As the chair of the UVM Medical Center Foundation Board, I have the great fortune to work closely with the leadership at the University of Vermont Medical Center and witness their commitment to delivering world-class health care both to Vermonters and to the residents of northern New York.
I grew up in Burlington with a father who was a physician at the UVM Medical Center. I have always been aware of the hospital’s presence in our community and the extraordinary care it provides. But recently, I have also become aware of the hospital’s value as an economic engine driving business and innovation in Vermont.
The UVM Medical Center is a non-profit institution that relies on community support. That often surprises people who may not realize that our local hospital depends on philanthropy. Yet, the medical center wouldn’t be where it is today without the past and continuing support of local donors, such as Bob and Holly Miller, who gave a record $13 million gift to the hospital last year.
Here are a few reasons why I think the UVM Medical Center is worthy of support by all who can contribute.
- The UVM Medical Center supports 5,800 Vermont jobs employing 7,300 people. But, it has a much broader influence. For instance, Wake Robin and other senior retirement facilities would likely not be located here if it weren’t for the proximity to a top-notch care facility. Likewise, major manufacturing and entrepreneurial enterprises located here partly because this type of health care is available.
- The excellence of this care has received national recognition. In October, the hospital was ranked 7th among the nation’s academic hospitals by the University HealthSystem Consortium’s (UHC) Quality and Accountability Study.
- One reason for this ranking is the UVM Medical Center’s near-elimination of a bloodstream infection in patients with “central line” catheters. This demonstrates the dedication to quality care from all staff, from cleaning crews to physicians. The hospital was also ranked 1st in patient safety in the same study.
- The UVM Medical Center’s management has demonstrated another crucial skill for our community: the ability to provide high-quality health care in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. When it came to supply-chain efficiency – buying goods and services at the lowest cost possible – the hospital was ranked No. 2 among the country’s academic hospitals by the same group.
- The UVM Medical Center is also tapping into innovative management ideas to provide operational efficiencies to patients, regardless of geographic location or income level. One example is OneCare Vermont, a venture between the UVM Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. It helps deliver better quality health care to Medicare beneficiaries in our region. They have a similar effort underway with CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, called Adirondack ACO.
- In another effort to improve care while reducing costs the medical center was one of the first health care organizations to fully implement electronic health records (EHR) in 2010. The switch to EHR has not only increased patient safety and quality control, it has saved millions. The UVM Medical Center Chief Executive John Brumsted estimates the upgrade saved almost $1 million in 2011 alone, through reduced spending on paper products and supplies.
- In another area, the hospital provides direct financial assistance in the form of charity care and discounts for uninsured patients. It also offers $4 million annually in community programs and grants.
At some point, every one of us will need the kind of expert health care provided by the medical center. But the UVM Medical Center is also a large part of what makes our community attractive to families, students, professionals and especially business owners relocating to this area.
Supporting this local institution will ensure Vermonters have access to world-class health care in the future and allow this local economic engine to thrive in a challenging era of health care reform.
Brian Boardman is a Realtor and owner of Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty and serves as chairman of the board for the University of Vermont Medical Center Foundation.