SAVE THE DATE – The 2012 Last Mile Ride

2012 Last Mile RideThe 7th annual Last Mile Ride will be held on August 18, 2012, at Gifford Medical Center in beautiful Randolph, Vt.

Staging begins at 8:30 a.m. and motorcyclists depart at 10 a.m. for a 100-mile ride through some of Vermont’s most beautiful countryside. The guided ride includes some spectacular landscape and a mid-way break for riders to stretch their legs. The ride ends at Gifford Medical Center, where it will have begun, with a barbecue lunch, live music and prize giveaways.

The cost is $50 for one rider and $75 for two riders (on one bike). Riders need not pay the money themselves. They can fundraise the fee by asking friends and family for donations.

For their effort, riders get free commemorative pins, T-shirts if they register early, an escorted ride, a very fun day and the opportunity to support an outstanding cause. The ride raises money for services for terminally ill patients at Gifford, or those in the last mile of life. Visit www.giffordmed.org for more information.

Photographer Bruce Small Coming to the Gifford Gallery

Vermont photographyRANDOLPH – West Brookfield photographer Bruce Small returns to the Gifford Medical Center art gallery on May 30 after a five-year hiatus, bringing his mix of the natural beauty and national history.

Known locally for his stunning photographs, Small’s works include lighthouses, hot air balloons, covered bridges, scenic areas and historic monuments.

Small first began taking pictures just out of high school while serving in the U.S. Navy, including on shore patrol in Naples, Italy. He returned to his native West Brookfield and began a career in the construction trades. His work required commuting around the state. He started keeping a camera beside him so he could capture the beautiful scenes he saw along the way. Then it was family vacations across North America that had him clicking away.

At first, the photos were just for him as he strove to bring the beautiful images he saw in his travels home with him to Vermont.

Chandler’s Local Artist Show first inspired Small to show his work. He has since shown his work in Northfield, Waterbury and at Gifford with resounding success. His photos have also hung in area banks and he currently has a collection at Eaton’s Sugarhouse in Royalton.

His favorite showing was a rotating display for his father when he resided at Mayo nursing home in Northfield. The show, he says, was an opportunity to share his travels with those no longer able to travel.

This has always been his focus – to capture the scene before him so he could share it with others.

His latest collection contains photos of Vermont as well as from Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, Maine, Nevada and Arizona.

“What I’m trying to do is put out a show that people enjoy,” Small says. “That (viewers enjoyment) is the greatest thing for me. That’s what makes it worthwhile.”

Small’s show runs through Aug. 1. The Gifford Gallery is just inside the main lobby of the hospital at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer at (802) 728-2324 or visit www.giffordmed.org to learn more. The show is free and open to the public.

Pulling Together in the Face of Natural Disaster: Rochester

Gifford Medical Center

Rochester Office Manager Dawn Beriau crosses a first-generation
footbridge connecting Route 73 to Route 100. For weeks she and many others “on the island” had to carry supplies, like gas and groceries, over the bridge and then a sturdier second-generation bridge, along a winding path and through a muddy field to their cars.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.

The storm knocked out the bridge connecting Route 73 to Route 100 in Rochester. Isolated on the other side of the bridge, away from the Rochester clinic, was Office Manager Dawn Beriau.

When she finally arrived at the Rochester clinic, she found Dr. Mark Jewett and Stu Standish installing Gifford’s generator.

“I can’t tell you what a feeling it was to have the townspeople erect a footbridge and make my way into town to find Stu and Dr. Jewett at the health center setting up the operation,” Dawn says, “and how safe it made the townspeople feel to know there was a doctor in town. I have talked to people who say they slept better knowing Dr. Jewett was here.”

Ob/Gyn Dr. Anne Galante Joins Gifford

Dr. Anne Galante

Dr. Anne Galante

RANDOLPH – Anne Galante never planned to be a physician.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Upstate New York, Galante graduated from Cornell University and worked in insurance in Los Angeles and then New York City for a decade. While in New York, she began volunteering in the Emergency Department in Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. “It was very easy to be helpful,” Galante recalls. She cleaned rooms. She held children while they got stitches. She hugged patients newly diagnosed with cancer.

