VBMC leaders detail commitment to growth, community

POUGHKEEPSIE – Vassar Brothers Medical Center is the largest employer in the City of Poughkeepsie and on Thursday morning, its top official updated elected officials and community leaders on the various changes to the hospital.

In her ‘state of the medical center community’ briefing, Interim President Kerry Eaton touted the 137-year-old hospital as being a major contributor to the economy of Poughkeepsie with 2,195 employees. She also provided an update on the new patient pavilion, new programs, and the impact that the hospital has on the local economy.

Kerry Eaton: “… the important role we play …”

According to Eaton, VBMC generated $922 million in economic activity in 2018. In addition, more than 3,000 jobs have been created, including those constructing the pavilion, bringing the payroll expenditures to $226 million dollars and generated $66 million in tax revue. The healthcare facility has 679 physicians and employs more than 900 nurses.

Stressing the hospital’s commitment to being the premiere medical facility in the region, Eaton said that construction is advancing at the half-billion dollar patient pavilion.  “We understand the important role we play as your caregivers and as your neighbors. Our continuing investment in this region shows we strongly believe in the future of Poughkeepsie and the greater Hudson Valley,” said Eaton. Most of the exterior has been completed at the pavilion and the focus is now shifting to the interior of the eight-level curved shaped structure, designed to mirror the curves of the Hudson River.

The interior will include 264 private patient rooms, an emergency trauma center with 66 treatment bays, and new operating suites.

The facility is set to open next year.  Eaton pointed out that the new facility is a much-needed improvement over the current one that has cramped guest rooms and almost no space for vital medical equipment.

The number of patients being treated at VBMC has been rising.  In 2018, the hospital discharged 23,659 patients which is a 17 percent increase in five years.  In addition, the emergency department has seen an increase in patients.

In 2018 the medical center had nearly 75,894 visits, which is up almost 12 percent in five years.

According to John Nelson, the hospital’s director of Public and Community Affairs, the Emergency Department strives to interact with each patient within 10 minutes of arrival at the facility.  New programs are also coming to Vassar including a Movement Disorders Program, which treats patients with diseases such as Parkinson’s.  Neurologists Dr. Michael Rezak and Doctor Jennifer Pallone have come to Vassar from Chicago with groundbreaking treatment.  Eaton noted that in addition to the doctors coming to Poughkeepsie from Chicago, many of their patients have made the journey as well.

Two medical residency programs will start at Vassar Brothers in July.  Twenty-eight new doctors specializing in internal medicine and surgery will be based at VBMC.  A third program, family medicine, will be based at sister hospital Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck.

The residents will be arriving on June 17 for orientation and the programs will begin on July 1.

Plans are also well underway for the new Marist Health Quest School of Medicine that will be located on the hospital’s Poughkeepsie campus.

In April, VBMC’s parent organization, Health Quest, announced it had combined with Western Connecticut Health Network to form a new system that will be called Nuvance Health.  The combined system covers 1.5 million residents across two states and includes seven hospitals, 2,600 aligned physicians and more than 12,000 employees.


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