The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
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
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.
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.
Now she encourages others to have their annual exams
This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
Here Bradley and Warner stand with Gifford Breast Care Coordinator Cheryl Jewkes by the Randolph hospital’s digital mammography machine.
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.
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.
RANDOLPH – The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has granted accreditation with commendation to the cancer program at Gifford Medical Center through 2013.
A facility receives accreditation with commendation following an onsite evaluation by a physician surveyor during which the facility demonstrates a commendation level of compliance with one or more standards that represent the full scope of the cancer program (cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach, and quality improvement). In addition, a facility receives a compliance rating for all other standards.
Through its oncology department, Gifford in Randolph offers area patients access to an experienced oncologist, Dr. John Valentine; care from a specially certified oncology nurse; and treatment planning and options, including outpatient chemotherapy and hormone therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Cancer patients and their families additionally benefit from Gifford’s specialists and surgeons and the hospital’s robust palliative care program. Gifford also has a Cancer Committee, a patient care navigator program for women undergoing breast biopsies, and data management and quality oversight. It promotes cancer prevention, screenings, and treatment to the public through patient education and outreach efforts.
“We’re honored to be accredited once again by the Commission on Cancer,” Gifford Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry said. “This accreditation is a quality indicator for patients choosing cancer care, and an indicator that quality cancer care can be found close to home at Gifford.”
Established in 1922 by the American College of Surgeons, the Commission on Cancer is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education, and the monitoring of comprehensive, quality care. Its membership includes fellows of the American College of Surgeons and 49 national organizations that reflect the full spectrum of cancer care.
Gifford’s program has been accredited by the Commission on Cancer since 1965.
The core functions of the Commission on Cancer include setting standards for quality, multidisciplinary cancer patient care; surveying facilities to evaluate compliance with the 36 Commission on Cancer standards; collecting standardized and quality data from accredited facilities; and using the data to develop effective educational interventions to improve cancer care outcomes at the national, state, and local level.
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.6 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. There are currently more than 1,500 Commission on Cancer-accredited cancer programs in the United States and Puerto Rico, representing close to 30 percent of all hospitals. This 30 percent of hospitals diagnose and/or treat 80 percent of newly diagnosed cancer patients each year. In addition, a national network of more than 1,650 volunteer cancer liaison physicians, including internal medicine physician Jim Currie of Gifford, provides leadership and support for the Commission on Cancer Accreditation Program and other activities at local facilities.
The Accreditation Program, a component of the Commission on Cancer, sets quality-of-care standards for cancer programs and reviews the programs to ensure they conform to those standards. Accreditation is given only to those facilities that have voluntarily committed to providing the highest level of quality cancer care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance. To maintain accreditation, facilities with Commission on Cancer accredited cancer programs must undergo an on-site review every three years.
Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli
RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham will lead a free men’s health talk on June 6 on colorectal health, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.
The talk will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center with free pizza and refreshments served at 5:30 p.m.
The talk aims to raise awareness of men’s health issues and preventable conditions, such as colon cancer, in a comfortable atmosphere, says Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford vice president of surgery.
“Both of our physicians are very approachable and personable and are able to find the humorous side of these topics,” O’Berry said. “I’m thrilled that we have two surgeons who are gifted, passionate, and so easy to talk to.”
Dr. Ciccarelli has been a general surgeon for more than 20 years, providing surgical care and colonoscopies at Gifford since 2007.
Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States and Vermont.
Colorectal cancer develops from polyps that grow – silently, unseen and unfelt – on the inside wall of the colon. Many polyps will never become cancer, but some will over the years.
A colonoscopy can both detect and prevent colorectal cancer. This is because during a colonoscopy, these polyps are removed in their precancerous state or before disease can be felt, preventing the onset or the spread of the disease. And when found early, colorectal cancer is highly curable.
Without colonoscopies, it is not until polyps become cancerous, grow large, and block the colon or break through the colon wall that colon cancer symptoms are evident.
“This is one area of medicine where we can actually prevent disease, extend lives, and improve quality of life,” says Dr. Ciccarelli, who will also discuss other common colorectal health issues, such as diverticulosis, anal fissures, and hemorrhoids.
Gifford’s new urologist, Dr. Richard Graham
A renowned urologist, Dr. Graham has been practicing urology for 28 years and has performed surgeries around the world. He joined Gifford’s urology practices in Randolph and at the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction last year, bringing new procedures to the hospital.
An urologist specializes in diseases of the male and female urinary tract as well as male reproductive organs. Dr. Graham will consequently talk about common male reproductive ailments, including prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction.
In Vermont, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the Vermont Department of Health. Nationally, about one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The average age of diagnosis is 67.
Treatment for prostate cancer can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects millions of men in the United States and can be a sign of more serious disease.
Dr. Graham will address how prostate cancer is diagnosed and treatment options, and what works for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. He’ll also discuss the controversy over PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests for men, when they should be performed, what they mean, and why doctors order the screening.
“It’s a serious subject,” Dr. Graham says of the talk that he has given around the world, “but it’s also interactive.”
The event is open to men of all ages and to couples. There is no cost to attend but registration is encouraged. Call 728-2104 by May 30 to sign-up.
Gifford is an American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer nationally accredited cancer program. The hospital is located at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12 south of the village) in Randolph. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked by a green awning. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org.
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.