About the Vermont Practitioner Health Program
The Vermont Practitioner Health Program (VPHP) is a health service of the Vermont Medical Society. Its purpose is to protect the public by early identification, treatment, and rehabilitation of individual providers of health services whose ability to practice medicine is impaired, or is at the risk of becoming impaired. From the beginning, the program has served two important purposes: assisting the Board of Medical Practice in its mission to protect the public; and, assisting licensees with substance use issues.
VPHP traditionally has assisted providers dealing with impairment or risk of impairment due to excessive use of drugs, including alcohol. But in 2017 Gov. Phil Scott signed Act 39, which expanded VPHP’s scope to address issues caused by any factor that interferes with cognition, judgment or behavior, including behavioral health matters, organic causes of cognitive impairment, and cognitive deficits associated with the aging process.
This change was sought by the Medical Society and the Board because some of the Board’s licensees confronted impairments that did not fit within the VPHP offerings for “chemically dependent” licensees. The Board felt it could better serve its mission to protect the public if the services of evaluation, monitoring, and support provided by VPHP were available to a greater range of licensees whose ability to practice safely was compromised, or at risk, from an impairment.
Act 39 of 2017 now describes the purpose and role of the program as being:
"for the protection of the public, monitors and evaluates, coordinates services for, and promotes rehabilitation of licensees who have or potentially have an impaired ability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety."
Eligibility and Referrals
Physicians (including M.D.s and D.O.s), , podiatrists, physician assistants, AAs and RAs are eligible to participate in the program. Referrals come from the Vermont Board of Medical Practice as well as colleagues, family members, friends, patients and also include self-referrals. Communications with VPHP are confidential under state law and substance use cases have additional protections under federal law.
Participation in VPHP programs is voluntary. VPHP will strongly urge a practitioner who needs assistance to obtain evaluation and treatment, and specific treatment options are suggested. VPHP provides ongoing, confidential support for maintaining a treatment program. In some cases when there is a risk of danger to the public a report to the Vermont Board of Medical Practice may occur.
Joe Lasek, MD, Medical Director of the Vermont Practitioner Health Program. Dr. Lasek, is a board certified psychiatrist. He received his M.D. from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse New York and completed his residency in adult psychiatry at University of Vermont College of Medicine. He has served as a staff psychiatrist and Medical Director for Adult Services at Howard Center since 2005. During that time, he has also held appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor for the UVM College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and adjunct faculty at Southern New Hampshire University/ Northern Vermont University in their Clinical Mental Health Master’s program. While his primary clinical practice is in Adult Services at Howard Center, he has worked in many community mental health, correctional and inpatient psychiatric settings over the course of his career.
To learn more about the program, view the VPHP brochure, or contact VPHP at:
P.O. Box 133
Montpelier, VT 05601-0133