Senator Leahy Addresses Medical Coding Graduates At Fletcher Allen Health Care

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, U.S. Senator addressed graduates of a medical coding training program developed by Fletcher Allen Health Care and Vermont HITEC today in a ceremony held at Fletcher Allen Health Care. 

Senator Leahy has been instrumental in securing funding for many of the recent training programs developed by Fletcher Allen and Vermont HITEC as well as the Fletcher Allen Health Care Workforce Development Institute, created in partnership with Vermont HITEC to help Fletcher Allen address critical workforce developments needs by training unemployed and underemployed Vermonters for positions that are difficult to fill.

The ten graduates were selected from over 350 applicants for the free training program and became officially employed on Monday, June 30, 2008 as full-time employees at Fletcher Allen Health Care. The eight female and two male graduates range in age from 22 to 45 and came to the program with varied backgrounds.  Medical coders ensure that diagnoses and treatments are correctly documented according to federal compliance and reimbursement rules.

Fletcher Allen President and Chief Executive Officer Melinda Estes, M.D., welcomed Senator Leahy to the ceremony that included friends and families of the graduates.

“We are grateful to Senator Leahy for his on-going commitment to our needs in education and workforce development,” Dr. Estes said. “Senator Leahy has secured more than $900,000 to support the programs of the Workforce Development Institute.  By the end of 2010, we expect to fill an additional 50 positions through this unique mode of collaboration with Vermont HITEC.”

The funds are administered by Vermont HITEC and cover the costs of developing and operating the training programs.

In his remarks, Senator Leahy stated that, “Fletcher Allen Health Care is an important institution to all Vermonters. This funding to Vermont HITEC will provide the opportunity to ensure that the long term needs of Fletcher Allen’s workforce will be met, and that the individuals who provide our health care are qualified to do so.”

The graduates will earn $15.16 per hour to start in their new positions and are prepared to take the Certified Professional Coder exam, issued by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The pay scale for medical coders starts at $15.16 per hour with long-term earning potential of up to $22.75 per hour. The positions will also include a comprehensive benefits package.

The graduates will also be participating in a one-year apprenticeship program that will provide on-going mentoring and training and will result in a certificate from the State of Vermont Apprenticeship division upon successful completion.

About the Fletcher Allen/Vermont HITEC Partnership

The Fletcher Allen Workforce Development Institute was created in partnership with Vermont HITEC to help address critical workforce development needs by training unemployed and underemployed Vermonters for jobs that are persistently difficult to fill. The institute is designed to be flexible to match current workforce needs.

Fletcher Allen and Vermont HITEC developed their partnership in 2004 with funding assistance from both the state of Vermont and the U.S. Department of Labor. The first three programs provided focused training for medical transcription and administrative health care information technology positions. To date, a total of 48 Vermonters have been trained and offered positions at Fletcher Allen Health Care as a result of these programs.

The first Vermont HITEC training session was conducted over an eight-month period in an intensive training program for 20 medical transcriptionists. This work-at-home program was followed by the launching of a more formal health care workforce development training institute developed with the support of a $325,000 federal grant secured by Senator Patrick Leahy.

The federal funding allowed for the implementation of two additional training programs for 29 entry-level administrative positions, and the further development of the institute. Senator Leahy has since secured another $588,000 Federal Earmark to support additional training programs.

About Vermont HITEC

Vermont HITEC is a 501C (3) non-profit organization with a mission to educate, train and employ Vermonters in a variety of fields. Vermont HITEC has employed over 300 Vermonters over the past seven years in medical transcription, information technology and manufacturing partnering with over 20 Vermont businesses including the former IDX Systems Corporation, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Husky Injection Molding Systems, Hazelett Strip Casting Corporation, and Dealer.com. They have also begun working with companies in New Hampshire including Hypertherm of Hanover and Timkin of Lebanon. Vermonters interested in learning more about these training programs, should visit the Vermont HITEC website at www.vthitec.org  or contact Lisa Gorman, Project Leader, at lisa.gorman@vthitec.org; 802-872-0660, Vermont HITEC, P.O. Box 1548, Williston, VT 05495.

About Fletcher Allen Health Care

Fletcher Allen Health Care, together with our partners at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is Vermont’s academic medical center.  Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve by integrating patient care, education and research in a caring environment.  Fletcher Allen serves as a regional referral center -- providing advanced care to approximately one million people in Vermont and northern New York -- and as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.  With more than 30 patient care sites and 100 outreach clinics, programs and services throughout the region, Fletcher Allen is committed to being a national model for the delivery of high-quality academic health care for a rural region.

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