Gifford and Project Independence merger official

Two organizations solidify commitment
to the care of area seniors

Dee Rollins and Linda Minsinger

Project Independence executive director Dee Rollins joins ribbons with Linda Minsinger, Executive Director of Gifford Retirement Community.

On September 30th, Project Independence and Gifford Retirement Community, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph, officially merged in a ceremony and celebration held at the Barre-based adult day program.

The ribbon joining ceremony was attended by representatives from both organizations, participants and their families, dignitaries, and special guests, including Project Independence founder Lindsey Wade.

The merger comes after years of struggle for the independent adult care program, Vermont’s oldest, which faced flood recovery efforts in 2011 in addition to other facility issues and financial woes.

“It is very hard in these changing times in health care for a stand-alone nonprofit to make ends meet,” says Project Independence executive director Dee Rollins. “Merging with Gifford allows us to be off the island with more supports and resources so we can grow our services for our elders and caregivers. Gifford is the right and best partner Project Independence could imagine.”

While still responsible for their own bottom line and fundraising efforts, Project Independence now has the resources and backing of the financially stable Gifford to help maintain ongoing services.

Joe Woodin, Dee Rollins and Steve Koenemann

Gifford CEO Joe Woodin officially welcomes Project Independence to the Gifford family, shaking hands with board president Steve Koenemann and executive director Dee Rollins.

And the center is already experiencing the benefits of being part of a larger organization through savings in expenses and access to a wider range of resources.

For example, Project Independence is now able to utilize purchase point buying for a savings on supplies and groceries while also benefiting from the services of established Gifford departments such as billing, payroll, human resources, marketing, and others.

For Gifford, the merge is an opportunity to expand on its commitment to the region’s seniors. Already home to an award-winning nursing home and a successful adult day program located in Bethel, Gifford has a strong foundation in caring for the aging.

It’s a foundation they are building upon with the creation of a senior living community in Randolph Center. This new community will include a nursing home, assisted living and independent living units.

Construction on the campus began this past spring with work focusing on infrastructure and the building of a new Menig Extended Care facility, the 30-bed nursing home currently connected to the main hospital.

Current Menig residents are expected to transition to the new facility when construction is completed in the spring of 2015, a time that will also see the ground breaking of the first independent living facility.

Putting locals to work in Randolph Center

Senior living community progressing

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Randolph senior living community

When Gifford conceptualized and received all necessary permits to construct a senior living facility in Randolph Center, it was certain that local people would benefit. The region’s seniors would have a local place for nursing home care, independent living, and one day assisted living.

What wasn’t necessarily known when the project went out to bid in the spring, however, was how many other locals might benefit.

Randolph senior living communityThe crew at W.B. Rogers Inc. is a prime example. The local excavation contractor bid for and won the job to do the site work for the first phase of the project.

The project is the biggest in manager Geoff Gilman’s time with the family business, even trumping the eight miles of Bethel roads the company rebuilt immediately following Tropical Storm Irene.

W.B. Rogers Inc. got its start more than 40 years ago in 1968. Today, three generations work with the company, along with plenty of others. With 16 employees, W.B. Rogers brought on extra staff to work on Gifford’s project, which began in May. “We’ve employed quite a few more people,” Gilman said.

“Everybody who works for us lives in Randolph or a surrounding town, so it’s really keeping the income right here in this area,” added Gilman, whose father Charlie owns the business.

As community members pass by the site on Route 66 in Randolph Center, many have been surprised by the amount of equipment on site. Others have been surprised it’s locally owned. W.B. Rogers, which does jobs from the very small to the very large, owns about two dozen pieces of equipment, from excavators to loaders to backhoes to bulldozers to dump trucks.

Randolph senior living communityWith equipment stored in Randolph and an office in Bethel, Gilman notes a local contractor is also the contractor you know. He’s readily available, has built a reputation through his previous work at Gifford and many other local projects, and works hard to do a good job for his community.

“I take pride in my work. I like to see everything look nice. I treat these jobs like they are my own,” Gilman said.

