Health Care

VPR's coverage of changes to Vermont's Health Care laws and systems. Follow Bob Kinzel on Twitter. Read the Vermont Health Care Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP/file

A health care economist hired by the Shumlin administration earlier this year has become ensnared in a national controversy.

And Republicans are calling on the governor to terminate the state’s contract with MIT professor Jonathan Gruber.

Toby Talbot / AP

If you're rushed to the hospital in Burlington this week, you won't be going to Fletcher Allen Health Care. Instead, you'll be driven up the hill to the University of Vermont Medical Center. It's the same place; it just has a different name. But there's more to it than just a change in name. John Brumsted is president and CEO of what's now called the University of Vermont Medical Center and the University of Vermont Health Network. And he filled us in on what's behind the name change.

 

Fuse / Thinkstock

Abuse of legal narcotic painkillers is on the rise in Vermont, but clinicians often prescribe such drugs for chronic pain.

The Boston University School of Medicine held a training this past weekend in Burlington to provide Vermont's doctors with tools to make these difficult decisions.

Earlier this year, Gov. Peter Shumlin drew national attention by devoting his entire State of the State speech to Vermont's battle with opioid addiction.

While Shumlin referenced "a full blown heroin crisis," addiction to prescription drugs is just as prevalent.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

A doctor whose cancer clinic was closed by Newport’s North Country Hospital three years ago has set up a private practice that is rapidly expanding.

In fact, Leslie Lockridge’s clinic is not treating only oncology patients. He’s adding other services that have been dropped by the hospital, and there are plans for further expansion in the future.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin is “hopeful” that Vermont’s health care exchange website will be online in time for the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15. But he didn’t sound certain Friday that his team will make the deadline.

“I’ve been discouraged so many times by this website that I’ll believe it when I see it,” Shumlin said on Vermont Edition Friday. “What I’ve been told by my folks who are working really hard on this is that we’ll be ready for open enrollment on Nov. 15.”

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Got your flu shot yet? If you work for a Vermont healthcare facility, you are no doubt being urged to get one right away. In fact, at some hospitals, employees who don’t get immunized will have to wear a mask when around patients—or lose their jobs.

That’s the policy at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Walk through the big glass doors into the circular lobby of the hospital, and you get a smile from a volunteer at the information desk. One of those greeters is Barbara Olson of West Lebanon.

Wavebreak Media / Thinkstock

On July 2, the new Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital opened in Berlin. The $28.5 million facility is the centerpiece in the state’s mental health care network that has suffered to find enough beds for psychiatric patients since Tropical Storm Irene damaged the state hospital in Waterbury almost three years previous to this opening.

But as of just a few weeks ago, only 21 of the new care facilities’ 25 beds were available, in part because of a shortage of nurses. The new hospital was using traveling nurses to fill some of the open slots.

Vermont’s state employees are going to be hit with a nearly 18 percent increase in their health care premiums. The increase is taking place because more state employees than projected were treated last year for cancer and heart disease. The increase came as a shock because the VSEA plan had no increases in the past two years.  

Human Resources Commissioner Maribeth Spellman says the increase is directly related to much higher than expected use of expensive health care services.

One of the hardest decisions of my life was telling the oncology nurse at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital that I was not submitting my 87 year old mother to the painful daily treatment the blood specialist was recommending. It was clear the treatment was not going to cure her or make her life more comfortable and she had trusted me with her end of life care when she could not decide for herself. Though I knew she did not want extraordinary measures or aggressive treatments to prolong of her life, it was still a gut wrenching decision.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

More and more ambulance services are needing cash transfusions to stay in business.

Volunteers are scarce, operational costs are rising, and revenues are not keeping pace. So some of the most rural services are starting to consolidate.

That includes Calex—originally named for Caledonia and Essex Counties—which now serves St. Johnsbury, Danville, and Littleton, New Hampshire.

VPR rode along on a call that may have saved a life.

Pages