History of Androscoggin Valley Hospital

Berlin’s first health care facility, the Hospital St. Louis, opened in 1905 under the direction of the Sisters of Charity with room for 15 patients. It was named for Reverend Louis M. LaPlante, pastor of St. Anne’s parish, who had pursued the project since his arrival in 1899. He saw the need for a place to care for the sick and injured, and donated a house and land next to the church for the hospital. (The house was formerly the Cascade House, a summer hotel built in 1877.)

In 1971, ownership and administrative control of the hospital was transferred from the Sisters of Charity to a community-based nonprofit corporation. St. Louis Hospital became Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

The need to renovate or replace the aging facility was evident, and four years later, plans were approved for an entirely new hospital facility to be located a mile and a half north. The most successful fundraising effort ever undertaken in the Berlin area brought in $200,000 in pledges, which spurred groundbreaking on September 11, 1976. Construction continued over the next two years.

Dedication for the new AVH on Page Hill Road in Berlin took place on November 26, 1978, with ceremonies attended by some 2,000 persons. A keynote speaker from the Center for Small and Rural Hospitals for the American Hospital Association said AVH had adopted “some of the most advanced concepts in health care in the nation.”

Recent Milestones at AVH

The past dozen years have seen a steady expansion of facilities and services, and the addition of many talented providers to meet the growing needs of our communities:

1999

  • AVH began a collaboration with the New England Heart Institute of Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, which has allowed numerous cardiology patients to receive their pre- and post-surgical care close to home in Berlin, while benefiting from the resources of CMC.

2004

  • Two Orthopaedic providers and two support staff members created AVH Surgical Associates, the specialty physician practice of Androscoggin Valley Hospital.

2005

  • AVH Surgical Associates added the specialties of Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT)/Allergy (in Berlin and Lancaster), Audiology, and Obstetrics/Gynecology; and a third Orthopaedic Surgeon joined the practice.

2006

  • A full-time OB/GYN practitioner joined AVH Surgical Associates. A General Surgery practice began with the use of locum tenens (temporary) physicians.

  • Androscoggin Valley Hospital became one of the last of New Hampshire’s 13 eligible rural hospitals to become a Critical Access Hospital (CAH). To receive CAH certification, a facility must meet these stringent requirements:
  • The hospital must be located in a rural area.

  • It must be more than 35 miles away from another CAH (more than 15 miles away in areas with mountainous terrain or secondary roads), or be certified by the state as being a “necessary provider” to the area. (The “necessary provider” designation was eliminated on Jan. 1, 2006.)

  • It must operate only 25 or fewer acute-care inpatient beds.

  • It must have an average length of stay of 96 hours (four days) or less.

  • It must provide 24-hour emergency care.

  • It must have transfer arrangements with a larger tertiary-care hospital.

  • It must develop an access improvement plan.

2007

  • AVH Surgical Associates assumed the departments of Anesthesia and Radiology.

  • General Surgery expanded to three full-time general surgeons, and an OB/GYN Clinic in Colebrook opened.

2009

  • The Hospitalist Program was developed.

  • A Neurology practice opened in both Berlin and Colebrook.

  • The ENT/Allergy Clinic expanded by adding a full-time mid-level provider.

  • The OB/GYN specialty added a third physician.

  • The Medication Administration Clinic was established.

2010

  • Dr. Daniel van Buren became the North Country’s only full-time New England Heart Institute Cardiologist.  Expanded coverage in Colebrook soon followed.

  • A full-time mid-level Neurology provider joined AVH.
  • AVH Home Health and Hospice relocated to its own offices on Twelfth Street in Berlin.

  • The AVH Professional Center at 7 Page Hill Rd. was extensively renovated.

  • The Center for Sleep Medicine at AVH was inaugurated.

2011

  • The Neurology clinic was re-located to its present location on the third floor of the hospital.

  • A urology practice was added.  Services offered in both Berlin and Colebrook.
  • Obesity Treatment Center, in conjunction with Catholic Medical Center began.
  • ENT/Allergy began outreach to Colebrook.

  • Another Orthopaedic Surgeon joined the practice, and began serving patients not only in Berlin, but began providing outreach via a clinic in Colebrook.
 2012
  • Full Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was implemented.
  • Dr. Peggy M. Simon, Pulmonologist, joined AVH Surgical Associates, seeing patients within AVH, Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, and Memorial Hospital in North Conway.
  • Patti L. Duprey, MSN, APRN, CDE, joined AVH Surgical Associates as a Certified Diabetes Educator.
  • The AVH Echocardiography Lab received certification by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission.
  • The Northern New Hampshire Healthcare Collaborative was formed.
 2013
  •  The New England Heart Institute Heart Failure Clinic at AVH opened.
  • Dr. Joseph DellaValla, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine, began seeing patients at Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital in Colebrook
  • Joan Merrill was recognized as the AVH Volunteer of the Year.
  • AVH received recognition as one of the Top 100 (among more than 1,330) Critical Access Hospitals in the United States.  This marked the second consecutive year for such recognition.
  • AVH was recognized by Business NH Magazine as a semi-finalist in its Business of the Year and Best Companies to Work For Award competitions.
  • AVH was recognized for achieving breastfeeding initiation rates higher than the average of all such NH facilities.
  • AVH received state and national recognition for being the only NH hospital to participate in the first ever live patient safety Twitter chat
  • AVH received state and national recognition for its award-winning falls prevention program.
  • Clare Fox, Physical Therapy Manager, was recognized as the AVH Employee of the Year.
 2014
  • Establishment of a Wound Care Clinic in AVH Professional Center - Collaboration with Memorial Hospital, a MaineHealth member.