UVM Medical Center

Patients Begin Moving from UVM Medical Center to Burlington Health and Rehab, While Successful Birchwood Terrace Collaboration Continues

Partnerships with State of Vermont and long-term care facilities are part of Access Action Plan, helping ensure access to emergency and acute care for patients in our region.

Nurse caring for patient in long-term care facility

BURLINGTON – This week, through a collaboration with Burlington Health and Rehab and the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), the UVM Medical Center began moving patients to the skilled nursing facility.

The partnership advances one of the three main goals outlined in the UVM Health Network’s Access Action Plan announced last week: improving hospital inpatient and emergency capacity. The UVM Medical Center is leveraging its experience and network to help Burlington Health & Rehab bring in needed staff, which enables them to accept skilled nursing and long-term care patients who had previously been unable to be discharged from the hospital. The State of Vermont is funding the travelers. This will open up inpatient beds at UVM Medical Center for patients who truly need the acute level of care provided at the region’s Level 1 Trauma Center.

On Thursday, 42 patients in beds at The UVM Medical Center could be safely cared for at a skilled nursing facility. Burlington Health and Rehab plans to accept 18 patients for the first phase of this collaborative work, with the potential to add an additional 12 going forward. Four patients have moved already, with plans to transfer another four to six patients by the end of the week.

Since July, UVM Medical Center has worked closely with Birchwood Terrace Rehab & Healthcare in a close collaboration that demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach. They have since accepted more than 90 patients from the hospital, with 46 of those patients currently at Birchwood continuing to receive excellent care. Four more patients are expected to move there today.

“We’re so grateful for the collaboration of health care providers in our community, and the State of Vermont, and pleased that more of our patients are going to be receiving the care they need in the right setting,” said Stephen Leffler, MD, UVM Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer. “In my 30 years at this hospital, I’ve never seen anything like the increased demand on our services that we’re seeing right now, and it has been clear that we need to act decisively to meet the need.”

“The Agency of Human Services (AHS) and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) greatly appreciate the partnership of UVM Medical Center and Burlington Health and Rehab, in coming to the table to quickly identify solutions to expand subacute bed capacity during this time of unprecedented pressure on our health care systems,” said DAIL Commissioner Monica White. “Additionally, the ongoing work between UVM Medical Center and Birchwood demonstrates the importance of provider partners working together to deliver quality health outcomes for Vermonters.”

“As always, we at Birchwood value our partnership with UVM Medical Center and are grateful for the ongoing opportunity to work collaboratively with them to increase accessibility to essential healthcare for the community at large,” said Alecia DiMario, Executive Director, Birchwood Terrace Rehab & Healthcare.

"We are 100 percent committed to the community we serve, and are honored that we can work alongside UVM Medical Center to deliver best-in-class care," said Isaac Rubin, Owner of Birchwood Terrace Rehab & Healthcare.

As outlined in the Access Action Plan last week, strains on inpatient units and emergency rooms are at a critical level across the country, due to sicker patients seeking care and requiring longer hospital stays, as well as a lack of inpatient mental health and long-term care beds across Vermont and Northern New York.

“Long-term care and post-acute facilities across Vermont are facing an unprecedented staffing shortage that is severely restricting their ability to provide needed care for patients,” said Laura Pelosi of The Vermont Health Care Association. "These challenges are not unique to the greater Burlington community, and partnerships such as this will support Vermonters in accessing care where and when they need it,” Pelosi said.

Partnerships with Birchwood and Burlington Health & Rehab are part of a short- and medium-term plan to increase access to inpatient and emergency care, including:

  • Getting approval from the Green Mountain Care Board to add 15 inpatient beds at UVM Medical Center in existing units.
  • Working with the State of Vermont, Brattleboro Retreat, and the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital to make more inpatient mental health beds available.
  • Pursuing Certificate of Need applications for our previously announced psychiatric inpatient care unit at Central Vermont Medical Center and a redesigned and expanded emergency department at UVM Medical Center.
  • Developing an emergency department observation unit and acute-hospitalization-at-home program at UVM Medical Center to reduce inpatient demand.
  • Continuing to work in partnership with the State of Vermont and hospitals throughout the state to staff nursing and mental health beds to provide patients with quality care in the most appropriate place.

On Thursday, 16 patients, 4 of them adolescents, waited in the UVM Medical Center’s Emergency Department for an inpatient psychiatric bed placement. The emergency department has 43 total beds, leaving only 23 available for non-psychiatric related emergency department visits. The hospital’s 28 inpatient psychiatric beds have also been at or near 100% capacity for weeks.

“Everyone who works in health care has been doing heroic work for months on end to provide vital health care to our community and we are so grateful for your compassion and resilience,” Dr. Leffler said.

“These partnerships are important to help ensure we are able to provide acute care for our sickest patients, for which our community relies on us as the region’s Level 1 Trauma Center. But they do not address complex, long-term staffing issues that we must solve by working together with the State of Vermont and our health care partners,” he added.

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.

For more information visit www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenter or visit our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterSocialMedia.