Sharon Sports Medicine Facility, Team Expand

Sharon Sports Medicine FacilityThis article was featured in our Spring 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Sports medicine provider Dr. Peter Loescher calls the newly expanded Sharon Health Center the “Taj Mahal of sports medicine.”

Nestled along Route 14, the Sharon Health Center got its start in 2005, was added on to in 2008 and this winter received its second and final planned addition of 2,600 square feet.

The new addition means expanded physical therapy gym space, a third physical therapy treatment room and four new exam rooms for a total of 12. There are also a transition to all digital radiology and other impressive new technologies.

“We have a state of the art gait analysis system, which will allow us to quantify gait imbalances, muscular imbalances and accurately create rehab programs to get injured athletes back to their sport and keep them moving and healthy,” Dr. Loescher said.

The new system, a Noraxon, includes a treadmill with a force plate and two cameras for recording and reviewing gaits.

A second important technology upgrade is wall-mounted flat screens in two treatment rooms utilizing ultrasound.

“Our rooms are spacious, and we now can view our ultrasound procedures and diagnostics on large, high definition flat screen view boxes, which enhances our accuracy and quality of patient care,” said Dr. Loescher, who on the day we visited used the ultrasound machine and new screen to look inside patient Alden Smith’s swollen right knee, which he injured playing basketball.

X-rays at Sharon have also been upgraded to be entirely digital, meaning no more cassette tapes that have to be read and slow down radiology technologists. The new system consequently is faster, requires slightly less radiation and creates a crisper, or better quality, image.

A final addition to the Sharon Health Center that has patients and providers alike pleased is new chiropractor Dr. Michael Chamberland. “He has saved the day,” said veteran Sharon chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass, who is appreciating the help, especially coming from a fellow sports medicine enthusiast. “It’s very difficult to find a sports medicine chiropractor,” Dr. Glass noted. “He’s already made a tremendous impact.”

As the lone Sharon chiropractor Dr. Glass was having to schedule patients too far out, meaning he might want to see a patient back in two weeks for needed follow-up care but his schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. Now patients are getting in and Dr. Glass is relieved. “I’m happy now because I’m doing a better job. I’m being a better doctor.”

Dr. Glass adds that Dr. Chamberland “fits right in.” “It’s like he’s been here forever.”

Dr. Chamberland started in March.

Gene Parent in Gifford Gallery

Gene Parent in Gifford GalleryLocal artist Gene Parent’s watercolors, pen and ink drawings, pastels and more are in the Gifford Gallery until May 28.

Largely self-taught, Parent is a fourth-generation Vermonter who spent his youth in Richmond. He now lives in Brookfield with his family.

A member of the Vermont Watercolor Society, The Pastel Society and The Paletteers, Parent brings of diverse show of Vermont landscapes, farm animals and more in a variety of media.

Perhaps best known for his watercolors, he has received many first and second place awards for his works. He has shown throughout northern Vermont, including solo shows at Copley Woodlands in Stowe, the Cobblestone Café in Burlington, LaBrioche in Montpelier, the Chelsea Public Library, the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Barre and at Gifford.

“Art brings me intimately closer to everything I paint, from the rustling leaves to the flutter and song of little birds, the subtle sounds of running water and the distant mournful calls of a fledging crow,” Parent says. “I enjoy several media. Watercolors are the most exciting and challenging and pen the most fun, followed by pencil sketching.

Parent’s show is free and open to the public. The Gifford Gallery is just inside the main entrance of the Randolph hospital at 44 S. Main St. Call Gifford at (802) 728-2324 for more information.

Starr Strong, Dr. Brian Sargent Say Goodbye

Chelsea community welcomes new caregivers

Roger Sargent and Rebecca Savidge

Chelsea Health Center patient Roger Sargent of Tunbridge chats with his new physician assistant, Rebecca Savidge.

The metaphorical passing of the baton at the Chelsea Health Center Thursday afternoon was reminiscent of the perfect race. There was unparalleled effort, emotion and cheers of support.

