Gifford’s Snow Warriors!

Gifford facilities crew

Facilities crew: Josh Doolittle, Bruce Jacobs, Stu Standish, Tom Maylin, Dennis McLaughlin, Frank Landry, and Patrick Giordano

It’s official: Vermont set a record for the coldest February. Since the year began, we’ve had storms and below-zero temperatures made even more brutal by gusting wind.

As we trek from warm cars into a warm building each workday, we’re thankful for the folks who keep Gifford’s sidewalks and parking lots cleared and safe for travel.

Patrick Giordano, facilities supervisor, says he’s seen snowier years, but this one has been challenging because it has been so consistently snowing.

This hard-working crew uses three tractors—one with a brush cleaner, one with a blower, and one with a bucket—as well as muscle and lots of shovels to keep entrances and pathways cleared for patients and staff.

Even if it’s only snowing lightly, someone is out shoveling to keep snow off the entrance circle, Emergency Room entrance, loading dock, and day care entrances, as well as all walkways. So the continuous snowfall has meant lots and lots of man hours for the facilities crew.

So far this year the snow piles have been cleared five times, and 320 dump truck loads of snow have been hauled away. The crew has spread 110 tons of salt to keep the lots and walkways safe.

Snow and cold brings lots of behind-the-scenes tasks as well: Gifford’s roofs must be shoveled off, and any roof snow that slides off on its own, blocking stairs or fire exits, has to be shoveled so that exits are kept clear. There have been hydraulic and electrical motor failures, a flat tire on the bobcat used to load salt, and broken chains on the snowplow—often at the most inconvenient times.

Gifford’s staff is grateful to this crew, which has endured bone-chilling temperatures when not getting soaked by ice and pelting snow.

“We’ve definitely had a lot of baked goods delivered to us this year, which is great!” says Giordano. “We all really appreciate that.”

Louise Sjobeck and Therapy Dog Jasmine’s Menig Visit

Menig dog therapy

Menig resident Barbara Wright enjoys a visit from Jasmine, a Vermont Therapy dog.

As the sun was lowering on a cold February afternoon, Gifford volunteer Louise Sjobeck and her dog Jasmine walked down a quiet hall toward two Menig residents who were visiting on a bench.

Before she could reach them, a woman in a wheelchair appeared, stretching out her arms to stroke the brown and white Shih Tzu’s silky fur: “What nice ears you have!”

Within minutes more people appeared, filling the space with smiles and stroking hands and conversations: “I love dogs, we used to have two dogs….” “This little doggie is so soft!” “I hope it won’t leak on me—oh, I wouldn’t mind. I‘d just brush it off!”

The visit marked the beginning of a new role for Sjobeck, who had spent nearly a year training and working with five-year-old Jasmine to prepare her for the Therapy Dogs of Vermont certification test. Dogs that are gentle, enjoy being touched, aren’t fearful, and are able to remain calm in new situations are allowed to take the exam, which tests for 48 criteria.

To celebrate their inaugural visit, Jasmine was dressed in a red ruffled dress decorated with Valentine’s Day hearts, bringing some early holiday spirit to Menig.

“I love to see the residents’ faces light up when the pet visits occur,” said Brooks Chapin, director of nursing at Menig. “There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog.”

Gifford Receives 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability Award from White River Valley Chamber of Commerce

Emma Schumann and Ashley Lincoln

Emma Schumann, executive director of the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce (left) with Ashley Lincoln, director of Gifford’s development and public relations.

On February 6, Gifford received the 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability award from the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This award recognizes remarkable efforts to sustain and support the communities of the White River Valley, and was given to Gifford for its holiday gift certificate program.

The program, which distributes gift certificates redeemable at local businesses, allows Gifford to thank employees for their dedication and hard work while contributing to the economic health of the community it serves. Historically, within three weeks in December, Gifford employees spend nearly $40,000 at locally owned community businesses from Chelsea to Rochester, Sharon to Barre, and towns in between.

