This article was featured in our Spring 2014 Update Community Newsletter.
Gifford renews its decades-long focus on providing area women 24/7 midwifery care with the addition of two new midwives.
Certified nurse-midwives Maggie Gardner and April Vanderveer have recently joined Kathryn Saunders and Meghan Sperry at Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery in Randolph and the Gifford Health Center at Berlin. Certified nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses specially licensed to practice midwifery and board certified.
Nurse-midwives plays an essential role in providing women’s health care throughout life, including at birth. This unique commitment to midwifery care is what attracted Maggie and April.
“The institution’s commitment to midwifery goes beyond just the midwives in the office. It’s the nurses in the Birthing Center, the layout of the Birthing Center itself where moms labor, birth and stay post-partum in the same room, and the administration’s commitment to making the practice successful,” said Maggie of the state’s oldest Birthing Center of its kind.
The strongest component of Gifford’s unique program is woman-centered care.
“The team is committed to women-centered care and respect for each family’s unique needs during pregnancy and childbirth,” April explains.
“We have longer visits than many other prenatal clinics, meaning we take the time to really listen to women about their concerns and questions,” April said.
And as mindsets over birthing have changed, the practice has changed with it.
“We are the oldest midwifery practice in the state of Vermont with a solid commitment to birth with women, encouraging women to decide how they want to birth. We move with the times. That is, we have everything from non-medicated births and water births to women who desire medication such as epidurals,” noted Kathryn.
In 2013, 14 percent of midwifery patients chose to have an epidural and 10 percent chose an intrathecal. Sixty-five percent of patients had natural births.
“We believe in a woman’s body’s ability to have a natural birth, but we also respect women who choose otherwise,” Meghan said. “We do not judge. We care and are open to the ideas of our clients.”
April Vanderveer, a certified nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner, has joined the Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery team.
Vanderveer is an experienced birthing center nurse who went on to nurse midwifery school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She also has a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Vermont and a bachelor’s in nursing degree from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
It was her own Vermont birthing experience that prompted Vanderveer to pursue a nursing and then a midwifery degree. “I had an absolutely wonderful midwife, and she inspired me to look into it,” said Vanderveer, a native of California who moved to Vermont in 1991.
Vanderveer worked for 11 years at Copley Hospital in Morrisville as a Birthing Center nurse learning to care for moms and babies before and while in midwifery school.
As part of her schooling, she did nine months of clinical training at Gifford. “I just really liked the culture here. The midwives and the Ob nurses were really fantastic, and I just felt like this is where I wanted to work,” she said.
She realized that dream this month when she joined certified nurse-midwives Meghan Sperry, Kathryn Saunders and Maggie Gardner in practice at Gifford in Randolph and the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.
Vanderveer calls Gifford’s midwifery team a “cohesive group.” “I’m really excited to join a team of excellent practitioners,” she said.
Vanderveer is board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Because of her unique training as a women’s health nurse practitioner, her clinical interests include women’s care across the lifespan.
She describes her approach as collaborative, where the patient is a member of the care team. She also strives to incorporate evidence-based practices (best standards of care) into patient’s individualized needs and goals.
Vanderveer lives in Waterville. She is married to a chef, Chase Vanderveer, and previously owned Winding Brook Bistro in Johnson with him. Together they have three children, ages 13, 14 and 17. Vanderveer enjoys the outdoors, kayaking and downhill skiing, as well as cross-country skiing, hiking, gardening and playing Frisbee golf on the family’s property.
Call Vanderveer or another member of the Gifford midwifery team in Randolph at (802) 728-2401 or in Berlin at (802) 229-2325.
Gifford Medical Center employees raised $520 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies” on Friday.
The Randolph medical center and its outlying health clinics participate each year in March in the fund-raiser, which allows employees who donate $5 to the March of Dimes to wear jeans to work for the day.
This year more than 100 employees participated.
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.
Roger Clapp, March of Dimes Vermont Chapter director, thanked hospital employees for their participation in the fund-raiser and – as a medical center with a renowned Birthing Center – for their work toward healthy births. “The March of Dimes recognizes the care and commitment to excellence among the Gifford Medical Center team that contributes to Vermont’s national lead in healthy birth outcomes. We’re particularly thankful to be able to reinvest the staff’s fund-raising proceeds to give every baby in Vermont a healthier start,” Clapp said.
“Gifford is pleased to be able to partner with the March of Dimes on initiatives to support prenatal and infant health,” said Robin Palmer, a member of Gifford’s Marketing Department who organizes the hospital’s effort. “Employees are truly excited to both support a cause close to our hearts and wear jeans to work. It’s something we look forward to all year.”
