The new Health and Wellness Center is slated to open this fall.
Ten men and women stood in the grass, a silver shovel in each hand. Before them, a crowd of nearly one hundred people had gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of Pomfret's first new building in ten years.
"How many of you have seen our health center?" asked Head of School Tim Richards. Almost nobody raised their hand. "There's a good reason for that. We don't show it to people."
Hidden away in the bottom of the Main House, the current health center is dark, dated, and cramped. It was created in 1979 when its predecessor, Pyne Infirmary, was converted to a dorm. It has only one examination room and limited space for intake, treatment, and observation. There are no private bedrooms, and no private spaces for counseling.
"We have an incredibly talented group of doctors, nurses, and counselors who do great work with our kids," said Richards, "but the space is not particularly warm or inviting. It's not a great place to care for children."
Scheduled to open in the fall of 2018, the new $4 million Health and Wellness Center — situated between Robinson House and the Main House — will be a state-of-the-art healthcare facility filled with abundant natural light. The standalone building will feature four single bedrooms with private baths, a multi-bed observation room, intake and consultation rooms, and three private counseling rooms. Rounding out the project, the building will include two faculty apartments on its second floor, and a new $600,000 multi-use wellness studio in Strong Field House.
Among the biggest operational changes, the new center will bring nurses and counselors together under the same roof for the first time, allowing for a higher level of collaboration, and ultimately, of care. "We've made a commitment not just to the health side," Richards said, "but the wellness side as well."
The new center will also solve another problem. The current Health Center is only staffed for twelve hours a day during the week and three hours per day on Saturday and Sunday. That means faculty are tasked, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, with taking care of very sick kids. The new health and wellness center will be a state-licensed infirmary that provides twenty-four hour nursing care seven days a week.
Near the end of the ceremony, just before nine shovels pierced the soft ground, Chaplain Bobby Fisher took to the podium and delivered a blessing to mark the occasion: "May this ground on which we now stand soon be the foundation for something transformational... The center where good health and total wellness bridge to reach every other element and aspect of our busy and often complicated lives... We are grateful, humbled, and excited to be gathered, standing on this ground, at the moment of beginning for such a dynamic, vital new addition that will undoubtedly enrich the quality of school life and our lives."