“For 14 years I have had the privilege of organizing this program, and I can honestly say that it is one of the more rewarding parts of my job. Some Gifford staff members have cried when they received their gift certificates,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of Development and Public Relations at Gifford. “Over the years many business owners have also told me how much Gifford’s support has meant to them during the slow winter months.”

Community has always been important to Gifford. Along with the gift certificate program, the medical center offers scholarships and grants each year to support area businesses and schools; during the growing and harvest season meals include produce from local farmers; and careful consideration of the community needs is considered when planning projects like the new senior living community being developed in Randolph Center.

Lincoln adds, “Nourishing and building healthy, sustainable communities ensures that we will be able to continue to provide quality local care for years to come.”

Levesque Grant Now Available

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

Gifford is now accepting applicants for the Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award.

The $1,000 grant is given annually to an agency or organization involved in arts, health, community development, education or the environment in Gifford’s service area in recognition of Levesque’s commitment to the White River Valley.

The award has been awarded to a variety of organizations including: Orange County Parent Child Center; Quin Town Senior Center; Rochester, Hancock & Granville Food Shelf; South Royalton’s School Recycle Compost and Volunteer Program; Bluebird Recovery Program; Kimball Library; Bethel’s Playground Project; Chelsea’s Little League Field; Rochester’s Chamber Music Society; Royalton Memorial Library; Tunbridge Library; White River Craft Center; Safeline, Interfaith Caregivers; the Chelsea Family Center and the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

Community organizations are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by Monday, February 16th. Click here to download the grant application.

The announcement of the 2015 grant recipient will be made at Gifford’s Annual Meeting on March 7th.

Paul Rau Exhibit at Gifford Medical Center’s Art Gallery

Paul Rau

Art by Randolph artist Paul Rau is currently on display at Gifford Medical Center’s art gallery in an exhibit that will run through February 25, 2015.

The fifteen paintings were chosen to appeal to visiting patients with varied interests, from vibrantly colored nature scenes painted in oil and watercolor, to animal pictures, including an oil portrait of a pony that was painted at the Champlain Valley Expo.

Rau became interested in art as a child, painting in oils with his grandmother who was an accomplished artist. He continued to excel in high school art classes and began to sell pieces in several mediums, especially pen and ink. While an aircraft welder in the US. Air Force, he used a variety of metal processing techniques to create many sculptures and air base displays. His recent work explores the field of digital painting

Rau moved to Randolph 28 years ago and attended Norwich University, where he gained greater insight into the arts and literature and discovered new avenues for creativity. As a museum interpreter, he has designed and led art tours at the Shaker Enfield Museum, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, and the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.

His illustrated book, The Oddities of Dr. Flabbergaster, a book of fantasy creatures of Vermont, is available through Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and area bookstores.

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through February 25, 2015. The gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S, Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 for more information.

Gifford Scores above National Average on Infant Feeding Practices

Performs better than 84 percent of national facilities with similar number of births

first New Year's babyGifford Medical Center ranks above the national average for infant feeding practices in maternity care settings, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC).

Gifford scored 91 of 100 points, performing better than 84 percent of facilities nationwide with a similar number of births per year (less than 250). Across Vermont, the average mPINC score was 88; the national average score was 75.

“Gifford has always been a leader in providing women’s and obstetrics services and supporting moms and babies,” said Alison B. White, vice president of Patient Care Services at Gifford. “This report reflects the excellent care programs embedded in our pregnancy and maternity care, which create an environment that promotes and supports health and nutrition practices.”

Nationally 2,666 facilities providing maternity services responded to the 2013 mPINC survey (83 percent).The survey evaluates participating facilities in seven dimensions of care, a group of interventions that improve breastfeeding outcomes:

  • Labor and delivery care
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding assistance and contact between mother and infant
  • Facility discharge care
  • Staff training
  • Structural/organizational aspects of care delivery

For more information on the mPINC survey visit: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/mpinc/index.htm.

