The Vermont Senate Passes Important Staff Safety Provision

Every day Vermont home health and hospice workers face uncertainty when they enter unknown environments to care for the Vermonters who depend on them.

No person should have to place themselves at risk while providing compassionate health care to our communities.

While current regulation enables agencies to discharge patients when staff safety is in jeopardy, they may still be required to send staff members back to the home if there is a new referral, even when they know the situation is still unsafe.

That’s why we have asked the legislature for common sense policy that would enable agencies to turn down a referral for someone who they have already discharged for safety reasons, or have discretion about whether to make a visit if they have reason to believe there is still a risk to staff.

Last week, the Vermont Senate passed language that will grant agencies this important flexibility, giving them another tool in their constantly evolving work to ensure staff safety.

The flexibility is narrow and specific. Discharging a patient for safety is a regulated process, and a rare occurrence. The discharged patient has the right to seek an external appeal when it happens.

Staff safety is a top priority for our member agencies. At a time when violence against health care workers is on the rise across the country, our members need the discretion to keep staff safe rather than being forced to send them back into dangerous situations.

We will continue to advocate for this important flexibility as this policy issue is taken up by the House, and want to thank the Senate for supporting home health and hospice staff safety.

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