Gifford Seeking Applicants 
for Philip Levesque Grant

grants and awardsCommunity organizations must apply by Feb. 11

 

RANDOLPH – Nonprofit community organizations have an opportunity to apply for a $1,000 grant.

Gifford Medical Center is seeking applications for the annual Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award – a grant established in memory of the hospital’s late administrator.

Applications for the $1,000 grant are due to the hospital by Feb. 11.

The grant 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.

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

Gifford Cancer Program Earns National Accreditation

Commission on Cancer logoRANDOLPH – The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has granted accreditation with commendation to the cancer program at Gifford Medical Center through 2013.

A facility receives accreditation with commendation following an onsite evaluation by a physician surveyor during which the facility demonstrates a commendation level of compliance with one or more standards that represent the full scope of the cancer program (cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach, and quality improvement). In addition, a facility receives a compliance rating for all other standards.

Through its oncology department, Gifford in Randolph offers area patients access to an experienced oncologist, Dr. John Valentine; care from a specially certified oncology nurse; and treatment planning and options, including outpatient chemotherapy and hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Cancer patients and their families additionally benefit from Gifford’s specialists and surgeons and the hospital’s robust palliative care program. Gifford also has a Cancer Committee, a patient care navigator program for women undergoing breast biopsies, and data management and quality oversight. It promotes cancer prevention, screenings, and treatment to the public through patient education and outreach efforts.

“We’re honored to be accredited once again by the Commission on Cancer,” Gifford Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry said. “This accreditation is a quality indicator for patients choosing cancer care, and an indicator that quality cancer care can be found close to home at Gifford.”

Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and the monitoring of comprehensive, quality care. Its membership includes fellows of the American College of Surgeons and 49 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.

Gifford’s program has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 1965.

The core functions of the Commission on Cancer include setting standards for quality, multidisciplinary cancer patient care; surveying facilities to evaluate compliance with the 36 Commission on Cancer standards; collecting standardized and quality data from accredited facilities; and using the data to develop effective educational interventions to improve cancer care outcomes at the national, state, and local level.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.6 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. There are currently more than 1,500 Commission on Cancer-accredited cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, representing close to 30 percent of all hospitals. This 30 percent of hospitals diagnose and/or treat 80 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients each year. In addition, a national network of more than 1,650 volunteer cancer liaison physicians, including internal medicine physician Jim Currie of Gifford, provides leadership and support for the Commission on Cancer Accreditation Program and other activities at local facilities.

The Accreditation Program, a component of the Commission on Cancer, sets quality-of-care standards for cancer programs and reviews the programs to ensure they conform to those standards. Accreditation is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance. To maintain accreditation, facilities with Commission on Cancer accredited cancer programs must undergo an on-site review every three years.

Menig Once Again Recognized for Quality

Menig receives quality award

Vermont Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry, far right, and Vermont Division and Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt, far left, present Menig Extended Care Facility Administrator Linda Minsinger and Director of Nursing Cindy Richardson, center, a Nursing Home Quality Recognition on June 6 in a ceremony in Colchester.

RANDOLPH – For an eighth consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford Medical Center has received a quality recognition from the state of Vermont and Vermont Health Care Association (VHCA).

The Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living and VHCA awarded Menig the Nursing Home Quality Recognition on June 6 in a ceremony at the Hilton in Colchester.

Receiving the recognition on Menig’s behalf were nursing home Administrator Linda Minsinger and Director of Nursing Cindy Richardson.

“I’m very proud of my staff. I know the residents receive excellent physical care, but are also treated with respect and dignity,” said Richardson, noting staff members demonstrate their care and compassion for the residents daily through every conversation, hand held, or care administered.

The award, offered annually to nursing homes in Vermont meeting certain criteria, looks at resident and family satisfaction, state survey results, participation and data entry into the National Advancing Excellence Quality Program, and lack of family complaints.

Good care contributes greatly to achieving those markers, but Richardson noted that it takes a larger team to have such a high-quality home for residents.

“The core of the recognition is the aides who give them care and the nurses who guide the care,” Richardson said, “but the facility is also clean, it has good food and it’s well-maintained. That’s what also makes it a quality place to live and work.”

The nursing home’s dedicated group of volunteers and chaplaincy volunteers also contribute greatly to Menig’s warmth and offerings, Richardson said.

“I’m very proud that Gifford staff has done that great of a job for all these years to meet the state’s highest award for quality for a nursing home. It shows what a great team we have working together,” Minsinger added.

