UVM physicians pen letter to community

To the community:

As clinical department chairs at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, we have responsibility for fulfilling the education, research and patient care missions of the college and of our partner, the University of Vermont Medical Center.

As physicians, each of us has taken an oath to serve our patients and our community, and we take that promise very seriously. We believe it is an honor and a privilege to care for people when they need us the most, armed not only with the tools of modern medicine but also with open hearts and listening minds.

While the events over the last weeks involving the nursing union and strike have been difficult, we want to assure you that we, along with our health care teams across the institution, are fully committed to ensuring that our patients and their families continue to receive safe, effective, high quality, collaborative, compassionate care – no matter what.

Our tenets that follow remain strong and reflect why each of us takes great pride in being able to work and live here.

We are a team. At the core of our clinical and academic mission is the care of our patients and their families, and this is a team effort.

We support and appreciate every member of the patient care team, including not only the faculty physicians, nurses, social workers and technicians you may interact with, but also the pharmacists, schedulers, laboratory scientists, culinary workers, office managers, and hundreds of others who dedicate their workday to ensuring that our patients receive the care they need, when they need it.

We are teachers and scientists. Our medical center is a vibrant classroom for medical students, nursing students, pharmacy students, laboratory science students, residents, advanced practice nurses, fellows and more. Biomedical research is also thriving here, with many breakthrough discoveries and treatments that are making a difference in the lives of people we care for locally and in turn can then be shared around the world.

Studies show patients benefit when receiving care at an academic medical center teaching hospital, from the strength of the health care team to having access to the latest treatments and clinical trials.

We are your neighbors, colleagues, and friends. This is one of the nation’s best places to live, by many measures, and we share your commitment to living and raising our families here.

As members of this community, each of us has a responsibility to serve it in the best way we can. For all of us involved in the health care mission, it is a privilege to care for you and your family as compassionately and effectively as we care for our own.

We will be here when you need us most. We are proud of the professionalism and commitment of our teams who care for our patients and their families. Every hour of every day, in every department throughout the hospital, and in every clinic across our community, we will continue to focus on caring for you and the members of our community who need us most. This is at the heart of our mission as an institution and in the heart of every person who has chosen this career.

Again, we are fully committed to ensuring that our patients and their families continue to receive safe, effective, high-quality, collaborative compassionate care – no matter what.

We promise to be vigilant in our efforts to support, encourage, and inspire our teams to keep patients at the center of all we do, as we honor and celebrate the commitment to service and the deeply personal connections that are the hallmark of our profession.

Signed by UVM Larner College of Medicine clinical department chairs: Dr. Ira M. Bernstein, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences; Dr. Kristen K. DeStigter, Radiology; Dr. Lewis R. First, Pediatrics; Dr. Gregory L. Holmes, Neurological Sciences; Dr. Debra G. B. Leonard, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Dr. Donald M. Mathews, Anesthesiology; Dr. Claude E. Nichols, III, Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation; Dr. Mitchell C. Norotsky, Surgery; Dr. Polly E. Parsons, Medicine; Dr. Thomas C. Peterson, Family Medicine; Dr. Robert A. Pierattini, Psychiatry.

4 Responses to "UVM physicians pen letter to community"

  1. Jackie Hawks   July 27, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    It doesn’t appear the physicians consider the nurses a part of the “Team” they are referring to.
    I’ve been a support staff member for 26 years at UVMMC and know how committed, compassionate, and caring the nurses are to their patients. The nurses deserve what they are asking for and always seem to be overlooked.

    • tedcohen   July 28, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      If someone can help us all figure out what the point of this meandering, pointless (?) “letter to the community” is, please advise soonest.

      The commentary makes an oblique reference, apparently, to the labor standoff between the hospital administration and the nursing staff.

      But it never makes a point, other than going on and on with some self-aggrandizing verbiage designed to make the authors look good in the eyes of the public.

      Sounds as though the docs got a free ad. But it’s not even an ad because it never makes clear what their argument is.

  2. Dorothea O'Connor Wilkinson   July 30, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    As a nurse who has worked at the UVM Medical Center for almost 31 years, I have worked with a few of you closely, and I have been a recipient of some of your departments care. I have also been a Mother sitting by her son’s hospital bed for 12 days when he was just a little boy, and that same son’s bed for three weeks as a young adult. You could say I have experienced all dimensions of healthcare and it’s heart-wrenching effects both professionally, and personally. So I, along with all of my nursing colleagues are also members of the community you are referring to. I’m sorry to say, that I did not find your letter to be as reassuring as you intended it to be.

    What I didn’t hear in your letter is how the nurses attempt at negotiating a fair contract has affected you, your patients, your practice, and scheduling. There has been no transparency from the hospital in how the strike ultimately affected patient care or how much the doctors stepped in to fill the holes. I heard it was a couple of extremely stressful days. We all know it was not “business as usual”. With how the hospital executives are behaving now, it appears that they want to repeat the experience of another strike, no matter how horrendous and horrendously expensive it was.

    As a member of the community what I would have preferred to hear is that you are doing your best to convince the administration to do the right thing by settling a fair contract. It’s really that simple. Your nurses are a valuable member of the team you are referring to. Without your nurses it would be difficult to deliver the safe, effective, high quality, collaborative, and compassionate care.

    As a nurse, a mother and a member of this community I would be incredibly worried if I or a family member had to seek emergency care, deliver a baby, and have surgery or any other medical procedure during a nursing strike. All of us who work in healthcare know too much, because we’ve seen it. That gives us good reason to worry, even under the best of circumstances.

    We don’t want to strike! It is the hospital who has chosen that path for us by their unwillingness to negotiate. They may hear us, but they are not listening. It has been our hope that the physicians we work with would support us in our attempt to earn close to a fair market wage. Yes, we also believe that Vermont is one of the nation’s best places to live, and some of us have committed to living and raising our families here. But, as beautiful as Vermont is, it is also a very expensive place to live. The rewards we get by caring for others and making a difference is wonderful, but unfortunately we cannot pay our bills with love and care. We actually do need more money, and we’ve needed it for a very long time.

    We have some awesome young nurses at UVM Medical Center now. I, along with you work with many of them, most of who are from out of state. They are where I was 31 years ago, young, in love, and enthusiastic about learning. I really hope that they can afford to stay here, because I know they would like to commit to raising their families here as well. It’s very sad to see them being disillusioned so young. They are the next generation of nurses, smart, strong, caring, and determined. We don’t want to loose any more of these smart, talented and caring nurses than we already have.

    What the hospital is doing right now is creating a very deep wound. It will take years for this wound to heal, and the pain to subside. The scar that remains will be a permanent reminder for all. The scar will become part of the UVM Medical Center and it’s current executives legacy. The pain will be felt by the nurses until they feel valued, respected, and fairly compensated for the safe, effective, high quality, collaborative, compassionate care they deliver- no matter what.

  3. Margaret Macdonald, NP   August 1, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    This article says nothing about the very real struggle we as nurses and nurse practitioners have been putting up with on a daily basis. We work every day on this “team” short staffed under paid and under appreciated. Where is your support for us? You make it clear the community will get great care “no matter what”. How about fair pay for us? Show some respect for the hard and sometimes dirty work we do and support what we are asking for. You could not and do not deliver great care without our professionalism and devotion.


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