Gifford’s Birthing Center: For more than 35 years, Gifford’s Birthing Center has been the standard of care for women in Vermont, and today continues to be a leader in family-centered care, obstetrics, and midwifery. For more information call 802-728-2257 or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/BirthingCenter

Local Crafters Donate Quilts for Gifford Babies

Crazy Angel Quilters donate warm, colorful quilts to Gifford’s Birthing Center

Crazy Angels

Left to right: Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Kim Summers, Crazy Angel quilter Kayla Denny, and Karin Olson, RN

Gifford Medical Center’s youngest patients can leave the hospital wrapped in warmth and vibrant color thanks to a generous donation of 36 baby quilts, lovingly crafted by a group of “Crazy Angels.”

Kayla Denny, of East Bethel, brought two plastic bins filled with beautiful, carefully folded quilts to Gifford’s Birthing Center on January 20, 2015. She explained that the Crazy Angel Quilters— her mother Bobbie Denny, grandmother Gladys Muzzy, and friends Kitty LaClair, and Maggie Corey—have been meeting weekly for over a year to create the donated baby quilts.

“You don’t know how happy it makes us to be able to offer these to families,” Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Kim Summers told Denny as she and Karin Olson, RN admired the colorful selection of donated quilts.

Denny, a CAT scan technologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center says she learned to quilt after her mother taught her to sew her own scrub tops for work when she finished her X-ray training. She fell in love with the craft and has been creating beautiful quilts ever since.

Crazy Angel Quilts

Baby Lola Alsup wrapped in a quilt donated by Crazy Angel Quilters

Inspired by Project Linus, a national nonprofit that provides homemade blankets to children in need, the The Crazy Angels wanted to do something for local children. “We all loved to sew and enjoyed sewing together,” said Denny. She estimates that each quilt takes five hours to complete. When not sewing with the Crazy Angels, Denny creates quilts to sell through her business, Sew Many Stitches.

Within hours of the donation, Monica and AJ Alsup of Thetford Center, VT, stood before a bed covered with quilts, trying to choose one for their day-old daughter. The happy family left for home with a sleeping baby Lola, warmly enveloped in playful owls, pink hearts, and polka dots.

Gifford’s Oncology Program Receives American College of Surgeons Accreditation

Renewal marks hospital’s 49th year
of providing local quality cancer care

Commission on Cancer accredited programThe oncology program at Gifford Medical Center has received accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons.

Every three years the CoC accreditation program reviews hospital oncology services to ensure that they conform to commission standards and are committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care (learn more here). After a rigorous evaluation process and on-site performance review, Gifford received accreditation through 2016.

“Our goal is to make sure people know that they can receive the same quality of care offered at larger hospitals close to home, with a support network they know,” said Rebecca O’Berry, vice-president of surgery and operations at Gifford. “The accreditation process is work for our entire oncology team, but it is worth the effort. Battling a cancer diagnosis is hard enough—I’m thankful that we can provide quality cancer care locally and decrease our patient’s travel time during treatment.”

One of smallest hospitals in nation to hold CoC accreditation, Gifford has done so since 1965. Gifford’s oncology services include:

  • Cancer care from experienced oncologist Dr. John Valentine
  • Compassionate and specially certified oncology nurses
  • Lab and diagnostic services
  • Advanced diagnostic technology, including stereotactic breast imaging
  • Patient navigator help with planning options for treatment and to coordinate care
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Preventative cancer screenings
  • Hospital specialists, surgeons, and a robust palliative care program

For more information, visit www.giffordmed.org/Oncology, or call (802) 728-2322.

Barre Serviceman Comes Home to Motorcycle Prize

Medic won Gifford’s Last Mile Ride Harley Davidson Raffle while Serving in Afghanistan

Cody Flanagan

From left to right, Wilkins Harley-Davidson owner Barbara Wilkins, co-owner John Lyon, Tim Flanagan, Vermont Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin; front: Cody Flanagan

When specialist Cody Flanagan, a medic with the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division, arrived home on holiday leave Sunday, a visit to Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre was high on his list of things to do.

