ST. ALBANS — Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) launched a $2.5 million capital campaign on Tuesday during a luncheon at the St. Albans Museum. However, much of the event was devoted to thanking donors who have already contributed more than $2 million to the cause.

The capital campaign is in support of the hospital’s $32 million expansion and renovation.

“The investments that we are making now will expand access to specialty services, enhance the quality of care along with the patient experience and help to reduce costs by investing in more efficient models of care such as urgent, primary and preventive care settings,” said NMC CEO Jill Berry Bowen.

The renovation includes the creation of private rooms in a medical/surgical unit that will be combined with intensive care, allowing staff to work more easily in both. A new building at the front of the campus will provide space for specialists to see patients and allow the hospital’s urgent care clinic to move from the rear of the campus to the front.

A new lobby, which will consolidate patient registration in a single location, will be named for Peerless Clothing, which has given $500,000 to the capital campaign.

The NMC Auxiliary made the first donation to the campaign, pledging to raise $100,000 over five years.

More than 30 local families and individuals have pledged $10,000 donations.

With the official launch of the campaign, NMC is seeking donations of all sizes with naming opportunities beginning at $1,000, explained Jeff Moreau, director of development. Donors may pay their pledge over five years, he explained, paying, for example, $200 per year on a $1,000 donation.

Leon Berthiaume of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery is chairing the capital campaign committee. He closed out yesterday’s event by talking about the difference NMC makes for its patients.

The first was a 52-year-old man referred to NMC’s cardiology practice by his primary care physician. A heart murmur was detected, additional tests completed immediately, and the patient was then transferred to the University of Vermont Medical Center where his aorta (the primary artery carrying blood from the heart to the rest of the body) was replaced. His is doing well, Berthiaume reported.

Berthiaume also shared the story of a patient who described his surgery for a herniated disc and the quality of the care he received. “You simply cannot put a price on the high level of care and services we receive right here in our own backyard,” the patient concluded in the statement Berthiaume read.

The third story spoke of the work of Chelsea Mulheron, a nurse navigator who assists patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. One patient, Heather Brigham, described Mulheron as “the one person I could go to.”

Berthiaume concluded by quoting something Dr. Fred Holmes said while speaking about NMC – “It’s about our patients.”

Peerless has not been the only business to contribute to the campaign. Other businesses and organizations supporting the project include: A. N. Deringer, Darius Sidebotham and Bernstein Private Wealth Management, Cross Consulting Engineers, E-4H-Morris Switzer-Environments for Health, Franklin County Industrial Development Corp., Jim Bashaw Foundation, Missisquoi Lodge No, 9 of the Richford Masons, Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, Peoples Trust Company, Peoples United Bank, Tyler Place Family Resort, and Vermont Precision Tools.