Named for the late Howard and Gladys Menig of Braintree, Menig was first built attached to Gifford Medical Center in 1998 to provide enhanced quality of care to residents of the state-closed Tranquility Nursing Home in Randolph.

Repeatedly recognized for its high-quality care both on a state and national level, 30-bed Menig is the only nursing home in Orange County and highly sought after as a place to live one’s final years.

Now the hospital is hoping to provide care and housing options to a greater number of seniors through the creation of a senior living community in Randolph Center, to include independent living and a reconstructed Menig as well as assisted living in the future.

“This quality recognition is further evidence that we’re doing the right thing for our residents and poised to make an even greater difference in Randolph Center,” Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln said.

Other/past awards for Menig

  • 2012 Honor Roll, U.S. News and World Report (a recognition given to only 39 nursing homes nationally receiving four straight quarters of five-star rankings in all categories evaluated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
  • 2012 Best Nursing Homes, U.S. News and World Report (award also received in 2011)
  • Excellence in Action Award, from national resident/family surveying company My InnerView (2008-2011)
  • Nursing Home Quality Recognition, Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Vermont Health Care Association (2011 and 2012)
  • Nursing Home Quality Award, Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Vermont Health Care Association (2005-2010)
  • Gold Star Employer Award, Vermont Health Care Association (received during the seven consecutive years – 2005-2011 – the award was offered)
  • Registered Nurse of the Year, awarded to Menig nurse Judy Libby, Vermont Health Care Association (2006)
  • Nursing Director of the Year, awarded to staff member Brooks Chapin, Vermont Health Care Association (2005)

Gifford pediatrician named state’s ‘CDC Childhood Immunization Champion’

Dr. Lou DiNicola

Randolph pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola poses with a national award he received this week honoring him as the first-ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for Vermont.

RANDOLPH – Long-time Gifford Medical Center pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lou DiNicola this week received national recognition for his work around childhood immunizations.

Dr. DiNicola of Randolph was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and the CDC Foundation as the first ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for the state of Vermont.

The award was announced in a letter to Dr. DiNicola from Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schucaht and CDC Foundation President Charles Stokes, who thanked Dr. DiNicola for his “efforts to help save lives by ensuring that our nation’s children are fully vaccinated.”

“It humbles me,” said Dr. DiNicola of the surprise award. “It humbles because it really shouldn’t go to me. I’m one of many.” Nurses, office staff, the Department of Health and caregivers across the state all work on the issue of immunizations, he noted.

A pediatrician in Randolph since 1976, Dr. DiNicola has long since been among those caregivers advocating for immunizations in their practices and on a state level.

Dr. DiNicola also now serves as president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter. In that role and as a pediatrician, he’s been a strong advocate of a Senate bill now in committee that proposed to eliminate the current “philosophical,” non-medical and non-religious, vaccine exemption for children entering childcare and school.

Dr. DiNicola has been to the Statehouse multiple times to testify regarding the issue, penned editorials to regional media, spent hours reaching out the governor and other state officials and helped establish the first-ever advocacy program for physicians in their residency program at the University of Vermont. The program teaches physicians in-training how to advocate for children’s health.

The efforts are all meant to better immunization rates that he says are now a major problem in Vermont.

The immunization rate of incoming kindergartners has dropped from 93 percent in 2006 to 83 percent today, according to Vermont Department of Health data. “We’re going to face significant morbidity and probably mortality,” if vaccinations rates don’t change, Dr. DiNicola says, urging parents and lawmakers not to “allow children to be opted out of a lifetime of health and happiness.”

And providing children a lifetime of good health has always been Dr. DiNicola’s goal. In fact, he’s received approximately five previous national awards over his 36-year career, including a recognition from Pres. Jimmy Carter, awards for work with special needs children, a Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) award and more.

To learn more about Dr. DiNicola’s efforts around immunizations, visit the CDC online at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/champions.

Gifford staff raise $455 for March of Dimes

Blue Jeans for Babies

Gifford Medical Center Communications Specialist Robin Palmer, right, presents March of Dimes Vermont State Chapter Director Roger Clapp with a “check” for $455. Gifford employees raised the money last month for the March of Dimes for wearing Blue Jeans for Babies.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center staff donned “Blue Jeans for Babies” last month, raising $455 for the March of Dimes in the annual fund-raiser.

Blue Jeans for Babies takes place across the nation as workplaces like Gifford give employees the opportunity to wear jeans to work for a day in exchange for a donation – in Gifford’s case: $5 – to the March of Dimes.

