Health and Wellness Center Grand OpeningThe new building opened its doors in September 2018.
In the fall of 2017, 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 old health center was dark, dated, and cramped. It was created in 1979 when its predecessor, Pyne Infirmary, was converted to a dorm. It had only one examination room and limited space for intake, treatment, and observation. There were 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 that space was not particularly warm or inviting. It wasn't a great place to care for children."
The new $4 million Health and Wellness Center — which opened its doors in September 2019 — is a state-of-the-art healthcare facility filled with abundant natural light. The standalone building features 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 includes 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 this year, the new center brings 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 has also solved another problem. The old Health Center was only staffed for twelve hours a day during the week and three hours per day on Saturday and Sunday. That means faculty were tasked, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, with taking care of very sick kids in their dorms. The new health and wellness center is a state-licensed infirmary that provides twenty-four hour nursing care (some of it on-call) seven days a week.
Near the end of that groundbreaking ceremony, just before those ten 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."
A year later, that benediction has become a reality.