UVM Medical Center triggers emergency plan to deal with COVID staffing shortages

·2 min read

With 422 staffing members out from work because of exposure to COVID-19 — and climbing — UVM Medical Center has enacted an emergency plan that will deploy staff to "areas of highest need," the hospital said in a news release on Wednesday.

The omicron variant has sent COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across the United States infecting staff as well as patients at hospitals. At the same time, other employees have needed to stay home to care for children or loved ones, while patient volumes continue to be high, UVM Medical Center said.

Beginning Jan. 13, the Burlington hospital will be operating under the emergency staffing plan, expected to last for several weeks. The situation will be reviewed weekly. Services at outpatient clinics may need to be "adjusted" going forward, according to a news release.

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"Our staff have been extremely dedicated throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, and we know they will continue to work together to provided needed care for our community in the face of yet another challenge," Chief Nursing Officer Peg Gagne said in a news release. "That said, it has been a long haul, and we have asked a lot from each of them — they are tired, and like all of us, want this to be over."

A nurse at the University of Vermont Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cares for a COVID-19 positive patient on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. For months, more and more patients with acute health conditions have landed in the ICU and a second COVID-19 surge is stretching capacity. Where a typical acute patient might spend a week or less in the ICU, COVID-19 patients can take up a bed for a month or more.
A nurse at the University of Vermont Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU) cares for a COVID-19 positive patient on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. For months, more and more patients with acute health conditions have landed in the ICU and a second COVID-19 surge is stretching capacity. Where a typical acute patient might spend a week or less in the ICU, COVID-19 patients can take up a bed for a month or more.

Gagne added that the best way to support overworked health care workers is to "please get vaccinated."

Other hospitals in the UVM Health Network, which includes Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin and Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, are facing similar staffing challenges and will be making their own staffing decisions, according to a news release.

Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or ddambrosio@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: VT COVID staffing emergency: UVM Medical Center responds to shortage

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