Free women’s health talk addresses menopause, genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers

Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

RANDOLPH – Gynecologist and certified menopause practitioner Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara is leading a free women’s health talk on April 10 from 6-7 p.m. in the Porter Community Room at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich.

Dr. Russo-DeMara, who provides women’s health care in White River Junction at the Twin River Health Center and at the Bethel Health Center, will address menopause, genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers and more.

The talk is free. Participants, however, are encouraged to register by calling the Twin River Health Center at 296-7370 by April 3.

The Twin River and Bethel health centers are part of Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. Dr. Russo-DeMara has been providing women’s care for more than two decades. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.

State’s Top-Ranked Nursing Home Welcomes Governor April 6

Menig Extended Care FacilityWe are excited to share that we will be holding an event next Friday, April 6 from 3-4 p.m. to celebrate our nursing home’s recognition as one of the best 39 in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Expected to attend are:

  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
  • DAIL Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry
  • Division of Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt
  • Licensing and Protection Assistant Director and State Survey Agency Director Fran Keeler
  • Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi
  • Hospital and nursing home leaders
  • Nursing home staff
  • Nursing home residents and families

The media has been invited to watch the brief speeches from state and Gifford/nursing home officials at the start of the event, and will then have an opportunity to speak to families and residents.

The event will be held at Gifford’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, which is located on the southern end of the medical center in Randolph on Route 12. From Interstate 89, go west on Route 66 into Randolph. Go straight through the four-way stop, left over the bridge by Cumberland Farms into the downtown, through the downtown, over the railroad tracks and up the hill. Gifford is on the left. Drive past the hospital and take the entrance at the end of the building, before the Thrift Shop.

Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to receive this distinction this year. U.S. News and World Report released a list of its “2012 Honor Roll” nursing homes in February. The 39 listed were the only out of more than 15,500 reviewed nationally to receive four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all three areas that CMS evaluates – health inspections, nurse staffing and quality of care.

New Menu + New Technology = Tantalizing Sensory Experience

Gifford Medical CenterHere at Gifford we’re known for our renowned chefs and incredibly tasty meals. In fact,  folks from the community often stop by to eat in our cafeteria even if they don’t need to visit the hospital for any other reason! How often do you hear that about hospital food?!

Not willing to rest on their laurels, our chefs are always striving to create new delicious dishes that tempt the taste palates. And now they’ve come up with a new Lemon Zest Salad that’s out of this world!

We know that not everyone can make time in their day to stop by and sample our new menu. Fortunately, our IT department has been experimenting with a remarkable new MicroRhino technology that allows you to virtually experience this dish.

Click here to see!

Nurse Practitioner Amanda Flyckt joins Gifford Hospitalist Team

Amanda Flyckt

Nurse Practitioner Amanda Flyckt

RANDOLPH – Acute care nurse practitioner Amanda Flyckt has joined the hospitalist team at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. Hospitalists are providers who care for hospitalized patients, or inpatients.

A native of Washington state, Flyckt earned her undergraduate degree in microbiology at Washington State University in Pullman, and then her master’s in acute care nursing from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

As an undergraduate, Flyckt thought her career in medicine would be in research. But after spending time working in a laboratory setting, she knew, “I really wanted to work with patients” – specifically inpatients.

After moving to Vermont, she looked for a hospital that effectively utilized “midlevel” providers well, and found Gifford.

“Everyone is really friendly to me. I really like the organization,” says Flyckt, who calls Gifford’s hospitalist program “innovative.”

Gifford was among the first small hospitals in the region to utilize hospitalist providers and has been included in multiple national hospitalist publications for its successful use of midlevels – physician assistants and nurse practitioners – as part of the hospitalist team.

Flyckt was also drawn to the Gifford for the diverse patient needs and health conditions that are managed locally.

She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and a member of both the American College of Nurse Practitioners and Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association.
She lives in Burlington and enjoys snowboarding and outdoor activities in her free time.

Photographer Ken Goss Returns to the Gifford Gallery

photographer Ken Goss

Photographs like this one, “Nature’s Beauty,” taken in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, are among the diverse works by experienced photographer Ken Goss of Randolph.

RANDOLPH – Beloved local photographer Ken Goss returns to the Gifford Medical Center art gallery March 28 through May 30 with an eclectic mix of landscapes, still life, fine art, and portraits.

The images are a combination of film and digital work and build upon his decades of experience in photography.

Goss’s first introduction to photography was in high school. He worked in a commercial studio and a photo laboratory. The majority of his photography training then came during his military career.

