Is NMC’s Master Facility Plan Moving Forward?

Yes.  We are in the final days of the Crest Road project to add much-needed parking to the front of our campus and for our conference center while improving traffic and pedestrian safety on campus.  We truly appreciate your patience with the disruption in traffic flows necessary with this project and the associated noise and dust.  It is coming together beautifully and our patients and visitors are already complimenting our team on how nice it looks and how wonderful it is to have available free parking.  We also have two major projects moving through the State’s approval process while simultaneously navigating design development and Vermont’s permitting processes.  It is truly an exciting time at NMC as we work to evolve our facilities to keep pace with community need and to better align with the future of healthcare delivery.

Our Certificate of Need (CON) application to convert our inpatient Medical/Surgical and Intensive Care Unit rooms to all private rooms; to create efficient, flexible space for Medical Clinics; and to enhance the centralization of registration while improving the accessibility of our main entrance has been “ruled complete” by the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB).  That means we have provided all of the appropriate information and materials required by statute and have sufficiently answered their rounds of questions regarding the need, design, cost, and details of the project.  We are now working with their staff to set the date for their public hearing on that project.  It could be as soon as October 22nd and we hope to confirm that date this week.

At the same time, we have submitted our answers to the GMCB’s second round of questions on our second of two CON applications, this one focused on the construction of an attached medical office building at the front of NMC’s campus.  This would provide necessary space for Northwestern Primary Care, Northwestern Urgent Care, and Northwestern Orthopaedics which have all outgrown their existing space as they have evolved to keep pace with community need.  It also features a shelled second floor to efficiently address future needs.  We are hoping that application to also be “ruled closed” and that its public hearing could happen on the same day as the hearing for the Private Rooms – Medical Clinics – Registration project.

These projects hold so much promise for the future of care in our community.  Converting to all private rooms will be such a remarkable enhancement for our patients, providing the right healing environment for greater restfulness, privacy, infection control, family engagement, and patient education.  Re-establishing medical clinics (for visiting collaborative specialists such as Neurology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology, etc) in flexible space will help make those offerings sustainable and will significantly improve access to preventive care. Bringing primary care and urgent care into proper space at the front of our campus will improve access and make them the more convenient for patients (further de-emphasizing non-emergent use of the Emergency Department.  And there is so much more contained within these projects!  We are fortunate that NMC’s Board anticipated the need for investments such as this and prudently set aside funds for this purpose, so that when paired with philanthropic support and a wise financing plan, improvements such as these can be done affordably within our community.

These projects have developed with the involvement of NMC’s Board, Medical Staff, and hospital staff.  We have discussed them with the NMC Incorporators and the NMC Auxiliary.  I have spoken of them here in this forum, we have discussed them at various public meetings with local officials, and we have featured them in our “Health Beat” show on local cable access television.  In the coming weeks, we will be holding public meetings so that members of the community can learn more about these exciting projects and what they mean to the future of healthcare in our community.  Four meetings are scheduled: Tuesday, October 20, at 7pm at the St. Albans Town Educational Center; Tuesday, October 27, at 7pm at Mississquoi Valley Union High School; Wednesday, October 28, at 7pm at Enosburg High School; and Tuesday, November 17, at 7pm at the North Hero School.  I hope you will join me at one of those events and learn more about our exciting plans for the future.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer