In an effort to address a surgical backlog made all-the-more-severe by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Vermont Medical Center has moved ahead with plans to build a new outpatient surgical facility. This will also meet the needs of a growing population and subsequent influx of patients.
“There is a clear need for this state-of-the-art outpatient surgery center in our region, and we look forward to working with the Green Mountain Care Board on its completion,” said the president and CEO of the UVM Health Network in a news release.
Currently, the state of Vermont has one multispecialty surgery center located in Colchester, Vermont: the Green Mountain Surgery Center, which was built in 2019. The proposal follows a nationwide move to build more outpatient surgery centers that offer lower costs for more common procedures like colonoscopies.
The UVM health network recently launched the Patient Access Service Center, a pilot program, to reduce the current wait list for colonoscopies. The pilot program reflects the current need for more space for these procedures and surgeries, a demand that the approval of the proposed surgery center will help remedy.
The need for beds has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In November of 2021, the UVM Health Network announced that in order to care for the uptick of coronavirus patients, as well as other acute inpatient needs, the organization was standing up additional intensive care units and COVID-19 capacity.
The increased capacity will require more physical space and staff within the intensive care unit, but, once again, space will continue to be an issue for the organization until more permanent measures can be taken.
UVM’s plans are part of a broader multiyear initiative including an inpatient psychiatric facility, and the expansion of the emergency department at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont. It also includes the updating and expanding of the neonatal ICU and relocating ophthalmology and dermatology clinics to UVM’s Tilley Drive in South Burlington, Vermont.
All of these projects fall on the desk of Director of Facilities, Planning, and Development Dave Keelty.
Keelty has been part of the UVMC for 16 years and oversees master planning, programming for design development, permitting, project management, and a whole host of responsibilities related to expanding UVMC’s footprint and providing cutting-edge operations for its patients.
While the number of structures and buildouts on Keelty’s watch are too many to list, the $187 million Miller Building which opened in June of 2019 is certain to be a highlight. The over 180,000-square-foot building occupies seven floors and serves as a specialty surgery, cardiology, oncology, and orthopedic hub for the UVMC network.
Keelty reported that the building was finished ahead of schedule and under budget, the dream of any true facilities professional. On June 1, 2019, 120 patients were moved into the new building with over 400 new staff onboarded.
The director told the Burlington Free Press that the design of the Miller Building required extensive research and input from multiple sources. “We did not even start to design the facility until we engaged with patients and family members,” Keelty said.
A Navy veteran who worked his way up the facilities ladder over a long career, Keelty has decades of experience in space. His experience has been a virtue in the unprecedented COVID-era which has required a significant focus on quarantine-driven projects and initiatives.
But whether it’s COVID-19, a new surgical center, or any of the countless builds on his record, the director says that families and patients are what he keeps front-and-center on any project. The Vermonter is committed to making sure his organization is making his community a better place.