Gifford Mammography, Nuclear Medicine Programs Earn National Accreditation

Gifford's radiology team

Members of Gifford’s breast care team pose in this file photo. They are, from left, certified breast sonographer Terri Hodgdon, certified mammogram technologist Cheryl Jewkes, board certified radiologist Dr. Scott Smith, certified breast sonographer Kim Nelson and patient care navigator Brittany Kelton.

Gifford Medical Center’s mammography and nuclear medicine departments have both been awarded three-year reaccreditations by the American College of Radiology.

The American College of Radiology calls their recognition the “gold seal of accreditation” and notes it represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

The accreditation is awarded only to facilities meeting American College of Radiology practice guidelines and technical standards after a peer-review evaluation by board certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Assessed are image quality from actual patient images taken (without sharing patient names), personnel qualifications, facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.

Quality control procedures include daily, weekly and monthly checks of machines to determine they are functioning optimally.

Gifford submitted its records for review for reaccreditation for both mammography and nuclear medicine in January and heard back on March 26.

The recognition, says Nuclear Medicine Manager Tera Benson, tells patients “we’re dedicated to providing the best quality image.”

In addition, it ensures that Gifford is following not just what it deems the best standards for care, but national standards for care.

“We are fortunate to receive a lot of positive feedback from patients regarding the courtesy of our staff or the speed with which we complete exams like mammograms. This accreditation is a recognition of all the work that occurs behind the scenes to ensure patients not only have a great experience, but the highest quality imaging as well,” said Director of Ancillary Services Pam Caron, who praised her team’s hard work.

According to the American College of Radiology’s Web site, Gifford is one of seven Vermont facilities with an accredited nuclear medicine program. The closest other programs are larger hospitals in Burlington and Rutland, as well as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. A greater number of mammography programs are accredited.

Bowling Tournament Raises Funds for Mammograms

bowling tournament for breast cancer awareness

Teresa Bradley of Braintree, left, and Krista Warner pose at the Valley Bowl in Randolph. The duo organized a fifth bowling tournament recently to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for mammograms at their local hospital, Gifford Medical Center. (Provided/Robin Palmer)

What started as a senior project has grown into an annual tradition.

Four years ago, Krista Warner, then a local high school senior, organized a bowling tournament to support Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund with the help of her aunt, Teresa Bradley of Braintree.

Warner of Randolph is now long out of high school, but the duo continues to organize the tournament to support local mammograms in the name of Warner’s grandmother and Bradley’s mother, Ruth Brown. Brown had several forms of cancer, including breast cancer in 1993 and lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in 2011.

A mammogram diagnosed her breast cancer.

“If she hadn’t had it, we would have lost her back in 1993,” says Bradley with conviction. “That mammogram gave her another 18 years.”

Following her death, Warner and Bradley renamed their tournament the Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament. This year’s tournament – their fifth – raised $857, which they recently gave to their local hospital.

The top fund-raiser in this year’s event was Patty Grueteke. Nate Olmstead won the tournament.

Bradley thanked Valley Bowl and Bob’s M & M for donating prizes as well as all of the bowlers all who participated. “It’s awesome that they come out and do it. They’re very enthusiastic,” Bradley said, adding, “It’s a good tournament. We have a good time, plus we’re raising money for people who are less fortunate.”

Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund pays for mammograms for low-income women not covered by other programs, such as Ladies First, and buys soft pads that go on the mammography machine to make mammograms more comfortable for all women.

“We want to encourage women to have their annual mammograms. Providing a more comfortable and more affordable experience helps substantially. We are so appreciative of Krista and Teresa for working hard each year to support this shared cause, raise awareness and bring a fun event to our community,” Gifford Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln said.

The Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament is held at Valley Bowl in Randolph on the fourth Sunday in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each year. Bowlers of all abilities are welcome.

The tournament has raised $5,150 since its inception.

Year in Review – Part 4

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the fourth quarter excerpt.

OCTOBER

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.

NOVEMBER

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.

Stuff a TruckMenig 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.

Great American Smoke OutAll 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.

DECEMBER

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.

Year in Review – Part 1

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the first quarter excerpt.

JANUARY

pediatrics' open houseUrologist Dr. Richard Graham and menopause practitioner Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara of the Twin River Health Center offer a free talk at the Montshire Museum on urinary incontinence.

Gifford is once again awarded a grant from the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program. For the 11th year, Gifford is the only entity in Vermont to receive the $35,000 grant for breast cancer awareness education and outreach.

