Gifford Cancer Program Overview

Gifford's cancer program

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford cancer committeeEstablished in 1959, Gifford’s Cancer Program is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

A dedicated cancer committee meets regularly to provide leadership for the program, including setting program goals and objectives, driving quality improvements and best outcomes for patients, and coordinating Gifford’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment.

Operating out of our relaxing Ambulatory Care Unit, Gifford’s Oncology Department includes:

  • Cancer care from an experienced oncologist
  • Specially certified oncology nurses
  • Planning options for cancer treatment following a diagnosis
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Treatments for some hematology conditions

The medical center is home to advanced diagnostic technology, including stereotactic breast biopsies; a breast care coordinator providing education and outreach; a patient care navigator; many surgical offerings; data management and quality oversight; and cancer prevention programs, including a “Prevention into Practice” model that works with patients and their health care providers to bring screenings to the forefront.

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford’s 2014 Highlights: October – December

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.


Gifford completes its upgrade to electronic medical records (EMR). Throughout the year, Gifford primary care and specialty care outpatient practices moved from paper to candidates' debateelectronic records as part of a federal initiative.

Gifford and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce collaborate to hold the only local candidates’ debate for Senate and House of Representatives candidates.

Gifford's Woman to Woman FundGifford employee Teresa Bradley and her niece, Krista Warner, once again hold a bowling tournament in memory of Teresa’s mom and Krista’s grandmother, Ruth Brown. Money raised supports Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund and brings awareness to the importance of mammograms.

Gifford announces it has met its state-approved operating margin for the 15th consecutive year.

Gifford meets operating margin


Major Melvin McLaughlin

Gifford loses one of the greatest heroes of our time, Major Melvin McLaughlin. Affectionately known as “the Major” and “Major Mac,” he spent the last 40 years volunteering at the hospital, encouraging staff and patients with words of love and friendship. He will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.

Hannaford gift certificate for Project IndependenceHannaford Supermarket in South Barre presented Project Independence with a gift certificate worth $1,500. The gift is used to offset the cost of groceries for the program which provides a daily breakfast, lunch, and snack for roughly 38 participants. When the store manager asked staff which nonprofit they should contribute to, the adult day program was at the top of their list.

Dr. Lou DiNicolaPediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola receives the Green Mountain Pediatrician Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter. He was acknowledged for over 38 years of service as a Gifford pediatrician. Along with a plaque, Dr. DiNicola was presented a 7-foot-long handwritten scroll describing what makes him special.


Gifford once again invests $40,000 into the regional economy through the Gifford Gift Certificate program.

Gifford’s Oncology Program Receives American College of Surgeons Accreditation

Renewal marks hospital’s 49th year
of providing local quality cancer care

Commission on Cancer accredited programThe oncology program at Gifford Medical Center has received accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons.

Every three years the CoC accreditation program reviews hospital oncology services to ensure that they conform to commission standards and are committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care (learn more here). After a rigorous evaluation process and on-site performance review, Gifford received accreditation through 2016.

“Our goal is to make sure people know that they can receive the same quality of care offered at larger hospitals close to home, with a support network they know,” said Rebecca O’Berry, vice-president of surgery and operations at Gifford. “The accreditation process is work for our entire oncology team, but it is worth the effort. Battling a cancer diagnosis is hard enough—I’m thankful that we can provide quality cancer care locally and decrease our patient’s travel time during treatment.”

One of smallest hospitals in nation to hold CoC accreditation, Gifford has done so since 1965. Gifford’s oncology services include:

  • Cancer care from experienced oncologist Dr. John Valentine
  • Compassionate and specially certified oncology nurses
  • Lab and diagnostic services
  • Advanced diagnostic technology, including stereotactic breast imaging
  • Patient navigator help with planning options for treatment and to coordinate care
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Preventative cancer screenings
  • Hospital specialists, surgeons, and a robust palliative care program

For more information, visit, or call (802) 728-2322.

