Message from the CEO
In just two days, the VAHHS 2019 Annual Meeting—Healthy Vermont Together: People, Passion, Promise—will kick off. Thanks to those of you who will be joining us! We are excited for a solid lineup of speakers, workshops and panel discussions.
 
As you may know, Vermont recently received news through two national reports that our approach to health care reform is working. We were proud to learn that Vermont had the most promising results in reducing high-cost service use. We were the only state to demonstrate slower growth in Medicaid expenditures (saving $97 million). Emergency department visits and inpatient admission to the hospital are down and access to early childhood developmental screenings is up. The approach of the all-payer model is showing promise.
 
We know what’s making our system work—or more importantly, who’s making it work. 
 
It’s our people—the thousands of Vermonters who go to work each day at our hospitals, our mental health centers, our home health agencies, primary care practices and more. With creativity and compassion, they put patient-centered care first, focusing on wellness as much as illness, caring for the people they serve and about the people they serve. It will be our people who enable us to sustain the unique Vermont health care system that is already showing so much promise. That’s why we decided to focus this year’s Annual Meeting on all of them—and all of you. 
 
We appreciate what each and every one of you brings to health care in our state and what you will bring to our annual gathering. We know we will all learn from each other during the days we spend together. See you soon!
Jeff Tieman
VAHHS President and CEO
In the News
Health Dept requests provider reports of vaping-associated
respiratory illness
Vermont Business Magazine

As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s investigation into cases of severe respiratory illness associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, the Vermont Department of Health has asked the state’s health care providers to watch for and report any suspected cases. According to the CDC (link is external), 215 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with e-cigarette products have been reported in 25 states as of August 27. Two deaths, one each in Illinois and Oregon, have been reported. Vermont health officials are investigating one suspected case.

In a Health Advisory issued on August 29, 2019, Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD requested that providers report cases of significant respiratory illness among individuals with a history of vaping or smoking any substance in the 90 days prior to symptoms. The information collected will be shared with the CDC.
Joe Woodin returns to Vermont to lead Copley Hospital
Vermont Business Magazine

The Copley Health Systems, Inc Board of Trustees has announced that, following a national search, Joseph “Joe” Woodin has been selected to serve as Copley Hospital’s next president and Chief Executive Officer. Woodin will take over leadership of the hospital in mid-October (exact start date currently being finalized), replacing Interim CEO Jeffrey White, who has lead the hospital since the departure of Copley’s previous president and CEO Art Mathisen in May. To those who know Vermont’s healthcare systems, Woodin is a familiar name thanks to his 17 year tenure at Gifford Health Care and Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont, where he served as president and CEO for 16 of those years. 

Woodin has a distinguished career in hospital leadership and administration, most recently serving as president and CEO of South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Homer is approximately a four-hour drive south of Anchorage, and South Peninsula Hospital, like Copley, is an independent Critical Access Hospital serving a rural community.

Leahy announces $9.5 million CDC opioid grant
Vermont Business Magazine

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced today that the Vermont Department of Health will receive a three-year, $9.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support a comprehensive statewide response to opioid-related overdoses, while strengthening Vermont’s prevention efforts.

The grant will increase the state’s ability to track and respond to overdoses, including those resulting in death; strengthen Vermont’s Prescription Drug Monitoring System, and provide overdose prevention trainings around the state, working with local communities – including libraries -- to better identify overdose risks and strengthen outreach efforts.

Q&A: Rutland physician invents ‘softer’ way to restrain patients
Anne Wallace Allen , VT Digger

Marie Pavini loves her job as a critical care physician at Rutland Regional Medical Center. But she’s never liked the restraints and sedation techniques used to keep ICU patients from pulling out their tubes.

“Those wrist restraints are, I think, archaic and barbaric,” said Pavini. The restraints tend to upset patients, she said, requiring more sedation. “It just never made any sense to me that anyone who was tied down and sedated was ever going to get better. We were doing the opposite.”

So Pavini started working on an alternative that would enable patients to move around more. Her invention, which she calls a “refraint,” uses an adjustable rod that enables patients to move their arms but prevents them from reaching their mouths or necks so they can’t remove breathing tubes or intravenous lines. 
WRJ VA Medical Center celebrates two years of healthcare
equality leadership
V ermont Business Magazine

For two years the White River Junction Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center has been a proud leader in healthcare equality. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the 2019 Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), listing White River Junction VA Medical Center as Vermont’s only leader. This year there were 680 healthcare facilities nationwide that participated.