Pediatrics and adolescent medicine moves from the main medical center building to Dr. Chris Soares’ former space at the corner of South Main and Maple streets. Joining the practice on the first floor of the renovated, spacious Victorian home is pediatric physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

A free three-week series on heart health includes talks from cardiologist Dr. Bruce Andrus and registered dietitian Stacy Pelletier as well as a heart-healthy cooking demonstration from Gifford’s chefs.

FEBRUARY

As part of Gifford’s expanded efforts under the Vermont Blueprint for Health, a chronic illness support group – Chronic HealthShare Consortium – is launched and begins meeting monthly.

Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli strives to bring colon health to the forefront with a free health talk, “Everyone’s Got One: A Discussion on the Colon and How to Keep It Healthy”.

Pacemaker surgeries return to Gifford after a quarter century hiatus.

The Menig Extended Care Facility is named among nation’s top 39 nursing homes by U.S. News and World Report, which released a list of “2012 Honor Roll” nursing homes. Menig was the only nursing home chosen in Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire.

MARCH

The 106th Annual Corporators Meeting is held at the medical center and features Steve Kimbell, commissioner of what was then the Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Leo Connolly, Fred Newhall, and Peter Nowlan are elected to the Board of Trustees.

A Vermont House of Representatives resolution recognizes “the outstanding health care services provided by Gifford Medical Center”. The resolution is in honor of Gifford’s more than 100 years of service to the Randolph area and for its many recent awards.

The Diabetes Education Expo focuses on teeth and feet and how diabetes can keep both healthy. It is the 7th annual exposition organized by the Diabetes Clinic especially for the growing diabetes population.

An open house is held for pediatrics’ new space at 40 South Main Street. Children attending enjoy face painting, balloons, snacks, tours of their new doctor’s office, bike helmet fittings, and painting tiles that have become part of the clinic’s permanent decor.

Hilda Gray: A Mammogram Found Her Breast Cancer

Now she encourages others to have their annual exams

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

radiologist Dr. Scott Smith

Radiologist Dr. Scott Smith performed Hilda’s biopsy and shared her diagnosis with her extended family.

Hilda Gray is a strong proponent of mammograms. The South Royalton resident has had one every year at her community hospital, Gifford Medical Center.

Last year was the first time this active grandmother got some unsettling news, however.

A small lesion in her left breast was found and merited further study. Gifford Patient Care Navigator Brittany Kelton scheduled all of Hilda’s follow-up care and was at her side during each appointment.

A diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound were performed and then an ultrasound-guided biopsy was done right in the Radiology Department.

At first, Hilda didn’t want the biopsy. “I wasn’t too thrilled about that,” she says. Her family, however, was insistent. “‘Momma, you’re going to have the biopsy and that is all there is to it,’” Hilda recalls one of her daughters saying.

On the day radiologist Dr. Scott Smith delivered the news that the small mass was indeed breast cancer, three of Hilda’s children and her husband, Robert Gray Sr., were at her side.

General surgeon Dr. Maury Smith

General surgeon Dr. Maury Smith removed Hilda’s cancer.

Dr. Smith “took the whole family in the office and explained to everybody. He didn’t try to hurry you out. He wanted to make sure all of our questions were answered,” Robert recalls.

A lumpectomy, surgery to remove the mass, was the next step. This time, Hilda was fearless. “If its something that’s got to be done, it’s got to be done,” she recalls saying at the time.

She also had every confidence in the general surgeon who would operate – Dr. Maury Smith. “To Dr. Smith, you are a person, not just a patient,” says Robert.

This time with Robert, all four of her children and their spouses with her, Hilda returned to Gifford last fall for surgery to remove the cancer. A follow-up mammogram earlier this year found no additional lesions, says a happy, cancer-free Hilda.

“I feel like the hospital did wonderful by me,” she says, encouraging others to have their annual mammograms.

“Just do it,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone, I would never have known it was there. I really think it’s something women should do every year.”

BRCA Test Can Help Determine Risk for Breast, Ovarian Cancer

By Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara, Gynecologist

Angelina Jolie’s courageous decision to undergo a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing hereditary breast cancer has brought to light an important test done regularly, and promoted, at Gifford.

The reason behind Jolie’s decision was a positive BRCA test. BRCA is a test for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. It is as pain-free as a test gets; all you have to do is spit in a test tube.

In more scientific terms, the test is of your saliva or, buccal DNA, and is done right in the doctor’s office to check for an inherited mutation or alteration in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene.

