SVHC Breaks Ground for Emergency Department Expansion and Renovation
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SVHC Breaks Ground for Emergency Department Expansion and Renovation

BENNINGTON—August 30, 2021—At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, August 27, leaders from Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) gathered with donors, governmental representatives, and community leaders for a ceremonial groundbreaking in front of the hospital’s main entrance.

The program included a welcome from Tommy Harmon, the chair of the SVHC Board of Trustees; remarks from SVHC President and CEO Thomas A. Dee, FACHE; comments from Joanne Conroy, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health; Adam Cohen, MD, the medical director of the Emergency Department; and a statement from Governor Phil Scott, which was read by Representative Mary Morrissey. Representatives from both Bernie Sanders’ and Peter Welch’s offices also attended and presented remarks.

All thanked the generous donors to the project, including Don and Nancy Kendall and many key supporters who were in attendance. The Kendalls pledged $5 million to the project in 2018. The Emergency Department will be named in their honor.

“This renovation and expansion will provide a facility equal to the exceptional care our clinical teams in the Emergency Department provide,” said Dee. “We would not be here today without the help and generosity of so many people who have supported the project thus far.”

In addition, the speakers praised the exceptional work of the Emergency Department staff, especially throughout the pandemic.

“The quality of our staff has never been more apparent than during our work through the pandemic,” said Adam Cohen, medical director of the Emergency Department. “I would like to take a moment to recognize the courage and professionalism of the entire team, who never questioned their duty to put their health, their lives, and the lives of their families on the line to take care of patients.”

The project is a component of the organization’s five year strategic plan, called VISION2020. The Foundation Board, along with the VISION2020 Capital Campaign Steering Committee, has raised $20.7 million dollars toward the goal of $25 million.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers and an exceptional community who is extremely generous and recognizes the critical importance of this project,” stated Leslie Keefe, vice president of Corporate Development.

The program concluded with a group of key supporters, SVHC leaders, and Emergency Department staff simultaneously digging their shovels into the earth at the site of the expanded Emergency Department.

The current Emergency Department was designed 40 years ago to treat approximately 12,000 people. It currently sees 25,000 patient visits per year. The project will double the Emergency Department’s size and includes the expanded presence of the teleEmergency service in coordination with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. Touch-free motion-activated doors and walls will provide privacy and enhanced infection prevention. The entire department will be equipped with negative pressure to aid in the control of air-borne illness. The addition of high-acuity, low-acuity, and collaborative care areas are expected to reduce wait times and improve the patient and provider experience. An expanded space for patients experiencing emergency behavioral health issues is also in the plan.

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