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Friday, October 13, 2017

Bread & Butter Farm Ground Beef Recalled for E. coli Risk

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 6:22 PM

A full house at Burger Night - FILE/STACEY BRANDT
  • file/Stacey Brandt
  • A full house at Burger Night
The state Department of Health is asking Vermonters to check their freezers for ground beef that was raised at Bread & Butter Farm in Shelburne and processed at Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing in Ferrisburgh.

Meat with lot codes 072517BNB and 072417BNB and establishment number "EST. 9558" have been recalled by the processor for possible contamination with the toxin E. coli O157:H7, according to the Department of Health.

"If people have [the ground beef], they should throw it out or take it back to the place of purchase," Bradley Tompkins, the state's food-borne disease epidemiologist, said Friday afternoon. The ground beef "continues to be a risk and it's very possible that people have this in their freezer."

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nine Vermont Hospitals to Participate in All-Payer Experiment Next Year

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 9:34 PM

OneCare Vermont CEO Todd Moore - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • OneCare Vermont CEO Todd Moore
Nine of Vermont’s 14 hospitals have agreed to participate, to varying degrees, in the state’s all-payer experiment, starting next January. But some major health care providers, including the Community Health Centers of Burlington, are opting out — for now.

OneCare Vermont, the accountable care organization that is spearheading the move toward an all-payer system, announced the participants Tuesday.

OneCare estimates that 120,000 Vermonters will receive health care next year through the all-payer model, in which health care providers are paid based on patient health outcomes, rather than the number of procedures performed.

“It’s a huge step — 120,000. I’m happy with it,” OneCare CEO Todd Moore said.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

UVM Medical Center Plans to Expand Air Ambulance Service

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 4:54 PM

The helipad at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The helipad at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington
There could be more landings next year on the helicopter pad at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.

Hospital executives are in contract negotiations to expand air ambulance service in 2018 through a collaboration with DHART, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team. The deal could be completed within the month, according to Eileen Whalen, president and chief operating officer of UVM Medical Center.

The new service would focus on interhospital transport of critically ill patients in UVM's service area, which includes Massena, N.Y. — a three-hour drive from Burlington. That same journey takes about 35 minutes through the air, according to Whalen.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Vermont Grants Medical Marijuana License to PhytoScience Institute

Posted By on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 at 9:52 AM

Plants at Champlain Valley Dispensary, one of the state's current operations - FILE: LEE KROHN
  • File: Lee Krohn
  • Plants at Champlain Valley Dispensary, one of the state's current operations
Updated on September 26, 2017.

The Vermont Department of Public Safety on Friday approved a license for the state's fifth medical marijuana operation, which plans to open dispensaries in Bennington and St. Albans.

PhytoScience Institute, led by University of Vermont professor William Cats-Baril, beat out four other applicants vying for a state license. For the last two years, the Waterbury-based Institute has offered consulting services and conducted testing and research on marijuana products.

While Gov. Phil Scott vetoed the Vermont legislature’s attempt to legalize marijuana last session, he did sign a bill that allows for a fifth state medical marijuana dispensary license.* The legislation also permits each of the five licensees to operate a satellite location.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Admin Axes Millions in Funding for Vermont Nonprofit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant. - COURTESY OF YOUTH CATALYTICS
  • Courtesy of Youth Catalytics
  • Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant.
President Donald Trump’s administration has rescinded more than $2 million of grant funding intended for a Vermont nonprofit that is working to prevent teen pregnancy — decimating the group’s finances, according to one of its directors.

The Charlotte-based Youth Catalytics has provided training and research to youth services organizations around the country for 35 years. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the group won a five-year federal grant for pregnancy prevention work that began in 2016 with $564,000 in funding. Earlier this month, the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informed the organization that it had terminated the remaining four years of the grant — a loss of about $2.25 million.

“Due to changes in program priorities, it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the federal government to no longer continue funding for the Providing Capacity Building Assistance to OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantees program,” the July 5 letter read.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Walters: Former Health Commissioner Prepares for Year in Uganda

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 5:41 PM

Dr. Harry Chen and Anne Lezak - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Dr. Harry Chen and Anne Lezak
Dr. Harry Chen and his wife Anne Lezak are preparing for the adventure of a lifetime: living in Uganda for a year, helping to develop health care institutions in the southwestern city of Mbarara.

