Health Care

Brumsted to retire as chief of UVM Health Network, medical center

John Brumsted
Dr. John Brumsted, the president and CEO of the UVM Health Network, at a press conference on Thursday, March 12, 2020 Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Updated at 4:19 p.m.

The leader of Vermont’s largest health care system is preparing to retire, according to a spokesperson for the University of Vermont Health Network. 

Dr. John Brumsted has served as president and CEO of the UVM Health Network and its Burlington flagship hospital, the University of Vermont Medical Center, since 2011. An obstetrics and gynecology physician by training, he worked at the organization for three decades, according to the health network.

The network plans to convene a national search for a replacement, according to spokesperson Annie Mackin. Brumsted, who is 69, is expected to leave his post in September, Mackin said. 

Brumsted, who was not immediately available for an interview, said in a written statement Tuesday that he was honored to have led the network. 

“We have faced many challenges, and there is no doubt that there will be more challenges in the future,” he said. “I am confident that this organization will continue to innovate and improve the way we serve and advance the health of our patients and our communities, now and into the future.”

Already the largest standalone hospital in Vermont, UVM Medical Center led the formation of the rapidly growing UVM Health Network during Brumsted’s tenure. Months after he took the helm, the Burlington hospital united with Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin to create the health network in October 2011. In 2013, the health network expanded to New York state with the addition of three hospitals there. Porter Medical Center in Middlebury came on board in 2017. 

In a written statement, Gov. Phil Scott called Brumsted a “transformative leader” and “a strong partner.”

“I’ve enjoyed a great working relationship with him over the years and appreciate what he’s been able to accomplish,” Scott said. 

The health network today is a conglomeration of several organizations, most notably OneCare Vermont, an influential entity involved in health care reform in the state. The accountable care organization funnels millions of private and public health care dollars to providers all over Vermont. 

Tom Huebner, former CEO of Rutland Regional Medical Center, said on Tuesday that Brumsted contributed to the health care environment in Vermont first as a physician and then as an executive. Huebner called Brumsted “forward-thinking and a real leader." Brumsted’s legacy, Huebner said, would be in his contribution to health care reform efforts in Vermont. 

Brumsted also saw the health network through some of its greatest challenges, including a pandemic that contributed to historic worker shortages and a cyberattack that paralyzed the Burlington hospital for several weeks in late 2020. 

Mackin said Brumsted had planned to retire last fall but stayed for another year at the request of the board. 

Brumsted hinted he was going to step down at a press briefing last week, when he said he was “still CEO of the health network.” Asked if he was leaving his position soon, Brumsted said, “No. No, I was making a joke,” adding that he “should be more careful” with his jokes. 

Kevin Mullin, chair of the state’s health care regulatory Green Mountain Care Board, said Brumsted “has an incredibly brilliant mind for medical delivery.”

“The state of Vermont owes John a debt of gratitude for staying past his thoughts of an earlier retirement date,” Mullin said. 

Brumsted had announced last November that he would step down as leader of the board of managers at OneCare. At the time, Brumsted said he would leave that position in January. Now, according to OneCare spokesperson Amy Bodette, Brumsted plans to stay on as chair “for a little while,” and the timeline for leaving that post has not yet been settled. 

“Given the pressures facing our state’s delivery system, the process for nominating and selecting the next chair is taking additional time,” she said. 

OneCare, originally a joint venture of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and University of Vermont Medical Center, came under the UVM Health Network umbrella last fall. Steve LeBlanc, chief strategy officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, is now the sole representative of the Lebanon-based hospital chain on OneCare’s board.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when UVM Medical Center faced a cyberattack.

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Liora Engel-Smith

About Liora

Liora Engel-Smith covers health care for VTDigger. She previously covered rural health at NC Health News in North Carolina and the Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire. She also had been at the Muscatine Journal in rural Iowa. Engel-Smith has master's degrees in public health from Drexel University and journalism from Temple University. Before moving to journalism, she was a scientist who briefly worked in the pharmaceutical industry.

Email: [email protected]

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