Top News from 2003

December 19, 2003                                  Ron Hallman, 388-4744
Middlebury, VT

Supported by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council, Porter Hospital has recently initiated a series entitled "Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare", which brings together local providers or support staff in the health care field to explore the relationship between medicine and literature.  The Vermont program is an outgrowth of a similar project piloted in Maine, which received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to introduce the program to eight other states.  Last year, 23 of Maine's 38 hospitals participated in this program, which was introduced to Vermont in 2002. Five other Vermont hospitals are participating this year.

This six-month program which will begin in January and is facilitated by retired Middlebury College English Professor, Sandy Martin, offers participants an opportunity to think about medical issues from the point of view of patients, families and others in a supportive atmosphere.  During the sessions, participants will be reading and discussing specific writings from a syllabus, which contains pieces written by and about doctors and nurses, as well as a book by a Native American surgeon who teaches and practices medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and poetry written by patients and family members. Prior to the start of the series, the group gathered at Porter Hospital this week to listed to readings by Simeon Hutner, a filmmaker, editor and photographer living in Los Angeles.  He read from a collection of poems written by his sister entitled "Life with Sam", a book about her son who died from leukemia at age six.

The Middlebury program is coordinated by Heidi Sulis, Porter's manager of Community Health Outreach and Hospital Chaplain, Rev. Diana Scholl.


November 10, 2003                                          Ron Hallman, 388-4744
Middlebury, VT

Porter Medical Center employs nearly 650 people, equating to an average of 382 full-time jobs, and generates approximately $50.4 million a year for the local economy, according to a study released today by the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (VAHHS). Porter Medical Center, which includes Porter

Hospital, Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and two other subsidiaries of the organization, combined to generate an additional 303 "indirect" jobs in the community, as a result of employees funneling wages back into the economy for goods and services.

The study, Vermont's Hospitals and Health Systems Sector:  An Assessment of  Economic Impact, is the second installment in a three-part report examining strengths of and challenges to Vermont's health care delivery network. Porter Medical Center President, James L. Daily, said, "The study documents that in addition to providing high quality medical care and long-term care services to our community, Porter Medical Center is among the largest employers in Addison County, and is crucial to the economic health of the region we serve. 

Copies of the detailed Economic Impact Reports are available online at ( and on Porter's website.


For Immediate Release:                                 November 7, 2003
Media Contact:                                                 Ron Hallman 802-388-4744 (Porter)
           or Corbett Sionainn (802) 951-5153 (Vermont Dept. of Health)

Porter Hospital to Participate in New Respiratory Illness Control Effort in Vermont's Hospitals

If You have Fever with Cough or Rash - Ask for a Mask!

Cough, cold and flu season is here and, beginning this month, visitors to Vermont's hospitals, including Porter Hospital in Middlebury, will be asked to do their part to keep respiratory illnesses from spreading.

Posters will soon be displayed in the admitting and other public areas of the hospital which will read "If you have a fever with cough or rash, let us know - we'll get you a mask".

The hospital staff and volunteers also will have bookmarks with information to reinforce the basics of this effort to reduce the spread of respiratory illness, including reminders to "cover your mouth and nose every time you sneeze or cough; put used tissues into the trash; wash hands well and often with soap and water, or use an alcohol hand sanitizer."

"Simple surgical masks are an effective, low-tech way to keep many respiratory illnesses from spreading in the hospital" said State Epidemiologist Dr. Cort Lohff. "Health care professionals are used to wearing masks, but this will be something new for patients or visitors to health care facilities. I urge Vermonters to take these basic infection control measures to heart."

Respiratory diseases can be spread to others from tiny droplets of moisture that exit the nose or mouth of an infected person when they cough, sneeze or talk. The common cold, flu, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis, mumps, measles, rubella, SARS and smallpox are all examples of diseases that can be spread by droplets in the air. Fever with a cough or rash are common symptoms of these diseases.

"That's why we're asking people who have these symptoms to take the extra precaution of putting on a mask as a courtesy to others in the health care setting," said Dr. Lohff.  "It will seem unusual at first, but we expect that it will become routine procedure soon. This will put us in a much better position to deal with infectious diseases like whooping cough, which has seen a resurgence in Vermont, or SARS, which could."

The signs and bookmarks were developed by the Vermont Department of  Health and the Vermont Infection Control Practitioners Association. All of Vermont's hospitals are participating in the effort. Supplies are also available for health care centers and facilities across the state.