“It’s an event employees look forward to and greatly enjoy each year because they get to both support the March of Dimes and wear jeans to work for a day,” said Robin Palmer, a member of Gifford’s Marketing Department who helped organize the hospital’s effort.

“The March of Dimes’ mission also matches nicely with Gifford’s as we both work to bring healthy babies into the world,” Palmer added.

The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality. Blue Jeans for Babies is one such fund-raiser.

Roger Clapp, March of Dimes Vermont Chapter director, thanked hospital employees for wearing “blue jeans for babies” and noted funds raised will be used to support stronger, healthier babies in Vermont.

March of Dimes Honors Gifford with ‘Leadership Legacy’ Award

March for Dimes' Leadership Legacy award

March of Dimes Vermont State Chapter Director Roger Clapp, right, presents Gifford Medical Center caregivers with a Leadership Legacy award for their support of healthy babies and the March of Dimes. Gifford staff members pictured, from left, are pediatrician and pediatric hosptalist Dr. Lou DiNicola and Birthing Center registered nurses Kim Summers and Karin Olson.

RANDOLPH – The Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes today honored Gifford Medical Center with a Leadership Legacy award.

The award, presented by March of Dimes Vermont Chapter Director Roger Clapp, recognizes the Randolph hospital for both its commitment to prenatal, birth, and newborn care, and its support of the March of Dimes.

“This award recognizes Gifford’s leadership in newborn care, which has been ongoing for a number of years, as well as Gifford’s support of the mission of the March of Dimes, which is to improve the health of babies,” Clapp said.

The March of Dimes strives to prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality through research, quality initiatives, community services, education, and advocacy. Gifford has been a leader in low intervention births and midwifery and obstetrics for more than 30 years.

The hospital is also a supporter of the March of Dimes’ upcoming March for Babies walks in central Vermont on Sunday, starting at the Montpelier High School at 9 a.m., and the Randolph walk on May 19, starting at the village fire station, also at 9 a.m.

“We’re really proud of what we do. We love what we do. We work with a great team of providers and staff. We have the same goal to start babies on the right foot, and we’re here to support them, I say, until they go to college,” said Gifford Birthing Center registered nurse Karin Olson.

“For more than 30 years I have had the honor of working in Gifford’s Birthing Center caring for more than 5,000 newborns during this time,” added pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lou DiNicola. “There is no better model that I know of to provide excellent, family-centered care for our mothers, families, and newborns. The midwives, obstetricians, nurses, and pediatricians in Gifford’s Birthing Center provide a superb setting that is safe for our newborns.”

This is the second recent award for the Randolph hospital for its work around positive birth outcomes.

Gifford’s midwives were recognized as a “best practice” in the nation by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. The practice looked at 2010 benchmarking data and named Gifford as having the highest success rate with vaginal births after caesareans as compared to similar small-size practices. The midwives were additionally named a “runner-up best practice” for both lowest rates of low birth weight infants and operative vaginal births. Operative vaginal births means births using vacuum or forceps.

Vermont as a whole has also been recognized for having healthy babies. The Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes was the only in the nation to receive an “A” rating recently from the national March of Dimes organization. The rating, explains Clapp, looked at the state’s reduction in premature births. Vermont’s rate of premature births is 8.4 percent compared to a national average of 12 percent. The March of Dimes has set a 9.6 percent premature birth rate as a 2020 goal – a figure Vermont is already well below.

To learn more about the March of Dimes, including the upcoming March for Babies, visit www.marchofdimes.com/vermont. Find Gifford on the Web at www.giffordmed.org.

Governor, Vermont Officials Make Stop at State’s Top Nursing Home

Governor Peter Shumlin

Gov. Peter Shumlin cuts a celebratory cake with Menig Extended Care Facility resident Edith Reynolds as nursing home leaders Linda Minsinger, Brooks Chapin and Cindy Richardson and Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry look on.

RANDOLPH – Wearing a broad smiling and expressing his sincerest of thanks, Gov. Peter Shumlin and the state’s top nursing home officials made a stop at the state’s top nursing home Friday afternoon.

Gov. Shumlin; Vermont Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry; Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi; Division of Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt; and Assistant Director Fran Keeler all visited Randolph’s Menig Extended Care Facility to meet with residents, their families, and staff and to offer words of praise.

