In case you’re wondering, the helicopter flying around and police and emergency workers activity in Pittsford is likely attributed to an emergency response drill that is taking place today. Here’s a story we ran Wednesday about the exercise:
By Anders Ax
Local emergency workers are planning for a dirty bomb, a radiation emergency caused by a transportation incident or radiological dispersal device, conveniently scheduled between 9:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
The exercise will be held at the Vermont Fire Academy in Pittsford, which will act as the incident scene, as well as the State Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury and the Health Department’s Operations Center in Burlington.
“We must be ready for anything — from a natural disaster, to an infectious disease outbreak, to a biological, chemical or radiological release,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, in a press release issued by the Vermont Department of Health. “We must put our plans, training and interoperational systems to the test. The best test is a realistic, real-time full-scale exercise.”
The scenario will be carried out as a real event with participators, players and observers. Around 200 New England and federal responders as well as local and state participants will carry out the operation.
As part of the exercise, a Bell 412 helicopter will land at the Waterfront Park beside Lake Champlain at 10 a.m. on Oct. 24. The helicopter will be part of the training demonstrations and will provide vital data for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Aerial Measuring System. Tours through the helicopter will be available to the public through 2 p.m.
Local fire, police and EMS units as well as the Department of Health, Department of Public Safety and the University of Vermont will take part in the exercise. Federal agencies will include the Department of Defense, the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Coast Guard.
WINDSOR — A Cedar Hill Continuing Care Community of Windsor employee was recognized by the state for her work in care giving.
Sarah Mack received the Vermont Health Care Association award for Geriatric Registered Nurse of the Year. The statewide award is presented for excellence in care giving and dedication to patient care.
Mack has been working in long-term care for more than ten years and progressed from L.N.A. to L.P.N. to R.N.
A family member of a Cedar Hill resident nominated Mack for the award, according Cedar Hill officials.
“Sarah is a person who not only has the technical skills and medical knowledge required for nursing but also possesses the personality traits, demeanor, professionalism and dedication to effectively provide high quality care,” the family member said.
BRATTLEBORO — A Vermont hospital says it’s notifying about 200 patients that they were administered drugs recalled by the Massachusetts company linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
Officials say the drugs administered at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital were not the same steroid injections that have resulted in 23 deaths around the country and sickened nearly 300.
Jan Puchalski, director of patient safety and risk management, said Tuesday the drugs used include Nalbuphine, which is given for pain, and Hyaluronidase, often used on the eyes.
New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts recalled all of the products produced at its facility on Oct. 6.
The Brattleboro Reformer reports Puchalski said the hospital is following a joint recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
MONTPELIER — A group of health care advocates is urging the Legislature to create a special state subsidy when Vermont’s subsidized health care program is shut down in 2014.
That’s when the roughly 10,000 Vermont residents enrolled in Catamount Health will need to buy their coverage through a newly created market place exchange. The web-based, state regulated marketplace will allow consumers to do online comparison shopping for health insurance by comparing costs and benefits offered.
The exchange would bring the state into compliance with the federal health insurance reform law passed two years ago. Gov. Peter Shumlin and his administration hope to use the exchange as a springboard to bring most Vermonters into a government-run, single-payer health care system beginning in 2017.
Peter Sterling of the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security tells Vermont Public Radio he’s concerned. He said the federal subsidies that will be available through the exchange are not as good as the existing Catamount coverage.
Sterling said a person enrolled in Catamount with an annual salary of $22,000 faces a potential out-of-pocket limit of just over $1,700. But he said their financial exposure in the exchange will be twice as big. He said out-of-pocket costs triples for someone making $33,000.
Robin Lunge, director of health care reform for the Shumlin administration, said the out-of-pocket maximum would adversely affect a small group of people. She added, “but of course if you were in that small group of people, the out-of-pocket maximums under federal law are quite large.”
Lunge said her office is looking at ways to address the issue in next year’s budget.