“After I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I went through naval photo school in Pensacola, Fla., for aerial reconnaissance and photo interpretation,” Goss says. “Two years later I went through advanced 70 mm photo school at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla.”

After the military, Goss went on to work in both freelance photography and in a commercial studio for a short time. The bulk of his career, though, was in precision aerial photography, topographic mapping, and aerial survey, first with Lockwood, Kessler and Bartlett, a civil engineering company on Long Island, N.Y. He spent 10 years with the company and then started his own business, Aerial Photo and Survey Corp., also on Long Island, for more than 30 years.

Along the way he has had some remarkable accomplishments.

He’s developed, designed, and flight-tested aerial photographic systems, technology, and techniques, and even assisted the nation’s space program. He helped develop applied aerial photographic techniques for use in flight training simulators under contract to NASA and was a team member in the development of the original “Luna model” in the Apollo program. He even aided in the formulation of acceptable operating techniques in the then-new technology of “orthophotography,” he says, and was a research contributor to Time-Life series publications on photographic technology.

Goss retired in the mid-1990s and moved to Vermont in 2003.

Since then he’s worked as the chair of the Chandler Art Gallery from 2006 to 2008, has taught the basics of black and white photography at the White River Craft Center since 2009, and has shown his works around the region.

“Now being again able to pursue photography as an ‘art’ form, I try to take what I feel in my heart or in spirit about a subject, capture it in film, and print in such a manner to give the viewer the same feeling,” Goss says. “This transference of feelings, if successful, gives me all the satisfaction of the art that I need.”

See Goss’s art in the Gifford Gallery, located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 or Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer at (802) 728-2324 for more information.

Gifford Honored with Legislative Resolution

Joe Woodin and Rep. Patsy French

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin stands with Rep. Patsy French, D-Randolph, in the State House on March 13. The House recognized Gifford and its recent national honors with a formal resolution.

MONTPELIER – The Vermont House of Representatives passed a resolution last week recognizing “the outstanding health care services provided by Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.”

The resolution recognized Gifford for its more than 100 years of service to the Randolph area and for its recent achievements and accolades.

In December, Gifford was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation by The National Rural Health Association. The hospital’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, just last month was named one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes by U.S. News and World Report, which recognized nursing homes achieving a solid year of five-star ratings on all Medicare benchmarks.

Gifford’s midwives were further recognized in 2011 as a “best practice” in the country by the American College of Nurse-Midwives for its positive results with vaginal births after cesareans and a “runner-up best practice” for having the fewest numbers of low birth weight infants and for its low use of vacuum or forceps.

The hospital’s day care, The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, earned the maximum five “STARS” from the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System, a voluntary quality program that is part of the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ Child Development Division. The program looks at compliance with state regulations, staff qualifications and training, daily activities with the children, improvement plans, and more.
Menig has also won many state awards for quality and national awards for resident satisfaction.

“Since before 2000, the Menig Extended Care Facility has allowed elderly Vermonters from the area to remain close to home, providing extremely qualified and compassionate patient care. My in-laws were able to use this facility in the last years of their life, making for an ideal connection for them and my family,” shared Rep. Larry Townsend, D-Randolph. “Randolph and the surrounding towns are blessed to have not only Menig, but Gifford as one of the treasures in our communities.”

Townsend initiated the Resolution and was among one of 12 legislators who brought forth the resolution, which was passed by the full House on March 13.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin and Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln were present to receive the resolution.

“We have appreciated some incredibly welcome, yet unsolicited awards over the last year or so,” Woodin said. “This is another unexpected honor.”

“We’re fortunate to have the privilege of caring for the people of this region. We’re humbled to be recognized for that work in such a public way.”

The resolution also recognized the hospital’s 12 consecutive years of meeting its state-approved budget and operating margin, and the recognition of all of Gifford’s primary care practices as Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Finally, the resolution called Gifford “a hospital of choice for Central Vermonters seeking high-quality care and an employer of choice for some of the region’s and even the nation’s best health care professionals.”

A special ceremony with Gov. Peter Shumlin; Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry; Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi and others is planned for April 6 from 3-4 p.m. at Menig to recognize the nursing home’s most recent and largest-ever achievement – the top 39 national ranking. Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to make the listing.

Gifford Holds 106th Annual Meeting

Joe Woodin and Sharon Dimmick

Newly elected Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sharon Dimmick smiles at hospital Administrator Joseph Woodin at Gifford’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center held its 106th Annual Corporators Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital, electing three new members to the Board of Trustees, sharing the successes of 2011, and welcoming Steve Kimbell, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration commissioner, as the guest speaker.

