In August, Vicki Loner of Hinesburg was named chief executive officer at OneCare Vermont. She started working for the organization in 2012 and has been with them through a number of changes, including becoming the first (and only) certified ac-countable care organization in Vermont under the 2017 Affordable Care Act.
Loner described an accountable care organization as a legal entity through which different parts of the health care system come together to provide care.
“The goal is to provide a good quality outcome for Vermonters without having to formally merge or become part of one organization,” she said. “It’s like economies of scale.”
OneCare has contracts with approximately 2,500 providers, working in every area of the state except for the small pocket served by Grace Cottage Hospital in Townsend.
Loner got an associate’s degree in nursing from Clinton Community College, but while embarking on a bachelor’s degree in the field, she found herself intrigued by the intricacies of health care administration. Going back to school as an adult meant that getting her degree was a lengthy process, but one she was happy to embark on. She received a combined bachelor’s degree Summa Cum Laude in health care administration and nursing. A scholarship allowed her to complete her education with a master’s in health care delivery science from Dartmouth College.
After a stint as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Vermont Health Care Access, Loner joined OneCare and moved steadily up the ranks of the organization before being named executive director this year. In her previous position as chief operating officer, she had taken on some spokesperson duties and found that she enjoyed the work.
“I enjoyed talking about what we do,” she said. “Trying to change the health care delivery system is challenging and rewarding.”
Loner, her husband Mike and daughter Alexandria moved to Hinesburg 12 years ago. “I grew up in Plattsburgh in a neighborhood where people watched out for each other,” she said “and that’s what I see here. It’s one big extended family, which helps because it’s hard to be working parents, raising kids to be social and engaged.”
While completing her degree, Loner spent six years as a winter caretaker in the Adirondacks, staying at the Johns Brook Lodge one or two weekends a month to assist winter hikers. At that time, the job also involved providing first aid. This year she turned 46 and, coincidentally, summitted her 46th Adirondack peak. There are 46 peaks over 4,000 feet in New York and those who have hiked them all are known as 46ers. “It’s a good thing I started some of them in my 20s,” she said. Alexandria, now 13, is an aspiring 46er, so Loner may be revisiting some of those peaks.
OneCare is at the midpoint of their five-year agreement with the federal government.
“In the next two and a half years, we hope to grow network participation and really look at some of the quality measures where Vermont has a huge opportunity to make improvements,” Loner said, citing chronic disease and suicide prevention as two key areas. “We didn’t select measures that were easy.”
Loner believes all Vermonters should have the same access to health care.
“Regardless of where you go, you should have the same experience,” she said. “You should be a partner, engage with your provider, know the options and be able to make informed decisions.”