Menig has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s best 39 nursing homes. The findings are from a review of more than 15,500 nursing homes nationally. Chosen as winners were those that received four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all three areas that CMS evaluates – health inspections, nurse staffing, and quality of care.

Menig, part of Gifford Medical Center, was the only Vermont nursing home recognized. It was also the only in the two-state region of Vermont and New Hampshire, where, according to Medicare, there are 118 nursing homes.

Praising both Gifford and Menig, the governor noted “It’s widely known … that this is the best little hospital around.” He called Menig a “professional, clean, quality, compassionate place to grow older” and a “tribute to the community.”

On a statewide level, “It makes us proud. We’re proud of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Dr. Wehry said it wasn’t her first trip to Menig to hand out quality awards and it surely wouldn’t be her last.

“I have the best job,” she said. “My job is to make Vermont the best state in the nation to grow old with dignity, and I can’t think of a better partner.”

Leavitt thanked residents for inviting her into their home and thanked staff, especially those who come in at “Oh-dark-30,” for the job they do. “You are the folks who are the foundation of success of a facility like this and it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Leavitt said.

Menig Extended Care Facility

Gov. Peter Shumlin, center, poses with Menig Extended Care Facility staff at a Friday ceremony where the Randolph nursing home was recognized as the best in a two-state region.

Hospital and Menig leaders too thanked the staff, describing the nursing home’s past and its future.

Menig got its start in 1998 to help meet the community’s need for nursing home care following the closure of larger, 53-bed Tranquility Nursing Home in Randolph. Part of non-profit Gifford, the nursing home initially had 20 beds but grew to 30 beds with an addition that opened in 2006.

The only nursing home in Orange County, it has repeatedly been recognized for its quality, including receiving seven consecutive Nursing Home Quality recognitions and Gold Star Employer awards from the state. It has also earned national awards and has a substantial waiting list for care.

The hospital is now striving to meet more of the community’s needs for senior living opportunities by constructing a new nursing home to replace the existing Menig, a 40-unit independent living facility, and possibly one-day assisted living in a picturesque rural setting near Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. The existing nursing home would then become private, inpatient rooms.

Gov. Shumlin offered his support for the senior living community project, noting he’d stand behind the project “all the way.”

The governor and other state officials all spent considerable time with the nursing home residents, introducing themselves, chatting, and posing for pictures.

Many residents were delighted to meet the governor and other state officials. “He’s gone over big,” said resident Leland Flint.

Many were also delighted to hear kind words about their home.

Dr. Wehry

Dr. Wehry and Menig resident Stu Reynolds

“You can’t find anything better,” was a common theme. Glen Eldredge said it. His wife Shirley lives in Menig. Stu Reynolds said it. He lives in Menig with this wife and his mother-in-law.

Flint said it too. “Everything here is great. Nothing could be better.”

U.S. News and World Report, Medicare data, and the state’s leaders seem to agree.

Gov. Peter Shumlin

Gov. Peter Shumlin and resident Ethel Boynton

State’s Top-Ranked Nursing Home Welcomes Governor April 6

Menig Extended Care FacilityWe are excited to share that we will be holding an event next Friday, April 6 from 3-4 p.m. to celebrate our nursing home’s recognition as one of the best 39 in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Expected to attend are:

  • Gov. Peter Shumlin
  • DAIL Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry
  • Division of Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt
  • Licensing and Protection Assistant Director and State Survey Agency Director Fran Keeler
  • Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi
  • Hospital and nursing home leaders
  • Nursing home staff
  • Nursing home residents and families

The media has been invited to watch the brief speeches from state and Gifford/nursing home officials at the start of the event, and will then have an opportunity to speak to families and residents.

The event will be held at Gifford’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, which is located on the southern end of the medical center in Randolph on Route 12. From Interstate 89, go west on Route 66 into Randolph. Go straight through the four-way stop, left over the bridge by Cumberland Farms into the downtown, through the downtown, over the railroad tracks and up the hill. Gifford is on the left. Drive past the hospital and take the entrance at the end of the building, before the Thrift Shop.

Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to receive this distinction this year. U.S. News and World Report released a list of its “2012 Honor Roll” nursing homes in February. The 39 listed were the only out of more than 15,500 reviewed nationally to receive four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all three areas that CMS evaluates – health inspections, nurse staffing and quality of care.

Gifford Honored with Legislative Resolution

Joe Woodin and Rep. Patsy French

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin stands with Rep. Patsy French, D-Randolph, in the State House on March 13. The House recognized Gifford and its recent national honors with a formal resolution.