After a long summer in the sun, he’ll also be glad to be done with it. “I was glad to get it. I’ll be glad to finish it,” he said.

W.B. Rogers will be on-site on the property until the ground freezes, finishing some grading and building an access road and then return in the spring for final grading and seeding.

The first phase of the project, which is the reconstruction of Gifford’s 30-bed Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home on the site, is expected to be done by May 2015.

The project began this May. Since then, water and sewer lines, drainage pipes, fire hydrants, light pole bases, and power have all gone in. Concrete has been placed, walls have gone up, and the site is getting ready for a winter of interior work.

Once complete, nursing home residents will move from their current home at Gifford to the new nursing home. The current facility will then be renovated into new industry-standard private inpatient rooms.

Later phases of the senior living community call for first 40 independent living units and then more independent living units and assisted living units to follow.

For Gifford, employing local contractors like W.B. Rogers means supporting not just seniors but the local workforce.

“Gifford is successful when our community is successful. It’s a partnership, and we do try very hard to be a good community partner,” said Gifford Director of Facilities Doug Pfohl.

Giving

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Gifford givingEach year, we ask our friends to consider supporting Gifford. As a nonprofit community hospital, Gifford truly appreciates your gifts. With your support, we are able to provide high quality patient experiences.

But did you know there are other ways to support the hospital that could be more beneficial for you? Gifford has planned giving options that help the medical center while also providing for your financial future. Including Gifford in your will, for example, means you’re leaving a lasting legacy. A charitable gift annuity means you will receive a fixed income for life.

Gifford is a stable, growing organization with a strong infrastructure; in other words, we’re a safe investment. When it comes to charitable gift annuities, the hospital has set aside assets to secure our promise to pay the annuity, and your return is not affected by market volatility.

There are many ways to invest in your community medical center. Please consult with your financial advisor and interested family members about these options before making a gift. It would be my pleasure to provide you more details with absolutely no obligation from you. Please call me at 728-2380 to begin the discussion.

It’s our job here at Gifford to provide the best care possible to patients. It’s my job to help support that outstanding care by connecting community members like you with Gifford. For many, it will be a friendship of shared values and financial security that will last for years to come.

I look forward to beginning that friendship with you.

~ Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development

Local Candidates’ Debate Oct. 21 in Randolph

local candidates' debateThe White River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Gifford Medical Center are collaborating to bring a local candidates’ debate to Randolph on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Invited to the debate are Orange County senate candidates and candidates vying for two different House of Representative districts.

In the Senate race are Mark MacDonald, the Democratic incumbent, and challenger Robert Frenier, a Republican. One seat is up for grabs.

MacDonald of Williamstown is a farmer and former teacher who served a term in the Senate in the 1990s and has then held the post since 2003. Frenier is a Chelsea business owner.

Orange-Washington-Addison state representatives Patsy French and Marjorie Ryerson, both Democrats from Randolph, are facing Republican challenger Charlie Russell of Randolph Center. Two seats serving the towns of Roxbury, Granville, Brookfield, Braintree, and Randolph are on the ballot.

French has served since 2003 and is a former teacher and co-manager of rental property with her husband. Ryerson, a poet, writer and editor, was appointed by the governor a year ago following the death of former Rep. Larry Townsend. A former dairy farmer, Russell is running a write-in campaign.

In the Orange-Windsor-1 district, incumbent Democrat Sarah Buxton is facing Republican David Ainsworth, a Royalton dairy farmer who held the seat from 2007-2010. Buxton of Tunbridge, a regional coordinator for the Building Bright Futures Council, has filled the seat since 2011 – twice before beating Ainsworth in incredibly narrow races, including one election that was decided by just one vote. The lone seat represents Royalton and Tunbridge.

Buxton is trying to rearrange her work schedule to attend. All other candidates have confirmed they will be attendance.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin will serve as moderator for the debate and Chamber Director Emma Schumann will assist him.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Those in attendance are invited to submit questions and enjoy refreshments from 6-6:30 p.m. The debate will be from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Route 12 hospital’s Conference Center. In addition to audience members’ questions, the debate is expected to focus on business and health care.