He’d been waiting since August to climb onto the seat of a shiny new Harley Sportster 48, the raffle prize from Gifford Medical Center’s Last Mile Ride, an annual fundraiser to support patients in advanced illness or at the end of life.

Cody knew the bike well: his dad had taken him riding on the same model when he was a kid, and he’d posed with it for his senior photo in the Spaulding High School yearbook.

But he was surprised by a crowd the Wilkins family had gathered to welcome him in style on Tuesday afternoon. Gifford staff and volunteers, Wilkins staff, and even Vermont’s Lt. Governor Phil Scott cheered and enjoyed pizza and cake.

“Community support like this is really nice,” Cody said. “A surprise party was not expected!”

Last August he’d been in Afghanistan just a month, and was dealing with the recent loss of a battalion team member. Back home his father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, purchased four raffle tickets the night before participating in Gifford’s Last Mile Run.

“I bought four tickets and put two in Cody’s name,” Flanagan said. “The odds were 4 in 100 for a win, so I called him in Afghanistan to see if he would want the cash or the bike if we won.”

Cody wanted the bike, and when his name was pulled at the raffle drawing, one family’s joy rippled through to everyone witnessing the event.

“It really was an emotional moment,” says Linda Chugkowski, a Gifford board member who has done the Last Mile Ride for seven years. “Tim could hardly speak when Cody’s name was pulled— as the story moved through the crowd, people started clapping and then rose in a standing ovation. Tears were coming down all the faces.”

Tim Flanagan says it was a storybook ending. “It was meant to be. Now it’s so nice to have him home and safe. We can all sleep– we don’t have to worry about getting any calls.”

Gifford’s Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride, and 80-mile motorcycle ride. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be August 14 and 15, 2015. For more information, please contact Ashley Lincoln at alincoln@giffordmed.org.

Podiatry care when you need it most

Emily Wheeler certainly didn’t want an injury so late in her pregnancy but was glad for the care she received

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Dr. Samantha HarrisEight months into her pregnancy, Emily Wheeler of Corinth didn’t expect to need a podiatrist.

But the unlikely happened. The day after her baby shower on a routine walk out her front door, she fell down her steps. Her first concern was for her baby and she rushed to Gifford’s Birthing Center for monitoring. Only after determining that her baby was fine did she go upstairs to the Emergency Department to have what she suspected was a broken ankle X-rayed.

She followed up with Gifford podiatrist Dr. Samantha Harris of the Gifford Health Center at Berlin. Dr. Harris confirmed Emily’s worry. Her ankle was fractured. She spent the last weeks of her pregnancy in an air cast and wheelchair.

Emily had never heard of Dr. Harris before. She is new to Gifford, but Emily was familiar with the Berlin health center. She was already going there for her prenatal care with Gifford’s midwives. Now she had another reason to go.

“She was really quick with the diagnosis and quick to give treatment,” says Emily, praising her new podiatrist. “The office there has been really great and Dr. Harris has been available.”

Emily delivered a healthy, 10-pound baby boy in August. Days later she headed back to Gifford Health Center at Berlin to get back on her feet once again and – now for a third reason – to have Owen’s first check-up.

About the health center
The Gifford Health Center at Berlin, located off Airport Road, offers a full spectrum of care, including family and internal medicine, help with infectious diseases, midwifery, neurology, orthopedics, urology, and podiatry.

About Dr. Harris
Dr. Harris joined Gifford in July from a practice in her native Tennessee. She got her start in medicine as a physical therapist and went on to attend Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence, Ohio. Her residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo followed.

A desire to start farming and produce maple syrup brought her to Vermont, and she found the right fit at Gifford, which is home to four podiatric surgeons working out of Gifford clinics in Randolph, Sharon, and Berlin.