MONTPELIER – The Vermont House of Representatives passed a resolution last week recognizing “the outstanding health care services provided by Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.”

The resolution recognized Gifford for its more than 100 years of service to the Randolph area and for its recent achievements and accolades.

In December, Gifford was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation by The National Rural Health Association. The hospital’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, just last month was named one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes by U.S. News and World Report, which recognized nursing homes achieving a solid year of five-star ratings on all Medicare benchmarks.

Gifford’s midwives were further recognized in 2011 as a “best practice” in the country by the American College of Nurse-Midwives for its positive results with vaginal births after cesareans and a “runner-up best practice” for having the fewest numbers of low birth weight infants and for its low use of vacuum or forceps.

The hospital’s day care, The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, earned the maximum five “STARS” from the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System, a voluntary quality program that is part of the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ Child Development Division. The program looks at compliance with state regulations, staff qualifications and training, daily activities with the children, improvement plans, and more.
Menig has also won many state awards for quality and national awards for resident satisfaction.

“Since before 2000, the Menig Extended Care Facility has allowed elderly Vermonters from the area to remain close to home, providing extremely qualified and compassionate patient care. My in-laws were able to use this facility in the last years of their life, making for an ideal connection for them and my family,” shared Rep. Larry Townsend, D-Randolph. “Randolph and the surrounding towns are blessed to have not only Menig, but Gifford as one of the treasures in our communities.”

Townsend initiated the Resolution and was among one of 12 legislators who brought forth the resolution, which was passed by the full House on March 13.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin and Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln were present to receive the resolution.

“We have appreciated some incredibly welcome, yet unsolicited awards over the last year or so,” Woodin said. “This is another unexpected honor.”

“We’re fortunate to have the privilege of caring for the people of this region. We’re humbled to be recognized for that work in such a public way.”

The resolution also recognized the hospital’s 12 consecutive years of meeting its state-approved budget and operating margin, and the recognition of all of Gifford’s primary care practices as Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Finally, the resolution called Gifford “a hospital of choice for Central Vermonters seeking high-quality care and an employer of choice for some of the region’s and even the nation’s best health care professionals.”

A special ceremony with Gov. Peter Shumlin; Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry; Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi and others is planned for April 6 from 3-4 p.m. at Menig to recognize the nursing home’s most recent and largest-ever achievement – the top 39 national ranking. Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to make the listing.

Gifford Holds 106th Annual Meeting

Joe Woodin and Sharon Dimmick

Newly elected Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sharon Dimmick smiles at hospital Administrator Joseph Woodin at Gifford’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center held its 106th Annual Corporators Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital, electing three new members to the Board of Trustees, sharing the successes of 2011, and welcoming Steve Kimbell, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration commissioner, as the guest speaker.

Newly elected to the board were Leo Connolly, Fred Newhall, and Peter Nowlan following the retirements of long-time board members Barbara Harvey and Bruce MacDonald and the heavily-felt death of Dick Mallary. “We miss him terribly,” board member Bob Wright said.

MacDonald and Harvey offered a few parting words of thanks and encouragement.

MacDonald admitted to feeling reluctant when he was first asked to join the board in 2002. A decade later, his opinion had changed. “As a corporator I would encourage you to support the dedicated staff and management here,” he told the audience of about 90.

Barb Harvey, Bob Wright, Joe Woodin

Outgoing Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Wright, at the podium, and Administrator Joseph Woodin, left, thank Barbara Harvey of Rochester for her years of dedication to the Randolph hospital’s board.

Harvey, a member of the board since 2004, thanked the hospital for its quick response to get medications into isolated communities in the days following Tropical Storm Irene, especially in her town of Rochester.

Also recognized was Wright, who ended his two years as board chairman. Elected to his role was Sharon Dimmick. Gus Meyer was named vice chairman, Paul Kendall was chosen as secretary and Lincoln Clark was named treasurer.

Before stepping down, Wright delivered his final chairman’s report, recognizing his fellow board members and the hospital as a strong community asset that meets quality standards, changing regulations and community members’ expectations.

The hospital also “made budget” for a 12th consecutive year and is moving forward positively due to the medical center’s strategic planning efforts and commitment to service excellence through a program the hospital calls BEST.