“Our state representatives and senator are our voices in Montpelier. As we near the election, it is important to give these individuals who are striving to represent us a chance to share their views and tell us why we should choose them on Nov. 4,” said Schumann. “We hope our communities’ members turn out to ask questions and hear our candidates’ positions on important local and state issues.”

This is the first – and possibly only – debate the candidates will face in Randolph.

The medical center is located at 44 S. Main St. in Randolph. The Conference Center is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, use the main entrance and take the elevator to the first floor.

Family Nurse Practitioner Joins Gifford Health Center at Berlin

Jeff Lourie

Jeff Lourie

Family nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie has brought his passion for primary care to the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.

A Cape Elizabeth, Maine, native, Lourie attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., earning his bachelor’s degree in organic chemistry. He went on to work in a research lab studying organic chemical synthesis before discovering that what he really wanted to do was help people – hands on.

He became a certified nursing assistant in his native Maine, and then went on to pursue his family nurse practitioner degree at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

From there he was certain of his career path: rural, primary care.

“It’s where you can really make a difference,” he says of primary care, noting that difference comes in the bonds formed with whole families. “When you see two, three, four generations of families, you really get to understand why things happen.”

Lourie worked for three years at a rural family practice in Wilton, Maine, before moving with his wife, Emily, to her native Vermont in 2013. The couple moved to Barre and Lourie went to work at Berlin Family Practice as a practitioner for Fletcher Allen Health Care.

This month he joined the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph.

In Berlin, Lourie works with family nurse practitioner Tara Meyer in providing primary care at the multi-specialty health center located just off Airport Road.

Board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Lourie is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and is on the board of The Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association.

He brings clinical interests in diabetes management, weight loss, preventative care, and pediatrics to the health center. He is also a certified medical examiner for those seeking a commercial driver’s license.

As a primary care provider, Lourie sees his role in part as a motivator and in part as an advocate for patient goals.

“My goal is to partner with patients,” he says. “I want to work on the issues that they want to work on.”

Lourie is seeing new patients of all ages. Call him at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin at (802) 229-2325.

Gifford Gallery features ‘X-pressions’ by Jan Rogers

Jan Rogers

Jan Rogers of Williamstown used colored pencils to depict this Brookfield barn. The barn is no longer in use and she has consequently titled the piece “Brookfield’s Past.” It is part of her display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph. (Provided)

Williamstown artist Jan Rogers’ drawings and photography are featured in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery now through Oct. 29.

Working under the name “X-pressions by Jan,” Rogers uses colored pencil, graphite, mixed media and photography to show primarily nature.

“Most of my work is done in the fine line drawing method using a soft touch, subtle elimination of lines and acute attention to detail,” says Rogers. “These skills can turn a drawing into a painting.”

Jan Rogers

Pheasants sit upon a broken down piece of farm equipment in “Country Freedom” – part of a new show at the Gifford Medical Center art gallery by Jan Rogers of Williamstown. (Provided)

Rogers uses various sizes of compressed paper stumps to apply graphite, pastel and colored pencil to Bristol board, mat board, and pastel and vellum papers. Values, tones and textures are constructed by drawing and blending to create depth and shading, resulting in a combination of lights and darks making the works almost “photo realistic.”

“Graphite is my choice of medium because of the detail that can be achieved,” Rogers adds, noting that she uses pastel and colored pencil with some of her graphite works to enhance a single area.

Jan Rogers

“Nocturnal Wisdom” features an owl perched on a slim tree branch. The piece is part of Williamstown artist Jan Rogers’ current show in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph. (Provided)

Rogers has been drawing and painting most of her life. She attended workshops at the Ashton Art Institute in Connecticut on fine line drawing, and works out of a home studio on commissions and inspirations for upcoming shows.

Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries and shows in Connecticut, Arizona, California and Vermont, where she is a member of the Paletteers art group and also currently has her works on display at the White River Craft Center in Randolph. She additionally designs one-of-a-kind notecards that are sold in Gifford’s Garden Gate Gift Shop.

Her show at Gifford is free and open to the public. Works can be purchased in the hospital’s Garden Gate Gift Shop.

The Gifford Gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. The Gift Shop is on the south end of the hospital near the entrance to the nursing home and Birthing Center.

Randolph Artist Erica Sears Brings Unique Talent to Hometown Hospital

Randolph artist Erica Sears

“Untitled in Blues” is among Randolph artist Erica Sears’ works now in the Gifford gallery.

Three panels stretch from floor to ceiling. A painted image of a woman on sandstone is just inches tall.

Renowned local artist Erica Sears’ works are in the Gifford Gallery in a month-long show that does not disappoint.

Sears is a Randolph native who graduated from Randolph Union High School in 1985. She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, where she lived for 15 years before returning to Randolph in 2000.

She has previously shown her work in Los Angeles and throughout this region at Chandler, First Light Studios, Gifford years ago, in Bethel and currently at the White River Craft Center. Three panels also hang in the upper Ester Mesh Gallery at Chandler as part of its permanent collection.

Sears, who has had a varied career, including making, selling and teaching art for 25 years, has a studio in her home and works full-time at Gifford in the Food and Nutrition Services Department.

“My art is how I express, celebrate, explain or push through what happens in my life. Many different things inspire me, influence me, call to me. Each piece is a visual page in my journal. Each idea that needs to be expressed has its own medium that tells the story. Some in paint, some in clay, cloth, pastel, ink, metal or rock. “

Her Gifford show includes 10 pieces, including “garlic moon,” which is made of garlic skins, coated in gloss and set upon a painted block of wood. The three long panels took about two years to create. Wax, birch bark, oil pastel, pencil, ink and charcoal make up other works. “Untitled in Blues” and “Untitled in Reds” – acrylics on canvas – are more recent works.

“I am a very tactile artist,” Sears notes. “I love color and texture. I love all mediums. I love watching how the images take shape. I love watching people interact with the pieces. The conversations that happen between the viewer and the piece are amazing.”

Interact with Sears’ work at Gifford now through Sept. 24. The gallery is located just inside the main entrance of the South Main Street medical center.

Concerts Conclude with Jeanne & The Hi-Tops, Randolph Center Fire Department Barbecue

Randolph Center fire truck

On display as part of the final concert of the summer at Gifford on Tuesday will be the Randolph Center Fire Department’s new rescue tanker, pictured here in front of the Randolph Center station. The fire department is also putting on a community barbecue. All events start at 6 p.m.

Gifford and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce community concert series ends Aug. 26 with a special performance from Jeanne & The Hi-Tops and a special barbecue from the Randolph Center Fire Department.

Firefighters from the volunteer department will be grilling up and selling hamburgers and hotdogs while Jeanne & The Hi-Tops perform old time rock and roll. Both events start at 6 p.m.

Jeanne & The Hi-Tops is a six-member band from central Vermont that first came together in the early 1990s. Their musical journey has led them down many alleys of inspiration, including New Orleans funk, Memphis soul, Kansas City swing, Chicago blues, Tex-Mex, reggae and the swamp-pop/zydeco sounds of the Louisiana bayou. Today, the group describes its style as driving rhythms and good-natured grooves.

The band includes lead vocalist Jeanne McCullough, guitarists Cannon Labrie and Terry Cantlin, horn player and MC Jack Kruse, David Indenbaum on bass and Michael Bradshaw on drums.

While the band gets its groove on, the fire department will also have its new rescue tanker on hand for children and people of all ages to see and sit in. The department took delivery of the 2013 International on May 1. It holds 1,800 gallons of water plus rescue tools, such as the jaws of life. The tools are pre-connected and stored in the front bumper for quick access and quick help in an emergency.

The firefighters noted they will also have gear on hand for spectators to see.