Newly elected to the board were Leo Connolly, Fred Newhall, and Peter Nowlan following the retirements of long-time board members Barbara Harvey and Bruce MacDonald and the heavily-felt death of Dick Mallary. “We miss him terribly,” board member Bob Wright said.

MacDonald and Harvey offered a few parting words of thanks and encouragement.

MacDonald admitted to feeling reluctant when he was first asked to join the board in 2002. A decade later, his opinion had changed. “As a corporator I would encourage you to support the dedicated staff and management here,” he told the audience of about 90.

Barb Harvey, Bob Wright, Joe Woodin

Outgoing Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Wright, at the podium, and Administrator Joseph Woodin, left, thank Barbara Harvey of Rochester for her years of dedication to the Randolph hospital’s board.

Harvey, a member of the board since 2004, thanked the hospital for its quick response to get medications into isolated communities in the days following Tropical Storm Irene, especially in her town of Rochester.

Also recognized was Wright, who ended his two years as board chairman. Elected to his role was Sharon Dimmick. Gus Meyer was named vice chairman, Paul Kendall was chosen as secretary and Lincoln Clark was named treasurer.

Before stepping down, Wright delivered his final chairman’s report, recognizing his fellow board members and the hospital as a strong community asset that meets quality standards, changing regulations and community members’ expectations.

The hospital also “made budget” for a 12th consecutive year and is moving forward positively due to the medical center’s strategic planning efforts and commitment to service excellence through a program the hospital calls BEST.

The hospital is in its fourth three-year strategic plan. The plan guides the medical center in its efforts to remain vital and meet patient needs. “We’ve tried very hard over the years to make sure we’re doing a good job and you’re choosing us,” Administrator Joseph Woodin said, touching on the medical center’s commitment to reviewing quality indicators at each board meeting, a slate of new providers who joined the hospital in 2011, technology improvements, and some unexpected awards the hospital received.

Those awards include a recognition for Gifford as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation, a listing by U.S. News and World Report last month naming the hospital’s Menig Extended Care Facility as one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes, and a national “best practice” award for Gifford’s midwives.

Woodin also praised volunteers’ efforts and briefly reviewed plans for a senior living community on 25.6 “Hillside” acres Gifford owns in Randolph Center.

The immediate goal, said Woodin, is to reconstruct the 30-bed Menig Extended Care Facility on the property and create industry-standard private patient rooms in the vacated space once Menig has moved out. The next phase would include 40 independent living units. The long-range plan includes assisted living units and opportunities to build more independent living. The hospital is currently going through the permitting process and hopes to break ground on the new nursing home before next winter.

Woodin called 2011 financially difficult. Employees went without wage increases and some cut back on hours. “Last year was a very tough year,” he said. But, “compared to other hospitals, we do quite well. We’re very stable and it does allow us to make these necessary investments.”

Vermont Blueprint for Health

A main focus for 2011, and consequently the focus of the hospital’s newly released 2011 Annual Report, was Gifford’s role as a medical home. All five of Gifford’s primary care practices were recognized as Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The designation is part of Vermont Blueprint for Health efforts to improve care for the chronically ill through advanced primary care. Gifford is working diligently on Blueprint goals, including bringing together a diverse Community Health Team and employing an outpatient care coordinator whose job is to help patients with socioeconomic needs and connect them to community resources.

“We’re offering them an opportunity for better health,” Vice President of Medicine Teresa Voci said of patients who are now receiving help navigating various systems and reducing barriers to care.

The results, said Voci, are healthier patients who are better able to manage their chronic conditions and reduced health care costs.

Commissioner Kimbell

Commissioner Steve Kimbell

Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISCHA) Commissioner Steve Kimbell leads a talk on health care reform at Gifford Medical Center’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday at the Randolph hospital.

Kimbell spoke on health care reform, explaining the various state boards and agencies involved in the ambitious effort to create a single-payer health care system in Vermont and a federally-required health benefits exchange.

According to Kimbell, some think the task the state has undertaken under Act 48 is “crazy,” but the law is necessary to try to rein in health care spending to better match annual inflation rate increases.

And the state has had past success on payment reform, Kimbell noted, holding up the Vermont Blueprint for Health and the Catamount health plan as examples of the state’s record of successful reform.

“A lot of groundwork has been done to set the stage for health care reform,” said Kimbell, calling Catamount “up and running,” “successful” and “a model of where we’re trying to go.”

