U of Vermont gets approval to plan ASC

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The University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington received the state's green light to plan an outpatient surgery center, despite opposition from hospital employees who say the hospital is "unable and unwilling" to staff existing operations, Seven Days reported Sept. 21.

The medical center filed a conceptual certificate-of-need application for the ASC in July, to replace operating rooms that were closed in November because of air quality issues.

But the Vermont Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals, which represents 2,400 of the hospital's staff members, wrote to the Green Mountain Care Board Sept. 13 questioning the opening of a new surgical facility when the medical center is “unable and unwilling” to staff existing operations.

The union requested that it be allowed to weigh in on the project before the board's decision and that a public meeting be held where the medical center could address the staff shortages.

With the board's approval, the hospital can spend up to $5 million planning and designing the center. A separate application must be filed before the hospital can start building.

In its denial of the union's request, the board stated that it did not see how planning efforts would affect employees. It also said that it sympathized with the union's concerns, and asked the hospital to address staffing in its next proposal and consult with the union before finalizing anything.

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