Building a medical empire

February 18, 2015

Seven Days:

As presented by "Single Provider?" [January 21], the strategy of the newly rebranded University of Vermont Medical Center is clearly to develop political clout by consolidation, overgrowth and overemphasis on technology. According to CEO Brumsted, UVMMC is "gaining scale" to better position the hospital to respond to the ever-changing health care landscape. What has happened to the primary value that the needs of patients come first? Patients' basic health care needs include universal access to care, time to talk with a doctor/provider and ability to follow a prescribed plan.

This pursuit of scale includes additional collateral damage such as bloated administrative costs, as exemplified by 19 vice presidents. The University of Vermont will demolish three dormitories to accommodate the seven-story, 128-bed tower, leaving the city of Burlington to absorb the housing needs for hundreds of displaced students in an already-stressed housing market. I am reminded of the expression, "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." When building a medical empire and monopoly like that of UVMMC, every headache becomes a brain tumor and every chest pain becomes a heart attack, leading to more unnecessary interventions and procedures to pad the bill. We don't need more bricks and mortar; we need a universal system of care.
Anna Carey