Gifford Launching Caregiver Support Group

Caring for the CaregiverRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center is launching a Caregiver Support Group this November.

Open to anyone caring for a family member or loved one, the group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

The group is participant-driven with members deciding how the meetings will be designed, choosing a facilitator and picking discussion topics. Samantha Medved, a licensed social worker and behavioral health specialist at Gifford, will also work with the group, providing ongoing support.

“Caregivers invest so much of themselves – both physically and mentally – into caring for others. This group is an opportunity to have time away to deal with the normal range of emotions all caregivers experience, by gaining support from peers experiencing similar issues,” Medved said.

The group is offered as part of Gifford’s efforts through the Vermont Blueprint for Health. No registration is required. Medved and the Blueprint team can be reached at 728-7100, ext. 6, with any questions.

The Gifford Conference Center is in the main medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. From patient parking, the Conference Center entrance is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

Gifford Craft Fair Nov. 16 and 17

craft fairMark your calendars: Gifford Medical Center’s Annual Craft Fair in support of the hospital’s Adult Day Program is coming Nov. 16 and 17.

The Craft Fair – now in its 17th year – takes place in the hospital’s Conference Center, hallways, spacious visitors’ entrance and the adjoining Menig Extended Care Facility’s large living room from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17.

The fair is an opportunity to start your holiday shopping while also supporting a worthy cause: Gifford Adult Day Program activities.

Adult Day provides safe day care, personal hygiene help, medication administration, healthy meals, activities and socialization to the elderly and disabled below the Bethel Health Center on Route 107.

The fair also supports our local craftspeople.

Items for sale will include handcrafted jewelry, homemade baked goods and foods, woodcrafts, quilting, homemade pillows, hand painted Christmas ornaments, and more made by area crafters.

The fair is open to the public and all are welcome.

Vendor space is still available, although vendors signing up now must supply their own table. Call organizer Bonnie Pettit at 763-8828 to become a vendor or learn more.

Gifford is on Route 12 south of Randolph village at 44 S. Main St. The Conference Center entrance is just off from the patient parking area and is marked. The handicapped-accessible visitors’ entrance, where crafts are also expected to be on display, is on the southern end of the hospital. Signs will also help guide you.

Not Just a Medical Center; A Medical Home

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report. 

What is a Medical Home?

medical homeA medical home is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care that builds partnerships between patients, their physicians and, when appropriate, their families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics was at the forefront of the medical home movement, detailing decades ago that every child needed a place where care was accessible, ongoing, patient and family-centered, of high quality, coordinated, and compassionate.

Today, those philosophies have been expanded to adults as they’ve been adopted by family practice and other health care associations.

In fact, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a non-profit dedicated to improving health care quality, is now recognizing qualifying medical practices as Patient-Centered  Medical Homes.

medical center

Bethel Health Center family physician Dr. Terry Cantlin talks with patient Eileen Strickland-Holtham of South Royalton during a routine exam. The Bethel Health Center is one of five Gifford practices recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.

Patient-Centered Medical Homes

Achieving the Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition is part of the Vermont Blueprint for Health’s goals for all primary care providers in the state.

The hope is to improve primary care so patients are getting regular needed care and other supports to maintain their health before facing more costly emergency or inpatient care.

“The medical home adopts a ‘whole person’ approach to primary care, encompassing medical, behavioral and self-management support,” says Gifford Blueprint Project Coordinator LaRae Francis. “It’s the entire health care team wrapping its arms around the patient to provide the support and resources he or she needs to manage his or her health
conditions.

“It aims to keep people healthier, enhance their quality of life and benefit them financially, both through reduced health care costs and secondary costs such as missed work.”

In 2011, each of Gifford’s primary care practices – the Gifford Health Center at Berlin’s pediatrics practice, the Bethel Health Center, the Chelsea Health Center, Gifford primary care in Randolph and the Rochester Health Center – was recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home following inspections by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The health centers, which serve a total 21,540 patients, each formed quality improvement teams to address expectations for a Patient-Centered Medical Home, primarily through honing and streamlining systems. Among those expectations, or standards, were access to care, communication, such as through timely callbacks to patients and tracking referrals and tests, such as lab results to ensure they are communicated back to the patient.

The process, says Vice President of Medicine Teresa Voci, allowed the health centers to identify and correct problems. It’s all work done behind the scenes, but also all work that makes care more timely for patients.

Labs, X-rays and referrals to specialists are all now better tracked to ensure the patient and the primary care provider know the results of those exams, notes Chelsea Health Center site manager and nurse Travis Worthen. Providers are also more often meeting with patients to go over results.

