Latest initiative represents continued crucial investments to recruit and retain staff
Burlington, Vt. –The University of Vermont Health Network today breaks ground on a second investment in new housing in South Burlington, this time with an apartment building that will include a child care facility for employees with families. Housing and child care are key issues nationally and they present a major obstacle to recruit and retain a health care workforce. The newest apartment building project is part of the Network’s ongoing plan to address these challenges and reduce the reliance on costly temporary workers.
The new building will have 120 apartment units ranging from studios to two bedrooms and the child care facility will have up 75 to spots focused on infants to Pre-K, which will be made available first to Network employees.
“It is vital for our Network to have enough providers and staff to meet the record level demand for health care services in our region,” said Sunny Eappen, MD, MBA, UVM Health Network President and Chief Executive Officer. “These projects represent a strategic investment to support our people and build a sustainable workforce as we reduce our reliance on temporary workers
“We must continue innovating and investing in order to recruit and retain talented employees,” said Al Gobeille, Chief Operating Officer of the UVM Health Network. “Investing in housing and child care is the result of listening to our employees and to the people who we try to recruit when they say that finding a place to live and access to high quality child care are two of the most pressing barriers for them.”
Earlier this year, the UVM Health Network announced a partnership with developer SnyderBraverman to build a 61-unit apartment building on Market Street in South Burlington. Construction on that building is well underway, and it is still on track to open for occupancy in March 2023. Existing employees and those interviewing for potential roles will soon be able to apply for the 61 apartments, with details to be made available in early 2023.
SnyderBraverman is also the partner on this second building, and the UVM Health Network will again help finance the project without being a property manager. The Network will take a 10-year master lease on the 120-unit building. The apartments and child care facility are slated to open in early 2024.
“It is frustrating when people we’ve recruited decline our offer of employment because they are not able to secure either housing or child care for their families, facing waitlists that can be pages long,” said Rebecca Kapsalis, Associate Vice President of Talent Acquisition for the UVM Health Network. “I am confident that helping employees and their families secure housing and child care will in turn help us relocate and hire more employees – and keep more of our colleagues working with us as well.”
The new housing and child care options will help to address some of the challenges both potential candidates and existing employees face: “As a first-time parent to a child born during the pandemic, I am not alone in struggling to access reliable, high-quality and affordable child care,” said Molly Lawrence, Community Health Implementation Strategist for the UVM Health Network. “These past few years have been difficult to weather, and I am extremely grateful for the child care we found for our son. I am very excited about this responsive investment in providing an essential resource that I hope will ease the stress experienced by my fellow colleagues and parents.”
The announcement comes as the Network implements innovative solutions as part of its plan to address its financial challenges – with a primary driver being expenses stemming from the high cost of using temporary traveling staff to help maintain the level of services needed to meet the increasingly acute health care needs of patients in the region. By investing in housing and child care, and enabling more staff to stay in the area or relocate to the area, the Network can support its talented permanent employees and reduce spending on travelers.
UVM Health Network leaders are exploring similar ideas to support recruitment and retention of employees in areas closer to affiliate hospitals outside of the Chittenden County area, including in New York State, in the future.