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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

UVM Medical Center Cancels Some Surgeries Ahead of Planned Nurses' Strike

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 4:51 PM

The hospital's chief operating officer Eileen Whalen (center) and Dr. Isabelle Desjardins at Tuesday's press conference - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • The hospital's chief operating officer Eileen Whalen (center) and Dr. Isabelle Desjardins at Tuesday's press conference
The University of Vermont Medical Center has postponed 68 elective procedures that require complex surgical teams in advance of a nursing strike planned for Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13.

Chief medical officer Dr. Isabelle Desjardins said at a press conference Tuesday that patients were contacted and given the option to reschedule their surgeries for later in the month. Emergency medical care will still be available 24-7 and outpatient services will continue as normal, according to Desjardins.

Nearly 600 temporary nurses are currently in Burlington receiving two days of training before the union work stoppage. Desjardins said there is no cause for concern about patient safety during the strike.

Samira Lawson, a member of the nurses' union bargaining committee, disagreed.

"If they were really not concerned, they would not cancel any surgeries," she said after the press conference.

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Leahy: Trump's Supreme Court Pick 'More Than Frightening'

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 2:18 PM

Sen. Patrick Leahy and other senators discussing Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy and other senators discussing Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Senate has vetted 19 Supreme Court nominees since Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took office in 1975, but Vermont's senior senator said the stakes have never been higher than they are over President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

“I’ve never seen a president act as though the Supreme Court has to be a wing of the White House instead of an independent branch of government," Leahy said in an interview Tuesday. "And they made it very clear that the president expects it to be.”

Leahy is the longest serving member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to hold confirmation hearings on the nomination. The full Senate must approve Kavanaugh's nomination before he can replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement at the end of June.

As special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether Trump and his campaign were involved with Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Leahy said the independence of federal courts is as important as ever.

“We’ve got the Russia investigation, which is a significant one, and here we’ve got [a nominee] who said that the president should be above the law when they’re president,” Leahy said.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Contract Talks Yield No Breakthrough for Nurses, UVM Medical Center

Posted By on Sat, Jul 7, 2018 at 9:08 AM

Nurses at a honk-and-wave rally outside the hospital - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses at a honk-and-wave rally outside the hospital
Updated at 6:45 pm.

No deal was reached during Friday night negotiations between the University of Vermont Medical Center and its nurses, and less than a week remains until nurses plan to strike. On Saturday, the union and hospital both released statements announcing that bargaining will continue Monday and Tuesday afternoons without a federal mediator.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

Sanders Speaks Out for UVM Medical Center Nurses

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 6:20 PM

Sanders with union vice president Deb Snell and lead negotiator Julie MacMillan - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Sanders with union vice president Deb Snell and lead negotiator Julie MacMillan
Updated 9:51 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) criticized administrators of the University of Vermont Medical Center and called on them to meet face-to-face with hospital nurses during a press conference at his Burlington office on Friday.

More than 1,000 nurses are prepared to strike on July 12 and 13 amid contentious contract negotiations. Nurses are calling for salary parity with the nurses at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, N.Y., which is a member of the UVM Health Network. The union says the hospital is dangerously understaffed because low salaries create long-term vacancies and high turnover rates.

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Opinion
Walters: Vermont GOP House Candidate Goes Independent

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 11:15 AM

Kendall Lambert - COURTESY OF KENDALL LAMBERT
  • Courtesy of Kendall Lambert
  • Kendall Lambert
A Republican candidate for a Newport seat in the Vermont House has broken with the GOP and plans to run as an independent.

Kendall Lambert announced the news in a Thursday Facebook post entitled "Running as a Republican for the Vermont House Was a Mistake." In it, she proclaimed her advocacy for small government, low taxes and Constitutional rights, including the unfettered right to bear arms.

But her belief in individual liberty has put her at odds with the national Republican Party. Lambert wrote that the GOP is advancing "policies and rhetoric [that] seek to codify racism, sexism, discrimination, and inequality."

"When I began to think about running for office, I thought the Republican Party would be the best way to represent my beliefs and have major party backing," Lambert said in an interview Friday. "But as I started campaigning, I realized that I couldn't. The national GOP is not a party I could support."

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

UVM Medical Center, Nurses to Return to the Bargaining Table

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2018 at 3:14 PM

Union members and supporters at a press conference Monday morning announcing the strike notice - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Union members and supporters at a press conference Monday morning announcing the strike notice
Updated 4:04 p.m.