Chen is a former state representative, state health commissioner, and acting human services secretary who left state government in March; Lezak is a consultant in nonprofit management and grant writing who most recently worked at Mercy Connections, a Burlington nonprofit.

"This is a transition point for me," Chen explains. "It was a time to take stock and decide what you want your next adventure to be. Anne and I have always talked about spending time overseas. It's a perfect time to do it."

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Contested Surgery Center Wins Approval of State Regulators

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 7:51 PM

Amy Cooper and Dr. Tom Dowhan at the site of the proposed surgical center in 2015 - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Amy Cooper and Dr. Tom Dowhan at the site of the proposed surgical center in 2015
Vermont health care regulators on Monday approved a freestanding, for-profit surgery center in Colchester — despite strong objections from all of the state’s hospitals.

The decision comes two years after a group of doctors first sought permission from the Green Mountain Care Board to build an independent outpatient facility.

Amy Cooper, a member of that group and executive director of the independent doctors’ association HealthFirst, pitched the center as a lower-cost alternative to the care provided in hospitals.

The Green Mountain Surgery Center will perform colonoscopies, epidural injections, orthopedic surgeries, hernia repair and other procedures that aren’t emergencies and don’t require overnight stays. Cooper has said — and the decision stipulates — that the center will accept patients regardless of the insurance they have. The Office of the Health Care Advocate, a consumer watchdog housed within Vermont Legal Aid, ultimately backed the project.

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New Owners Rebrand Burlington Labs as Aspenti Health

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Chris Powell, CEO of Aspenti Health, speaks at Monday's press conference as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger (center) and Gov. Phil Scott (left) listen. - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • Chris Powell, CEO of Aspenti Health, speaks at Monday's press conference as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger (center) and Gov. Phil Scott (left) listen.
The local drug-screening company that was targeted in the state's largest-ever Medicaid fraud case last year has a new name — Aspenti Health.

The new owners of the former Burlington Labs announced the rebranding at a press conference Monday outside company headquarters on Main Street in Burlington.

Gov. Phil Scott and Mayor Miro Weinberger were on hand to offer their support, saying the reorganized company plays a vital role in opioid addiction treatment.

The Aspen symbolizes clarity of purpose and the "ti" in the new name is a reference to harmony and the seventh note on the musical scale, said Chris Powell, CEO of the reconstituted company.

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Monday, June 5, 2017

VNA Considers Joining the Growing UVM Health Network

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 4:36 PM

University of Vermont Medical Center main campus - COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT MEDICAL CENTER
  • Courtesy of University of Vermont Medical Center
  • University of Vermont Medical Center main campus
Vermont's largest home health and hospice agency, Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, is considering joining the University of Vermont Health Network, the state's largest hospital group.

Five hospitals in Vermont and northern New York have joined UVM Medical Center under the UVM Health Network umbrella in recent years, but the VNA would be the first home health agency to do so. The 111-year-old organization announced Monday that its board signed a nonbinding letter of intent to “explore a formal affiliation” with the network during the next few months.

The VNA had more than 600 staff members last year and served more than 5,400 people.

VNA president and CEO Judy Peterson said talks began 18 months ago, prompted by a conversation she had with John Brumsted, the CEO of the UVM Medical Center, and the president and CEO of the UVM Health Network.

“John said, ‘We should really sit down and think about a more formal relationship,’” Peterson recalled.

A year and a half later, Peterson has concluded that an affiliation “will certainly improve health care delivery.” She offered several examples: By sharing the same medical records system, providers could exchange patient information in real time, and they could better coordinate care for patients who use both hospital care and home care.

“Having teams of hospital people and home health people working together will only improve those transitions,” Peterson said.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Walters: Scott Names Two to Green Mountain Care Board

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 5:57 PM

  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Sen. Kevin Mullin
Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday appointed two new members to the Green Mountain Care Board, the body that oversees the health care industry in Vermont. The governor tapped Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland) to serve as the board’s chair and veteran financial executive Maureen Usifer to a second vacancy. Both appointments are effective immediately.

The GMCB had been struggling since early January to conduct its business with only three of five seats filled. The board could only hold meetings if all three were in attendance, and a unanimous vote was required to approve most items. Last week, the board put off action on a proposed surgical center in Colchester because it could not attain unanimity.

Scott noted during a Montpelier press conference Wednesday that he had heard “the cries for help from the board last week” and made his selections as quickly as possible.

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