While hereditary breast and ovarian cancer account for only 5 percent of these cancers, knowing your BRCA status can help you and your family make informed decisions and choices.

A woman with BRCA 1 or 2 mutations has a markedly elevated risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, including:

  • Up to a 50 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 50 (compared to 2 percent in the general population)
  • Up to an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 70 (compared to 8 percent in the general population)
  • Up to a 64 percent risk of developing a second breast cancer
  • Up to a 44 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer by age 70 (compared to less than 1 percent in the general population)

Knowing whether you have this mutation will enable you to have increased surveillance and/or treatment, which can potentially save your life and help your family members make informed decisions. Management strategies may include earlier breast cancer screening with mammography or MRI, risk reducing surgery such as ovary removal after childbearing is completed, and chemoprevention, such as tamoxifen or birth control pills.

Red flags for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, include:

  • Breast cancer before age 50
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Male breast cancer at any age
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • Relatives of a BRCA carrier

If you or a loved one falls into one of these categories, contact your primary care or gynecologist’s office to inquire about testing.

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara is a gynecologist at Gifford’s Bethel Health Center and Twin River Health Center in White River Junction. She provides BRCA advice and testing. She is also a breast cancer survivor.

Bowling for Breast Cancer

For a third year, Teresa Bradley of Braintree and Krista Warner of Randolph have organized a bowling tournament at Valley Bowl to support Gifford Medical Center’s Woman to Woman fund.

Held each year on the fourth Sunday in October, the Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament raised $1,485 and attracted 32 bowlers. The winning bowler was Shawn Corbett of Rochester. The top fund-raiser was Barre’s Diana Flood. Also recognized were Bob’s M&M, Patrick’s Place and Valley Bowl, all of Randolph, for donating the top three prizes at each annual tournament.

The tournament, which started in 2010 as Warner’s high school senior project, is named in memory of Bradley’s mother and Warner’s grandmother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 following a mammogram. She beat the disease but later developed lung cancer, passing away in Gifford’s Garden Room last year. For Warner and Bradley, the tournament is a way to keep her memory alive and support a cause about which they feel strongly.

Gifford’s Woman to Woman fund helps provide mammograms to low-income women and funds soft pads placed on the mammography machine to make essential mammograms more comfortable for all.

bowling for breast cancer

Here Bradley, left, and Warner, middle, present the money they raised to Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Jewkes in the Randolph hospital’s stereotactic breast biopsy room.

bowling for breast cancer

Here Bradley and Warner stand with Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Jewkes by the Randolph hospital’s digital mammography machine.

bowling for breast cancer

Here Bradley, Warner and Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Jewkes, standing in the Randolph hospital’s digital mammography room, feign surprise at the thick stack of money raised.

Breast cancer awareness talk slated for Oct. 22 at Gifford

Dr. Anne Galante

Dr. Scott Smith

RANDOLPH – Experts from Gifford Medical Center will lead a free breast cancer awareness talk on Oct. 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. in concert with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Ob/gyn Dr. Anne Galante and radiologist Dr. Scott Smith will discuss screening and prevention of breast cancer among women of all ages. Specific topics include breast exams, clinical breast exams, the importance and limitations of various methods of breast imaging, and genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.

Time will be provided for one-on-one questions with these local experts.

Michele Packard, Health Connections specialist, will also be on hand to enroll qualifying women ages 21 and up in Ladies First as well as explore other insurance options.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and in Vermont. It’s also the nation’s leading single cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, about 473 breast cancer cases are diagnosed among Vermont women each year. About 92 people each year die from the disease. Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis every three minutes and a death from breast cancer every 14 minutes.

While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment.

“We hope to increase awareness of breast cancer risks, prevention, screening and insurance opportunities available to Vermont women,” Dr. Galante said. “Early diagnosis offers the best chance of surviving breast cancer, but if we don’t know about the disease, we can’t treat it.

“This is an opportunity for women of all ages, and whoever they want to bring with them, to learn more about breast health.”

The talk, titled “The Importance of Breast Cancer Screening,” will be held in the Gifford Conference Center at the medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph.

The event is free and open to all. No registration is required.

For more information, call the hospital at 728-7000 or visit www.giffordmed.org.

Free women’s health talk addresses menopause, genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers

Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

RANDOLPH – Gynecologist and certified menopause practitioner Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara is leading a free women’s health talk on April 10 from 6-7 p.m. in the Porter Community Room at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich.

Dr. Russo-DeMara, who provides women’s health care in White River Junction at the Twin River Health Center and at the Bethel Health Center, will address menopause, genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers and more.

