‘It connected me to the community more than anything else I’ve ever done’
It might seem like a big leap from milking cows to leading the University of Vermont Health Network’s Telehealth Services, but Todd Young says working on his grandfather’s farm taught him one important lesson: how to work hard. Over the past year, he’s brought his work ethic to an unprecedented array of challenges: A pandemic, a cyberattack and, most recently, the mission of setting up complex IT systems to support the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex.
As the pandemic descended upon Vermont, seemingly overnight video visits became the primary means for people to see their health care providers. Young and his team from IT oversaw the UVM Medical Center’s transformation from conducting 1,000 telehealth visits per year to 1,000 video visits each day during the height of the pandemic.
Then a cyberattack hit, and Young’s team had to build systems -- some digital, some so manual they involved sorting papers into cardboard boxes – to get the UVM Medical Center through the worst days. Still reeling from that effort, Young was asked to help with the Essex vaccination effort.
One of their first assignments was to help build a system that would allow patients to schedule their vaccination appointments themselves.
“Initially, the team had to consider varying timeframes for different vaccines – Pfizer requires three weeks between doses; Moderna requires four,” explains Young. “They had to build processes to not only address this factor, but to make sure that the Expo staff could document the timing easily and efficiently. “It was all about building quality and efficiency into the systems we developed,” he says.
Next, rather than a paper sign-in processes, the team provided the technology that allowed the staff to be sure that patients’ vaccinations were properly documented. “It’s an important patient safety and quality issue,” Young says.
Ultimately, the many systems the team put in place allowed a rapid increase in vaccinations. “For the people who work here it’s amazing to know we went from a few dozen doses to more than 1,000 per day,” says Stephyne Burke, RN, the manager of the clinic. “I don’t think the patients coming in even realize it, because the process is so smooth.”
Young is proud of the complex, often intense, teamwork that has made the administration of more than 80,000 vaccines at the Essex clinic look easy.
“[This work proved we can change the experience for our patients and our people when we unite around a common cause,” he says. “It connected me to the community more than anything else I’ve ever done.”