Last Friday, on a snowy second day of spring in true Vermont fashion, the ribbon was cut to officially open the Green Mountain Surgery Center (GMSC) in Colchester to the public. While the center won’t be able to start hosting patients until the summer, the ceremony was a positive step in a long journey.
“This project has been a dream for so long that it’s sort of amazing, even to me, that we’re standing here inside a real, live building that will soon be a real, live surgery center,” said GMSC manager Amy Cooper.
The surgery center had been in the works for several years to open its doors in Colchester, but was held up by legislation in the House and Senate.
However, that wait was finally over Friday morning, as the Senate passed the bill S.73 that articulated the specifics for the licensure of ambulatory surgical centers in the state. Before Friday, Vermont was one of two states without these regulations.
Colchester’s economic development director Kathi Walker O’Reilly said she’s excited for the surgery center to finally open in the town, having worked with the team for several years.
“We supported them when they were going before the Green Mountain Care Board and then we also went down and helped when there was legislation being proposed in the senate,” she explained. “That would have required them to pay more taxes which would have made it financially impossible for them to open, so we are so excited to have them here.”
The original piece of legislation would have implemented a six percent provider tax on surgical centers, according to VT Digger. The bill that passed last week includes no provider tax.
The Green Mountain Surgery Center is the second ambulatory surgical center in the state; the Vermont Eye Surgery Center in South Burlington was the first.
The surgery center will bring 22 full time jobs to Colchester, a detail that Gov. Phil Scott focused on in his speech at the ribbon cutting. He said the center’s opening is a key example in his workforce development plan for the state, which is to create more high-paying, highly skilled jobs.
“Jobs like the ones created here will benefit Vermont in many different ways, by drawing more families to our state and adding resources to the local and state economies,” he explained. “It’s always a good day when we can cut a ribbon for new employers and employees as we work to grow this economy.”
Dr. Susan Maclennan, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said she came back to Vermont after moving to western Canada because of the opportunities she said the surgery center will provide.
“At that time, the options for specialty surgeons to practice in this area were very few,” she explained of her family’s move in 2015. “But things have changed and we came back…to the state that feels like home to us.”
Dr. Maclennan said that during her time working in Canada, she saw the positive benefits that centers like Green Mountain Surgery Center can offer a community.
“I can tell you that hospitals and surgery centers can and do coexist peacefully in those communities,” she said. “I was able to consistently offer high quality, efficient and safety-focused care in the outpatient center while still utilizing the full spectrum of higher level of care…now we have that option.”
Cooper said the creation of the GMSC will not only add jobs and resources to Colchester, Chittenden County and Vermont as a whole, but will also offer low-cost, high-quality health care for thousands of Vermonters.
“For the patients who said we ought to have smaller, more friendly, more convenient options in the Burlington area, for the patients who said that one size does not fit all when it comes to our medical care, and for the patients who said simply, price matters…it’s for you that we built the Green Mountain Surgery Center,” Cooper exclaimed.