday.

The department reported 545 Covid cases in the past week, up 5% from the week before and up 21% from two weeks ago. But the new cases remain below the state’s benchmark for “low” Covid levels, which is over 1,200 cases per week.

Covid case data is based primarily on PCR testing and does not include at-home antigen tests.
Hospitals in the News
From our Hospitals
Academic medicine is essential to care in our state

By: Dr Stephen Leffler, President and Chief Operating Officer, UVM Medical Center

Vermont’s largest insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBSVT), recently submitted a letter to the Green Mountain Care Board questioning the value of The University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC), Vermont’s only academic medical center. BCBSVT said that the care we provide has too many “bells and whistles.”

I am not aware of many “bells and whistles” we provide at UVMMC. We try to provide good food to patients and their families, and adequate parking and a clean facility. But mostly we are focused on excellent patient care that patients need, often to save their lives. I understand that our insurers can be far removed from the health care setting, and so the inherent value of high quality, close-to-home care might be lost on them.

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