Rita Walker, second from left, explains some details to Alice Drislane at the registration table at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Walker, from Montpelier, is one of hundreds of Red Cross employees who have mobilized for the #GOLM13.
The day has arrived in Rutland. It’s clear, and at 9 a.m. the temperature is six degrees below zero. The breath is rising in clouds from people walking the sidewalks towards the Gift of Life Marathon in the Paramount Theatre. The city and county will need to mobilize to break the record of 1,968 pints in a single day.
Today is expected to be the bloodiest day in Rutland’s history.
More than 200 staffers from the American Red Cross and more than 300 volunteers have descended on Rutland for the annual Gift of Life Marathon blood drive, taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at five locations.
The drive, organized by Green Mountain Power, is Rutland’s third attempt to break the national record for most donations collected during a one-day blood drive. Manchester, N.H. holds the record of 1,968 pints. Last year, Rutland fell short by 14.
Organizer Steve Costello said that more than 2,000 people have made appointments to give blood today, and that his greatest fear is that number inspiring complacency.
“This is not in the bag,” he said Monday. “Everywhere I go, that’s what I keep hearing — ‘We’ve got this in the bag.’ We’re very worried about overconfidence in the community. We had a huge number of appointments last year, too, and we came up short.”
Last year, 200 people with appointments simply didn’t show up for one reason or another, Costello said, such as family emergencies or sudden illness. About 300 of this year’s appointments are high school students and likely first-time donors, he said, and first-time donors have a higher rate of being rejected.
So, organizers continue to encourage walk-ins. Costello said anyone worried about getting to one of the donation sites — The Paramount Theatre, College of St. Joseph, the American Legion, the Elks Club and the Holiday Inn — can call 468-1202.
“Anyone, anywhere wants a ride, Dave Wolk or one of his people from Castleton (State College) will pick them up,” he said.
With a computerized intake system, Costello said organizers will have a clear, real-time picture of how much blood had come in.
“If we’re super close and don’t know for a fact we have it, we’ll probably stay open a little later at the Paramount,” he said. “We’ll get the word out on the radio and by Twitter.”
Costello said he encourages people to follow the event on Twitter, where updates will be marked with the hashtag #GOLM13.
“We’ll be trying to get information on where the shortest waits are, that kind of thing,” he said. “Bottom line, we feel cautiously optimistic.”
- By Gordon Dritschilo | Staff Writer
TOWNSHEND (AP) — Vermont’s smallest hospital has become the latest one to opt out of the state’s new aid-in-dying law, but hospital officials expect to revisit the issue soon.
Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend made the decision Friday.
The law allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who request it. Most hospitals are expected, at least for the time being, to opt out of implementing it.
The Brattleboro Reformer reports (http://bit.ly/15ydl23) Grace Cottage Hospital administrators expect to re-examine the matter within 90 days. For now, they’ll work out the details of accommodating terminally ill patients who request lethal doses of medication.
Vermont’s largest hospital, Fletcher Allen, also has opted out for now to give administrators a chance to “develop a thoughtful, compassionate policy that will respect our patients and providers.”
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermonters will get a chance to weigh in on proposed rates to be charged consumers under the Vermont Health Connect health insurance exchange.
The Green Mountain Care Board has received recommendations from the Department of Financial Regulation on the proposed rates to be offered by insurers Blue Cross Blue Shield and MVP, and is expected to set the rates by July 8.
Details of the proposed rates are posted on GMCB’s website, http://gmcboard.vermont.gov .
A public hearing on the Blue Cross rates is set for 9 a.m. to noon on Friday at the Statehouse. A hearing on MVP rates was held on Tuesday.
By WILSON RING | The Associated Press
BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — The state’s largest health insurance provider and largest private psychiatric hospital have formed a new company that will help integrate traditional health care with mental health and substance abuse services, officials said Tuesday.
Vermont Collaborative Care initially will help administer mental health and substance abuse services for 190,000 customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont by taking advantage of the expertise of the private psychiatric hospital, the Brattleboro Retreat, but it could be expanded eventually to serve other health insurance companies.
Vermont Collaborative Care, due to start operations July 1, is designed to ensure that the needs of people with mental health issues are met in the same way that traditional health insurance plans help oversee a patient’s physical care.
“VCC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont will be managing health insurance benefits, but the bigger vision is supporting and encouraging improvements in care,” said Dr. Robert Wheeler, the chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont.
BURLINGTON — The Vermont Health Department is holding the second of three clinics to test people for the mosquito-borne disease eastern equine encephalitis that killed two Vermonters last year.
The clinic will be held on Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sudbury Town Hall.
The study of volunteers is to determine how many people have been exposed to the virus, but have not gotten seriously ill. A clinic was held last month in Brandon and another will be held May 29 in Whiting.
Last September an 89-year-old man from Brandon and a 49-year-old man from Sudbury died from EEE.
WILLISTON, Vt. (AP) — Officials from Vermont’s largest hospital say they have received their largest gift ever.
Fletcher Allen Health Care CEO Dr. John Brumsted and the donor are planning to announce the gift on Thursday in Williston.
The Burlington-based health care provider is beginning the planning process that could lead it to convert all its rooms to single occupancy.
BURLINGTON — The Vermont Health Department is investigating an infant salmonella case after child came in contact with a chick.
The health department says the child’s illness was caused by the same strain of salmonella discovered in the chicks that were recently purchased from a local feed store.
The health department says dozens of people in several states have also been infected with the same strain of salmonella.
Vermont officials are working with other state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Department of Agriculture to find the source of the baby poultry infection and stop the outbreak.
Among the suggestions to reduce the spread off the disease are not to let children younger than 5 handle young poultry.
MONTPELIER — A Vermont House committee is zeroing in on a plan to spend about $12 million on stepped up public health education and access to health care for low- and moderate-income Vermonters.
The money would come from the $24.3 million expected to be raised from a new penny-per-ounce tax committee members want to levy on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The balance of that money would allow the state to stop collecting an annual fee of about $500 per employee for employers who don’t provide health insurance for their workers.
Lawmakers are working on the changes as the state prepares to launch the new health care marketplace, or exchange, under the federal affordable care act.
MONTPELIER — Vermont has won a $45 million grant under a federal program designed to bring new efficiencies to state health care programs.
Gov. Peter Shumlin says the announcement of the grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is a big boost to the state’s efforts to retool its health care system.
Money is expected to support ongoing efforts in the state to create unified health care networks designed to get a better handle on costs.
It’s also expected to support a bundled-payment system in which services connected with a patient’s hospitalization are paid for in one lump sum, and pay-for-performance, in which health care providers are paid for achieving set quality indicators.