Seven Days

[Re ” The Doctor Won’t See You Now,” September 1]: Seven Days‘ coverage of wait times at the University of Vermont Medical Center left me horrified by the misery and frustration of the many patients unable to get health care when it was urgently needed. It seems that this horror story results, in large part, from seriously misplaced priorities.

Consider: A 90-year-old woman committed suicide after a lengthy delay in treatment for an immensely painful condition. The most recent UVM Medical Center tax return publicly available shows that Dr. John Brumsted, president and CEO of the medical center, was compensated $2,005,831 per year for a 50-hour workweek in 2019.

A 27-year-old man lost work time, vomited “every night” from pain and paid thousands of dollars for ER visits while awaiting an appointment. Dr. Brumsted’s 2019 compensation works out to about $771 per hour.

After waiting two months to even get a call to schedule a distant appointment, a 79-year-old man went elsewhere and was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. Dr. Brumsted’s 2019 salary works out to about $38,000 per week.

Understaffing causes wait times. Note that Brumsted’s 2019 salary alone could fund 48.4 new employees paid $20 per hour. And UVM Medical Center has many other executives earning six-figure salaries. These executive salaries are funded from ever-increasing fees and insurance premiums paid by ordinary Vermonters, many working more than one job.

Every organization displays its priorities — its values — in its salary structure. These priorities need to be a big part of any debate about fixing health care in Vermont.

Lee Russ