Campus renovation offers health care options

Since January, a team of architects, carpenters, electricians, dry-wallers, and other construction experts have been working, often late into the night, to give the SVMC Northshire Campus a much needed expansion and facelift. The renovation is part of broader strategy to boost primary care in the Northshire. Key to this effort is our practice's becoming a certified medical home and taking part in a host of initiatives designed to change the way we provide care, including joining an accountable care organization and pushing to broaden our use of electronic medical records. Taken together, these initiatives require SVMC's Northshire Campus to have a broader provider team than is typically seen in a doctor's office. The team focuses on the needs of the whole patient. It includes physicians and nurses, but also mental health services, smoking cessation counseling, and diet and nutritional education. The goal is to help people learn to manage their lives so they don't get a chronic disease or so a chronic disease they already have doesn't get worse.

All this new activity, though, requires a different sort of building, which is why Southwestern Vermont Health Care is investing $750,000 in retooling our building for the future.

The construction is about half-way through, and it will significantly expand the space we have. The second floor, which housed offices and storage, will be converted into universal medical rooms. These rooms provide space for a range of uses, including diet and nutritional counseling. In the future, we also plan to have a room dedicated to telemedicine. Working with Dartmouth-Hitchcock, a telemedicine link will allow a patient to see a specialist without actually having to drive long distances. It's not the solution for every situation, but it works very well for some, including many follow-up appointments.

Downstairs, the project will consolidate office space to add five new exam rooms, enough to allow us to bring on an additional provider later this year. We also will renovate the waiting area and create a smarter, more private welcome center for patients.

As physician, I've long known that to improve care we must change how we provide care. For years, medicine has focused on sick care - someone is sick, and we diagnose and treat them. Providers didn't spend much time preventing illness because we couldn't afford to. Insurance companies paid for diagnosis and treatment, not for keeping people from getting sick. The Vermont Blueprint, the medical home care model, and accountable care organizations have begun to change that, placing a greater emphasis on primary care. Working together with Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Vermont Blueprint, we will continue to support primary care in the Northshire and across southern Vermont. We will bring new providers, a broader array of services, and advanced telemedicine to the Northshire, making our communities stronger and healthier than ever before.

Joshua Samuelson, DO, is a family physician and the medical director of the SVMC Northshire Campus. He is a member of the governing board for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians and serves on the clinical advisory board for OneCare Vermont, the nation's first state-wide accountable care organization.


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