And the patient is increasingly a bigger part of the health care team.

“Historically, medicine has always told patients what to do and now medicine is really turning toward engaging the patient in a partnership for health outcomes,” Teresa explains.

Blueprint project coordinator

Blueprint Project Coordinator LaRae Francis has headed up efforts to implement the Vermont Blueprint for Health at Gifford and in the larger Randolph Health Service Area.

The work doesn’t stop with Gifford.

With the medical center’s primary care locations now all recognized, LaRae, as Blueprint coordinator for the Randolph Health Service Area (a Blueprint-defined area spanning from Randolph to White River Junction), is now looking outside of Gifford. She’s reaching out to White River Family Practice in Wilder and the South Royalton Health Center.

She hopes to help these private health centers also earn the recognition, further improving patient care in our region.

The Art of Sharing

Northfield fiber artist Pamela Druhen's "Threadscapes"Northfield fiber artist Pamela Druhen, far left, recently shared some of her unique “Threadscapes” with Menig Extended Care Facility residents.

The pieces meld quilting and thread work to create what look like paintings in fabric and thread.

Some of Druhen’s smaller pieces are on display in Gifford Medical Center’s gallery in Randolph. She brought larger pieces to adjoining Menig to provide the nursing home residents their own private art show. Staff and residents peppered her with questions on her technique and were astounded by her work.

Phil Scott’s Visit

arrival of Phil Scott

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott arrives at Gifford on Tuesday (Photo provided by Robin Palmer)

In the final day of his “Cycling Vermont’s 14” 500-mile bicycle tour of the state’s 14 counties, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stopped at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph early Tuesday afternoon.

Scott, who is seeking re-election next month, was met by a small group of Gifford employees and community supporters. Scott briefly talked fitness as vital to good health, and safety. On the first day of his journey he encountered railroad tracks and cracked his helmet, he said.

On the last day, with a new helmet securely in place, his visit to Gifford led to an impromptu tour of the medical center’s Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, which Gifford is trying to rebuild in Randolph Center as part of a senior living community.

Scott, riding with John Connor, was scheduled to conclude his eight-day journey on the chilly Tuesday in Barre at 5:30 p.m. Continue reading

Breast cancer awareness talk slated for Oct. 22 at Gifford

Dr. Anne Galante

Dr. Scott Smith

RANDOLPH – Experts from Gifford Medical Center will lead a free breast cancer awareness talk on Oct. 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. in concert with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Ob/gyn Dr. Anne Galante and radiologist Dr. Scott Smith will discuss screening and prevention of breast cancer among women of all ages. Specific topics include breast exams, clinical breast exams, the importance and limitations of various methods of breast imaging, and genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.

Time will be provided for one-on-one questions with these local experts.

Michele Packard, Health Connections specialist, will also be on hand to enroll qualifying women ages 21 and up in Ladies First as well as explore other insurance options.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and in Vermont. It’s also the nation’s leading single cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, about 473 breast cancer cases are diagnosed among Vermont women each year. About 92 people each year die from the disease. Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis every three minutes and a death from breast cancer every 14 minutes.

While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment.

“We hope to increase awareness of breast cancer risks, prevention, screening and insurance opportunities available to Vermont women,” Dr. Galante said. “Early diagnosis offers the best chance of surviving breast cancer, but if we don’t know about the disease, we can’t treat it.

“This is an opportunity for women of all ages, and whoever they want to bring with them, to learn more about breast health.”

The talk, titled “The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening,” will be held in the Gifford Conference Center at the medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph.

The event is free and open to all. No registration is required.

For more information, call the hospital at 728-7000 or visit www.giffordmed.org.

National Health Service Corps Helping to Bring Primary Care Providers to Under-Served Areas

The National Health Service Corps’ Corps Community Day is this Thursday, October 11th.  Click here to find out more.

RANDOLPH – When Dr. Josh Plavin was in medical school, a federal program supporting primary care providers, the National Health Service Corps, helped pay for some of his education costs.

“I was a National Health Service Corps scholar,” Dr. Plavin notes.

Upon graduation, the program required that he work two years at a National Health Service Corps approved site in a designated primary care shortage area. Dr. Plavin looked to rural Vermont.

“At the time there were no designated sites in Vermont with job openings,” says Dr. Plavin, who worked with his employer of choice – Gifford Medical Center – to have the Chelsea Health Center designated as an approved site. The site was approved in part because neighboring Tunbridge was, and still is, defined as a primary care shortage area.

