The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
Phyllis and Roland Potter, 81 and 83 respectively, have been going to the Bethel Health Center since it opened. First the Sharon couple saw Dr. Ronald Gadway. They now see Dr. Mark Seymour. But another smiling face that greets them is just as impactful as their primary caregiver. That person is medical secretary Kathy Benson, says Phyllis.
“I’ve known Kathy since she was a little girl. We know her parents. She’s a very thoughtful girl. She’s a sweetheart. If I needed help out to the car, she’d be there in a minute. She would help anyone in a minute.” ~ Phyllis Potter
Medical secretary Kathy Benson with Phyllis and Roland Potter
Project Independence participants, from left, Marie, Diana and Kathy dance to singing and music by a visiting Chris Beltrami (not shown).
BARRE – The state’s first adult day center, Project Independence, got its start in Barre in 1975 when a nursing home activity director, Lindsey Wade, recognized an opportunity to do things better and more cost effectively.
Wade encountered nursing home residents who didn’t seem to medically belong there. Others were visiting the nursing home daily for the social interaction. Wade had an idea. The area needed an adult day care and not a medical model adult day, but a social model – something that didn’t exist anywhere else in the country.
An active board and an interested city brought to life Project Independence on Washington Street and in the decades since, its model has not only flourished but expanded statewide. There are currently 14 adult day programs in Vermont.
Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins visits with participants, from left, Flo, Gail, Beverly and Shirley as they wait to be served a home-cooked lunch that included baked macaroni and cheese and flavorful carrots.
Today’s Project Independence serves 23 towns in Washington and northern Orange counties, welcoming an average 38 seniors and the disabled each weekday. The project includes meals, showers, medication management and ample activities, allowing them a fun and safe day care experience while also allowing them to stay at home – a far more affordable model than nursing home care.
But statewide adult days are struggling. Funding available for adult days almost guarantees failure. “The Adult Day financial model is not a successful one,” says Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins. “It’s a continued struggle to support our model.”
And Project Independence has had some recent extra hurdles.
It bought a North Main Street location and moved in 2010. Less than a year later, in May of 2011, the building flooded during a period of torrential rains that had storm water draining through a bulkhead into the building’s basement causing $295,000 in damages and losses. The following summer a sewer hookup issue during Barre’s “Big Dig” caused backups and additional damages and losses.
Gifford licensed nursing assistant Penny Severance helps Project Independence participant, Maddie, to her table for lunch.
Between those losses and looming health care reform that promises changes to health care funding and encourages health care relationships, small, standalone Project Independence began looking for help in the form of a partner. It found it in Gifford Health Care in Randolph.
Project Independence of Barre and the Gifford Retirement Community, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph, will merge at the conclusion of Gifford’s fiscal year on Sept. 30. Boards for the two nonprofit organizations unanimously agreed to the merger in May after studying the relationship for more than a year.
It will be a full asset merger with Project Independence retaining its name, location and fund-raising dollars. Project Independence’s board will become an advisory board to provide local perspective and experience, and employees will become part of Gifford, opening the door to enhanced benefits. Project Independence will benefit from Gifford’s staff, from financial to billing to nursing help, as well as its buying power as a larger organization.
For Project Independence it is an opportunity for financial stability and more amidst what have been a stormy couple of years and the projected financial changes under health care reform. For Gifford, it is an opportunity to further its work to support seniors and to partner with a reputable organization.
“It’s the right thing. It’s the right match. We have the right partner,” says Rollins, who was drawn to Gifford because it has its own adult day, the Gifford Adult Day Program in Bethel, shares a mission of supporting seniors and because of the Randolph hospital’s commitment to community.
Tammy Mattote, left, a licensed nursing assistant at Project Independence in Barre, serves participant Joanne lunch.
Gifford is currently building a senior living community in Randolph Center that will include a new nursing home and independent and assisted living units after seeing a need in the community for these services.