Sprinkle with Experience: 2013 Medical Staff

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Gifford medical staff in 2013

“Creating private inpatient rooms at Gifford will further enhance patient satisfaction and overall experience in the hospital. We strive very hard to deliver great nursing care, high level hospitalist and ancillary services to the community. Very soon we will have expanded facilities to offer private rooms to our patients, which will allow for less disruption and a greater opportunity to heal. I am extraordinarily impressed and proud of the care we deliver at Gifford, and fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of this great place.”
~ Dr. Martin Johns, Hospital Division Medical Director

Here is a complete list of all those who worked at Gifford in 2013:

Bernd Dotzauer, MD
Anthony Fazzone, MD
Dennis Henzig, MD
Jon-Richard Knoff, MD
Nazek Shabayek, MDMadeline
Waid, MD
Andrea Williams, MD

Bruce Andrus, MD
Tim Beaver, MD

Chiropractic Sports Medicine
Hank Glass, DC
Andrea Kannas, DC

Emergency Medicine
Gretchen Andrews, MD
Jared Blum, MD
Steven Fisher, MD
Sarah Johansen, MD
Martin Johns, MD
Marc Keller, MD
Thomas Leeson, DO
Wayne Misselbeck, MD
Todd Morrell, MD
Duane Natvig, MD
Paul Newton, MD
Saul Nurok, MD
Kevin Rodgers, MD
Scott Rodi, MD
Brian Sargent, DO
A. Nicole Thran, MD
Joshua White, MD

Family Medicine
Kenneth Borie, DO
Terry Cantlin, DO
Marcus Coxon, MD
Jonna Goulding, MD
Barbara Lazar, MD
Brian Sargent, DO
Mark Seymour, DO
Sheri Brown, APRN
Tammy Gerdes, PA-C
Emily LeVan, APRN
Tara Meyer, APRN
Megan O’Brien, APRN
Rebecca Savidge, PA-C
Starr Strong, PA-C

General Surgery
Ovleto Ciccarelli, MD
Maury Smith, MD
Laurie Spaulding, MD
Nikki Gewirz, PA-C

Hospitalist Medicine
William “Sandy” Craig, MD
Martin Johns, MD
Joshua Plavin, MD, MPH
Kevin Rodgers, MD
Wendell Smith, MD
Sheri Brown, APRN
Sue Burgos, PA-C
Amanda Flyckt, APRN
Megan O’Brien, APRN
Fred Staples, PA-C

Internal Medicine
Milton Fowler, MD
Mark Jewett, MD
Cristine Maloney, MD
Mary LaBrecque, APRN

Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease
James Currie, MD

Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
David Pattison, MD, MPH
Joshua Plavin, MD, MPH

Mental Health
Cory Gould, LPMA
Robert Vaillancourt, LPMA

Donna Butler, CNM
Ellen McAndrew, CNM
Laureli Morrow, CNM
Kathryn Saunders, CNM
Meghan Sperry, CNM
Tanya Waters, CNM

Naturopathic Medicine
Christopher Hollis, ND
Erica Koch, ND

Robin Schwartz, MD

G. Brent Burgee, MD
Anne Galante, MD
Dina Levin, MD
Ellamarie Russo-DeMara, DO

John Valentine, MD

Christopher Soares, MD

Jesse Hahn, MD
Stephanie Landvater, MD
Jayne Collins, PA-C
Bradford Salzmann, PA-C

Cathy Palmer, MD
Brian Travis, MD

Louis DiNicola, MD
Elizabeth Jewett, MD
Joseph Pelletier, MD
Robert Smith, DO
Pamela Udomprasert, MD

Podiatry and Sports Medicine
Nicolas Benoit, DPM
Kevin McNamara, DPM
Robert Rinaldi, DPM
Paul Smith, DPM

Pulmonary Medicine
Marda Donner, MD

Yvette Bailey, MD
John McIntyre, MD
Scott Smith, MD

Sports Medicine
Peter Loescher, MD
Andrea LaRosa, APRN

Michael Curtis, MD
Richard Graham, MD
Nancy Blessing, PA-C

Vascular Studies
Andrew Stanley, MD
Georg Steinthorsson, MD

Two Cups of Comfort: Diagnostic Imaging and Inpatient Care

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Ben Cronan

Radiology technologist Ben Cronan, Donna Baker and nurse Shane Parks

Donna Baker is a cancer and MRSA survivor. Unable to walk, she also has COPD. These conditions have meant considerable hospital time for Donna. Of her time spent at Gifford, two faces are particularly memorable: inpatient nurse Shane Parks and radiology technologist Ben Cronan.

“Shane is a very good nurse. He’s very thorough and you feel confident when you’re with him … . When I would have trouble breathing, it would scare me and he would stay there until I calmed down.”

“Ben, I pick on him. When I would need chest X-rays, I would be on a stretcher. He would get right on up on the stretcher. He would like give me a hug around my arms and pull me forward, so (an image receptor could be placed under) me.”
~ Donna Baker

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.