Deerfield Rescue, health center reach agreement

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WILMINGTON — Southwestern Vermont Health Care and Deerfield Valley Rescue are saying goodbye as neighbors, but the groups will remain linked as the rescue squad relocates.

"SVHC and DVR have reached an agreement whereby SVHC will acquire the current DVR building and lease rights, and generously assist them in the fundraising campaign for their new facility," stated a letter from SVHC President and CEO Thomas Dee and DVR Business Administrator Heidi Taylor. "With the expanded building lot at the Route 100 site, SVHC will develop and construct a new health center with modern exam rooms, enhanced provider space, additional parking and room for future growth."

Taylor said staff from SVHC will be helping her group with fundraising efforts and will provide financial contributions over the next three years. The agreement was reached last month.

James Trimarchi, director of planning for SVHC, declined to disclose the figure.

"We're buying their asset and part of the deal is we've agreed to a capital future commitment to Deerfield Valley Rescue as well," he said.

His group is in the early stages of planning the project. The idea now involves demolishing the rescue facility, building a new health center then demolishing the existing health center to create a place for parking. The new building is expected to be about 5,000 square feet.

The cost is still up in air.

"We're only now starting to get those numbers," Trimarchi said. "We're excited about the project. The timeline is somewhat in flux at this moment depending on how the permitting goes."

Construction of the new health center is slated to begin sometime in the upcoming spring or summer. The rescue squad has been making plans to move to Frank Sprague's building in Wilmington at 22 Stowe Hill Rd., which has been used as a welding shop and will require minor renovations. The plan is to close on the property by the middle of next month and move in around Dec. 1.

The two organizations "remain steadfast partners in continuing to deliver exceptional care to the residents of the Deerfield Valley region," stated the letter from Dee and Taylor, which was issued Tuesday. The health center and rescue facility have shared a location on Route 100 South since the late 1990s and still share "the same vision for the community: to provide safe, high-quality care," the two officials wrote.

"Now both facilities are in need of modernization," the letter stated. "For several years, DVR and SVHC have been exploring how best to develop new facilities. Discussions considered a single facility or whether separate facilities would better serve the community. Through much research, it became apparent that the best suited location for SVHC was the current site, and for DVR a new expanded central site."

The rescue squad is expected to have more space for training volunteers and updated ambulance bays. The new facility will allow the group "to continue to adapt and enhance their services to meet the changing health care needs of the community," according to the letter.

"We have the utmost respect for and mutual admiration of each of our organizations and their importance to the community," Dee and Taylor wrote. "We believe the new centralized building for DVR, and the expanded current site for SVHC's Deerfield Valley Campus will serve the community for many years to come."

Taylor called the arrangement "good for everybody."

"It helps the health center expand," she said. "We can move into a bigger facility."

Her group has secured funds from Dover and Wilmington in the form of 1 percent local option tax revenue, which is earmarked for community and economic development projects. A fundraiser at the Hermitage Club over the weekend brought in $22,000. Altogether, $200,000 has been raised.

Taylor's goal for this year is to collect $325,000.

"That gives us the down payment plus the $100,000 for renovations," she said. "We're getting there. Over the next few years, we'll try to raise the rest — the other $300,000 — which I think will happen."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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