The HRC posed a series of questions to each participant on their Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) inclusive policies and procedures. These questions were based upon the four criteria in being a leader of healthcare equality: Non-Discrimination and Staff Training, Patient Services and Support, Employee Benefits and Policies, and Patient and Community Engagement.
SaVida Health opens location in Newport
Vermont Business Magazine

SaVida Health, a leader in outpatient medication-assisted treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction, is opening a new treatment center in Newport, VT on September 12th. SaVida Health Newport joins the medical practice's Bennington and Springfield Vermont locations as the third SaVida location in Vermont and its 13th nationally. 

SaVida Health's holistic and customized approach to care sets it apart from other programs by treating each patient on an individual basis through a range of tailored services designed to meet a person's unique needs. Beyond administering FDA-approved medications like Suboxone, Sublocade and Vivitrol, medications which do not require daily dosing, SaVida's licensed clinical professionals deliver comprehensive, evidence-based treatment that includes medical care, counseling, case management and long-term support through either weekly, biweekly or monthly visits. In particular, SaVida focuses on addressing the social determinants of health to support its patients who might be experiencing circumstances like food insecurity, homelessness, or unemployment. This comprehensive and integrated approach to recovery is widely accepted as the most effective form of outpatient treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction today.
Central Vermont Medical Center gets help recruiting nurses
WCAX

The Central Vermont Medical Center is getting some help to deal with nurse-recruiting issues.

The Vermont Training Program recently gave $73,000 to CVMC, which is experiencing recruiting challenges for licensed nursing associate and clinical care associate positions at both the main hospital and CVMC's nearby Woodridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

The vice president of clinical operations says they can't just sit and wait for qualified people to apply for jobs, and an investment in the current workforce is needed.

CCAs and LNAs both work in skilled clinical and administrative roles and CVMC says they play a major part in patient care.
Basics of Medicare prescription drug benefits
Galen Ettlin, WCAX

Galen Ettlin spoke with Ellen Gershun, a health insurance counselor from the Central Vermont Council on Aging about what seniors need to know about enrollment for Medicare prescription drug benefits.
Regulator pushes for Medicaid spending hike.
Lawmakers say not so fast.
Xander Landen , VT Digger

Lawmakers are reluctant to significantly boost Medicaid spending to prop up local hospitals — despite urgent calls from health care regulators to do just that.

Kevin Mullin, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board and a former Republican state senator, sent a letter to Republican Gov. Phil Scott last month urging the state to increase state Medicaid expenditures by $70 million to relieve pressure on commercial health insurance rates and prevent the state’s small hospitals from bleeding more red ink. 

Mullin wants the governor, who will present a budget in January, to boost state Medicaid spending to the federal spending cap.
Vermont to get third opioid SOR grant of $4 million
Vermont Business Magazine

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Wednesday announced that the Vermont Department of Health will soon receive its third State Opioid Response (SOR) grant of $4,020,896 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Vermont now has been awarded a total of $10,140,700 from SAMHSA through SOR grants since the inception of the grant program.

This funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides flexible funding to states to support prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to combat opioid addiction. Leahy secured this funding in the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2019. Confirmation of the grant comes one day after Leahy announced that Vermont also will receive a three-year, $9.5 million federal grant to prevent opioid-related overdoses.
NVRH Gains Grant To Provide Free Family Dinner
Caledonian Record

Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital recently received grant worth $2,780 from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Spark! Connecting Community grant program.

Thanks to this grant, NVRH is able to join FamilyDay® in hosting a free community family dinner as well as free family activities. Founded in 2001 by the National Center on Addiction, FamilyDay® is a nation-wide movement to remind parents that spending time together and frequent family dinners are effective tools to help keep America’s youth substance free. They also offer a variety of other ways to celebrate family time on their website, www.casafamilyday.org.
NVU-Johnson plans ways to boost mental health support
on campus
Vermont Business Magazine

Northern Vermont University-Johnson has partnered with a nonprofit that promotes mental health and suicide prevention awareness for young adults in an initiative to boost support for NVU students.​ NVU will work with clinicians with JED Campus, a program of the New York-based Jed Foundation (JED), to assess and strengthen mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services at NVU.

With less stigma and more awareness of mental health issues, NVU-Johnson and colleges nationwide have seen an increase in students with emotional health and substance use challenges and more requests for campus services.  

“NVU-Johnson wants to be proactive,” campus Wellness Center Director Kate McCarthy says. “We’re partnering with the Jed Foundation to help us evaluate our services...to see what we’re doing well and learn about opportunities to expand and enhance some of our programs.”
People in the News
Mark Your Calendar
Webinar
Tuesday, September 10

Spruce Peak Mountain Lodge, Stowe
Thursday, September 12-Friday, September 13, 2019

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Dermatology, Bennington
Saturday, September 14

Webinar
Tuesday, September 17

Northeast Kingdom Community Action Parent Child Center, St. Johnsbury
Monday, September 23