Other businesses wishing to wear “Blue Jeans for Babies” can contact the March of Dimes here in Vermont at (802) 560-3239.
Gifford is also a sponsor of the central Vermont March for Babies walk upcoming on May 4 at Montpelier High School. Sign-up online at www.marchfordimes.com/vermont or by calling.
Maggie Gardner was studying sociology at the University of Vermont when a nurse-midwife came to speak during a class on reproduction.
Gardner’s first thought: “I want to be her.”
Today, she is.
After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2001, Gardner went to work for that midwife’s home birth practice, Welcoming Home Family Nurse-Midwifery in Hinesburg. Gardner was the office manager and assistant, both clerically and clinically, including assisting at births.
She went on help start a midwifery practice in her hometown of Vergennes, Tapestry Midwifery, and returned to the University of Vermont, undertaking the master’s entry program in nursing and earning her registered nurse certificate. Next was nurse midwifery school at the Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky – a master’s degree program.
And now, Gardner, a Vermont native, is working at one of the state’s most coveted certified nurse-midwifery practices – Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery.
Board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and a member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Gardner is seeing patients at Gifford’s clinics in Randolph and Berlin.
“I’m excited,” says Gardner, calling Gifford’s practice on the top of the pedestal when it comes to midwifery. “It has a strong reputation in the midwifery community.
“Many people don’t get to choose where they work. I get to choose to work at a place that’s committed to midwives.”
Gifford’s practice, she notes, takes the best of the home and hospital birth experience, and combines them into a natural, hospital-based midwifery birth.
Gardner will do the same in her practice at Gifford as well as focusing on open communication, equal partnerships with patients and families, and individualized care.
Gardner cares for all types of patients, from women needing routine gynecologic care to women expecting a baby, but has special interests in breast feeding support, Pap test follow-up, testing for and educating women on risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, and sexual health.
Those interests in part incorporate Gardner’s other work experience. In addition to her midwifery experience, Gardner has worked in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and infectious disease at Fletcher Allen Health Care in primarily office assistant type roles, and most recently was a manager at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, where she was responsible for the implementation of a new centralized lab management system for 21 Planned Parenthood health centers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Gardner lives in the home in which she grew up in Vergennes. She is married and has two children, a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old.
Call Gardner and the midwifery team at Gifford at 728-2401.
Experienced nurse leader Alison White has joined Gifford Medical Center as its vice president of patient care services – a role that oversees the Hospital Division, including inpatient care, the Birthing Center, ob/gyn and midwifery practice, Emergency Department, nursing home and Adult Day Program.
A graduate of the bachelor’s degree nursing program at the University of Vermont and the master’s degree health care administration program at Independence University in Utah, White has spent her career in nursing and then nurse leadership.
Her nursing career focused on cardiac and dialysis patients – populations she loved because of the relationships formed with patients. “They grow to be your family,” she says.
White went on to serve as director of care management at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC), the director of regional care management and quality improvement for the Dartmouth Hitchcock Alliance, the director of clinical outcomes at CVMC and most recently vice president of quality, chief nursing officer and patient safety office at the Berlin-based hospital.
A motorcycle accident in August that nearly took her life left White reevaluating her priorities, however. She was seeking a better work/life balance, and says she has found that at Gifford.
“I felt like I hit the jackpot,” says White, who joined Gifford earlier this year. “The people are so open and warm and helpful and genuine, really genuine. Team comes through. It has a feeling of family. It doesn’t have a feeling of ‘corporateness,’ but at the end of the day the job gets done.
“I’m just so grateful to be here. I look forward every day to coming in.”
White succeeds Linda Minsinger, a long-time vice president who has transitioned to a new role: executive director of Gifford’s retirement community that will soon be under construction in Randolph Center and requires substantial planning.
“I think Alison is a great opportunity for Gifford’s Hospital Division. She comes with expanded current knowledge in the health care field and quality. I feel she will provide the staff and leaders with a new and different view of their roles,” says Minsinger, who is equally enthusiastic about her new role, which in part develops not just a community, but a culture “to ensure the residents and staff are happy and enjoy all the activities and opportunities that are offered.”
White lives in Barre with her husband Paul, a Vermont State Police captain. They have two children, Catie, 21, and Jeffrey, 18. White enjoys photography, volunteering at her church, serving on the Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice board and traveling in her free time.
Born in New Jersey, Dr. Lou DiNicola moved to Randolph in June of 1976 to become a local pediatrician. Passing up job offers in much larger areas then and since, he chose to stay in Randolph because he’s been able to able to practice medicine as he always envisioned. He has been able to affect change on a state level; create unique, trend-setting models of health care; and demonstrate his love of the community through his work.
