Gifford Celebrates Strong Foundation, Legacy of Outgoing Administrator

Joe Woodin

Administrator Joseph Woodin listens as Gifford staff and board members express appreciation for his 17 years of leadership. He will be leaving in late April.

More than 100 community members gathered for Gifford Medical Center’s 110th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday night and heard that the Randolph-based organization is in great shape and positioned to move ahead smoothly during transition into new leadership.

Current Administrator Joseph Woodin, who will leave Gifford in late April to lead a hospital in Martha’s Vineyard, received a standing ovation for his service. Throughout the evening voices representing all areas of the organization and community shared stories and expressed heartfelt appreciation for his years of leadership.

“Joe is leaving after 17 years of extraordinary leadership, and he is leaving us in great shape,” Board of Trustee Chair Gus Meyer said. “Perhaps the most important thing he leaves us with is an exceptionally strong leadership team and staff who are able to continue on the many positive directions we have established during his tenure. His time with Gifford underscores our capacity to sustain the organizational stability, clinical excellence, creative growth, and flexible response to changes in the health care world that have come to make Gifford a uniquely strong health care system.”

The Gifford Board will appoint an interim administrator to work with the hospital’s senior management team and facilitate operations and ongoing projects at Gifford. They have begun what is anticipated to be a 4 to 6-month national search for Woodin’s replacement

In his final Administrator’s Report, Woodin, who is leaving for personal reasons, reflected on his time at Gifford. He described looking through 17 years of hospital annual reports and how moved he was as he read the stories of patients he has met and people he has worked with over the years.

“At the end of the day there are so many beautiful things that happen at Gifford, and we can forget about that,” he said. “We’re so lucky to have an organization like this!”

After a short presentation documenting the changes at Gifford during his tenure, he ended with the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.

“I have never spent as much time or energy as I have at this organization and in this community and I have loved every minute of it,” he said in closing. “I will never be able to repeat this anywhere, and I’m hoping to retire up here in this independent living facility!”

A legacy of financial stability, vision, and growth

Highlights of Woodin’s tenure include the expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood, and Sharon; expanded patient services for all stages of life, from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 to provide local care for more serious illnesses, to the creation of the Palliative Care program; a new renovated ambulatory care center and expanded radiology and emergency departments; and the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, which includes the Menig Nursing Home, independent living (construction scheduled to start in the spring), and a future assisted living facility; 25 new private inpatient rooms. A renovated and updated Birthing Center scheduled to open in the spring.

Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation in 2013, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.

Long-term providers describe ongoing passion for mission and core values

Following the corporators meeting, three key long-term Gifford providers talked about what first brought them to Gifford and shared some of the changes they’ve witnessed over the years. General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli, Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, and Podiatrist Dr. Robert Rinaldi each stressed that the core values that sustain Gifford’s mission are kept alive and passed on by the committed staff who work there.

Dr. Ciccarelli, noting that many long-time providers are reaching retirement age, said the qualities that brought those people to Gifford remain and continue to attract new staff. “While there are some changes, the essence of what attracted people like myself to Gifford resides here,” he said.

Dr. DiNicola said that he has stayed at Gifford for 40 years because of the community. “The people I work with, the people in the community and those I work with in the schools,” he said. “ This is my family and this is why I am here.”

Dr. Rinaldi remembered that in 2003 he was first attracted by the passion he saw in the “Gifford family.” He noted that the hallways are still filled with people who treat each other like family, and who have maintained their passion for the organization.

He concluded with a tribute to Woodin: “Joe saw these things, the family, and the passion, and the desire to be the best for each other and for every patient,” Rinaldi said. “He led us to understand our family, and to understand ourselves. He leaves knowing that he led us to success and that we will continue to be successful.”

Community scholarships and awards presented

Jeanelle Achee was awarded the Dr. Richard J. Barrett M.D. Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing a health care education. Safeline, Inc. in Chelsea Vermont, received the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in recognition of his personal commitment to the White River Valley.

