The UVM Health Network is hiring a dozen more recruiters, who will be tasked with hiring more doctors and nurses, in an effort to reduce extended wait times for both inpatient and outpatient care, according to a news release.

The State of Vermont announced in early September it was launching an investigation into long wait times for medical care.

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The Health Network includes six hospitals in Vermont and upstate New York, which are under “severe strain” because of demand from patients who delayed routine and urgent care in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the news release says.

The delays mean many patients are sicker when they arrive, requiring more acute care. The population is aging in Vermont and New York, requiring more specialty care. In Northwestern Vermont, the population is not only aging, but also growing rapidly. All of that is combined with a national shortage of health care workers.

“Here and nationally, these challenges have created significant barriers to access, and that is why our team has developed a comprehensive plan to better serve our patients,” Dr. John Brumsted, president and chief executive officer of the UVM Health Network, said in a news release.

Health care crisis intensifying

Vermont’s critical shortage of beds for inpatient mental health care has intensified, according to the news release, with many patients waiting in emergency rooms for an open bed. At the same time, the lack of staff and open beds at long-term care facilities mean patients are staying in hospitals past the time when they need hospital-level care, backing the entire system up.

Healthcare workers gathered in front of UVM Medical Center to speak out about staffing shortages on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.

In the past year, the Network has hired 94 physicians, hundreds of clinical and support staff, and brought on more than 500 traveling nurses across Vermont and New York to fill nursing vacancies. The Network has also increase pay for staff in certain “high-needs” areas, according to a news release.

Regardless of these steps, nurses and other health care workers gathered outside the University of Vermont Medical Center in late August to draw attention to what they characterize as a staffing crisis at the Burlington hospital. The nurses’ union has continued to raise the alarm concerning staffing in the months since.

In addition to hiring more recruiters, the Health Network is:

  • Paying more bonuses both to existing employees and to recruit new employees.
  • Looking into converting traveling nurses, who are temporary employees, into permanent employees.
  • Working with local developers to make more affordable housing available, increasing the Network’s appeal to new hires and existing staff.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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