Married to his wife Joann for 43 years, the couple has two grown children, two grandchildren, and a third on the way. Dr. DiNicola is an outdoor enthusiast, enjoying hiking, snowshoeing, walking, and gardening. He’s also a photographer and works with his artist wife, framing her paintings.
Dr. DiNicola has spent his entire career in Randolph while also working in Rochester from 1977-1992 with internal medicine physicians Drs. Mark Jewett and Milt Fowler.
Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Thirty-six years ago I was fresh out of residency and looking for job opportunities when I saw an ad in a magazine for a pediatrician in rural Vermont. Vermont was where I wanted to work, so I sent in my curriculum vitae, the medical equivalent of a resume, but never heard a word back. I called but the response was less than enthusiastic. I was basically told “thanks, but no thanks.”
I had three job offers in Pittsburgh and was literally sitting down to take a job at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where I’d just completed my internship and residency when my pager went off. It was Gifford President Phil Levesque’s secretary, wondering if I could come up in a couple of weeks for an interview. “I’ll come this weekend, or I’m not coming at all” was my response. The secretary covered the phone, relaying my message to Phil. “Hell, let him come” was his reply.
Needless to say, I came, and stayed.
More than three decades later I hope I have made a positive impact on the community and my patients, and know they have made a remarkable impact on me – teaching me how to communicate care, respect, and love.
It’s amazing how much you can love your patients. Also amazing is the window being a pediatrician gives you to see the love between a parent and a child. No more clearly is that demonstrated than in the unconditional love between a parent and a special needs child. More than once, parents of special needs children have amazed me and inspired me, as have the children themselves. I’ve seen parents of special needs children go on to adopt more children with special needs. Those are the moments that touch you most; those, and loss.
Dr. DiNicola thumb wrestles with patient Troy Daniels.
There is no greater loss than the loss of a child. Throughout my career, there have been car accidents, disease, malignancies, and newborn deaths. I think of two patients I lost to cancer, both of whom I visited at their bedsides at home as they were dying. As I reflect on my career, I think of them not with tears but fondness because of the relationships I have had with their families.
At Gifford, we are small enough to have that closeness with our patients and courageous enough to get up the next day and reflect on what we did or didn’t do, what we could have done differently, and how we can improve care. This ability to affect change is one of the things that has kept me practicing – happily – in this community and state for so many years.
One of the biggest changes Gifford has been able to enact in health care is around childbirth. When I first came to Gifford, I kept hearing about this guy Thurmond Knight, a local physician who was delivering babies in people’s homes. I met Thurmond at a Medical Staff meeting. He was knitting. I asked him what it would take for him to deliver babies at the hospital. He answered “a Birthing Center”. We opened the Birthing Center (the first in the state of Vermont) 35 years ago in 1977.
I’ve also been fortunate to be part of and help form organizations that were decades ahead of their time, in many ways laying the foundation for today’s medical home and Vermont Blueprint for Health models as well as utilizing computers for communication at the advent of the computer revolution. Additionally, Vermont has provided me with the opportunity to work on important legislation, such as child abuse laws, outlawing corporal punishment in schools, mandatory kindergarten, and the recent immunization law. These opportunities along with the privilege of making a difference in kids’ and families’ lives keep me going.
One of the things I find incredibly rewarding is living and working in the same town. I don’t mind if I run into someone downtown and they ask me a question. And I feel it’s so important that we recognize and talk to kids. One way I have been able to successfully converse and care for kids for so long is through humor. I try to infuse that in my appointments with children and often am treated – sometimes at unexpected moments – to humor in return.
One such humorous moment came from a 5-year-old. I try to end all my appointments by asking if patients have any questions for me. This 5-year-old’s question: “Why do frogs jump so high?” Should I ever write a book, I think this will be the title.
~ Lou DiNicola, M.D.
Above left – Dr. DiNicola in 1979. Above right – Dr. DiNicola with Kim Daniels of Berlin and her adopted son Troy. Troy along with his siblings, Maggie, Ben, and Alex, were patients of Dr. DiNicola’s for years. Dr. DiNicola credits Kim, who had a special needs child and then adopted two more, with showing him the true meaning of love and parenting. Troy credits Dr. DiNicola with seeing him as a person.
Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the fourth quarter excerpt.
Food choices in the Gifford cafeteria get even healthier as the hospital transitions to a healthy breakfast bar; healthier, lower salt meats; less butter and heavy cream in foods; and more grains and legumes as starches.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stops at Gifford on his “Cycling Vermont’s 14″ 500-mile bicycle tour of the state’s 14 counties. He tours Menig as part of his stop.