With a week left until a nursing strike, the University of Vermont Medical Center has scheduled a bargaining session on Friday with its nurses' union. The time, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., was chosen after discussions involving both sides, according to Hospital spokesman Michael Carrese.

He sent out a press release Thursday announcing the session and stating the hospital administration’s hope that a strike might still be averted. The hospital has maintained that it will be prepared to provide quality care to patients in the event of a strike.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) waded into the fray Thursday, releasing a statement in support of nurses and announcing a joint press conference with the nurses' union on Friday afternoon.

“Nurses are the backbone of the UVM Medical Center," Sanders' written statement said. "They work day and night to treat our family members and to keep our community healthy. Patient care suffers when these dedicated professionals are not treated with respect and do not receive adequate compensation.”

The nurse’s bargaining team voted on Saturday to serve a strike notice Monday. Nurses are required by law to give hospitals 10 days advance notice of their intent to strike. If no agreement is reached, the nurses will strike on July 12 and 13.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

UVM Medical Center Seeks to Hire Hundreds in Advance of Strike

Posted By on Tue, Jul 3, 2018 at 6:19 PM

Hotel Vermont
  • Hotel Vermont
University of Vermont Medical Center is making plans to fly hundreds of out-of-town nurses to Burlington to fill in if its nurses strike for two days next week. A staffing agency is recruiting nurses online and reserving local hotel rooms.

Hotel Vermont general manager Joseph Carton said Tuesday morning that an agency tried to reserve 600 rooms in Burlington. Hotel Vermont, which has 125 rooms, could not accommodate the entire request. But the agency ultimately reserved 32 rooms between Hotel Vermont and the Courtyard Burlington Harbor next door, which is owned by the same company, Carton said.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

UVM Medical Center Nurses Serve Strike Notice

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Nurses' union president Laurie Aunchman, right, and negotiator Julie MacMillan speaking to reporters - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • Nurses' union president Laurie Aunchman, right, and negotiator Julie MacMillan speaking to reporters
The University of Vermont Medical Center nurses have served the hospital a 10-day notice for a strike on July 12 and 13, the union announced at a press conference outside the hospital on Monday.

Members of the union’s bargaining team voted unanimously on Saturday morning to serve the notice. As word got around, the hospital scheduled another bargaining session on Sunday, but the two sides were unable to find common ground. The nurses' three-year contract expires on July 9.

Earlier in June, members of the nurses' union voted overwhelmingly to authorize their bargaining team to serve a strike notice. If those nurses leave work, it could mean trouble for Vermont's only trauma center with a Level 1 designation, meaning it provides the most comprehensive care. The hospital's administration maintains it will keep the place running smoothly in the event of a strike, but the nurses express skepticism.

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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Cannabis
Despite Extreme Heat, Vermonters Find Their Chill at Cannabis Legalization Party

Posted By on Sun, Jul 1, 2018 at 6:50 PM

The celebration is on - SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
  • The celebration is on
At 11:05 a.m. on Sunday, seven people were sweating on Flynn Avenue in Burlington, waiting for a shuttle to take them to the Heady Vermont Legalization Celebration in Johnson.

They joked among one another that they shouldn’t have expected a bus for a pot party to, well, be on time. One man offered the others hits on his doobie, and they smoked in a circle, debating whether the parking lot would count as a public place under Vermont’s new cannabis law.

Sunday, July 1 marked the first day cannabis was legalized in Vermont — though some aspects of the law remain open to interpretation. Approximately 1,000 celebrants gathered at the Heady fest at Willow Crossing Farm, while others in southern Vermont attended the Original Green Mountain Cannabis and Music Festival in West Dover.

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Nurses' Union to Serve UVM Medical Center With a Strike Notice

Posted By on Sat, Jun 30, 2018 at 5:12 PM

SARA TABIN
  • Sara Tabin
This story was updated at 7:20 p.m.

University of Vermont Medical Center nurses plan to serve the hospital on Monday morning with a 10-day notice of a two-day labor strike.

Keith Brunner, a spokesperson for the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, on Saturday announced a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Monday to reveal a “critical development” in contract negotiations. Prior to the press release, a UVM Medical Center nurse informed Seven Days that a strike notice will be served Monday. Brunner confirmed that Monday’s press conference is to announce that notice.

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