The Randolph medical center also already has services in the Barre area in the form of a health center off the Airport Road in Berlin. The Gifford Health Center at Berlin is home to family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, infectious disease, midwifery, orthopedics, podiatry, neurology and urology services.
“The combination of the two of us makes a lot of common sense and a lot of business sense,” Project Independence Board Chairman Steve Koenemann said, calling his board’s vote a very easy one to make and the plan “a no-lose proposition.”
“The goal is try to see the program grow,” Koenemann said. “We don’t want to change Project Independence. It has nearly 40 years of experience and reputation serving that community that’s not something that you want to back away from.”
“It’s not taking away anything from Project. It’s all additions,” added Rollins.
Gifford employees have already been providing support to Project Independence over the last year as the two organizations have carefully studied a merger.
Project Independence staff pose in front of the North Main Street adult day center in Barre. The center will merge with Gifford Health Care in Randolph this fall.
“When someone has a humble request for help as it relates to the delivery of health care services, we take that seriously,” said Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, praising Project Independence’s board, values, volunteers and hardworking team. “For us, that’s extraordinarily appealing and we’re thankful that they’ve asked us.”
“We feel this is an honor that they asked,” agreed Linda Minsinger, Gifford Retirement Community executive director. “This is the right thing to do. It’s really important that these participants have a place that will carry on.”
Joining with Project Independence is in keeping with Gifford’s mission and providing support to a needed service that will no doubt grow as the state looks for more affordable ways to care for a growing senior population, said Gifford Board Chairman Gus Meyer.
“When you’re a very small organization, you don’t have the staff to do all of the different things to be done. It’s extremely difficult and it’s extremely draining to make an organization of that size successful. They’ve done a great job of keeping their organization alive in the face of huge challenges and at the same time provided a great service,” Meyer said. “A larger organization is much more able to absorb things that just come up. If there’s some facilities’ damage, it doesn’t become devastating.”
That is a scenario that has Project Independence breathing a sigh of relief.
“We are just all so encouraged. This just brings a true breath of fresh hope,” Rollins said. “We’re dancing in the streets.”
Well, maybe in the living room.
Project Independence participants – most of whom think of their home away from home as “the club” not an adult day center – let up a cheer upon hearing the news from Rollins that “the club” would merge with Gifford.
Staff members, who have been part of what have been very transparent discussions, were equally enthusiastic.
Cook Pam Bresette of South Barre said, “I think it’s going to be fabulous.”
Office Administrator Sue Catto of Barre took her job a year ago knowing positive changes were coming.
Licensed nursing assistant Amanda Koledo of Barre hopes to go to nursing school. Gifford provides tuition reimbursement.
Koledo has worked at Project Independence for six years. “I think it’s so exciting,” she said. “We’re on an island and we’ll now have life jackets.”
“Long May She Wave” is one of Bethel acrylic artist Janet Hayward Burnham’s pieces in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph from May 28 through June 25.
Artist and author Janet Hayward Burnham brings her acrylic and pen and ink works to the Gifford Medical Center art gallery from May 28 through June 25.
Burnham, now of Bethel, was born in Indiana, but never lived there. She went on to live in nine other states, attending 14 schools from kindergarten through college.
Burnham came to Vermont in 1968 with her husband and four children. They bought a farm in the Champlain Valley in Orwell, where Burnham taught art for a number of years and also wrote for Vermont Life.
Burnham was 42 when she graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts from Castleton State College in 1979. “ … my two teenaged daughters – seated in the crowd – made me grin when they cheered as my name was called out at the graduation ceremonies,” Burnham recalls.
Art was Burnham’s first love.
“I think I’ve loved the art of making art since I picked up my first crayon,” she says. “Art was always my favorite class, bar none … even better than recess.”
She added the written word to her list of loves, and talents, in college.
