Gov. Scott Addresses 2022 Rutland Regional Annual Meeting
The Board of Directors and I were pleased to welcome Governor Phil Scott as the keynote speaker at the hospital's Annual Meeting, April 6, our first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019. Governor Scott praised health care workers in general and Rutland Regional staff specifically for their efforts during the pandemic, including our work giving more than 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines. He also touched on Rutland Regional's community partnerships and the need to expand workforce development and training.
“More than any other area, healthcare across Vermont has been tested. And I can assure you, as someone who has been watching over the whole field, you rose to the challenge and met that test and served us well,” said Governor Scott. “You were…key to our success in vaccination where we consistently led the nation with the highest vaccination rates across the country.
“None of this could have happened without your front-line staff,” he added. “They went above and beyond to help Vermonters keep healthy, all while facing workforce shortages, wearing pounds of protective gear, pulling double and triple shifts, comforting patients and families … and doing all of this while managing the same stress in their own lives as the people they serve."
In addition to Gov. Scott's address, the corporators at the annual meeting also elected new members of the corporation and selected new members for the hospital's Board of Directors. In addition, they heard from board leadership, the president of the medical staff and the chair of the Bowse Health Trust.
In his remarks, Board Chair, Joe Kraus, focused on the accolades Rutland Regional earned despite the ongoing pandemic. “Remarkably, through all of this we were again awarded Magnet status, which is the highest health care designation bestowed by the American Nurses Association,” he said. “In addition, we received the highest award for Hospital safety and quality by the independent Leapfrog Group. No other Vermont hospital received so high a rating.”
He also addressed the financial challenges the organization is facing as the result of chronic underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid, saying, “we cannot solve these extraordinary challenges alone. We will need our regulator, the Green Mountain Care Board and our state to understand our challenges and be full partners in finding solutions that preserve our financial stability so we can continue to meet the health care needs of our community for the next 125 years.”
Dr. Phil Lapp, the president of the medical staff, recognized and thanked everyone who works or volunteers at Rutland Regional for their strength and determination, which who held the hospital together and allowed us to continue to provide outstanding care even at the pandemic's height. He also welcomed 17 new providers and recognized eight providers who retired in 2021 and earlier this year.
Bowse Health Trust Report
The Bowse Health Trust is part of Rutland Regional Health system. Its mission is to disburse funds that measurably improve the health of Rutland County residents. Joan Gamble, it's board chair, presented the trust's report, which included funding priorities set by its triennial community needs assessment: housing, mental health, the aging community, and childhood and parenting. In 2021, the Bowse Health Trust provided $100,000 in grant funding to three local organizations, Come Alive Outside, the Vermont Farmers Food Center, and Vermont Adult Learning's Energy Works program.
Pandemic Effects at Rutland Regional
Although the COVID-19 pandemic took hold worldwide in 2020, here in Rutland we did not feel its full effects until late 2021 as Delta and Omicron variants swept into our community. Inundated with COVID patients, our hospital successfully treated hundreds of patients suffering from COVID. Working together, we ensured that critical healthcare services remained available, without closing beds or discontinuing essential services.
Our success comes with a cost, though. Our staff have been through two years of protracted trauma. Unlike other workers, those on the front lines of healthcare carried their own burdens and the the fears, anxieties, and suffering of those in their care.
In response, many health care professionals simply threw in the towel. In fact, The Atlantic magazine estimates that the US has lost as much as 20 percent of its health care workforce over the past two years. At Rutland Regional, workforce recruitment and retention is our top priority as we work to recover from the pandemic.
Today, the pandemic itself has largely slipped out of the public eye, upstaged by politics, foreign affairs, and inflation. And, despite the fact that we are done with COVID, it remains to be seen if COVID is done with us.
Although we don't know what the future holds, we do know that the solutions will come from the same resolve and cooperation we have demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Rutland Regional stands ready and willing to do our part.
I remain inspired by the grit and selflessness of our staff and volunteers.
We put together a short highlights video of the meeting below for anyone who wasn't able to join us.