Dr. Josh Plavin, a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, speaks out for the federal program supporting primary care providers on Corps Community Day on Oct. 11, and for the need for more primary care providers, especially in rural regions.
Two local women, Krista Warner and Teresa Bradley, organize a bowling tournament in support of Gifford’s Woman to Woman fund and raise $1,485 for breast cancer awareness.
The CT scanner is upgraded from a 40-slice model to a 64-slice model, offering patients faster service, clearer imaging, and less radiation.
A new system, a CAREpoint Workstation, for transmitting EKGs from ambulances in the field to the Gifford Emergency Department is brought online. The system, generously paid for by the Gifford Auxiliary, is for use with heart attack patients to determine if they should be brought to Gifford or directly to a cardiac catheterization lab at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center or Fletcher Allen Health Care.
Menig residents work with school children from the Baptist Fellowship of Randolph to create 100 boxes of gifts for children in Third World countries through Operation Christmas Child.
Working with Connor Contracting Inc., Gifford staff and community members Stuff a Truck for Hurricane Sandy survivors in the Rockaway neighborhood of Long Island, New York.
The first patient is seen in the Radiology Department’s new fluoroscopy room. The room is utilized for interventional radiology procedures, which have grown in number.
All Gifford grounds go smoke-free in concert with the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 15.
Gifford’s Annual Craft Fair raises funds for the Adult Day Program.
Married couple Elvira Dana and Jason Kass travel 36 hours from their home in Armenia to give birth at Gifford, for a second time.
Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Vermont Ethics Network, and Gifford’s Advanced Illness Care team join together to offer a community discussion around end-of-life care planning. Other talks on death and dying continue at Gifford in the months that follow.
Family physician Barbara Lazar joins Gifford, bringing a love of geriatrics to the Randolph team.
Chef Wendell Fowler leads a free talk on the pitfalls of the American diet. He suggests cutting the food additives, chemicals, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup in favor of fresher, less-processed foods to improve our health.
Gifford once again supports the community through its holiday gift certificate program – a buy local program where employees receive “gift certificates” redeemable only at regional, locally-owned businesses.
Mom Sara Bowen, big sister Cassidy Sedor and dad Shawn Sedor, all of South Royalton, cuddle their newest family member – Kaydence Sedor, born on Jan. 2 at Gifford Medical Center and the Randolph hospital’s first baby of the new year.
RANDOLPH – Sara Bowen and fiancé Shawn Sedor of South Royalton were the first to welcome a baby in the new year at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.
Bowen gave birth to daughter, Kaydence Sedor, on Jan. 2 at 10:29 p.m. A gorgeous and healthy Kaydence weighed in at 7 pounds 12 ounces and is 20 ½ inches long.
She is the couple’s second child. Two-year-old Cassidy Sedor was also born at Gifford.
The family was excited to have the first baby of the new year. “It’s really cool, actually,” said Bowen, but they were more excited with the newest member of their family, regardless of her birthdate.
“I’m lost for words. I love my kids. They’re amazing. (There’s) nothing better than to have kids,” said Bowen, who was originally due to give birth on Dec. 28.
“We’ve got another little one to add to the family. (Kaydence) has someone to look up to and (Cassidy) has someone to take care of,” added Shawn. “I’m just glad that she’s healthy. We are lucky to have this blessing in our life.”
Married couple Elvira Dana and Jason Kass live and work in Armenia, a developing country once part of the Soviet Union. When it came time to have children, however, Dana and Kass looked outside of Armenia for care.
Elvira Dana and Jason Kass hold 3-year-old Gideon and newborn Natalie at a family home in Northfield. The married couple has come home to Vermont from Armenia – traveling for 36 hours – to have both their children at Gifford Medical Center.
They looked to Dana’s native Vermont, specifically Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.
For each of their child’s births – first Gideon three years ago and then Natalie late last month – the family flew back to Vermont.
“When Gideon came along we decided very quickly we needed to be back in the U.S. for the birth,” says Dana, who grew up in Northfield and was one of Gifford’s early Birthing Center patients nearly 35 years ago.
She got her prenatal care – such that it was – in Armenia and e-mailed test results and information to Gifford’s team of certified nurse-midwives. “They were willing to be flexible about some pretty strange pre-natal care,” says Dana, noting some documents sent had been translated from Russian and Armenian.
At 36 weeks of pregnancy (the latest point in a pregnancy that women are recommended to fly and often the latest point an airline will allow a pregnant woman in the air) Dana, with Kass at her side, traveled the 36 hours home. Gifford childbirth education and lactation consultant Nancy Clark provided the couple a crash course in birthing.