Money raised at the barbecue will go to the department’s fireman’s fund, said Chief Ken Preston.

“Benefits from these sales will go toward purchasing equipment that we couldn’t otherwise afford,” Preston said.

The community concert series in the park at Gifford is sponsored by Gillespie Fuels and Propane, the Frankenburg Agency, and the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

The concerts typically go until 7:30 p.m. and also feature a farmers market. Spectators are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or picnic table, an appetite, and family and friends. Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org or call (802) 728-2339.

Last Mile Ride Raises $60,000

Last Mile Ride

Runners take off for the Last Mile Ride 5K and walk on Friday at Gifford in Randolph. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Fueled by compassion, 154 runners and walkers, 201 motorcyclists and 38 cyclists gathered at Gifford Medical Center on Friday and Saturday for the Last Mile Ride, raising $60,000 for area residents in life’s last mile.

Now in its ninth year, the Last Mile Ride has grown to a two-day event that includes a timed 5K, one-mile walk, 38-mile cycle ride and 80-mile motorcycle ride. The annual event raises money for Gifford patients in and out of the hospital who are in advanced illness or at the end of life. Money raised at the ride goes directly to help patients with comfort measures, provides financial support to patients and families, and grants special wishes.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave for the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Janet Miller)

This year marked both a record number of participants – 386 in total – and a record amount of money raised. It was also an event fraught with emotional highs and lows.

The event included a Harley-Davidson raffle. Cody Flanagan, 19, from Barre won the bike from Wilkins Harley-Davidson, but wasn’t there to receive it. He is in Afghanistan.

His father, Tim Flanagan, a respiratory therapist at Gifford, who bought two tickets in Cody’s name accepted on his behalf. The older Flanagan got out that his son was in Afghanistan before breaking down. He received a standing ovation.

Last Mile Ride

Motorcyclists wind their way through central Vermont as part of the Last Mile Ride on Saturday. (Provided/Alison White)

“I was just ecstatic and overwhelmed for Cody,” Tim Flanagan said Monday. “I just felt it was a storybook kind of finish. It was meant to be.”

Cody, a medic airborne ranger, who graduated from Spaulding High School a year early, joined the U.S. Army two years ago at age 17. He has been in Afghanistan a month. His battalion just lost a member on Aug. 12 and has been on an emotional low.

Tim Flanagan called his son in Afghanistan from the ride to tell him he had won. It was around midnight there and he was exhausted, but excited. “He’s quite ecstatic. He’s thrilled,” said his father, noting it has been a morale booster for the unit.

The moment was reminiscent of the cause, which uplifts families in difficult situations.

Last Mile Ride

Margaret Gish of Sharon races back toward Gifford in the fastest among a female at 20:49.7. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Robin Morgan spoke at the 5K and walk on Friday evening. She lost her step-father Michael Durkee to an aggressive cancer in May 2013. He spent his last days in the Garden Room – Gifford’s garden-side end-of-life care suite.

“Being in the Garden Room, we all got to be together. They were so supportive of us,” Morgan said. “They gave us food, (and) everything you can possibly imagine.”

Morgan and her family walked in the Last Mile last year and again this year. Morgan pushed her two young children in a double-stroller. “It (the Last Mile Ride) is a big part of my life now,” she said, before rushing to embrace her mom and Michael Durkee’s widow, Joan Durkee.

Last Mile Ride

Last Mile walkers return to Gifford Friday evening. (Provided/Janet Miller)

Palliative care nurse John Young on Saturday at the motorcycle and cycle ride spoke of the privilege of working at a hospital that supports palliative care and how lucky the hospital is to have the community’s support.

Physician assistant Starr Strong remembered her friend Judy Alexander who was “an incredible nurse, wonderful friend and mother.” A “Harley chick” and past participant of the Last Mile Ride, Alexander died in April of cancer.

Her family received assistance from the Last Mile Ride fund.

