UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center's Response to HHS' Office of Civil Rights Announcement

UVM Medical Center's Response to HHS' Office of Civil Rights Announcement


Burlington, V.T. – The University of Vermont Medical Center has robust, formal protections that safeguard both our employees’ religious, ethical and cultural beliefs, and our patients’ rights to access safe and legal abortion. We do not discriminate against any employees for exercising their rights to opt out of procedures to which they object. These procedures cover initiation and cessation of life support, organ transplant, sterilization, and termination of pregnancy. Every day, the UVM Medical Center works hard to protect the rights of the thousands of patients who seek our services and the many employees who assist in providing them.

The University of Vermont Medical Center was disappointed to learn through the press that the Office of Civil Rights Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom was planning to announce a notice of violation today against the hospital based on a former employee’s complaint. When the UVM Medical Center first learned of the allegations that are the subject of OCR’s letter, we promptly and thoroughly investigated them and determined that they were not supported by the facts.

Because this issue involves patient care and personnel matters we cannot go into as much detail as OCR did today, however we have engaged with representatives from OCR about the complaint over the past nine months. From the outset and as recently as this month, we have offered to discuss our policies and practices, and to receive their advice on how those policies and practices may be improved consistent with our obligations to our patients. Unfortunately, OCR instead chose to proceed with the announcement it issued today. We, nonetheless, remain willing to work cooperatively with OCR to identify any ways in which we can further support our employees’ conscience and religious rights, in a manner that is consistent with high-quality patient care, and the other legal and ethical obligations we have to our patients.

About the University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center  is a 447-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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