Castleton was Burnham’s third college. Earlier at Columbia University in New York City in the late 1950s, while married and pregnant, an English professor first brought to light Burnham’s talent. He tasked the class with a first writing assignment. “When he passed the papers back two weeks later, he said we had all done fairly well, but there was one that was so outstanding, he was going to read it to the class. When he began reading, I was absolutely dumbfounded. It was mine. In all those schools I had attended – and some were excellent private schools – nobody ever told me I had a gift for working with words,” Burnham recalls.
“I now had two creative loves – art and the art of words.”
A poetry book Burnham wrote and illustrated, “A Week Ago Cat,” is the combination of those two loves.
Her show features illustrations and poems from the children’s book as well as other more adult pieces, and the book will be for sale in Gifford’s Gift Shop.
In addition to her book of poems, Burnham has been published in Yankee, Grit, The Boston Globe, The New York Daily News, Country Journal, Instructor, The Rutland Business Journal, The Herald of Randolph, and Woman’s World. She also penned two novels published in the United Kingdom that went on to editions in Sweden, Norway and the United States.
More recently, she helped research and was the lone writer of a book for The Bethel Historical Society titled “Vermont’s Elusive Architect George H. Guernsey.”
See Burnham’s unique art in the Gifford Galley. The 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.
Gifford’s Blueprint for Health Team has expanded to include additional mental health and addiction counselors offering one-on-one care at all Gifford primary care locations. In this file photo, from left, care coordinator Keith Marino, Health Connections (financial assistance) case worker Michele Packard and certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton discuss a patient at the Bethel Health Center.
In 2012 as part of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Gifford Medical Center completed a Community Needs Assessment.
Less than two years later, the Randolph-based medical center has already made huge strides addressing many of the needs found in that study.
In a survey of Town Meeting attendees in nine communities in 2012 plus feedback from other groups, community members’ described their priorities for a healthy community, perceived health problems and risky behaviors in the community, and their health needs or lacking services.
Among factors for a healthy community were good jobs and a healthy economy, access to health care, good schools, and healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Top health problems listed by survey respondents included addiction, obesity, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Top health needs, or services community members have tried unsuccessfully to access, within the community were assisted living and nursing home care, alcohol and drug counseling, and dental care.
Today, Gifford is preparing to break ground in the spring on a senior living community in Randolph Center that will, over time, provide a full spectrum of housing options including the relocation of its award-winning nursing home and newly created assisted and independent living. Gifford has earned the coveted Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) designation, making it one of only three hospitals in the country to be both a Critical Access Hospital and an FQHC. This means expanded access to care, including dental and mental health care. And the medical center’s Vermont Blueprint for Health Team has greatly expanded over the past year to include more mental health and addiction counselors, providing services at all Gifford primary care locations.
Among Gifford’s free community services is a chronic illness support group. Here Gifford pharmacist Jane McConnell provides medication advice to past participants.
“Each of these major initiatives, which have taken substantial work, targets an identified community health need. Meeting these needs and addressing the community’s feedback defines the future of Gifford and its expanding role,” says Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.
The Community Needs Assessment process is required every three years, but Gifford’s efforts are ongoing. The medical center continually provides community outreach initiatives to meet care needs, many of which are offered for free. These include classes, support groups, and health fairs. Additionally, many initiatives support local economic health, including a buy local approach.
The medical center also continues community outreach daily through a boots-on-the-ground approach that has Blueprint Community Health Team working directly with individuals and community organizations to address health and socioeconomic needs, particularly for the chronically ill.
“The Blueprint for Health is a statewide initiative. Gifford has placed extra focus on meeting community members’ needs so they can successfully manage their health,” says Blueprint Project Manager LaRae Francis. “This approach means not waiting months or years for needs to be determined, but matching resources and needs today to create an ongoing healthier community for all.”
A grant from through the Vermont Department of Health helped support the costs of the 2012 report. The full report is available on Gifford’s website in the “About Us” section under Community Reports.
Dr. Terry Cantlin joined the Bethel Health Center in 1987. He attended the University of Health Science in Kansas City, Missouri, and went on to an internship and residency at the Osteopathic Hospital of Maine in Portland.