Last Mile Ride

Philip Tenney of Northfield walks over the finish line of the Last Mile Ride 5K. He came in last (1:00:14.0) but was first in many participants’ eyes. Three weeks earlier he had a lifesaving kidney transplant. (Provided/Alison White)

“It made her passing much richer because of the support from the Last Mile Ride,” Strong said, encouraging those present to recognize both the importance of their contribution “because you never know when it’s your turn” and to “celebrate life.”

The event also included the raffle of a bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester. Richard Polarek, 88, from Brookfield won the bicycle. And a queen-size quilt made by Gifford nursing staff was won by motorcyclist Cherry Lloyd of Randolph.

Prizes were also given out for the events top fund-raisers and the top 5K finishers.

The fastest male finishers were Christopher Gish of Sharon (16:37.9), David Mattern of Tunbridge (18:47.6) and Zachery McDermott of Randolph (20:26.0). The fastest female finishers were Margaret Gish of Sharon (20:49.7), Becky Olmstead of Bethel (23:58:4) and Stacy Pelletier of Braintree (24:11.7). See a full list of race results online at www.begoodsports.com/race-results/.

Last Mile Ride

Smiling motorcyclist

The top 5K fund-raiser was Kyla Grace of Randolph and the top walk fund-raiser was Penny Maxfield of East Roxbury. The top cyclist fund-raiser was Cory Gould of Worcester. And the top motorcycle fund-raisers were Linda Chugkowski and Robert Martin of Northfield who collectively raised $4,000 for the cause and Reg Mongeur of Randolph who raised more than $3,500.

Mongeur spent many evenings at Shaw’s in Randolph collecting for the cause.

“I have the time and the desire,” said Mongeur of why he made the effort. “I’ve lost quite a few family members in the Garden Room and quite a few vets went through there.

“It’s just my way of giving back to the community,” said Mongeur, who also coordinated road guard efforts for the ride as a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 26-2.

Last Mile Ride

Runners, from front, Richard Kozlowski, Stacy Pelletier and Becky Olmstead race along Route 12 toward Beanville Road. (Provided/Alison White)

This year’s ride, he said, was “beautiful, absolutely gorgeous.” Riders returning it called it “the best.”

As top fund-raisers, Chugkowski and Martin won four Red Sox tickets and VIP tour of Fenway thanks to the generosity of the Red Sox and Froggy 100.9. Mongeur won four tickets to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to see the Sylvania 300 thanks to the generosity of the Loudon, N.H., organization.

Many other prizes were given out, thanks to the generosity of local and regional businesses. The event also received record sponsorship support, including from major sponsors The Frankenburg Agency, Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank and Wilkins Harley-Davidson.

The 10th annual Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 14 and 15, 2015.

Another Labor of Love

Betsy Dawn quilt

Betsy Hannah, left, and Dawn DeCoff and her daughter, Hayley DeCoff, 10, right, pose with the beautiful quilt they made as an annual raffle item for the Last Mile Ride.

Each year the Last Mile Ride also features a quilt made by Gifford’s nursing staff and raffled off as part of the ride.

This year’s gorgeous queen-size scrappy star quilt is made by licensed practical nurse Betsy Hannah and licensed nursing assistant Dawn DeCoff as well as DeCoff’s young daughter, Hayley.

The elaborate quilt took the trio about two months to complete, and the machine quilting was donated by Piece of Mind Quilting in Canaan, N.H.

DeCoff has helped make a quilt for the ride since its inception and Hannah has helped the last several years. Both also donate quilts to other community causes.

“I love sewing. It relaxes me. It’s one of my many past-times,” says Hannah. “It’s great to be able to give things (to the community).”

This year’s quilt took on extra special meaning after her husband, Jim, died in November and Hannah received Last Mile Ride funds.

For DeCoff, it is also the cause that motivates her. As a part of Gifford’s inpatient care team, she sees the funds help families firsthand.

Tickets for the quilt – along with a new bicycle from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester and a new Harley from Wilkins Harley-Davidson in Barre – are on sale at the hospital Gift Shop and in the Marketing Department and will be for sale at the ride.