ST. ALBANS — Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) will begin its $32 million renovation and expansion project Wednesday morning.

The first phase of construction, renovation and expansion of the medical surgical/intensive care unit (ICU) kicks off with a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday night at 5 p.m. with refreshments and appetizers. The public is invited to attend and ask hospital officials about details regarding the big undertaking.

In the days leading up to Wednesday, NMC has been prepping the grassy area beside the Northwestern Counseling & Support Services (NCSS) building on Fisher Pond Road for construction equipment, trailers, supplies and more.

Next week, the real work begins.

NMC is eliminating the parking lot located directly behind the main hospital building in order to make room for the expansion of the medical surgical/ICU. The section of Crest Road that loops behind the hospital will move back to the north, taking the place of the parking lot.

During this time, access to the Cobblestone building will be restricted to the offshoot of Crest Road that’s farthest west. “We will have signs to help get people there,” Tyson Moulton, director of facilities, said.

Employees and patients will not be able to drive onto NMC’s campus via the NCSS driveway on VT Route 104 for this period of the project. The two available entrances to the campus will be Crest Road and the main entrance/emergency vehicle drop off area.

“We have an extensive exterior signage plan for each phase of impacts,” Moulton said. “Change is hard for people. So more signage the better.”

“That’s kind of the first month of the project,” he said.

The section of Crest Road that loops behind the hospital should be complete around the end of June. “Then we’ll have about a week or two where that’s open and we’re starting to expand some of the parking at Cobblestone,” Moulton said.

He estimated this phase of construction to last through the first two weeks of July.

As construction and prep work is going on near the northern section of the main hospital, cardiology and pulmonology services as well as the outpatient lab will be making their way to a new home.

Cardiology and pulmonology labs will be moving to Doctor’s Office Commons Building No. 2, located in the northeast section of the campus, in the middle of June. The services will stay there until around March of 2017.

The outpatient lab is moving to Doctor’s Office Commons Building No.1, located in the southeast section of the campus, the last week of June. The lab will stay in this location until next May.

The beginning of July is when the look of NMC will really start to change. The main drop off area, the lobby, and all of the parking lots by the front entrance will be closed down at this time. Crest Road, accessible via Fairfield Street, will remain open.

All of the services located in the front section of the hospital will be moved to a temporary location while construction is underway.

Patients are asked to use the Conference Center as the main entrance, utilizing the parking spaces running alongside Crest Road. The new employee and physician entrance will be on the west side of the building.

“We’re also increasing our volunteer involvement at the temporary entrance to make sure that people are able to get where they need to go,” Moulton said, “because it will be a different path for people than they’re used to.”

The hospital plans to have extra wheelchairs and other forms of transportation to help patients who are unable to walk the extra distance to access the services they need.

Registration is just moving down the hall to diagnostic imaging registration. When visitors enter the hospital via the conference center, they should walk down the hallway and take a left at the end of the hallway. Keep walking and the new registration location will be right there on the right.

The gift shop will be located where the vending machines currently sit over by switchboard. Surgical waiting will move to the Champlain Room, which is a conference room along the main corridor in the hospital.

NMC hopes to have this major phase of construction complete by October of this year.

For more information about the project and where services are located, please visit

NMC will also provide regular updates about the construction in the Messenger.