The Vermont Department of Health will move central offices to the Waterbury Complex — Waterbury Circle effective January 29

The Vermont Department of Health will move central offices to the Waterbury Complex — Waterbury Circle effective January 29

The Vermont Department of Health will move about 380 employees from Burlington to the Waterbury state office building starting Monday.

The move, which will occur in phases over the next two months, will move the department’s central office operations to the Bureau of Human Services division at the Waterbury facility, according to a Jan. 17 announcement from the Department of Health.

The decision comes as the state sells the Zampieri State Office Building at 108 Cherry Street in Burlington. The facility is currently home to the local offices of the Vermont Department of Health and the Department of Children and Families’ Division of Economic Services. The state announcement noted that the Department of Health has been headquartered in Burlington for more than 75 years.

“This move recognizes the new realities of how we work,” said State Health Commissioner Mark Levine, M.D. “As we adjust our operations during the pandemic, our nearly 380 central office employees have successfully adapted to remote, hybrid and remote work options. In-person arrangements. Moving is a big change, and it’s inspiring to see everyone working with such tenacity and positive energy as the move date approaches.”

Department of Human Services Director Jeanne Samuelson said the move represents the state’s commitment to a coordinated approach to addressing Vermont’s health and human services challenges. “Building a culture of health involves all of us,” Samuelson said. “By consolidating offices in Waterbury, our work on complex issues such as substance use involving multiple departments will benefit from the greater collaboration that comes with operating under one roof.”

Waterbury Welcome

Waterbury City Manager Tom Leitz said he welcomed news of the health department’s move. “Even though they’re mostly working remotely, there’s a significant number of employees,” he said. “It’s certainly not going to do anything but help our downtown businesses.”

To that end, staff from local economic and community development organization Revitalize Waterbury are compiling information about the town’s businesses and services to share with state employees.

“It’s a spreadsheet that lists businesses like hair salons, restaurants, services, etc. It lets people know what’s here,” explained Karen Nevin, executive director of Revitalize Waterbury. “We’re excited to have new people come to Waterbury and discover all that Waterbury has to offer.”

The flood-damaged Waterbury complex underwent a makeover after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The former state mental hospital was closed and most of the public staff there were transferred elsewhere. Nearly two dozen older buildings at the facility were demolished and the state invested $125 million in a new, modern office building that opened in 2015.

However, despite the addition of new facilities, staffing is not yet at full capacity. Many workplaces and industries, including state governments, have pivoted to remote work during the pandemic. As pandemic restrictions eased, many offices implemented hybrid schedules as part of their daily routine, with employees spending less than five days a week onsite, a situation that continues today.

Therefore, with the relocation of the Department of Health, the number of government employees now assigned to the Waterbury complex will exceed the total capacity of the facility. Kate Eberle, a spokesperson for the state Department of Buildings and General Services, said the new building will house up to 800 full-time employees, but the Department of Health staff will bring the total closer to 1,200.

She emphasized that crews will not be on site at the same time, but space will be placed in offices that will be in place this spring. “There’s no unused space now,” Eberle said.

Employees working a hybrid schedule in Burlington are not expected to need to move to Waterbury for new assignments. Ben Truman, a spokesman for the Department of Health, works in the Burlington office and lives in Chittenden County. Like many of his colleagues, he said he plans to travel to Waterbury a few days a week under the new arrangement.

Former Waterbury Town Manager Bill Shepeluk said the new staffing levels are “roughly on par with what Irene had been at.” “It’s different. They’re not there every day. But a few days a week is better than none.”

The new office building is located behind the original complex, facing the Winooski River instead of Main Street. Sheperuk observed that given the current centralized security and positioning of state facilities, downtown businesses may become more of a destination for state workers. “It’s a long walk,” he said.

Nevin said the goal is to encourage government workers to venture into the city during their breaks. “We’re going to try to attract people,” she said. “There’s a lot going on in this town. We’ll welcome them.”

Health department officials also said there are no plans to make any changes to services during the move. Contact information for department offices and programs, including new mailing addresses, can be found at: healthvermont.gov/contact us. Department staff will provide online updates during the move, including how and where to access public health services. For the latest information, please check the department’s website, Vermont Health Network.

Once the move is complete, the new Department of Health office in Waterbury will offer limited in-person services, the announcement said. A drop box will be located in the lobby for anyone who is unable to submit information or materials electronically or by mail. this Vermont Health Network Details will be given on how to apply for birth, death or other vital records, food and lodging licenses, and other services.

Other health departments, human services offices

The University of Vermont Medical Center’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Colchester Public Health Laboratory locations are not involved in the move.

The Burlington local health office, currently located in the Zampieri Building, will move to a new location in Burlington in March.This office is one of 12 regional local health offices Provides WIC assistance, immunizations and other public health services. It serves Chittenden County and will remain open until March 8 at 108 Cherry St., Burlington. After that, there are plans to move to 128 Lakeside Avenue in Burlington’s south end.The new location is located at GMT bus route and provide ample free parking, department officials said.

Dr. Levine emphasized that the Department of Health’s other offices across the state that provide community health services will not be affected by this move. Other state offices located in the Zampieri Building will also be relocated to other spaces in Burlington. These include:

  • Department of Children and Families – Department of Economic Services local office moved from 108 Cherry Street to 128 Lakeside Avenue on March 9

  • The local office of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living at 110 Cherry Street moved to 128 Lake Shore Drive on March 2

  • Vermont Department of Health Services – The Vermont Chronic Disease Care Initiative Office, located at 110 Cherry Street, will move to 128 Lake Shore Drive on March 2

The relocation schedule states that dates may change due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

The Vermont Health Department traces its roots to 1886. For information on how the department has developed over its 138 years, please visit: healthvermont.gov/ourhistory.

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