Medical Surge site being constructed at Champlain Valley Expo Center

Local News

The push is on to build a medical surge site in Essex Junction, which will house non-coronavirus patients when local hospitals get too full. Members of the Vermont national guard have been hard at work, making it happen.

Supplies are rolling in, and boots are on the ground, overseeing the assembly process of a medical surge site. Things have been in motion since Thursday.

Major Jason Villemaire, the civil engineering construction lead, says that, “since then, we have grown to over fifty members, to support the construction from the engineering side. And then also from other disciplines and career fields, in the Air Force and the Army. This is a true joint force exercise effort that we are doing together. [The] air national guard, army national guard from our community in here supporting our community during this time.” A joint effort and collaboration on many fronts. And while the drive-thru testing sight will remain here at the Expo Center, the field hospital being set, will not be used for coronavirus patients.

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Gookin, is the deputy state surgeon with the Vermont National Guard, he says that “this facility is being set up as more or less a relief valve for the medical centers. We will have all of the ancillary equipment that we need to support within the eight pods, as we’re designating them.” The facility will house a total of four hundred hospital beds, across a few different areas of the expo center.

Gookin, says this location is a prime spot to have this facility set up. “The facility is centrally located, easy to access from 89, 15, Route 2A. It’ll provide the opportunity for the area medical facilities to get the relief, with individuals who may just be suffering from a slip, a trip, or a fall.”

The guard anticipates patients beginning to filter into the facility as soon as Sunday, and there is still lots to be done before then. “As we roll into the weekend we’re going to continue to increase our numbers, both on the army and the air to make this construction successful and complete on time and ready for the medical community,” says Major Villemaire.

This site is one of two that were announced on Thursday. They join sites in Saint Albans, Barre, and Burlington. Patients will be able to get into this facility beginning at noon on Sunday.

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