The $25,000 William and Mary Markle Community Grant was given to community recreation departments (Bethel, Chelsea, Northfield, Randolph/Braintree/Brookfield, Rochester, Royalton, and Strafford) to support youth exercise and activity programs.

Board of trustees and directors elected and service recognized

During the business meeting, retiring members Linda Chugkowski (9 years) and Linda Morse (3 years) were recognized for their years of service.

The following slate of new community ambassadors were elected: Dr. Nick Benoit (South Royalton), Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli (Wells), Dr. Robert Cochrane (Burlington), Dr. Marcus Coxon (Randolph Center), Christina Harlow, NP (Brookfield), Dr. Martin Johns (Lebanon), Dr. Peter Loescher (Etna, NH), Dr. Rob Rinaldi (Chelsea), Dr. Scott Rodi (Etna, NH), Dr. Ellamarie Russo-Demara (Sharon), Dr. Mark Seymour (Randolph Center), Rick & Rebecca Hauser (Randolph) and Peter & Karen Reed (Braintree).

The following were elected trustees: Bill Baumann (Randolph), Carol Bushey (Brookfield), Peter Reed (Braintree) Sue Sherman (Rochester) and Clay Westbrook (Randolph). Elected officers of the board of directors are: Gus Meyer, chair; Peter Nowlan, vice chair. Barbara Rochat, secretary. Matt Considine, treasurer.

Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Saxton Joins Gifford Primary Care

Elizabeth Saxton

Elizabeth Saxton

Nurse practitioner Elizabeth Saxton, APRN-AGNP, has joined Gifford’s primary care team. She is now seeing patients at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, and also Gifford patients who live in nursing homes in the area.

Saxton first came to Vermont as a student at UVM, fell in love with the state, and has lived here ever since. After receiving a BA in history, she went on to receive her MS in Nursing from UVM.

Board-certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, she is also a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association. Her clinical interests include preventative health, eldercare, mood disorders, LGBQT support, and addiction treatment.

“I like to get to know my patients well, and to make sure they understand their diagnosis, how they will be treated, and how to get the most affordable medications,” she said. “Patient education is very important to me. I see myself as a collaborative and supportive resource for people.”

An outdoor enthusiast, she is an avid skier and enjoys biking, kayaking, hunting, and fishing when she us not working.

In Berlin, Saxton works with family nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie. Other providers at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin (located just off Airport Road) include specialists in Neurology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Urology, and Midwifery. Call (802) 229-2325 for an appointment.

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni Provides Cancer Care at Gifford

Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni has joined Gifford Medical Center’s Oncology Department and is now seeing patients in Randolph.

Gifford is one of only five hospitals in Vermont designated as an accredited cancer program by the national American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The Oncology Department includes a team of specially certified oncology nurses and provides compassionate cancer care and services (planning options for treatment following a diagnosis; outpatient chemotherapy; and some treatments for hematology conditions, such as anemia).

Board certified in both internal medicine and hematology/oncology, Dr. Tipirneni received his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) at Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences in Andhra Pradesh, India. He completed his internal medicine internship at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, his internal medicine residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA, and his hematology/oncology fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, where he was the chief fellow.

Also a provider in the UVM Health Network, Tipirneni brings the resources of an academic cancer research center to his care for patients at Gifford, including participation in multidisciplinary tumor boards and current clinical trials. He says he was drawn to cancer care during his first student rotations in outpatient oncology.

“I saw the deep attachment patients have with their oncologists, a person they often will see every other week during treatment, and I was interested in providing this continuity of care,” he said. “I learn a lot from my patients—their positive attitude in the sickest of times is a driving force for me.”

Dr. Tipirneni is married to Dr. Saranya Kodali, who is currently finishing her internal medicine residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA and they have a three-year-old daughter. When not working he enjoys traveling, hiking and cricket.