Then she started doing ride-alongs with an ambulance crew, going into to some of the city’s worst neighborhoods.

The experiences gave her stories to tell her friends until one evening during a gathering with those same friends, Galante was suddenly aware that her interest in medicine was more than idle curiosity. “God’s finger thumped my head. I had a calling. I said, ‘I think I’m going to try to go to medical school.’”

“I might as well have said I was going to fly without a plane.”

But soon she found her plane.

She enrolled in medical school at the University of Vermont in 1994, graduating in 1998 and going on to a four-year obstetrics/gynecology internship and residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital in New York.

She initially thought emergency medicine was her calling, but the very first clinical rotation she worked in medical school was in gynecology, and it stuck. “I just loved it, and I loved surgery,” says Dr. Galante, who was intrigued with women’s health.

She went on to work for four years at Porter Medical Center in Middlebury and then worked for an additional four years as a travelling physician filling in where needed. (The industry calls this a locum tenens.) She worked as the “house” ob/gyn on the Rosebud (Lakota Sioux) reservation in South Dakota, at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, at Springfield Hospital and at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.

She has filled in at Gifford since 2009, but when the opportunity to transition to a full-time, employed provider presented itself this year, Dr. Galante was enthusiastic.

“I’m very happy. I feel like I came home. It’s wonderful to walk into a place where people already know you. They’re confident in you,” she says.

Gifford is renowned for its Birthing Center and midwifery and obstetrics team. In addition to collaborative birth support, Dr. Galante also provides a wide range of well-woman care, including adolescents’ gynecology, care for abnormal pap smears, colposcopies, sexual dysfunction, standard well-woman visits, and perimenopausal help.

Board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, she is a fellow with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and has worked as a volunteer physician with organizations such as Medicine in Action caring for women in Jamaica, Haiti, and Tanzania and at the Open Door Clinic in Middlebury.

A mother of two, Isabelle, 11, and Jackson, 10, Dr. Galante is a New Haven resident, published photographer, sailor, cyclist, and cook.

She sees patients at Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery in Randolph. Call her (802) 728-2401.

A Day of Play at Menig

Menig Day of PlayThe Menig Extended Care Facility in Randolph celebrated a Day of Play on Thursday, May 17 in celebration of Older American’s Month.

The event was held at the urging of Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry, who sent two members of her staff, Will Rowe and Mary Woodruff, to join Menig nursing home residents, activities staff, volunteers and seventh-grade Community Connections class “buddies” from Randolph Union High School.

For their Day of Play, the Menig residents and visitors participated in a “scavenger hunt” that had them hugging trees, balancing things on their heads, wearing newspaper hats, forming a conga line by cars, posing by a flagpole and much more. The seventh graders then hung out with their Menig pals before heading back to class.

Conga line

Conga line forms

Menig resident Galen Barnard in paper hat

Menig resident Zelma Kehle and buddy Amelia Rose

Menig resident Zelma Kehle and buddy Amelia Rose

Free Men’s Health Talk Provides Expert Advice in Comfortable Setting

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham will lead a free men’s health talk on June 6 on colorectal health, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

The talk will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center with free pizza and refreshments served at 5:30 p.m.

The talk aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues and preventable conditions, such as colon cancer, in a comfortable atmosphere, says Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford vice president of surgery.

“Both of our physicians are very approachable and personable and are able to find the humorous side of these topics,” O’Berry said. “I’m thrilled that we have two surgeons who are gifted, passionate, and so easy to talk to.”

Dr. Ciccarelli has been a general surgeon for more than 20 years, providing surgical care and colonoscopies at Gifford since 2007.

Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont.

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.

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.

“This is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life,” says Dr. Ciccarelli, who will also discuss other common colorectal health issues, such as diverticulosis, anal fissures, and hemorrhoids.

Dr. Richard Graham

Gifford’s new urologist, Dr. Richard Graham

A renowned urologist, Dr. Graham has been practicing urology for 28 years and has performed surgeries around the world. He joined Gifford’s urology practices in Randolph and at the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction last year, bringing new procedures to the hospital.

An urologist specializes in diseases of the male and female urinary tract as well as male reproductive organs. Dr. Graham will consequently talk about common male reproductive ailments, including prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.