The talk is free. Participants, however, are encouraged to register by calling the Twin River Health Center at 296-7370 by April 3.

The Twin River and Bethel health centers are part of Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. Dr. Russo-DeMara has been providing women’s care for more than two decades. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.

Gifford Receives $35,000 Grant from Avon Breast Health Outreach Program

Randolph hospital is state’s only BHOP grant recipient for 11 years running

Cheryl Manns

Cheryl Manns travels the state talking to women about the importance of early detection of breast cancer through clinical breast exams and mammograms. Her work is funded by the Avon Foundation Breast Health Outreach Program.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of early detection of breast cancer.

The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program (BHOP) supports community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country and is part of the Avon Foundation for Women, the largest corporate philanthropy dedicated to women’s causes globally.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Gifford’s Breast Health Program has received funding from the Foundation, resulting in a more than $415,000 investment regionally to increase awareness of the life-saving benefits of mammograms and clinical breast exams.

The only Vermont recipient, Gifford was selected as one of 120 grantees nationwide. Organizations like Gifford are chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income, and older women, who are often medically underserved.

Through the grant, Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Manns travels the state speaking to women where they live, work, and socialize about the life-saving benefits of early detection of breast cancer and sharing information on resources like Ladies First.

Since Gifford received its first grant in 2002, it has provided more than 4,500 mammograms and nearly 3,500 clinical breast exams through the program, and referred countless others to hospitals in their region of the state for care. In 2011 alone, Gifford breast care personnel spoke to more than 5,000 Vermonters in communities near and far about having annual mammograms after age 40, annual clinical breast exams, and doing self-breast exams so women know what is normal for them.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the United States and in Vermont. It’s also the nation’s leading single cause of death overall in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, about 473 breast cancer cases are diagnosed among Vermont women each year. About 92 people each year die from the disease. Nationwide, there is a new diagnosis every three minutes and a death from breast cancer every 14 minutes.

While advances have been made in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure, early detection still affords the best opportunity for successful treatment. According to the Avon Foundation, programs such as Gifford’s help ensure that all women have access to early detection information and options, even poor and medically underserved women.

Pam Caron serves as director of ancillary services at Gifford and oversees the grant.

“I am so pleased and humbled that we have been given the Avon Foundation grant again this year. The importance of spreading the information about early detection of breast cancer to our communities is a passion our entire team of breast care personnel shares. I am very proud of the work they do, and the care and compassion they show to our patients is phenomenal. The Avon grant supports our efforts, and I look forward to continuing the mission in 2012,” Caron said.

Since 1993, the Avon Foundation has awarded more than 1,550 grants to community-based breast health programs across the United States. These programs are dedicated to educating underserved women about breast cancer and linking them to early detection screening services.

The Avon Foundation for Women and Breast Cancer Crusade

The Avon Foundation for Women, an accredited 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women and today is the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter most to women. The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which observes its 20th anniversary in 2012, has placed Avon at the forefront of the fight against breast cancer; today, Avon is the leading corporate supporter of the cause globally. In the 20 years since the Crusade’s launch, Avon breast cancer programs in 58 countries have donated more than $740 million for research and advancing access to care, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. Avon raises funds for the Crusade through the sale of Avon “Pink Ribbon” products, and through events and walks, such as the U.S. Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series, which is the Foundation’s largest fund-raising source.

The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program

The Avon Breast Health Outreach Program is administered by Cicatelli Associates Inc. to support community-based, non-profit breast health programs across the country. The Fund’s National Advisory Board selected the Breast Health Program at Gifford Medical Center as one of 120 new grant recipients nationwide in the 2012 cycle of Avon Breast Health Outreach Program grants. These organizations were chosen based on their ability to effectively reach women, particularly minority, low-income, and older women, who are often medically underserved.

For More Information

For more information on breast care at Gifford or to have Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Manns visit your organization, call her at (802) 728-2317. For more information about breast cancer, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org, or the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER or www.cancer.gov.

To learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women, call 1-866-505-AVON or visit www.avonfoundation.org, where you can access free printable Breast Health Resource Guides in English and Spanish. For information or to register or support Avon Walk for Breast Cancer events, visit www.avonwalk.org or call 1-888-540-WALK.

Gifford's Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Manns

Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Manns poses with Gifford Medical Center’s stereotactic breast biopsy equipment, including special comfort padding. Stereotactic breast biopsies are relatively new to Gifford and use image guidance to exactly pinpoint and remove a sample of suspicious tissue to be tested for cancer.