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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Middlebury's Porter Medical Center Will Join The UVM Health Network

The exterior of Porter Medical Center in Middlebury
Melody Bodette
VPR File
Porter Medical Center will become part of the UVM Health Network in April

The members of Porter Medical Center voted Wednesday to affiliate with UVM Health Network. The Middlebury hospital will be re-branded as UVM Health Network–Porter Medical Center.

Porter Medical Center approved the necessary bylaw changes for the affiliation to begin in April. 

Dr. Fred Kniffin, Porter's CEO, says the affiliation will help stabilize the hospital’s financial situation.

“We’ve modeled what independence looks like financially versus what it looks like being part of the network, and we gain certain efficiencies," Kniffin says. "It’s going to help our balance sheet. And really, our goal is to spend less time fussing about the money and more time focused on, how do we bring more services to our community?”

The hospitals will also use integrated medical records, improve access to specialists and allow for improvements to the facility, including a new medical office building.

Kniffin says Porter doesn’t anticipate the loss of any of its 800 employees.

"Our goal is to spend less time fussing about the money and more time focused on, how do we bring more services to our community?” — Dr. Fred Kniffin, Porter CEO

Last year, Porter laid off nurses as a cost-savings measure. The hospital said it had lost $11 million since 2012. Some physicians resigned after they were asked to sign new contracts.

Amid those changes, CEO Lynn Boggs abruptly resigned, and Kniffin became interim CEO before taking the position permanently. He says 2016 was a rebuilding year for the hospital.

“We lost 10 providers, we lost about half of our primary care workforce, and we have actually replaced them with really good providers,” he said. “We lost 40 nurses. That’s a third of our nursing staff. We’ve replaced them with 40 nurses — which again, this is not the way you want to run a business. A lot of our nurses are new and we have a lot of travelers in house. But we’re better prepared to care for our patients than we were at this time last year.”

Kniffin says affiliation will allow the hospital to save money on things like supplies, compliance and legal services.

UVM Health Network has five hospitals on both sides of Lake Champlain.

Correction 3:37 p.m. An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the new affiliation. Porter Medical Center will be re-branded as UVM Health Network–Porter Medical Center, not UVM Health Network–Porter Hospital.

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
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