The hospital is in its fourth three-year strategic plan. The plan guides the medical center in its efforts to remain vital and meet patient needs. “We’ve tried very hard over the years to make sure we’re doing a good job and you’re choosing us,” Administrator Joseph Woodin said, touching on the medical center’s commitment to reviewing quality indicators at each board meeting, a slate of new providers who joined the hospital in 2011, technology improvements, and some unexpected awards the hospital received.

Those awards include a recognition for Gifford as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation, a listing by U.S. News and World Report last month naming the hospital’s Menig Extended Care Facility as one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes, and a national “best practice” award for Gifford’s midwives.

Woodin also praised volunteers’ efforts and briefly reviewed plans for a senior living community on 25.6 “Hillside” acres Gifford owns in Randolph Center.

The immediate goal, said Woodin, is to reconstruct the 30-bed Menig Extended Care Facility on the property and create industry-standard private patient rooms in the vacated space once Menig has moved out. The next phase would include 40 independent living units. The long-range plan includes assisted living units and opportunities to build more independent living. The hospital is currently going through the permitting process and hopes to break ground on the new nursing home before next winter.

Woodin called 2011 financially difficult. Employees went without wage increases and some cut back on hours. “Last year was a very tough year,” he said. But, “compared to other hospitals, we do quite well. We’re very stable and it does allow us to make these necessary investments.”

Vermont Blueprint for Health

A main focus for 2011, and consequently the focus of the hospital’s newly released 2011 Annual Report, was Gifford’s role as a medical home. All five of Gifford’s primary care practices were recognized as Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The designation is part of Vermont Blueprint for Health efforts to improve care for the chronically ill through advanced primary care. Gifford is working diligently on Blueprint goals, including bringing together a diverse Community Health Team and employing an outpatient care coordinator whose job is to help patients with socioeconomic needs and connect them to community resources.

“We’re offering them an opportunity for better health,” Vice President of Medicine Teresa Voci said of patients who are now receiving help navigating various systems and reducing barriers to care.

The results, said Voci, are healthier patients who are better able to manage their chronic conditions and reduced health care costs.

Commissioner Kimbell

Commissioner Steve Kimbell

Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISCHA) Commissioner Steve Kimbell leads a talk on health care reform at Gifford Medical Center’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday at the Randolph hospital.

Kimbell spoke on health care reform, explaining the various state boards and agencies involved in the ambitious effort to create a single-payer health care system in Vermont and a federally-required health benefits exchange.

According to Kimbell, some think the task the state has undertaken under Act 48 is “crazy,” but the law is necessary to try to rein in health care spending to better match annual inflation rate increases.

And the state has had past success on payment reform, Kimbell noted, holding up the Vermont Blueprint for Health and the Catamount health plan as examples of the state’s record of successful reform.

“A lot of groundwork has been done to set the stage for health care reform,” said Kimbell, calling Catamount “up and running,” “successful” and “a model of where we’re trying to go.”

But, he acknowledged, if citizens don’t change their health habits, reform efforts will fail.

Audience members asked questions about dental access and incentives for preventative care. MacDonald questioned how savings could be found. “It’s hard to visualize for us in this organization … how you can recover that much cost just knowing on a monthly and annual basis how hard it is to run this organization,” the former Gifford board member and accountant by trade said.

A lot of economy will be found in Vermont hospitals functioning as a system, but also still keeping their community identity, Kimball said.

He also spoke of provider retention. “What’s the impact on the provider community?” he asked. “How they get paid is going to be something we’ll be sticking our fingers in very deeply. I believe there is plenty of money in the system that everyone can settle somewhere.”

Hospitals will not close under the plan, Kimbell ensured, which broadly speaking will pay hospitals and providers to keep people healthy rather than per visit or procedure.

Awards

Two awards were also given out Saturday evening. The $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award was awarded to the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens.

Formed in 1972, the Quin-Town Center provides meals, including Meals on Wheels; educational programming; and socialization opportunities for seniors in Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Pittsfield and Stockbridge. In 2011, the center provided 5,950 meals to 350 seniors in these communities. The grant will help pay for a commercial refrigerator, replacing smaller models from the 1980s.

Receiving the $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship was Sarah Davis of Northfield. A member of Gifford’s inpatient team, Davis is a full-time licensed practical nurse, a mother of three and a full-time student at Norwich University, where she is seeking a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Davis has been working in health care since the age of 12, when she when she became a junior volunteer at a nursing home. By age 14, she was a personal aide at Level III home for the elderly and at age 16, she completed her licensed nursing assistant course. She’s worked at Gifford as an LPN since 2007.

She is also the first member of her family to go to college.