In Vermont, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Nationally, about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The average age of diagnosis is 67.

Treatment for prostate cancer can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects millions of men in the United States and can be a sign of more serious disease.

Dr. Graham will address how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treatment options, and what works for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. He’ll also discuss the controversy over PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests for men, when they should be performed, what they mean, and why doctors order the screening.

“It’s a serious subject,” Dr. Graham says of the talk that he has given around the world, “but it’s also interactive.”

The event is open to men of all ages and to couples. There is no cost to attend but registration is encouraged. Call 728-2104 by May 30 to sign-up.

Gifford is an American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer nationally accredited cancer program. The hospital 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 www.giffordmed.org.

Giving Back to the Community

giving back to the community

Gifford’s Tom Maylin, Joe Woodin and Penny Maxfield load up Father Sixmund Nyabenda’s van with 36 boxes of outdated medical supplies to be shipped to Tanzania.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.

Each year Gifford is fortunate enough to be the recipient of grants, such as Avon Breast Health Outreach Program funds, as well as donations as a nonprofit organization.

As a major local employer and business, however, Gifford is also the donor of tens of thousands of dollars each year in scholarships, grants, awards, sponsorships, volunteer hours, reduced cost conference room space, medical supplies and local spending through the Gifford Gift Certificate program.

The Gifford Gift Certificate Program alone invests more than $40,000 each year into the local economy in the month of December, giving local retailers a needed boost at year-end.

The gift certificates are Gifford’s alternative to holiday bonuses. Instead of cash, employees get gift certificates good only at a variety of locally owned businesses. In the past nine years, the program has invested about $325,000 in the local economy. It’s an investment
merchants appreciate.

“During many Christmas seasons I thought, ‘Thank goodness for that program,’” says Jeanne Ward, who owned Cover to Cover bookstore in Randolph for 16 years. “It made a huge impact and often people would come and spend more than their gift certificate, which I think was Gifford’s intention. What’s also nice is how well the money is spread throughout the communities.”

Now one of Jeanne’s daughters, Hillary Leicher, is running the second-generation
bookstore as Bud and Bella’s Bookshop. Hillary says the gift certificates help keep local  stores like hers going, especially in the slow months following the holidays.

“When you go into these lean months, it’s like a gift from Gifford. It’s like you got medicine from the doctors.”

Other medicine the hospital provides includes almost $25,000 in annual grants to community organizations through what is now called the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation. The grants go to food shelves, children’s recreation programs, schools and libraries.

Previously known as community health grants, Gifford has been offering the annual grants to community nonprofits for 10 years, amounting to about $250,000 invested back into the community.

The grants are announced at the hospital’s annual meeting in March along with an additional $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award to a White River Valley organization involved in arts, health, community development, education or the
environment. The 2011 award went the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

A $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship is additionally awarded each year at Gifford’s Annual Meeting by the Medical Staff to an employee or an employee’s child pursuing a career in health care. The Medical Staff also awards a $1,500
scholarship to an area high school senior pursuing a health care career at graduation.

Free health talks, fairs, educational classes and support groups are regularly held at the medical center. Gifford sponsors Chandler events and the work of the March of Dimes, which shares the hospital’s mission to bring healthy, full-term babies into the world. Gifford once again supported the Vermont 100 Endurance Race with medical support
and supplies, and outdated medical supplies were sent to countries in need, like Tanzania, Honduras, Peru and Guatemala.

“ … we have received the box and all the items. I have … handed the box and all items to Rulenge Hospital ready for use,” wrote Tanzania priest Father John-Bosco Ndakimbuza upon receiving Gifford’s shipment. “They are high quality items I have been told. We are by this note expressing our sincere thanks for making this possible. I am sure many
people will be served by these items … .”

Tanzania, in Africa, is among the world’s poorest countries.

The collective efforts lead to a healthier community, and a healthier world.

And Jeanne, who still fills in occasionally behind the counter at Bud and Bella’s, suspects that is the point behind efforts like the gift certificates.

“The hospital supports the local business community because the people who work in the local business community are patients at the hospital, so it’s this mutually beneficial
relationship,” she says, adding, “A healthy downtown is a well community.”