That was in 2001 and Dr. Plavin served the Chelsea area as both a pediatrician and internal medicine provider for the next seven years.

Today, Dr. Plavin serves as medical director of all of Gifford’s primary care practice locations – in Berlin, Bethel, Chelsea, Randolph and Rochester. As such, he sees the benefit of the federal program from new eyes – that of a hospital administrator trying to staff primary care practices in rural areas.

“Medical school is so expensive that there are fewer and fewer doctors going into primary care because the simple math is it is not viable without loan repayment. It’s certainly not viable in a rural area,” says Dr. Plavin on what nationally is Corps Community Day, held today during National Primary Care Week.

Continue reading

Donor Profile: The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary

The following is an excerpt from the 2011 Annual Report.

Facilitating a circle of giving

Gifford Auxiliary

Linnie Laws, Kathy Corrao, and Ginny Cantlin knit and crochet hats and mittens for area school children in need. In 2011, 150 pieces were made by
Auxiliary members and their friends.

The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is an organization both supported and motivated by donations. Among the medical center’s largest monetary contributors, the now 105-year-old Auxiliary is able to give so much because of the generosity it receives from the
community and its 135 members.

Auxiliary members knit hats and mittens for school children in need and contribute to the Randolph Area Food Shelf and Salvation Army. They help area youth and other area residents pursue health care careers or advance their careers through scholarships. They also volunteer at the Thrift Shop.

A staple in the community for 55 years, the Thrift Shop on the surface is a place to buy bargain-priced wears. Seemingly immune to any stereotypes the Thrift Shop is a source of pride for its shoppers, a daily gathering place for some and a resource to many truly in need.

“Terrible times have fallen upon us, and I just don’t know what to do,” Thrift Shop Manager Dianne Elias often hears. “When people are in true need, they know they can come to us.”

The Thrift Shop is also the main source of revenue for the Auxiliary’s generosity, and it is the community’s place to recycle good quality, unwanted clothes, and small household items, like kitchen ware and linens. The community’s generosity in giving to the Thrift Shop is evident in the piles of boxes and bags that fill the business’ receiving dock each day, but a single event in 2011 highlighted that generosity like no other, and that was
Tropical Storm Irene.

Many families lost everything, and Vermonters sprang into action.

“Every single person wanted to help,” recalls Dianne, “but didn’t know how to help, so they cleaned out their closets.”

The Thrift Shop was inundated.

“The generosity of the Vermont people was literally overwhelming,” says Auxiliary President David Peirce.

Gifford Auxiliary sale

Community members crowd into a tent filled with giveaways following
Tropical Storm Irene.

The dock overflowed. Donations filled all available storage space at the store and neighboring hospital. David counted the cars pulling up – 12 an hour, or one every five minutes. It went on for weeks. Eventually on a chilly October weekend two months after the flood, the Auxiliary held a giveaway and in the continued spirit of community, everyone pitched in.

The Thrift Shop’s 40 volunteers sorted the donations into men’s, women’s, pants, shirts, etc. Randolph Union High School Encore Theater Co. students worked with advisor Brian Rainville to carry the clothes from storage to tables set up under a tent. Their volunteer work was in thanks for the many costumes the Thrift Shop provides to the school.

Students from Tom Harty’s public safety and criminal justice class at Randolph Technical Career Center guarded the clothing overnight in below-freezing temperatures for the sale the next morning. In typical grateful fashion, the Auxiliary thanked them with a donation to their program.

Gifford Auxiliary sale

The same tent by 4 p.m. that afternoon.

The sale was scheduled to last two days: Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30, but by 4 p.m. Saturday nearly everything was gone.

Of course, the donations kept coming in and plenty of goods along with vouchers for free items were offered to families rebuilding after Irene. Fire victims and others in need also often receive free goods.

For paying customers, their spending at the Thrift Shop ultimately goes to the medical center and its patients. In 2011, the Auxiliary supported Gifford’s Affordable Care Program, providing free and affordable care to patients in need. It fulfilled departments’ “Wish List” requests, bringing added equipment to patients utilizing the lab, Pediatrics, the Emergency Department, Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation programs, the Bethel and White River Junction health centers and more.

Volunteers gave more than 4,500 hours in 2011 at the Thrift Shop to make that giving possible. Auxiliary board members also give significant time to the non-profit volunteer-run organization.

The reasons why they do this are diverse, but all come down to one main motivation: supporting their community and their community hospital.