For Immediate Release                                  For More Information:
July 25, 2003                                                      Ron Hallman, 388-4744

Porter Hospital Ranks in the Top 10% in Patient Satisfaction

Porter Hospital ranks in the top 10% in patient satisfaction among the more than 1100 hospitals surveyed by Press Ganey Associates, according to the hospital's most recent Patient Satisfaction Survey report.

Porter ranked in the "92nd percentile" in overall inpatient/customer service satisfaction, which means that Porter scored higher than 92% of the other 1100 hospitals surveyed by Press Ganey, a nationally-known consultant for patient satisfaction measurement.  The report contains results from every  step of the hospital process from Admission to Discharge-including meals, nursing care, physician care, tests and treatments, as well as how well the hospital staff treated the patients' family and visitors.

The Porter Hospital Emergency Department did even better, with an overall  patient satisfaction score ranking in the 96th percentile as compared to more than 900 surveyed hospitals nationwide.  The hospital has been  conducting patient satisfaction surveys for nearly a decade, but the most recent report covering the period of January through June of this year was by far the most positive in terms of the overall range of high marks.

"We are deeply gratified by these results and appreciative of our  professional staff who deserve 100% of the credit for not only delivering excellent clinical services-but doing so in a way that obviously is perceived as positive, compassionate and caring by our community", said Stephen C. Terry, chairman of the Porter Hospital Board. "Delivering high quality health care in today's complex medical environment, 24-hours a day/seven days a week, is a real challenge, and doing so in a customer-focused way takes teamwork and commitment."

For Immediate Release                          For More Information Contact
July 28, 2003                                        Ron Hallman, 388-4744

Third Quarter Results Show Improved Financial Performance for Porter Hospital-Board to Review "North Project" Plans at September Meeting

 Porter Hospital's recently released third quarter financial statements show much improved financial performance during the past four months, with a year to date positive bottom line of $21,000 through June 30th. These results represent a significant improvement over the first two quarters of the current fiscal year when the hospital was experiencing an operating loss of $665,000, and have set the stage for the Porter Hospital board to consider putting its "North Project" back on track. The board plans to discuss the much improved year-to-date financial results and the North Project at its September meeting.

"We are pleased that our expenses are now more in line with our revenue, and our patient volume has improved significantly in recent months," said PMC President James L. Daily.  "It is the goal and the expectation of our board, medical staff and community that we move forward with the Certificate of Need application for our North Project at the earliest possible moment-and that remains our priority."

The North Project represents the largest and most significant capital improvement in the history of Porter Medical Center. Porter completed its capital campaign in support of this project in 2002, and immediately moved into the final phase of project planning and preparing the regulatory application.  As the application was being completed, however, the hospital experienced a very challenging year financially-ending its 2002 fiscal year last September with an operating loss of nearly $800,000--followed by three consecutive months of losses during the current fiscal year.

In January of 2003, the hospital board voted to defer the submission of the CON application until the hospital's financial picture improved. Since early spring,
the hospital board and management have been monitoring patient volume trends and attempting to reduce expenses without sacrificing patient care services or staff positions. With the recent release of the third quarter financial results, it appears as if these factors are all moving in a more positive direction.

 "Our board is encouraged by the recent financial performance of Porter Hospital and we are anxious to get back to the business of planning for this very important project to improve our surgical department and create a new birthing center", said Porter Hospital board chairman Stephen Terry.


Governor Proclaims "National Nursing Home Week" in Vermont

April 15, 2003                                             Ron Hallman, 388-4744

Governor Jim Douglas recently signed an official "Proclamation of the Governor" proclaiming May 11 - 17th National Nursing Home Week in Vermont.

According to the proclamation, "nursing homes and other long-term care facilities provide caring and supportive services that make quality of life possible for our loved ones, and Vermont nursing homes play an important role in the continuum of services available to the elderly and most vulnerable citizens of Vermont."

The proclamation recognizes the significant contributions made by Vermont nursing homes, their caregivers, support staff and volunteers to the people of our State.

Here in Addison County, the Helen Porter Health Care and Rehabilitation Center has several activities planned for National Nursing Home Week, including an open house with refreshments and entertainment on Tuesday, May 13th from 2-4 p.m.

For more information, call 388-4001.


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