UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Inpatient Rehab Services to Return to Fanny Allen

After Extensive Investigation, Preparations for Safe Return in October


Colchester – Following an extensive investigation, Fanny Allen Inpatient Rehab staff will be returning to their workspace on that campus in a phased re-entry during the weeks of October 5 and October 19. In the meantime, the space will undergo a number of upgrades, and staff will receive additional training.

“This has been a challenging time for our Fanny Allen Inpatient Rehab staff, and we are deeply grateful for their involvement in this work, their patience and, as always, their dedication to our patients and families,” said Dawn LeBaron, VP, Hospital Services for UVM Medical Center. “We know many of our team members are eager to be back in their workspace here, and thank everyone on the team for their involvement in planning for a safe return.”

In April and May, 21 Inpatient Rehab staff experienced a number of symptoms, including dizziness and nausea. No patients experienced the symptoms. In the weeks following the incidents, the UVM Medical Center’s Environmental Health and Safety Team worked with an occupational health and safety consultant and the Vermont Department of Health to investigate potential causes.

The investigation was broad in scope and did not determine one specific cause for the symptoms experienced. However, because the incidents coincided with increased usage of disinfectants in all areas and the substitution of disinfectants when the usual products became scarce during Vermont’s and the United States’ COVID-19 response, it is likely that an inadvertent combination of chemicals may have contributed to the reactions.

Based on the conclusions of the investigation, plans in motion for a safe return include: 

  • A review of cleaning products and processes to set standards going forward, combined with staff training in chemical hygiene that includes only using chemical products as authorized;
  • Needed improvements to the space, including mold remediation and a cosmetic upgrade of the unit;
  • Installation of hardwired carbon monoxide monitoring; and
  • A response plan for what to do if any further incidents occur upon return.

“We are grateful to the Vermont Department of Health for their support in this investigation,” LeBaron added.

The scope of the investigation included a thorough physical inspection of the facility and environmental measurements for a variety of factors such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds. It also included a thorough review of pesticide application records, carbon monoxide detector test records, and standing water and ceiling tile mold mitigation.

About the University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a 499-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York.  Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve.

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