UVM Health Network

UVM Health Network Highlights Progress on Access Plan in 2021; Announces Additional Steps to Improve Access to Care in 2022

Amid immediate focus to increase critical care capacity, Network continues to advance goals outlined in October to recruit talent, improve access to specialty care and restart Fanny Allen

UVM Health Network employee in PPE conducting COVID testing

Burlington, VT– The University of Vermont Health Network today offered an assessment of progress in 2021 to improve the patient experience and increase access to health care services – amid record patient volumes and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and outlined new initiatives added to the Access Action Plan for 2022.

The plan, originally announced in October 2021, lays out significant investments in staffing, technology and infrastructure, and enhanced partnerships with both health care institutions outside of the Network and with state and local governments.

The Access Action Plan addresses three main goals:

  • Retain talent and hire successfully amid national staffing shortages
  • Reduce wait times for specialty care
  • Improve hospital inpatient and emergency capacity

“Our teams are committed to making significant progress on the steps outlined in our Access Action Plan, even amid the constantly evolving challenges presented by COVID-19 and increased acute care needs of our community,” said John R. Brumsted, MD, President and CEO of The UVM Health Network. “By keeping track of these tangible successes and constantly adding new and innovative initiatives to this plan, we will improve the care experience for our patients. At the same time, we acknowledge the forces impacting health care in our region and nation may mean the immediate needs of our patients and community take precedence over our longer-term goals related to improving access to care.”

Key Access Action Plan Achievements

Since launching the Access Action Plan in October, the Network has made significant progress in many areas. This includes the successful second phase implementation of an electronic medical record that connects patient records across the health system, launching eConsults so that primary care doctors and specialists can confer on patient care without the need for separate appointments, restarted inpatient rehabilitation services at UVM Medical Center’s Fanny Allen campus, appointed its first Network Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and accelerated efforts to further develop a Patient Access and Service Center, which will facilitate centralized scheduling with a view to all available appointments.

Today, the Network shared ongoing progress and new initiatives as part of its Access Action Plan in three major areas:

Update: Reducing Wait Times for Specialty Care

Key progress toward reducing wait times for specialty care includes:

  • Epic Phase Two successfully launched on November 6. All New York-based Network hospitals and clinics will be live in April 2022. This technology is an essential underpinning to modernizing our scheduling and time management systems.
  • In 2021, the Patient Access and Service Center (PASC) helped patients schedule more than 17,000 specialty care appointments.
  • The Patient Access and Service Center has successfully hired 9 of the 19 planned new employees for the fiscal year (December 31 concluded the first quarter of FY22 for the Network).
  • To help patients select the soonest Urology appointment across the region, the PASC recently expanded schedule-filling activities to Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, in addition to existing capabilities at UVM Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center.
  • The first phase of eConsults launched in October at select sites offering consulting services for Sleep Medicine, Psychiatry, Pharmacy, and Hepatitis-C.
  • Initial self-scheduling capabilities for COVID-19 testing and a phlebotomy site launched through the MyChart patient portal, a patient-facing application of the Network’s electronic health record. Self-scheduling allows for patients to select an appointment at their convenience instead of requesting an appointment to be made for them. Early adoption rates have demonstrated patients have significant interest in using this technology, with more than 2,600 patients scheduling themselves for COVID-19 tests.

As part of our commitment to improving access, we are announcing the addition of the following action items for 2022:

  • We plan to reopen Fanny Allen outpatient surgery services in early 2022.
  • Additional eConsults services will be launched at select sites for Urology, Orthopedics, Cardiology and Infectious Disease in early 2022.
  • In addition to the new positions already hired, as our financial position permits, the Network will hire an additional six staff members to join the Patient Access and Service Center team in direct patient-facing technical assistance roles associated with the MyChart portal – supporting further expansion of self-scheduling capabilities.

Update: Retaining and Recruiting Talent

Key progress at year-end review toward retaining and recruiting talent include:

  • Across the Network, we are conducting compensation analyses to make sure our jobs are competitive in the labor market – recently, Porter Medical Center negotiated new and increased nurse wage schedules. We continue labor negotiations at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and will participate in labor negotiations at UVM Medical Center in 2022.
  • We recently announced the appointment of Jackie Hunter, DC, MHA, as Senior Vice President and Network Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer to lead diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, reporting directly to the Network CEO. DEI is one of our core strategies for attracting and retaining the workforce we need.
  • We have converted 10 traveling nurses to permanent staff as of this update and are working with experts in this field to convert additional positions.
  • The Network has created a fully staffed nursing recruitment team that works across affiliates with a new Network leader responsible for the team beginning in January. Additionally, three physician-specific recruitment roles are active and accepting applications.

As part of our commitment to improving access, we are announcing the addition of the following action items for 2022:

  • We will launch an employee organizational health survey and create an action plan based upon the results.
  • Expand and grow internal career development programs across the Network throughout 2022.
  • Explore long-term opportunities for remote-hybrid work to attract and retain employees.

Update: Improving Hospital Inpatient and Emergency Capacity

Key progress at year-end review toward improving hospital inpatient and emergency capacity include:

  • In late 2021, we submitted an update to the Green Mountain Care Board on the psychiatric inpatient care unit at Central Vermont Medical Center, with a revised, more cost effective project plan.
  • We have engaged in active partnerships with Burlington Health and Rehab and Birchwood to move UVM Medical Center patients to an appropriate care setting, freeing up inpatient beds.
  • On January 12, UVM Medical Center reopened inpatient rehabilitation services at the Fanny Allen campus, creating additional patient space in the main campus hospital.

As part of our commitment to improving access, we are announcing the addition of the following action items:

  • In addition to the planned Certificate of Need (CON) application for a state of the art outpatient surgery center, to ease additional inpatient census pressure at UVM Medical Center’s main campus, this year we will submit a formal CON Application for outpatient Dermatology and Ophthalmology services at Tilley Drive in South Burlington.
  • Later this spring we will submit a formal Certificate of Need Application for the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit at Central Vermont Medical Center.

Tracking and Reporting on Action Plan Progress

Throughout this multi-year effort, the Network will monitor and publicly report on plan progress on a quarterly basis on its website at UVMHealthStrategy.org. The site also includes information about our overall work as part of the Network’s strategic plan.

Any patient who is having trouble accessing care in a timely manner should first call their doctor’s office. If additional help is needed, our Patient and Family Advocates are ready to assist.


Central Vermont Medical Center: (802) 371-4350

Porter Medical Center: (802) 388-4701

UVM Medical Center: (802) 847-3500

New York

Alice Hyde Medical Center: (518) 481-2258

Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital: (518) 314-3054

Elizabethtown Community Hospital: (518) 873-6377

About The University of Vermont Health Network

The University of Vermont Health Network is an integrated system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives. The partners are:

Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our affiliates remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.