An Open Letter to the Bristol Community
We listened to concerns, pursued alternatives, and compromised. Economic and Community Development approved unanimously. But we still need City Council support on Tuesday, February 8.
Our dedication to serving Bristol is unflinching.
RELATED (February 7, 2022): Read our Questions and Answers to common questions we've seen in social media.
Since the December 14th rejection of our vision for a combined administrative headquarters and community health center in Centre Square, we have heard from and worked in good faith with several City Council members, Bristol’s Economic & Community Development team, and Mayor Caggiano. They have all been available and supportive.
We have a strong and ongoing commitment to the Bristol community and everyone who lives, works, and plays in this amazing city. Most importantly, we’re dedicated to the 3,500+ patients we serve in Bristol at our two health centers and 13 school-based health centers. That dedication to service is unflinching.
Your children, students, neighbors, friends, and families should matter the most, especially in the midst of an unprecedented rise in the need for the services we provide. Reviewing our school-based health centers alone, we see demand grew by 146% since the end of 2019. We’ve had nearly 300 new referrals in the Bristol schools in the last few months alone. These are numbers, but more importantly, they are each a Bristol kid with limitless potential who needs help navigating this confusing and complex time.
For the last seven weeks, it’s been heartening to hear directly from so many other prominent members of the community offering their local perspectives and assistance, and we closely followed the mostly supportive community conversations held online after the vote. We are also profoundly grateful to our donors, who have been supportive of our vision and invested nearly $280,000 in gifts and pledges toward a $500,000 campaign for our project. Heavily representing Bristol, they are obviously watching developments closely.
We have been asked to consider—which we’ve done—many alternative locations for our vision, nearly 10 in total. With one exception—which is not for sale despite our inquiry—they are not viable, most often because there is a geographically defined area in the city where the US Health Resources and Services Administration will approve a new health center. Other locations were far too large, far too small, or needed more remediation, time, or money than we wish to spend, especially as we had already incurred significant costs with the prior plan. It is clear that no viable option is readily available to accommodate both the health center consolidation and moving our headquarters, including more than 160 administrative professionals, to downtown Bristol.
Our patients come first, and we do not want to delay a move any longer to find or fix a location where we can provide truly integrated primary and behavioral health care under one roof. Our health centers will always be in Bristol, but we need a space where they can be consolidated to provide the best care.
Bristol has an opportunity for an influx of shovel-ready new construction, economic development, health care, and new administrative professionals into the downtown area, should we find a plan that also allows us to bring over our corporate headquarters…an investment in the city for generations. We still pursue this as our vision and ideal, but we obviously must be responsible and plan for all contingencies. The December 14th vote was noticed by others, and we have been presented options outside of Bristol to consider for our corporate headquarters.
While our commitment remains with the city, we do have pressing timelines, including expiring leases and allocated federal capital funds that need to be expended. We will need to make a decision on our administrative headquarters no later than February 2022.
This evening, the Bristol Economic and Community Development Commission approved a revised proposal, which we believe meets the needs of the city and that of our patients and Board of Trustees. We sincerely thank them.
It is a smaller lot in Centre Square than we originally proposed, with less parking, but frees up the original lot for the type of entertainment/retail use we heard City Council members call for in December. Likewise, it preserves the exciting new City Green project in Centre Square. We hope that our shift allows for the more vibrant downtown we all want.
In short and in closing, we listened to concerns, pursued alternatives, and compromised. We look forward to attending the City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, February 8, and we thank the members in advance for their consideration. We hope we can work collaboratively on a better, healthier Bristol for us all.
Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA
President and Chief Executive Officer
Bristol resident and Chairman, Board of Trustees
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- Wheeler Health Breaks Ground on One Hope Street, Bristol (September 28, 2022)
- Wheeler Health Chooses Construction Management Firm for Centre Square in Bristol, Reaches 80 Percent of Fundraising Goal (August 15, 2022)
- Gift Supports Plainville Students, Bristol Health Center (April 7, 2022)
- Wheeler Health to Purchase Centre Square Property for Flagship Health Center and Corporate Headquarters; $500,000 Fundraising Campaign Announced (February 9, 2022)
- To Bristol, Thank You (February 9, 2022)
- Centre Square - Questions and Answers (February 7, 2022)