Parents of special-needs Vermonters in crisis over long wait times for treatment

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Long wait times at medical facilities have been frustrating Vermonters for months, and state health officials are trying to understand how the delays are affecting people seeking care. Dozens of people gathered for a virtual meeting last week, hosted by the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, to express concerns with their efforts to see a doctor.

Marzena Steciak, a nurse at UVM Medical Center, said her daughter has autism and is often aggressive. She said she recently waited 17 hours in the emergency room for what turned out to be a 20-minute visit with a pediatric psychiatrist. “We left with band-aid treatment,” she said.  

Steciak said there is a large service gap for children with special needs. “This is very personal,” she said. “When I go to work and I work 12-hour shifts—and I help my patients—and they go home because I help them. And I go home, and I can’t help my daughter. I don’t know if you can imagine how that feels.” 

Katherine Daniels, a health care provider, said the long wait times for children with special health needs represent a crisis. “This is a critical time for those families waiting for a diagnosis of autism,” Daniels said. “They have to wait 14 months.” 

At the end of the meeting, one participant, identified as Jude, asked if there were more people could do to get care more quickly. “There are some of us that are on here that would be more than happy to work along with you in any way that we possibly can,” they said. 

The next virtual listening session is November 4.  

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