When the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital emergency room opened 50 years ago, it was serving about ten patients per day. Over the past five decades health care needs have changed, and the ER now serves an average of 38 patients each day, with some days seeing up to 50 to 60 patients. This dramatic increase in patient visits has caused an enormous strain on the facility and presented daily challenges for its dedicated staff. NVRH determined that the situation was untenable and needed to be addressed. As such, plans were developed to expand capacity and overhaul the ER. A new laboratory and pharmacy were also included in the planning and fund-raising efforts for this “West Wing Project.”
Union Bank saw this expansion as a chance to give back to the community in a way that would make a substantial impact. As Emily Hutchison, M.Ed., Director of Philanthropy at NVRH states, “Over the years, Union Bank has been very generous to NVRH and our commitment to wellness and well-being. Their funds are really playing a significant role to help meet the changing healthcare needs of the community.”
Union Bank donated to the hospital in support of the creation of its Cancer Center in 2005, renovations to the Birthing Center in 2016, and Covid relief in 2020. During the pandemic, Union Bank also supported the hospital in unconventional ways, including suspending processing fees for credit card transactions, as a way to reduce overhead during that trying time. As Hutchinson explains, “They didn’t even ask, they just went ahead and did that on their own!”
Other recent philanthropic efforts by Union Bank include:
Why is this expansion and renovation such a critical need for our community? As a small rural critical access hospital, NVRH serves all of Caledonia County and portions of Essex County, as well as patients in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire who live in areas where smaller medical facilities simply can’t offer the necessary services they need.
While Vermont as a whole is aging faster than other states, NVRH also serves the oldest population in the state, including individuals whose care needs are more acute than when the facilities were originally built. In addition to an increased demand for care, patient needs are changing, with rising numbers of mental health crises requiring specialized services that the old ER wasn’t equipped to provide. With these upgrades, the new ER will gain approximately 4500 square feet, growing from 9 rooms to 16 rooms and nearly doubling its current size.
Now that phase one of the West Wing Project is completed—the 4-bed Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Suite in the ER, providing a space to better meet the needs of those in mental health crisis—the hospital is moving forward with additional renovations, including a greatly expanded and improved lab and pharmacy. When construction is completed, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital will be much better equipped to meet the healthcare needs of our community today, and for years to come.