‘This is not normal’: Health care industry leader warns of ‘complex and severe’ circumstances

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HELP WANTED AND NEEDED: The health care industry needs workers and money. According to Mike Del Trecco, interim president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the situation is getting desperate.

The interim president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS) released a statement Monday urging the Green Mountain Care Board to approve stabilization budgets to help hospitals withstand nearly full bed capacity, skyrocketing costs, staff shortages and more.

It’s that time of year for non-profit hospitals to present budgets to the Green Mountain Care Board for the next fiscal year, and VAHHS is urging GMCB to approve “stabilization budgets” as submitted. The budgets are being evaluated at a time of uncertainty in health care.

Mike Del Trecco, interim president and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems

“It is essential to our health care system that these budgets be approved as submitted,” Mike Del Trecco wrote in a statement. “I have been working in health care for my entire career and I have never seen a set of circumstances so complex and severe — this is not normal.”

Del Trecco lists six points that are the most concerning new trends health care is facing. They include personnel shortages, inflation and supply chain shortages, placement delays (meaning patients stay longer than necessary), new viruses like COVID and monkeypox, and violent attacks by patients — all this while facilities are operating at nearly full capacity continuously, around 93-to-96%.

“We face a workforce challenge like never before,” said Del Trecco, who notes that 65% of hospital budgets go towards workforce and building operations. “Hospitals operate 24/7 and 365 days a year and we cannot close if things are too expensive or for lack of personnel.”

Like every other industry, inflation and supply chain troubles also plague the health care industry.

“We are experiencing unprecedented inflation and supply chain issues that are contributing to skyrocketing costs; over 30% of these budgets goes toward purchasing medical and surgical supplies and pharmaceuticals to care for patients,” Del Trecco said.

As an example of the stress hospitals are facing, he cites a mental health and long-term care delivery system that “drives up costs as patients are stuck in hospitals even when they don’t need to be there.”

“Just yesterday, we had 125 patients waiting for placement and over the last three weeks this number was between 105 and 138. Again, this is not a one-time occurrence,” Del Trecco said.

He added that caregivers are experiencing “violent acts against them daily,” making matters worse.

As a result, Vermont’s health care industry is expected to see the largest budget increase requests in more than a decade.

“Our workforce is exhausted, our communities are challenged and for the current fiscal year most of our Vermont hospitals are reporting losses. Operating with budgets lower that those submitted will jeopardize services and challenge the investments that are necessary to run our hospitals and care for our communities,” Del Trecco said.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

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11 thoughts on “‘This is not normal’: Health care industry leader warns of ‘complex and severe’ circumstances

  1. A corporate structure has almost exclusively taken over our health care system in this country, with the help of government and now we wonder why it costs so much and doesn’t prioritize patients anymore?

    First of all corporate structures are about two things, numbers and career building within a self-serving paradigm.

    A free market system if we had one might help, that is if it were not infested with laws that facilitate the corrupt.

    Corporate medicine is out of control, and our free market system, well that is already bought and paid for and currently enhancing the nonprofit model that is supposed do no harm!

  2. After all these decades of continual movement toward a centralized controlled economy, most especially in health care, and watching things get worse and worse, is there anyone who is willing to push the other direction … toward a truly free-market, something health care has not seen for a long long time. That means at both the producer and consumer end. Not only would that give better value, which is what the real goal should be, rather than a reduction in spending on health care, it would help rebuild trust in a system that has shown itself to be ethically bankrupt and self-serving by almost always putting avoiding exposure to personal and corporate risk as a higher priority than the health of patients.

  3. It is not the cost of healthcare feeding this beast, it is a structure of racketeering!

    The root cause of western medicines failures are routinely ignored as being the problem, why bother to address the root cause of poor health when you can just treat the symptom of an illness with another drug.

    Ever wonder why so many people are on so many medications, its not about cost!

    This system will eventually implode on its own, as it must, before it can be fixed.