Gideon was born the morning after that final birthing class. He arrived two weeks early and just two-and-a-half hours after Dana made it to the hospital.
Hurricane Sandy this year delayed the family’s flight and Dana ended up flying – a bit nervously – at 37 weeks. But Natalie was patient, arriving on Nov. 26, one day after her due date and about an hour and forty-five minutes after the family made it to the hospital.
In both instances, says the couple, the atmosphere, low-intervention birth experience, and friendliness of staff were exactly what the family was seeking.
“Nobody was stressed. It was so calm. It was just us, a midwife and a nurse with no beeping noises. Everyone we interacted with was so kind, including the cleaning and food services staff,” Dana says.
Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola – Dana’s pediatrician growing up – checked on both babies following their births. The children have both gotten their pediatric care at Gifford while they’re in the state. And in fact, they even called Gifford, reaching Dr. DiNicola as the on-call pediatrician, when Gideon spiked a high fever in Armenia and the couple didn’t know what to do, says Kass, 37 and formerly of Randolph Center.
It is the consistency of the care provided at Gifford, says Dana, that gives the couple the confidence to fly in and give birth with a midwife they may never have met or entrust their child’s care with a pediatrician who may not be a familiar face.
“Mostly we just feel so incredibly lucky,” says Dana, cradling her newborn.
Service through the Peace Corps first took Dana to Armenia in 2005. Putting her master’s degree in teaching English as a second language to work, she taught English and trained teachers. She then was hired as Armenia country director of American Councils, a non-profit that administers U.S. State Department and international educational programs, including student exchanges.
Jason joined her in Armenia in 2008, working in the scant Armenia job market and for meager Armenian wages as a head gardener at a renovated public park.
Presently staying with family in Northfield, the couple and their now two children will fly back to Armenia on Feb. 4. Natalie will need a passport before they can go. Bilingual young Gideon is on his second passport, having already filled one in his three years of life.
The family hopes to make Vermont their permanent home one day again soon – at least by the time Gideon will start school.
The Kass family plays together. They are in Vermont from Armenia to have their latest child, newborn Natalie, at Gifford Medical Center’s Birthing Center.
RANDOLPH – Anne Galante never planned to be a physician.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Upstate New York, Galante graduated from Cornell University and worked in insurance in Los Angeles and then New York City for a decade. While in New York, she began volunteering in the Emergency Department in Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. “It was very easy to be helpful,” Galante recalls. She cleaned rooms. She held children while they got stitches. She hugged patients newly diagnosed with cancer.
Then she started doing ride-alongs with an ambulance crew, going into to some of the city’s worst neighborhoods.
The experiences gave her stories to tell her friends until one evening during a gathering with those same friends, Galante was suddenly aware that her interest in medicine was more than idle curiosity. “God’s finger thumped my head. I had a calling. I said, ‘I think I’m going to try to go to medical school.’”
“I might as well have said I was going to fly without a plane.”
But soon she found her plane.
She enrolled in medical school at the University of Vermont in 1994, graduating in 1998 and going on to a four-year obstetrics/gynecology internship and residency at Albany Medical Center Hospital in New York.
She initially thought emergency medicine was her calling, but the very first clinical rotation she worked in medical school was in gynecology, and it stuck. “I just loved it, and I loved surgery,” says Dr. Galante, who was intrigued with women’s health.
She went on to work for four years at Porter Medical Center in Middlebury and then worked for an additional four years as a travelling physician filling in where needed. (The industry calls this a locum tenens.) She worked as the “house” ob/gyn on the Rosebud (Lakota Sioux) reservation in South Dakota, at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, at Springfield Hospital and at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.
She has filled in at Gifford since 2009, but when the opportunity to transition to a full-time, employed provider presented itself this year, Dr. Galante was enthusiastic.
“I’m very happy. I feel like I came home. It’s wonderful to walk into a place where people already know you. They’re confident in you,” she says.
Gifford is renowned for its Birthing Center and midwifery and obstetrics team. In addition to collaborative birth support, Dr. Galante also provides a wide range of well-woman care, including adolescents’ gynecology, care for abnormal pap smears, colposcopies, sexual dysfunction, standard well-woman visits, and perimenopausal help.
Board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, she is a fellow with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and has worked as a volunteer physician with organizations such as Medicine in Action caring for women in Jamaica, Haiti, and Tanzania and at the Open Door Clinic in Middlebury.
A mother of two, Isabelle, 11, and Jackson, 10, Dr. Galante is a New Haven resident, published photographer, sailor, cyclist, and cook.
She sees patients at Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery in Randolph. Call her (802) 728-2401.