He worked for the Indian Health Service on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Dulce, New Mexico for three years and then as emergency room director at the Downeast Community Hospital in Machias, Maine before joining the Bethel practice, which was then owned by Drs. Ronald Gadway and Edward Armstrong.
Originally from Lebanon, New Hampshire, Dr. Cantlin lives in Randolph Center with his wife, Betsy. They have two children. Dr. Cantlin is well-known outside the health center for his role as a member of the band “Jeanne and the Hi-Tops”. He also enjoys woodworking, sports, and cooking.
Dr. Mark Seymour joined the Bethel Health Center in 1989. He attended medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in his home town of Biddeford, Maine.
He went on to complete his internship at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Michigan and his residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester. He practiced at the Indian Health Service from 1985-1989, first in Chinle, Arizona on a Navajo reservation and then in Browning, Montana on a Blackfeet reservation. He joined the Bethel practice in 1989, which became part of Gifford a year later.
Dr. Seymour lives in Randolph Center with his wife, Becky. They have two children, Jane and Will. Dr. Seymour enjoys family, reading, hiking, and following Boston sports in his free time.
Below is their story as told in the words of Dr. Cantlin, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Dr. Mark Seymour and I have practiced together for nearly 25 years at the Bethel Health Center. This has been an introspective and rewarding experience for each of us. We’ve enjoyed the comprehensive nature of family practice. The ability to care for patients of all ages with a wide range of problems and to be able to follow patients and families throughout their entire life span is a blessing. To be trusted with this care is an honor.
We’ve each had many interesting cases and challenging diagnoses, but the ones that are truly rewarding for us are those that have been transformational in improving someone’s life. Helping people to overcome substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, and drugs), helping them to lose weight and exercise more, and assisting in coping with stressors and depression are extremely time and energy-consuming problems. They require persistent effort over many visits, but ultimately have the greatest impact on a patient’s overall well-being and happiness.
Even though these cases are rewarding, our most satisfying and memorable experiences have come from being long-time colleagues and friends, and working with everyone at the Bethel Health Center. All the employees at the health center are like a big family. We’ve spent many years together and all take pride in the care being delivered at our clinic.
Mark and I have a lot in common. We each have close ties to Maine, where we have both lived and trained. As osteopathic physicians, we share a similar education and philosophy toward patient care. We both served a number of years in the Indian Health Service and had many common experiences, or “war stories”. Finally, we have shared an office space, back to back, for 20 years. It has been extremely helpful and enjoyable having a colleague and friend to discuss difficult cases and other issues with all of these years. It is this comaraderie that will be our lasting impression.”
~ Terry Cantlin, D.O.
Bethel Health Center family medicine physician
Above – Drs. Cantlin and Seymour have worked back-to-back for years as seen in this 2008 photograph of the providers in their office. Bottom – the long-time friends and co-workers enjoy an afternoon in the freshly fallen snow.
Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the second quarter excerpt.
To support patient needs, the Blueprint team grows to include a behavioral health specialist (social worker) and a second care coordinator.
Gynecologist Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara of the Bethel and Twin River health centers leads a free women’s health talk at the Montshire Museum on menopause and genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers.
Gov. Peter Shumlin visits the Menig Extended Care Facility to offer thanks to the state’s top nursing home, calling it a “tribute to the community”. “We’re proud of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” the governor said to residents, families, and staff members. The governor’s visit came in the wake of the U.S. News Report “2012 Honor Roll” listing.
Joining Gov. Shumlin are 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.
Gifford provides free assistance with advance directives in conjunction with National Healthcare Decisions Day.
Gifford’s more than 200 volunteers are honored with a luncheon served by hospital managers, prize awards, musical performances, and more.
Dr. Sandy Craig joins the hospitalist team, having previously practiced at The Health Center in Plainfield for many years.