Corrina Thurston Exhibit at Gifford Gallery

Corrina Thurston

Corrina Thurston

An exhibit of vibrant and detailed animal and wildlife drawings by Vermont artist Corrina Thurston is currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery.

“My favorite medium is colored pencil, and I was shocked at the amount of depth, detail, and richness of color I can achieve,” she writes. “I hope to help it be better recognized as a true fine art medium.”

Thurston turned to drawing as a constructive outlet after struggling with an unknown illness for more than six years. She had to medically withdraw from college, was unable to work, and was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, Bartonella, two types of pneumonia, an adrenal malfunction, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Now that she is on proper treatment and starting to feel better, she is focusing on a career in art.

“Every piece I tackle is an experiment and an opportunity to push the window of what I can accomplish,” she said.

Her work has been exhibited at VTC’s Hartness Library; the Chandler Gallery; Court Street Arts in Alumni Hall, Haverhill NH; the Craftsbury Community Center in Craftsbury VT; and Exile on Main Street, in Barre Vermont.

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through March 10, 2016. 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.

Hospital Administrator Joe Woodin Will Leave Gifford in May

Administrator Joe Woodin

Administrator Joe Woodin

The Gifford Health Care Board of Directors announced on Friday that long time Administrator Joseph Woodin will be leaving the organization in May to live in Massachusetts where he has accepted the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO position.

In announcing his resignation, Woodin stressed that the move was for personal reasons.

“There is not a single reason why I should leave, or want to leave Gifford,” Woodin said. “In the last three years I lost my wife, and then my mother, and it has been a time of personal reflection for me. It’s the right time for me to move forward in life and pursue another opportunity.”

He expressed great appreciation for the relationships he has built with the board, staff, and community during his 17-year tenure, and for the accomplishments they had achieved together.

To assure a smooth and successful leadership transition, the Gifford Board will appoint an interim administrator to work with the hospital’s senior management team and facilitate operations and ongoing projects at Gifford. They have begun what is anticipated to be a 6-9 month national search for Woodin’s replacement.

“Gifford’s Board is fully supportive of Joe as he pursues this new chapter in his life,” said Gifford Board Chair Gus Meyer. “Gifford has a solid foundation, and we have exciting ongoing projects that we will continue to work on. Thankfully, we have an extraordinary staff, providers, and a management team, and we will continue to support of the excellent work they do.”

Since Woodin came to Gifford in 1999, the hospital has met its state-approved operating margin for 16 consecutive years while enjoying a period of expansion in services and physical growth.

Today Gifford has more than 600 employees in 11 locations. In 2013, Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.

During his tenure Woodin oversaw expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood and the popular Sharon Health Center. His commitment to strategic planning and master facility planning has brought a newly renovated ambulatory care center, expanded radiology and emergency department.

Woodin’s latest vision includes the creation of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private patient rooms. The Randolph Center campus includes the Menig Nursing Home and work is slated to begin in the spring on the first independent living building. Patients and staff transitioned to the new private patient rooms in December and work continues on the renovated Birthing Center.

Gifford has also expanded patient services during this time, ranging from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 that has allowed the hospital to provide local care for more serious illnesses to the creation of a the Palliative Care program. The guiding philosophy has been to provide appropriate care for all stages of life from birth to end of life.

Woodin’s commitment to the community has spread beyond the walls of Gifford to include ongoing support for local businesses. He has worked diligently to encourage economic growth and vibrancy to help build a healthy community.

Mario Potvin, M.D. Joins Gifford’s General Surgery Team

Dr. Mario Potvin

Dr. Mario Potvin

Dr. Mario Potvin has joined Gifford Medical Center’s general surgery team. A board-certified surgeon, he has lived in Minnesota for the last 19 years and most recently practiced at the Fairview Lakes Medical Center, in Wyoming, Minnesota.

