It was all smiles at this groundbreaking at the Business and Technology Park in Colchester. The new, almost 50 thousand square foot building, was designed collaboratively by the Health Department and The University of Vermont. The new building will be physically connected to the UVM-Colchester research facility.
"This is a jobs creator. When we build a facility like this it ensures we have cutting edge medical research -- we have state workers doing cutting end testing to ensure we are healthy. It just makes sense for Vermont taxpayers," Gov. Shumlin said.
The $31-million dollar laboratory should be completed in about 18 months and will take the place of the old building near Fletcher Allen Health care on Colchester Avenue in Burlington.
Reporter Judy Simpson: We wondered why the state needed a new lab facility. The health department invited us over to their current building to give us a tour.
And it was an eye opener. Every nook and cranny has been used for storage, or office space. "This lab is 61 years old this year and we are currently one of the, or perhaps the oldest public health lab in the country," said Mary Celotti with the Vermont Department of Health. "The heating and ventilating and the cooling and heating equipment at this laboratory has really gone past its life expectancy."
The rooms are full of state-of-the-art testing equipment, like in the chemical threat lab, where work is done for the centers for disease control. "This area right now is pretty cool, but the venting over there -- that is how we actually draw heat off our equipment -- so like I said we are make do can do," Celotti said. Almost every hallway is used for storage -- either for files or equipment.
The new building has been in the works for ten years. The goal is to create a state scientific campus, incorporating UVM's medical research and funding. "We are faced with threats to public health, like Tropical Storm Irene and clean water. Whether it be white powder and whether it's anthrax or whether there be a potential nuclear leak at Vermont Yankee -- all those things require the science and scientists at the health lab to establish that info that we need," said Vt. Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen.
More than 50,000 tests are performed at the old facility every year. All involved Monday said just imagine the possibilities now, for the future of Vermont's public health.