Health

AP/Jim Cole / In this 2005 file photo, doctors and nurses talk in the hallway of the Adult Treatment Center at the Brattleboro Retreat in

Changes are underway at the Brattleboro Retreat. The psychiatric hospital will open a new Adult Intensive Unit next week. The facility is part of the state's new plan to serve mental health patients following the closure of the Vermont State Hospital by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

After the storm, the Retreat immediately took patients into an older unit that was quickly redesigned for safety. Now they've fully re-designed a unit in the Tyler building on the fourth floor.

Rabies Confirmed In St. Albans Raccoons

Apr 4, 2013

Authorities in St. Albans say they've found two raccoons that have tested positive for rabies.

The animals were tested over the weekend after police responded to two separate complaints of possible rabid raccoons on New Street and High Street.

Police Chief Gary Taylor is reminding people that even raccoons that appear to be healthy could be a source of exposure to rabies.

Taylor is asking people if they see a raccoon in the area to please call the police department.

Veterans Home Passes State Inspection

Apr 4, 2013

The Vermont Veterans Home has passed a state inspection and needs to pass one more to ensure it will keep receiving federal funds.

The home is on special focus status following a near-loss in funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year. That funding accounts for most of the home's $20 million budget.

Administrator Melissa Jackson tells the Bennington Banner the inspectors from the Division of Licensing and Protection found one minor issue in Monday's inspection, an expired medication.

A group of doctors is telling Vermont lawmakers and the media that changes in how they are paid could harm medical ethics.

They're worried about the payment plan that might be implemented by the Green Mountain Care Board. Speaking at a news conference organized Wednesday by the group Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, Dr. Robert Emmons, a Burlington psychiatrist, said the way Vermont's health care overhaul is planned is not compatible with medical ethics.

One of the country's top medical journals is touting Vermont's health care reform effort as an example for the rest of the nation.

A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine says other states can learn some lessons from Vermont in rolling out health exchanges that are essential to the federal Affordable Care Act.

Doctor Laura Grubb at the University of Texas wrote the report. In a phone interview Wednesday, she said other states should follow Vermont administrators' lead and take matters into their own hands.

Patients living with Lyme disease crowded the Statehouse on Wednesday to tell their stories about years of misdiagnosis and chronic pain.

The patients and their advocates want legislation to protect doctors if they prescribe long-term antibiotic treatment contrary to current medical standards.

Lawmakers also learned that Lyme disease is just one of several tick-borne infections now sweeping through Vermont.

The momentum to reform Vermont’s earned income tax credit appeared to run out last week, but Governor Peter Shumlin continues to lobby a small group of state senators. He hopes to strike a deal on his proposal to subsidize child care by redirecting $17 million from the tax credit for poor working Vermonters.

A week after a key House committee narrowly rejected his plan, Shumlin has his work cut out for him in the Senate.

The very mention of Alzheimer's strikes fear into the hearts of many of us who have watched loved ones disappear into the dark depths of this disease.

Dr. William Pendlebury is a Professor of Pathology and Neurology and Director of the UVM Center on Aging and Fletcher Allen's Memory Center. She spoke with Vermont Edition about the search for a cure for Alzheimer's.

Rutland Hospital Plans Methadone Clinic

Apr 3, 2013

The Rutland Regional Medical center is hoping to open a methadone clinic by fall.

Last week the hospital's board of directors voted to move forward with a state Department of Health plan to open a drug treatment center that police and health officials say is needed to treat people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers.

Hospital spokeswoman Priscilla Latkin says the target date is Oct. 1

The facility will open with enough staff to handle 400 people a year but will probably not come close to that number of patients during its first 12 months in operation.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

Doctor Elliott Fisher has had a note on his office wall for several years now that states his professional mission - try to help fix health care.

This week the physician and researcher is even better positioned to do just that.The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice just named Fisher as its new director.

Fisher has been integral to the Dartmouth Institute's purpose of studying how to make health care systems work better. He spoke with Vermont edition about some of the inherent problems in how health care is delivered.

FAHC Wants To Convert To Only Single Rooms

Apr 2, 2013

Vermont's largest hospital is considering expanding, so it can offer most of its patients private rooms.

Fletcher Allen Health Care wants state permission to build 48 new patient rooms in a new two-story building. Cost estimates run up to $85 million.

The hospital is planning to submit its application for the planning phase within the next few weeks. Once the planning is done, the hospital could apply for permission to construct the building.

A spokesman for the hospital says the goal is to make sure 90 percent of the hospital's patients are in private rooms.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

Vermont became the first state on Monday to publish the rates it would charge people who don't currently have health insurance to get coverage - a key step toward establishing the health exchanges that are central to the federal health care law known as Obamacare.

Under the proposed rates, the amount that individuals would pay every month would vary from $360 for the most basic package to more than $600 for the most comprehensive.

A school in Hanover is being tested for the presence of a chemical that was used as a refrigerant at a nearby laboratory.

Richmond Middle School sits across the road from the U-S Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

The chemical trichloroethylene was used as a refrigerant at the lab from the 1960s until 1987.

Officials say TCE has been found at trace levels on the lab grounds, but recent testing hasn't found any unsafe levels of the vapor at the school.

One of the concepts we hear about in the effort to improve our health care system is the idea of a patient-centered medical home.

Traditionally, a patient's health might be managed based on whatever ailment prompted an office visit. A medical home, by contrast, takes the person's major health issues into account as a more holistic idea. It requires the entire office staff to be involved in anticipating what care and information that patient will need. It's that anticipation that's one of the key differences that makes a medical home work.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR File Photo

Vermont, which continues to emerge as a national health care leader, released on Monday the amount it proposes to charge consumers for health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Under the proposed rates, the average cost for an individual would vary from $365.76 for the most basic package to $609.47 for the most comprehensive. Rates for family plans would be higher. People under certain income limits would get federal subsidies to pay for insurance.

UVM To Offer Online Public Health Course

Apr 1, 2013

The University of Vermont is launching an online certificate of graduate study in public health.

Beginning this summer, medical and nursing students, health practitioners, public health professionals, and health care researchers will be able to enroll in the 18-credit, online graduate course that navigates current public health and health policy issues.

The course is designed to give students a strong foundation in population health sciences including epidemiology, bio statistics and environmental health.

Volunteers Wanted For EEE Study

Apr 1, 2013

Vermont health officials are seeking volunteers for a study of Eastern equine encephalitis.

Matthew Thomas of the state Department of Health says officials hope to learn more about the prevalence of the mosquito-transmitted virus in Vermont. Two men, one from Brandon and the other from Sudbury, died last year in Vermont's first human cases of EEE.

Thomas tells the Rutland Herald that the plan is to draw blood from 150 to 200 volunteers at clinics in Brandon, Whiting and Sudbury.

Vt. To Post Health Care Rates

Apr 1, 2013

Vermont is poised to become the first state in the country to tell people without health insurance how much they can pay for coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act when it begins offering benefits next year.

The state starting today is going to post the proposed rates offered through the state's health care marketplace for various levels of coverage.

Andy Hyman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says it's a big step.

Moretown Landfill Shuts Down Before Deadline

Apr 1, 2013

A Vermont landfill that was ordered closed has shut down.

The Moretown landfill had until mid-April to close, but it closed on Saturday.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources this month ordered the Moretown landfill to cease operations, citing odor problem sand groundwater pollution.

WPTZ-TV reported that landfill officials said they closed earlier than required to prepare an appeal of the agency's decision to the state's environmental court.

Vermont now has only one landfill left used for trash disposal, in the northern Vermont town of Coventry.

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