Born and raised in Quebec City, Canada, Potvin earned his Medical Degree at the Universite de Montreal, Quebec, and completed a fellowship in Laparoscopic Surgery at Montreal General Hospital.

He practiced in Canada for six years before accepting a position with the Mayo Health Systems in Minnesota in 1997, and recently began looking for a position in New England so he could be closer to family in Quebec.

Potvin brings nineteen years of experience in general surgery, advanced laparoscopy surgery skills, and extensive knowledge of Endoscopy and GERD investigation. He likes to establish a direct and honest relationship with patients so they can discuss problems and treatment options together.

“I tell my patients that I’m here to give them the best treatment possible,” he said. “Sometimes this is surgery, sometimes there are other options to consider.”

Potvin has purchased a home in Randolph Center, and when not working enjoys skiing, reading, all kinds of music, and playing piano and guitar.

Gifford’s General Surgery team provides a wide range of services including skin lesion and cyst removal, comprehensive breast care, hernia treatment, and colonoscopies. To learn more about Gifford’s General Surgery program visit www.giffordmed.org, or call the General Surgery office at 802-728-2430.

Work by Photographer Tina Grant at Gifford Gallery

Tina Grant photography

Provided courtesy of artist; “Barred Owl,” by East Roxbury photographer Tina Grant.

An exhibit of 31 photographs by Tina Grant is currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center Art Gallery.

Most are stunning close-ups of birds—cardinals, humming birds, bald eagles, tufted titmouses, and owls—that she has observed near her home in East Roxbury, Vermont.

Grant lived on a farm as a child and spent summers on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Mink Island, where she spent hours observing (and later photographing) the wildlife around her. When she grew up and had a home of her own, she put up birdfeeders and started watching and photographing birds.

Now Grant keeps her camera by her side, always ready to capture the many beautiful shots she sees outside her window, at her feeder, or in her travels.

“My friends have started calling me the Bird Whisperer—I tell them that you to need look up,” said Grant. “I am blessed to be able to see and photograph the many birds and animals I see. This exhibit is a way to share these blessings with everyone.”

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through February 10, 2016. 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 Seeks Philip Levesque Grant Applicants

Nonprofit community organizations encouraged to apply by February 12

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

Gifford Medical Center is seeking applications for the annual Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award – a $1,000 grant established in memory of the hospital’s late administrator. Applications must be received at the hospital by February 12, 2016.

The award was established by Gifford’s Board of Trustees in 1994 in memory of Levesque, Gifford’s beloved president and chief executive officer from 1973-1994.

Given annually to recognize Levesque’s personal commitment to the White River Valley, the grant is awarded to an agency or organization in Gifford’s service area that is involved in the arts, health, community development, education, or the environment.

“Philip Levesque was an admired leader who was dedicated to community service and improving our area,” said Ashley Lincoln, Gifford director of development and public relations. “We’re excited to be able to carry on his legacy through this grant, and encourage community organizations to apply.”

The hospital first awarded the grant in 1995. Past recipients include the Stagecoach, 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.

A committee of hospital staff and Levesque’s family will review the applications and choose a winner. The announcement of the grant recipient will be made at Gifford’s Annual Meeting in March.

Contact Ashley Lincoln at (802) 728-2380 or alincoln@giffordmed.org for application guidelines. Send completed applications by February 12, 2015, to The Philip D. Levesque Memorial Fund, Gifford Medical Center Development Office, 44. S. Main St., Randolph, VT 05060.

Gifford Celebrates Opening of Private Inpatient Rooms

25 new inpatient rooms offer privacy, supportive environment for faster healing

Gifford inpatient roomsGifford Medical Center celebrated the opening of 25 new private inpatient rooms on December 17, 2015. The new unit brings an upgraded standard of inpatient care unusual for a small community hospital in Vermont.

