Initiative represents continued crucial investments to recruit and retain employees; Nurses, Nutrition Services and Facilities staff among those moving in.
Burlington, Vt. – The University of Vermont Health Network today held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of its first investment in employee housing in South Burlington. After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, local leaders and reporters toured the building, which includes 61 apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms, a fitness room, laundry room and dog washing space.
Housing and child care are key issues nationally, and they present a major obstacle to recruiting and retaining a talented health care workforce. The project is part of the Network’s ongoing plan to address these challenges and reduce the reliance on costly temporary workers.
Employees and their families will begin moving in this week. So far, leases have been signed for more than half of the apartments. Incoming tenants include nurses, LNAs, technical employees, respiratory therapists, environmental services, nutrition services, patient support, and facilities team members. The Network continues to match employees with units that fit their needs, and will leave a number of units open for new employees moving to the area in the coming weeks and months.
The apartments at 303 Market Street will be followed in 2024 by an additional, 120-unit building in the same area, which will include a child care facility offering up to 75 spots focused on infants to Pre-K, to be made available first to Network employees. Both projects are part of a partnership with developer SnyderBraverman. The UVM Health Network is helping to finance both projects without being a property manager, and will take a 10-year master lease on each building. The property is being managed by Redstone.
“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, and I am so proud and excited to cut this ribbon today.”
“We’re continuing to recruit people who are excited to join our team, but too often they are unable to secure housing, and have to decline our offer of employment,” said Rebecca Kapsalis, Associate Vice President of Talent Acquisition for the UVM Health Network. “Being able to offer these units will help more new employees relocate here, and will keep more of our colleagues working with us as well.”
The announcement comes as the Network continues to implement and adapt 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. For example, Central Vermont Medical Center has partnered with Barre Area Development to build a new subdivision called Prospect Heights, which includes 15 units for hospital staff.