Contributed by Richard E. Tarrant
Last night, Deb and Lauren joined me to announce a $1M grant from the Foundation to the University of Vermont Medical Center. The grant will go toward the construction of a new seven-floor inpatient facility. The building will include 128 state-of-the-art private patient rooms and other spaces critical to the growing needs of our community, and to delivery of the highest standard of care.
We have chosen to name the 5th floor of the new building, serving Oncology, Gynecology, Urology and General Surgery, in honor of two longtime friends of the hospital: Allen and Bonnie Martin.
Allen graduated from Williams College and went on to receive an honors degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University. After Harvard law school and a prestigious clerkship, Allen ultimately became a partner at Downs Rachlin Martin, a law firm serving Vermonters and Vermont businesses for more than half a century.
In 1994, he became the driving force behind the formation of Fletcher Allen Health Care – one of the first integrated healthcare delivery systems in the country. Allen was the glue, pulling together physicians from the University Health Center, nuns from Fanny Allen, administrators at Mary Fletcher, and folks from the UVM College of Medicine. Imagine trying to bridge those many different interests, and to honor the pride of each player in the piece of that complicated puzzle that he or she represented. There was no road map, but Allen got it done.
Here’s a little story that embodies Allen. One Sunday afternoon he was at home reviewing the pending federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1999 – because apparently that’s what lawyers do on a Sunday afternoon! He discovered a set of special provisions to increase Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals serving rural communities by aligning them with nearby metropolitan areas. It entailed a complicated body of work, but by the next morning Allen had drafted a provision that ultimately classified Chittenden County as part of the Greater Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area. That alignment brought $5-$7M per year in additional reimbursements to Fletcher Allen … for more than ten years.
Because there were no additional costs related to those reimbursements, they equated to a contribution of over $50M from Allen’s Sunday afternoon bemusement. In a way that makes Allen Martin the largest donor to the Medical Center in its history.
Allen made many other important contributions to the hospital over the years. He also served as a board member for IDX Systems Corporation, Union Mutual Insurance Company, and the Vermont Law School. Not bad for an Oxford philosophy major.
We mustn’t underestimate Bonnie’s impact on the softer side of things at the Medical Center. When the McClure building was new she helped fill it with artwork, expanding eventually to Baird and Shepardson as well. She also launched the hospital’s annual calendar of Vermont artwork, which brightens many of our walls still today.
Allen and Bonnie had an enormous impact on helping the Medical Center become what it is today. We are proud to name a floor in their honor.
I also want to take a moment to thank Jenna Page. Jenna is a multi-award-winning oncology nurse who spoke last night about the impact of the new building on patient care. She told heartbreaking stories about the added burden a lack of privacy can bring to cancer patients and their families when they are already suffering so much. Jenna had half the room in tears. We were blown away by her passion and her compassion, and are grateful for the work she and her peers do on behalf of us all.
We look forward to the day the new building is open to house medical staff, patients, and patient families.
Richard E. Tarrant is the President of the Tarrant Foundation.