Vaccination required for Porter Hospital and other UVMHN employees

Dr. John Brumsted

BURLINGTON — The University of Vermont Health Network, which includes Middlebury’s Porter Medical Center, will require employees to either get a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 1, or be subject to weekly testing for the disease, which has killed 260 Vermonters and 615,000 Americans since it arrived in this country 18 months ago.

UVMHN President and CEO John Brumsted, MD, said in a statement today that recent increases in COVID-19 cases in Vermont have “made one thing crystal clear: vaccination is how we control the spread and hopefully end this pandemic.

“As a health care provider, our consistent message through the pandemic has been to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others, and it is imperative that we do the right thing to protect our patients, our communities and our employees,” Brumsted said.

Vermont has seen the number of COVID-19 cases rise over the past two weeks as the more infectious delta variant has begun circulating here.

In Addison County, we saw six COVID-19 cases in the month of June, but had 20 cases in only the last two weeks, including four new cases reported Friday, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

UVM Health Network encompasses UVM Medical Center, Porter, and five other hospitals and medical facilities in Vermont and New York and as a workforce of nearly 15,000 employees

The vaccination requirement will include physicians and also travelers (per diem health care providers, like nurses and temporary doctors) working in UVMHN facilities as a condition of employment. Those who decline vaccination will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.

A Porter spokesman on Friday said that 90% of the Middlebury medical center’s employees were vaccinated, leaving approximately 80 people unvaccinated.

Brumsted pointed out that his organization is not alone in this decision as nationwide many types of employers — including hospitals and health systems — have instituted mandatory vaccination as a next step as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Middlebury College, for instance, will require all students, faculty and staff living, learning, or working on campus in the fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Brumsted is committed to bringing the requirement to his institution.

 “We are committed to creating a process that is respectful of all of our employees and one that recognizes the urgent need to take action to prevent sickness and save lives,” Brumsted said. “We are incredibly grateful to the vast majority of our workforce who have already been vaccinated, and to our physicians and other caregivers who have been on the frontlines of this unprecedented and ongoing pandemic.”

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