UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Re-Opens Three Operating Rooms

Needed ORs restored at Fanny Allen and Main Campus, more ORs to reopen in near future

Group of medical professionals performing surgery in operating room

BURLINGTON, Vt. – The University of Vermont Medical Center announced today that it has reopened two operating rooms at its location on the Fanny Allen campus in Colchester, as well as a main campus operating room. The move follows the reopening of the campus’s inpatient rehabilitation unit in January and is an important step in the UVM Health Network’s Access Action plan, which aims to reduce delays in patient access to outpatient, inpatient and specialty care.

UVM Medical Center’s Hospital Services team worked throughout 2021 with outside experts to assess, renovate and optimize the space’s complex system of filtration, ventilation, air conditioning and heating units, which was outdated and did not allow for optimal airflow in spaces where staff had reported symptoms such as dizziness and nausea.

“We’ve been getting extremely positive feedback from the inpatient rehabilitation therapy team who has been using the space for about a month now,” said Stephen Leffler, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer of The UVM Medical Center. “Our hospital services team did a great job preparing the facility for a safe return. In addition to completely replacing air handling units, our team made updates to the perioperative space, so our perioperative teams will be walking in to a space that will seem very new to them.”

13 patients were scheduled to receive surgery in the two newly-opened operating rooms Monday. The plan is to gradually open the facility’s three additional operating rooms as new staff members are recruited to work in the space and recently high hospital census numbers return to normal.

The movement of typically less intensive outpatient surgeries to Fanny Allen, combined with a stand down of five COVID-19 related emergency ICU beds that were occupying OR space, also allowed UVMMC’s perioperative team to reopen a main campus OR to perform more acute inpatient surgeries.

The reopened perioperative space at Fanny Allen will initially focus on small general surgery, ophthalmology, hand and foot orthopedics and varicose veins. The reopened main campus OR will allow for additional access to cardiothoracic, dental, gynecology, surgical oncology, orthopedics, plastics and urology surgical services.

“We continue to see a very high number of patients and staffing shortages connected to the pandemic,” said Dr. Leffler. “We know that we must address those challenges as we work to increase our surgical capacity.”


When Gary Scott took on the role of Vice President of Hospital Services for the UVM Medical Center in late 2020, he brought extensive experience addressing environmental quality issues within buildings. Scott led the team in reevaluating potential root causes of symptoms that had been documented, building on work that had already been done, and subsequently in overseeing a major renovation of the building and the mechanical systems that serve it – including two new air handlers, upgrading and cleaning of ductwork, and installation of additional airflow devices.

“Air quality events like these are often a combination of factors that compound on one another. That can make it difficult to identify one single cause,” Scott said. “When that happens, we make a list of everything we can think of that could contribute to the downstream issues we’re seeing and then systematically address them all.”

“We’re grateful to Gary and his team,” Leffler said. “These renovations improve the quality of the space overall. We will continue to monitor systems and air quality to ensure the upgrades are working as intended.”


The Fanny Allen perioperative space has been closed since November 2020 out of an abundance of caution after staff members reported symptoms including dizziness and nausea.

Inpatient rehabilitation moved to the UVM Medical Center’s main campus in late October 2020 due to similar issues, after some work and upgrades had been undertaken to try and address a similar event. No patients experienced symptoms during any of these events and all staff who experienced symptoms were treated and recovered. Air quality data continued to be safe.

While these two spaces were closed, other services have continued to safely operate at Fanny Allen, including Urgent Care, outpatient rehabilitation, and a COVID-19 testing site.


  • May 2020: Patients and staff moved to main campus after staff reported symptoms.
  • Summer and early fall 2020: Investigation conducted, improvements made to space.
  • Early October 2020: Inpatient rehab and periop space re-opened.
  • October 31, 2020: Inpatient rehab and periop space closed again after staff reported symptoms, patients and staff transferred to main campus.
  • November 2020 to present: Additional investigation conducted; system renovated, air handler replaced; outside experts reviewed and tested new equipment, airflow, air quality.
  • January 12, 2022: Patients and staff return to inpatient rehab space.
  • February 14, 2022: Two Fanny Allen OR spaces reopen.