  4. This is what happens with ALL socialized medicine.

    Our hospitals were a complete joke before covid, not because of the hard-working men and women in the field, but because of the completely broken-down system.

    Our medical system, educational system, jobs, housing, are all a complete mess in this state. Can’t blame it on republicans, they’ve been the minority for decades. The seem to like losing every year, almost by design.

    • DelTrecco’s statement: As an example of the stress hospitals are facing, he cites a mental health and long-term care delivery system that “drives up costs as patients are stuck in hospitals even when they don’t need to be there.” “Just yesterday, we had 125 patients waiting for placement and over the last three weeks this number was between 105 and 138. Again, this is not a one-time occurrence.” Backs up your comment- but let’s go to the root of this problem. The Vermont Legislature, both chambers for decades have held a D/P majority and have made this mess. From health care to education to taxes, criminal justice and state pensions, both chambers have “kicked the can down the road” With the exception of increasing revenue to state coffers, these politicians have done little to improve Vermont.
      The regulation and bureaucracy they created made these situations and “crises”. Every crisis.
      Every Legislator.

    • Hi Neil,
      I recall the days when there was a lot of talk about why Vermont was depopulating and what could be done to change that.. paying people to move there even.

      “Good People Vote With Their Feet” is the most true statement ever.
      Good, smart, intelligent people that value life and a good, successful quality of life, they are simply not going to tolerate living in a broken down failing disaster of a state that may look good but doesn’t work well at all.
      When you cannot even know that you’ll get truly good medical care- or be able to get your kids educated well.. if his is not broken I don’t know what is.
      The most basic structures that build a well functioning society in Vermont are so corrupted that they’ve rotted to the degree that the barn is now falling in.

      The LEFT might be content to live that way, but half of the other people are not going to live that way and leave- and don’t come.
      AND, as these Leftist should wake up and see some day that they really cannot run a state all with only one party, this complete lack of the checks and balances of a true two party system is what has gotten the state here. Is this not the total opposite of the Diversity of which they say they so want?

      • Jobs that pay and affordable housing are paramount to attracting people.The problem with the entire country is that we have far too many people that derive their paycheck from government jobs.
        They will take your house for taxes to ensure their pensions remain whole.

  5. It will never get any better for hospitals.
    1. VT has a larger % of people on Medicare & Medicaid. About 44% of VT is over 65 or under 19. Hospitals only get Gov’t reimbursed at about 50% – 60% of the bill. VT population is too smal to see private insurances & people, make up that loss.
    2. Doctors are indeed short here. The pay packages in VT are much lower $. Income taxes highest. Property taxes are highest….sales taxes, gas taxes, and soon heating oil taxes? Why come here?
    3. Doctors have smart kids. School systems are a paramount thing. VT schools & teachers are average to very below average. “Progressive Socialist Climate Indoctrination” is everywhere. Doctors want the best schools for their smart kids. Our school offered no AP classes…because all money had to go to “No Child Left Behind”.. the lowest common denominator. Smart & hard working kids get little.
    4. VT is a Progressive Socialst state…they hate you (doctors) if you are “rich”. VT Liberals want FREE healthcare from these same doctors/hospitals… and after that, they want to tax you more.
    5. A LOT of people don’t want VT because we still have a harsh winters…10, 20 and 30 below zero. Democrat Socialists don’t talk of global warming when it is 20 below zero. They only shout it out as “proof” – in July & August 🙂

    • I had a doctor at CVH in Berlin…Ear, Nose and Throat. Incredible resume, from NY. He came to VT for the “Dream”. After a year he was worried. He left after 2.5 years, down to CT. He told me outright…he was horrified at the schools for his young kids, and that they were the most important things to him and he would not ruin their educational lives & future by staying in VT. His wife told him she cannot stand 20-30 below zero anymore (global warming?),. He said his pay was lower versus other states, and he said the hospital politics/mgmt was bad. So he left VT.

      At my old hospital, CVH…there are an amazing 211 jobs open. Few takers. Many are for physicians. Few want to come to VT , and it’s easy to see why.

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