On Thursday Chelsea welcomed new caregivers Dr. Amanda Hepler and Rebecca Savidge, both family medicine providers, and said goodbye to Dr. Brian Sargent and physician assistant Starr Strong.

Dr. Sargent is transitioning to full-time Emergency Department work, something that will allow him more time for sugaring, pruning apple trees and deer hunting, he said.

Strong is retiring after 21 years.

Ernest Kennedy and Starr Strong

Ernest Kennedy of Chelsea hugs retiring Chelsea Health Center physician assistant Starr Strong. To Kennedy, Strong is more than the local caregiver. She was the dear friend of his daughter Judy Alexander, who lost her battle with cancer on Sunday.

Community-owned, the health center is part of Gifford Health Care. Gifford Medicine Division Medical Director, and former Chelsea doctor, Josh Plavin introduced the outgoing and incoming teams.

Dr. Hepler comes to Chelsea from New Hampshire and, before that, a very rural practice in Maine. She was looking to find that again and has in Chelsea. “It’s been great so far. Everyone’s been very welcoming,” said the warm hearted Dr. Hepler.

“I think you grew up in this clinic,” Dr. Plavin said of Savidge.

“With Dr. Plavin,” she replied, indicating he was her caregiver.

Dr. Josh Plavin and Dr. Amanda Helper

Gifford Medicine Division Medical Director Dr. Josh Plavin introduces new Chelsea family physician Dr. Amanda Hepler.

“Which is not making me feel old at all,” he said.

Savidge practiced in Plainfield before coming home to Chelsea. “I appreciate the community letting me come back to the community as a provider,” she said to the standing room only crowd gathered in the health center’s waiting room.

Savidge thanked Dr. Sargent and Strong for building such an outstanding clinic and acknowledged that she and Dr. Hepler had some big shoes to fill.

Dr. Brian Sargent speaks

The crowd laughs as Dr. Brian Sargent says a warm goodbye to Chelsea patients. He has transitioned to full-time Emergency Department work at Gifford.

“I want to thank you all for trusting me with your care. Like Amanda, I’ve felt very welcome,” said Dr. Sargent who has practiced in Chelsea for five years.

But even for Dr. Sargent, the day was about Strong. “She’s (Strong has) been a joy to work with and a good friend. You won’t find a more compassionate person on the planet,” he said.

“Starr taught me about community,” Dr. Plavin added. “Starr taught me about relationships, as well as medicine, and is really the rock that has been the continuous presence all of this time. Starr is the Chelsea Health Center.”

Starr Strong and Virginia Button

Starr Strong, retiring Chelsea physician assistant, is embraced by patient Virginia Button of Chelsea.

Her patients who were present – and there were many – agreed.

“She’s been my doctor forever,” said Roger Sargent, a Tunbridge resident who has already transitioned his care to Dr. Hepler and Savidge. “I think she (Strong) has a nice lady taking her place, two of them.”

Virginia Button embraced Strong and didn’t let go.

“I’ve been with Starr since she’s been at the health center,” she said, tearing up. “It’s like you’ve lost part of your life.”

Joe Woodin and Starr Strong

Gifford President Joe Woodin and Starr Strong share a laugh.

But Button was optimistic.

“I’m sure the two that are here will fill her shoes,” she said, “eventually.”

Ernest Kennedy gave Strong three hugs. One for himself, one for his wife and one for his daughter, the late Judy Alexander, Strong’s dear friend and a former nurse at the Chelsea Health Center who passed away Sunday and whose loss was felt at Thursday’s gathering.

Kennedy was there to offer his support for Strong, who moved into Alexander’s home during a final days to provide constant vigil, but he wasn’t exactly supportive of Strong’s decision to retire. “She’s not old enough, and we need her.”

Strong disagreed, but not before expressing her thanks for the community’s support.

“I can’t tell you how rich I feel. I’m more grateful than I can tell you. The relationships we have when we go in and sit down and close the (exam room) door; that is a sacred spot.”

She is finally able to step away from those relationships, she says, because she is leaving her patients in the “graceful, beautiful and knowledgeable hands” of Dr. Hepler and Savidge. “It gives me joy in my heart rather than sadness in my soul,” Strong said.