“It really is amazing that a health care facility of our size can provide this level of modern care to our community,” Administrator Joseph Woodin told a group of supporters gathered for an opening ceremony. “The private room model is now standard for new construction, but renovating older units is often expensive and takes years to complete. We began planning for this nearly ten years ago, and have been able to complete our project on time, on budget, and with very little disruption for patients and staff.”

Private rooms reduce infections and stress, allow medical teams to bring technology and service directly to the bedside, and give patients the privacy they need for bedside consultations and family visits. This model of care has been shown to improve sleep, reduce stress, promote healing, and shorten hospital stays.

Careful planning, creative use of existing space, and input from staff throughout the construction process allowed the hospital to incorporate important upgrades to the new inpatient unit including:

• Two larger rooms for patients unable to move easily have overhead lifts that can glide into special in-room showers to accommodate bathing

• Two isolation rooms with an enclosed entry can be used for patients with airborne infections

• Two end-of-life care rooms open onto a courtyard garden and have adjoining space for visiting family members and friends

• A physical therapy room with outside access allows recovering patients to practice getting in and out of cars before leaving for home

• New wound-care tub room

• Centralized nursing station to promote teamwork and promote better communication

• Comfortable family waiting room with furniture that extends to accommodate sleeping

• A restful décor with paintings and photographs by local artists, gentle lighting, and hallway visitor hand-washing stations.

The long-term strategic planning behind this project began nearly fifteen years ago, when a new addition was built to house Menig Extended Care. Because it was built to hospital (not nursing home) standards, that space could be converted into the new private rooms when the Menig Nursing Home relocated to a new building in Randolph Center last spring.

The new Menig Nursing Home and private patient rooms are part of a three-phased project supported by the “Vision for the Future” capital campaign. The last phase of renovations will create a new centrally located Birthing Center, scheduled to open in June 2016.

“This is the largest fundraising effort in Gifford’s 112-year history. Thanks to generous community support and our dedicated volunteer campaign steering committee, we are $800,000 from our $5 million campaign goal,” said Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “Years of creative planning and good fiscal stewardship made it possible for us to create industry standard private rooms, respond to a real need for senior housing, and upgrade our popular Birthing Center in this one project. It has been so satisfying to see the finished projects open and operating this year!”

To learn more about the “Vision for the Future” campaign visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Christmas Spirit Brought to a Whole New Level at Gifford

Katie Duprey

Katie Duprey and her holiday deliveries

On December 18th, every employee on Gifford’s main campus arrived to find a bag filled with four homemade cookies and a homemade caramel, either waiting on their desk or hand-delivered by an amazing Christmas spirit wearing a bright red reindeer nose.

Katelyn Duprey, a RN on HP, worked the night shift last night. After her shift ended, she pushed a cart overflowing with treats to every section of the hospital, making sure she left a bag for each staff member.

It took 48 batches of cookie dough and 7 batches of caramel to fill the 465 bags. Duprey and her mother Gloria started baking on Monday morning, helped by two friends, and they finished filling the last bag at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

“I made up all the cookie dough in advance and we worked on a rotation system,” she explained. “Two trays of cookies in the oven, two trays cooling, and 2 trays lined with dough, ready to bake. “

Duprey began working at Gifford just before Christmas in 2013. Last year she made Christmas cookies for her co-workers on the HP/TCU units, adding extras for others in the hospital.

“I thought I gave out cookies to the entire hospital last year, but then I realized this year there were so many more here on the main campus!” she said. “So I counted up all the employees on the address book to make sure I had enough.”

“This tastes like Christmas in a cookie!” lab technician Susan Gallagher said, as she helped with the distribution cart Friday morning.

Duprey says comments like this, and the surprised reaction of people receiving an unexpected “goodie bag”, makes all the work worthwhile.

She said by far the best reaction this year came from Administrator Joe Woodin, who was uncharacteristically at a loss for words when given his gift.

“He just stood there looking at all the bags and saying, “Impossible! Impossible!” Duprey said.