SOUTH BURLINGTON — Vermont’s governor and congressional delegation will be among those on hand for the grand opening of a new health co-op to offer health coverage in keeping with the 2010 federal health care law.
Formation of the Vermont Health CO-OP — short for consumer-operated and oriented plan — was announced in June.
The federal law called for the creation of new cooperative or nonprofit health insurance carriers in each state to compete with commercial carriers. It also set up a loan program to get those businesses off the ground.
The grand opening set for Tuesday at 10:30 at 120 Kimbell Avenue in South Burlington is Vermont’s answer to that provision in the federal law.
BENNINGTON — State officials will be hosting a public forum tonight to talk about the Health Benefit Exchange and answer questions from the public.
Vermont Health Connect is a new health insurance marketplace that is scheduled to launch in October 2013. The exchange is designed to help Vermonters, their families or their small businesses find, compare and purchase health coverage. Plans will be presented side-by-side to allow Vermonters to evaluate and choose the plan that best suits their needs.
The public is invited to the forum to learn about the Vermont Health Benefit Exchange and participate in shaping the exchange as it moves forward.
The forum will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bennington Free Library on Silver Street.
The Vermont Department of Health has reported second human case of West Nile virus in Vermont as well as the infection of two alpacas.
The department said a second person was infected with mosquito-borne virus this summer and is now recovering.
This latest confirmed case is a person from Essex County who was bitten by an infected mosquito in late August. The other human case this year was confirmed in September. Two Vermonters were reported as having been infected with West Nile virus in 2011, the first to have been identified in Vermont since 2003.
Lab results also showed that two alpacas from Highgate and Morrisville were infected. Neither of these animals had been vaccinated for West Nile virus, and both have since died.
“People should continue to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites until we have had two or three good, hard frosts,” said State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso. Owners of horses, llamas and alpacas should work closely with their veterinarians to determine appropriate vaccination protocols for these susceptible livestock species.
Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but up to 20 percent of people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness, which can be fatal.
The Health Department is reminding Vermonters to avoid mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:
- Wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
- Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water and by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools, and old tires.
- Use repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET on adults, and no more than 10 percent on children age 3 and older.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit the Vermont Department of Health website at healthvermont.gov
MONTPELIER — Hunger Mountain Coop announced that one of the ice creams it sells could be contaminated with salmonella.
Oregon Ice Cream Co. initiated a voluntary recall of Alden’s Peanut Butter ’n Chip 48-ounce product as the peanut butter may be contaminated.
Customers should look for a UPC code of 0 72609 74191 2 and a product code between 12195 and 12261, which will be printed or stamped on the bottom of the package.
Anyone who has purchased this product is asked to return it to the Hunger Mountain Coop’s customer service desk for a full refund.
BENNINGTON — The state has rejected a license renewal for a Vermont paramedic for actions he took during a fatal motorcycle crash.
Vermont Emergency Services says Gillvray Hall of the Bennington Rescue Squad knowingly preformed a heart procedure prohibited by the state and was slow in taking the motorcyclist to a local hospital.
The Bennington Banner reports a Vermont EMS letter sent to Gillvray says he acted in ways that are “dangerous or injurious,” or potentially so.
William Hathaway, executive director of Bennington Rescue, said Hall is planning to appeal the decision. He said Hall continues to serve as operations manager.
Hathaway said Hall has been trained in performing the procedure in another state. It involves using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac around the heart.
BENNINGTON — Some Vermont public school students aren’t happy about school menu changes, including smaller sub rolls and fruit servings.
Richard Pembroke, financial officer of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, said his office has received many calls from upset parents regarding the smaller food portions and the rising price of lunch. It went up 10 cents due to federal changes.
The Bennington Banner reports (http://bit.ly/Q7piIW) Maria Lanoue, who teaches at Mount Anthony Union Middle School, said she hears complaints from students about the whole wheat products. Another teacher said some complain the crust is thinner. By federal law, at least half of the grains must be whole grain this year.
Some students say they don’t get enough food. But a food service provider said they don’t eat everything that’s offered.