Jeffrey Tieman is president and chief executive officer at Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS).

In September 2017, I was fortunate to participate in “Community Rounds” at the UVM Medical Center, UVM Larner College of Medicine and UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The two-day program orients members of the community to the work of the hospital and the medical and nursing and health sciences schools. A broad cross-section of community members are invited to participate. We heard from hospital leaders on topics from mission and vision to health care reform. Panels of clinicians discussed the hospital’s work to address complex social issues like the widespread use of opioids and the mental health crisis. And every participant has the opportunity to shadow a clinician for a portion of the day, based on the participant’s interest.

At the UVM Medical Center

On the first day, I shadowed an ophthalmologist. Within minutes of my arrival, I was watching this highly specialized physician prep a needle to inject directly into his patient’s eye. As the brief procedure unfolded, so did I, complete with sweaty palms, palpitations and dizziness. Needless to say, the next day, I was paired with a pediatric ENT whose exams of kids’ ears were considerably tamer.

But both experiences were, well, eye opening.  I was surprised to find an ophthalmologist talking to his patients about their diets, but he was because macular degeneration caused by diabetes was affecting their vision and necessitating frequent (and expensive) injections. This speaks powerfully to the need for patient outreach and participation as health reform focuses us on primary prevention and coordinated care – keeping people healthy for the long run. Success in this new health care delivery model will center on working together with patients to prevent and manage their chronic conditions. And I was fascinated to observe workflow in a busy medical practice that was also home to new physicians learning their specialties.

At the Larner College of Medicine at UVM

Community Rounds then took us through UVM’s Colleges of Medicine and Nursing and Health Sciences, including the high-tech Simulation Lab. We had conversations with lab researchers and technicians, and with medical students and nurse leaders. It was hopeful and exciting to meet so many hyper-smart scientists and devoted medical professionals—Ph.D. researchers, ICU nurses, primary care physicians, department leaders, and technical experts, among others.

I left Community Rounds feeling grateful for the resources that UVMMC and UVM provide to Burlington, to Vermont and to the whole medical community. UVMMC, along with all Vermont hospitals, provides care within a system that is rated one of the country’s best. Our hospitals are also leaders on health care reform and cost containment, all while engaging with and investing in their communities to create a vibrant, healthy Vermont.

Jeffrey Tieman is president and chief executive officer at Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS). 

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