Colorectal Health Talk Aims to Overcome Embarrassment, Improve Quality of Life

Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

RANDOLPH -Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli is working to bring colon and rectal health issues to the forefront in a Feb. 9 talk titled “Everyone’s Got One: A Discussion on the Colon and How to Keep it Healthy.”

Dr. Ciccarelli will lead the 5:30-7:30 p.m. talk in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center, sharing the important role of the colon and common colorectal health issues.

“Everyone has these organs. Yet people are reluctant to talk about problems with their colon or their rectum. Men especially find it difficult to discuss these matters,” Dr. Ciccarelli says. “But this is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life.”

The human body contains about seven feet of colon, or large intestine, which plays a vital role in helping the body complete the digestion process, retain water, and eliminate waste. Like any organ, it can be subject to disease.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont. One in 20 people will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. And each year, about 140,000 people nationally are diagnosed with the disease and about 50,000 die from it.

Colorectal cancer develops from polyps that grow – silently, unseen, and unfelt – on the inside wall of the colon. Many polyps will never become cancer, but some will over the years.

Yet, a colonoscopy can both detect and prevent colorectal cancer. This is because during a colonoscopy, these polyps are removed in their precancerous state or before disease can be felt, preventing the onset or the spread of the disease. And when found early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.

Without colonoscopies, it is not until polyps become cancerous, grow large and block the colon, or break through the colon wall that colon cancer symptoms are evident.

Cancer, however, is just one disease that can affect the large bowel. Dr. Ciccarelli will discuss diverticulosis and its complications, along with routine anorectal topics, such as anal fissures and hemorrhoids.

“The colon and rectum can cause numerous problems that may drastically affect one’s quality of life. We want to eliminate the shame, fear, embarrassment, and misunderstanding of talking to your health care provider about colorectal health concerns,” notes Dr. Ciccarelli.

“At some point in their lives, most people experience some sort of problem with their colon or rectum. It’s not something people freely speak about,” agrees Gifford Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry. “We’re hoping community members can put aside any reservations they may have and come out to learn how they can feel better and live longer.”

The talk aims to reduce embarrassment by sharing a real patient story. After years as a surgeon, Dr. Ciccarelli also ensures he’ll infuse plenty of humor into the discussion, which includes a question and answer period at the end.

The event is free and open to the public. Register by calling Amanda at (802) 728-2238.

Gifford is located at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked by a green awning. Learn more online at

Feb. 8 Talk Aims to Offer Support to Chronically Ill

Dr. Brian SargentRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center is launching a new discussion group for the chronically ill and their caregivers.

To be held the second Wednesday of each month from 3-4 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center, the first meeting is Feb. 8 and will feature a talk by Chelsea Health Center family physician Dr. Brian Sargent.

Dr. Sargent will discuss chronic illnesses, which can include anyone with diabetes, asthma, COPD, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, heart conditions, arthritis and much more.

The group is meant to offer both educational information and peer support.

“We’re encouraging people to learn through education and heal through friendships,” says LaRae Francis, Gifford’s Blueprint project manager.

The group is part of Gifford’s efforts to locally implement the Vermont Blueprint for Health, which aims to enhance care and self-management for the chronically ill.

Through the Blueprint, Gifford already offers Healthier Living Workshops. For those who have taken the workshops, this new group may be a welcome next step of ongoing support.
Participation in the Healthier Living Workshops is by no means required, however. The group is open to all, including those who are caring for or offering support to someone with a chronic illness.

Long-time Gifford diabetes educator and dietitian Jennifer Stratton will serve as the group’s facilitator with help from Gifford Blueprint staff.

The meetings are free. No registration is required.

The Conference Center is on the first floor of the medical center. Use the entrance marked with a green awning, or, for handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the lobby to the first floor. Gifford is at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. Learn more online at

New Healthier Living Workshop Series Begins on Valentine’s Day

caregiverRANDOLPH – This Valentine’s Day, give yourself the gift of good health by joining a free Healthier Living Workshop series.

Healthier Living Workshops are six-week classes for people with chronic conditions and their caregivers, and a new series begins this Valentine’s Day at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.

Offered for free as part of the Vermont Blueprint for Health, the workshops are led by trained facilitators and are designed to help improve strength, flexibility, and endurance. They also provide tips for managing medications, eating healthier, and improving communications with family and friends.

The goal is to help people better manage their health conditions and deal with the frustration, fatigue, and pain that can accompany a chronic disease.

Participants also benefit from meeting other people with chronic conditions, learning how they cope, and enjoying the camaraderie of knowing that they are not alone in how they’re feeling, notes Gifford workshop coordinator Susan Delattre.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, past participants report increased energy, reduced stress, more self-confidence, and fewer doctors’ visits as a result.

The workshops are offered quarterly at Gifford, and this latest class begins Feb. 14 and continues Tuesdays through March 20 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

To register or for more information, call Delattre at Gifford at (802) 728-2118.

Gifford Medical Center is at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor. Log onto to learn more.

Tonight’s Talk Postponed Until Next Week

rainstormWe apologize for the inconvenience and late notice, but we’re postponing tonight’s talk due to expected freezing rain and sleet, and moving the schedule back a week. 


RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center in Randolph will hold a free Heart Healthy Workshop Series this January.

The series includes talks from cardiologist Dr. Bruce Andrus and registered dietitian Stacy Pelletier. Gifford’s renowned chefs will complete the series with a cooking demonstration and discussion.

The schedule for the series is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Cardiologist Dr. Bruce Andrus talks about “How to Avoid the Cath Lab: Preventive Cardiology”.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 31, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Registered Dietitian Stacy Pelletier discusses “Taking Your Food to Heart”.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Gifford chefs lead a heart healthy cooking demonstration and discussion on good fats, high fiber, portion control and flavoring with spices rather than salt.

“Food can play a major role in heart health, and with heart disease leading the nation as a killer of both men and women, holding this series made sense. We’re hoping to help do our part to reduce heart disease and to improve the health of our community,” said Gifford Director of Hospitality Services Ed Striebe, of why the hospital is holding the event.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, totaled 26 percent of all U.S. deaths – more than one in four – in 2006, affects more than 27 million Americans and, in 2010, was projected to cost the nation $316.4 billion in health care services, medications and lost productivity.

Risk factors for heart disease include family history, older age, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, being overweight or obese, a poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol use.

“There’s not much we can do to alter our family history and age, but the remaining risk factors can be modified,” said Dr. Andrus, an experienced cardiologist, who also works at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “What we hope to relay to participants in our series is why heart disease occurs and the steps you can take to reduce your risk.

“We aren’t expecting people to instantly start running five miles a day or cut out all of their favorite foods. Rather we’ll be sharing ideas – and we hope inspiration – to get started or build upon the steps they’re already taking.”

Pelletier’s talk will focus on building a healthy diet.

“Eating certain foods can increase your risk of heart disease. This series aims to help people, especially those living with or at risk for heart disease, learn what these foods are and how best to avoid them,” said Pelletier.

The Heart Healthy Workshop Series will be held in the hospital’s Conference Center in Randolph. It is free and participants may attend one or all events. All are welcome, but space is limited. Please RSVP to Striebe at (802) 728-2191 at least one week prior to the class date.