But, he acknowledged, if citizens don’t change their health habits, reform efforts will fail.

Audience members asked questions about dental access and incentives for preventative care. MacDonald questioned how savings could be found. “It’s hard to visualize for us in this organization … how you can recover that much cost just knowing on a monthly and annual basis how hard it is to run this organization,” the former Gifford board member and accountant by trade said.

A lot of economy will be found in Vermont hospitals functioning as a system, but also still keeping their community identity, Kimball said.

He also spoke of provider retention. “What’s the impact on the provider community?” he asked. “How they get paid is going to be something we’ll be sticking our fingers in very deeply. I believe there is plenty of money in the system that everyone can settle somewhere.”

Hospitals will not close under the plan, Kimbell ensured, which broadly speaking will pay hospitals and providers to keep people healthy rather than per visit or procedure.

Awards

Two awards were also given out Saturday evening. The $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award was awarded to the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens.

Formed in 1972, the Quin-Town Center provides meals, including Meals on Wheels; educational programming; and socialization opportunities for seniors in Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Pittsfield and Stockbridge. In 2011, the center provided 5,950 meals to 350 seniors in these communities. The grant will help pay for a commercial refrigerator, replacing smaller models from the 1980s.

Receiving the $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship was Sarah Davis of Northfield. A member of Gifford’s inpatient team, Davis is a full-time licensed practical nurse, a mother of three and a full-time student at Norwich University, where she is seeking a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Davis has been working in health care since the age of 12, when she when she became a junior volunteer at a nursing home. By age 14, she was a personal aide at Level III home for the elderly and at age 16, she completed her licensed nursing assistant course. She’s worked at Gifford as an LPN since 2007.

She is also the first member of her family to go to college.

Free Diabetes Education Expo Slated for March 23 at Gifford

Event to Focus on Foot and Tooth Health

Gifford Medical Center chefs Pauline Barrett and Steve Morgan

Gifford Medical Center chefs Pauline Barrett and Steve Morgan lead a cooking demonstration at a past Diabetes Education Expo.

RANDOLPH – For most, feet and teeth are essential to daily living and must be kept healthy, but a diabetes diagnosis can mean added foot and dental problems and thus a need for extra vigilance.

Gifford Medical Center’s seventh annual free Diabetes Education Expo on March 23 focuses on foot and teeth health for diabetes, with special presentations from Randolph dentist Dr. John Lansky and Gifford podiatrist Dr. Kevin McNamara.

“So many people don’t realize the importance of particularly dental health when it comes to diabetes care. High blood glucose can lead to more bacteria on your teeth, increasing one’s chance of developing tooth and gum disease,” says Gifford certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton. “We’re hoping to bring dental care to the forefront in this year’s expo and talk about another important topic: feet.”

Long-time high blood glucose damages one’s feet in three ways: it can damage nerves (causing a lack of feeling or neuropathy), can affect blood flow, and can depress the immune system.

“The diabetic triad is what makes feet particularly at risk in diabetes,” says Dr. McNamara, who has decades of experience in foot care and also holds a special board certification in the treatment of wounds. “Peripheral neuropathy, peripheral arterial disease and a suppressed immune system: diabetes makes one more prone to these three things.”

“Diabetes is the number one underlying reason for amputations of the foot, many of which are probably preventable,” he adds.

Good blood sugar control, particularly early in one’s disease; wound prevention; and wound care are keys to helping prevent neuropathy and serious foot problems, like infection.
Nationally, 25.8 million children and adults, or nearly 8.3 percent of the population, have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

In Vermont, the disease affects more than 55,000 people, according to the Department of Health.

Diabetes is marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from the body not producing or improperly using insulin – the hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily living.

To remain healthy, diabetics must take an active role in managing their diabetes. The free expo is one way Gifford helps people with diabetes find the right tools to manage their disease and stay healthy.

The expo is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Randolph medical center and organized by the hospital’s Diabetes Clinic.

Seating is limited and registration is required. Call the Diabetes Clinic at (802) 728-7100 by March 16 to register, including for the free lunch.

Learn more about Gifford Medical Center and its services for diabetics online at www.giffordmed.org.

Expo Schedule

9-10 a.m. Vendor booths open
10-11 a.m. Gifford’s professional chefs lead a cooking demonstration
11 a.m. Randolph dentist Dr. John Lansky discusses teeth and diabetes
Noon Lunch (vendor booths open)
1 p.m. Gifford podiatrist Dr. Kevin McNamara talks about foot health
2 p.m. Raffle drawings