Gifford Medical Center

Bud and Bella’s Bookshop owner Hillary Leicher has her arm around her son as she rings up a sale. Bud and Bella’s is one area business that has benefited from the Gifford Gift Certificate holiday shopping program.

Tropical Storm Irene Hits Pittsfield and Rochester

Tropical Storm Irene's impact on Pittsfield and Rochester

Stu Standish, from Gifford’s maintenance department, Dr. Minsinger and Kris Minsinger transport a Gifford generator, which was used to power several of Gifford’s health centers following Irene to ensure care was available to patients in need.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report, which featured examples of Gifford employees helping in their community post-Irene.

Dr. Bill Minsinger, and his son Kris, followed Stu Standish of Gifford’s Maintenance Department and internal medicine physician Dr. Mark Jewett into Rochester in their van. Stu hooked up the generator, getting the Rochester clinic up and running, and left Dr. Jewett to begin seeing patients.

Dr. Minsinger and Kris then climbed in the truck with Stu and continued on to the isolated towns of Stockbridge and Pittsfield to answer medical calls. At times they had to abandon the truck, climb down a fallen section of road and borrow a vehicle on the other side in order to continue.

One sick patient was brought to the Rochester clinic for medical tests and then back to Randolph for hospital care. The Minsingers made other trips to the isolated communities, bringing medications and medical supplies.

Gifford’s McGill-O’Rourke earns Ph.D.

Andrea McGill-O'Rourke

Andrea McGill-O'Rourke

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center Vice President of Operations Andrea McGill-O’Rourke Saturday earns her Ph.D. from the University of Maine at Orono after six years of study.

A Rochester resident, McGill-O’Rourke will earn her doctorate degree in education with a specialization in higher education. In addition to her work at Gifford, she is a long-time educator, currently teaching in the Health Care Management program at Champlain College.

“It feels really good to set a goal and complete it. That to me is the reward and I’ve just learned so much. It really inspired me. I love learning,” says McGill-O’Rourke of completing the degree she started in 2006.

Her dissertation focused on the work-life integration experiences of mid-level women leaders in the northeastern United States.

McGill-O’Rourke says she will use the experience she has gained through her doctorate coursework both in the classroom and in the workplace. “Whether I’m in the hospital or a classroom, I’m teaching. I really look for opportunities where I can educate staff,” she said.

A health care administrator for 32 years, McGill-O’Rourke has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ithaca College and a master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Prior to joining Gifford in 2009, she worked at Blue Hill Memorial hospital in Maine.

McGill-O’Rourke lives with her husband, Jay. Their “blended family” includes four adult children and two dogs, including a new puppy the couple will soon bring home – a chocolate lab they’ve named “Percy.” McGill-O’Rourke’s graduation present to herself, the dog’s name is short for “perseverance,” “because to me what this last six years has been about is perseverance.”

Four New Chaplains Join Gifford Volunteer Program

Gifford chaplains

Gifford Medical Center’s volunteer Chaplaincy Program welcomed four new members on April 12. The program, which provides non-sectarian counseling to patients and the hospital’s nursing home residents, was founded more than a decade ago.

RANDOLPH – The volunteer Chaplaincy Program at Gifford Medical Center welcomed four new chaplains into its ranks in April.

Majita Miller of Randolph, Christopher Fuhrmeister of Randolph, Deborah Aldrich of Stockbridge and Lydia English of Williamstown joined the hospital’s 19 volunteer chaplains on April 12 after completing a seven-week training program.

The occasion was marked with special certifications presented by The Rev. Timothy Eberhardt, spiritual care coordinator at Gifford, and with music by Islene Runningdeer, a Brookfield music therapist.

While the volunteer chaplains are from numerous congregations in the greater Gifford area, they are carefully trained to present “a non-sectarian caring presence,” responding to the spiritual needs and concerns of all patients, The Rev. Eberhardt noted.

Chaplains visit hospitalized patients daily through all stages of life – from the Birthing Center to the Garden Room for end-of-life patients – and spend considerable time at Gifford’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility.

Another seven-week training course will be held in the evenings this fall. Anyone who is interested in the program or would like to learn more is encouraged to call Eberhardt at (802) 728-2107.