BENNINGTON — Arlington-based manufacturer Mack Molding has donated $5 million to Southwestern Vermont Heath Care for the expansion and renovation of the hospital's emergency department. The Kendall Emergency Department, named for Mack's owners, Don Kendall and his family, will be the first real renovation and expansion of the emergency department since the 1970s. According to a release from SVHC, the gift is the largest the health system has received since Henry W. Putnam Sr. bequeathed the Bennington public water system, more than 100 years ago, for the construction of what would become SVHC. “Mack Molding is pleased and honored to be able to give something back to the people of Bennington County, who have been so good to our company for over 85 years. After all, what could be more important than a modern emergency department,” Kendall said in a statement. Thomas Dee, president and CEO of SVHC, said the health system's staff were “very, very appreciative to say the least.” “This is a tremendous gift by Mack through Don Kendall. He's been a terrific supporter. We'll put his contribution to good use as we look to build our health system for the future,” he said. Dee said Kendall was a member of SVHC's board of directors prior to Dee's arrival in 2009. Like other major Vermont hospital projects, the SVHC project will have to be approved by the Green Mountain Care Board. Dee said he hoped to submit an application to the board by October with a loose goal of being able to start in the spring or summer of 2019. The preliminary plan for the emergency department is a “major expansion” that would double its size. Dee said SVHC officials were considering whether the gift would be enough to finance the project or whether a capital campaign to support the emergency department upgrade would be needed. SVHC is marking its 100th anniversary this year. Many of the hospital's original buildings and infrastructure are still in use today. SVHC officials say their hospital facility is the oldest in Vermont and one of the oldest in New England, although other health care systems including Rutland Regional are older. The health system is developing a modernization plan to make its facility a sustainable, modern health system for the region. The emergency department was built in the 1970 to accommodate 12,000 patients per year. Today, almost 25,000 people a year are treated there. Having the Kendall family choose SVHC for its philanthropy was something Dee called a “real honor.” “I think Don also understands the critical nature of health care especially as it relates to emergency services. We serve 25,000 people a year so (our emergency department) touches many people's lives who live down here,” he said. Ray Smith, director of marketing and communications for SVHC, said Kendall declined to comment beyond the statement in the release. The SVHC emergency department had a smaller renovation project about 25 years ago that Smith said included the addition of equipment and workstations, as well as cosmetic work. The most recent major on-campus project was the addition of the dentistry practice, which opened in early January. Mack Molding is a manufacturer with a specialty in injection-molded plastic parts for products in a wide range of industries including health care. Last year, Rutland Regional Medical Center opened its own renovated and expanded emergency department.

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