Employees raise $455 for the March of Dimes by donning “Blue Jeans for Babies”. At the same time, the Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes recognizes Gifford with a Leadership Legacy award for its commitment to prenatal, birth, and newborn care, and its support of the non-profit organization working to prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality.
Long-time pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola receives a national award for his work around childhood immunizations.
Dr. DiNicola is 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.
Ob/gyn Dr. Anne Galante joins the women’s health team full-time. She had worked as a locum tenens, or part-time contracted, provider at Gifford since 2009.
Menig residents celebrate a “Day of Play” with representatives of the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. The day celebrated Older American’s Month and included a scavenger hunt.
The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center holds its annual preschool graduation, complete with caps and gowns.
Gifford and Valley Rescue Squad Inc. move forward with the formation of a new non-profit aimed at stabilizing ambulance costs and maintaining or improving quality through a new non-profit to be called Supporting Ambulances for Vermont Emergencies (SAVE).
A free men’s health talk by general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham address colorectal health, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
For an eighth consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility receives a Nursing Home Quality Recognition from the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.
A free talk on Medicare insurance, why it’s important, why participating in Medicare Part B is beneficial, and what one’s choices are under Medicare Part D is offered.
The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons grants accreditation with commendation to the cancer program at Gifford. Gifford’s cancer program, which includes outpatient chemotherapy, has been accredited since 1965.
Family nurse practitioner Emily LeVan joins the Bethel Health Center.
Gifford is awarded a Hospital of Choice Award from The American Alliance of Healthcare Providers for “courteous, compassionate, and caring services for patients, family, and the community.” The ranking places Gifford among “America’s most customer-friendly hospitals”.
Mark 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.
Nurse practitioner Emily LeVan joins Bethel Health Center
RANDOLPH – Family nurse practitioner Emily LeVan of Randolph Center has joined the Bethel Health Center. The Bethel clinic is part of Gifford Medical Center.
LeVan earned her family nurse practitioner master’s degree from University of Cincinnati and her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
She previously worked as an emergency department registered nurse at Central Vermont Medical Center, Gifford Medical Center, and Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Maine, for seven years. She has also worked as a health care consultant with The Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, Maine, and teaches licensed nursing assistant and medical terminology courses at the Randolph Technical Career Center.
She previously taught Spanish and was a field hockey and track coach in Maine and Massachusetts for six years after earning her a bachelor’s in environmental studies and Spanish from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and studying Spanish at Middlebury College.
An Oklahoma City native, LeVan moved to New England for school.
She enjoyed teaching and coaching, but was drawn to health care. “I wanted to do something different. I had always been interested in health care,” says LeVan, whose father is a dentist.
As she sought to advance her nursing degree, she chose family practice.
“I wanted to work directly with patients and help them achieve their maximum state of health and wellness,” she says.
She joined Gifford for the opportunity to work in her community and for the culture at Gifford. “I love that when you walk down the hall, people say ‘hi,’” she says, adding, “I feel that it’s an organization that supports the so-called ‘midlevel’ providers very nicely.”
LeVan sees whole families across the lifespan, offering accessible care with a focus on openness and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.
With a background in emergency medicine, LeVan is a trained sexual assault nurse examiner. Her other interests include women’s health and sports medicine, especially for young people.
LeVan is a former marathoner, who twice finished as the top U.S. female in the Boston Marathon, finished high in other major races (including a seventh-place finish in the Women’s U.S. Marathon Championships in St. Paul, Minn., in 2006) and even participated in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
She has also traveled extensively through Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Bolivia, serving as an athletic services coordinator for the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 2011 Pam American Games in Guadalajara and as a volunteer nurse and translator on a medical mission to Nicaragua.
She is married with a daughter and co-owns her family’s farm, the ALL Together Farm in Randolph Center, selling sustainably produced meats and eggs.
LeVan can be reached Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the Bethel Health Center at 234-9913. She joins long-time family physicians Dr. Terry Cantlin and Dr. Mark Seymour and physician assistant Tammy Gerdes.