National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is March 2-8

National Severe Weather Preparedness WeekEach year, too many people are killed or seriously injured by severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2012, more than 450 people in the United States were killed and more than 2,600 were seriously injured by severe weather. Seven events in 2013 accounted for losses over $1 billion each, with loss of lives and serious injuries.

Preparing for severe weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will highlight the importance of preparing for severe weather before it strikes during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014. They ask that you “Be a Force of Nature” by knowing your risk, taking action, and being an example where you live.

Know Your Risk: Identify and understand the types of hazardous weather that can impact where you work and live. Here in New England, we can have severe winter weather, including snow, ice, wind, and cold. Rain/thunder storms, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, hot weather, and drought are also likely events.

Take Action: Bookmark weather.gov to get the latest forecast information. Obtain a NOAA weather radio; there are affordable models that run on AC, battery, solar, and/or hand crank power. Learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts (see below). Create or update your family emergency plan and disaster supplies kit(s).

Be an Example: Tell your friends and family what you have done to be “weather-ready.” Share your preparedness story on Facebook. Tweet your preparedness with hashtag #ImaForce.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): WEA are emergency messages sent by authorized alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Alerts will include extreme weather alerts, local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action, AMBER alerts, and Presidential alerts during a national emergency. It will have a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice, and will look like a text message. The message will show the type of alert, the time of the alert, any action you should take, and the issuing agency. The message will be no more than 90 characters. Most newer devices are WEA capable; some older ones are not WEA capable. For more information on devices and carriers visit: www.ctia.org/wea. WEA messages are offered for free by the wireless carriers; you will not be charged for them and they will not count toward limits on your plan. You are not being tracked; messages are broadcast from cell towers in the areas of the threat. Even if you are not in your home area, you will get the alert. Likewise, if you enter an area of alert, you will receive it when you enter the area. WEA messages are not affected by network congestion.

Preparing for severe weather will also help prepare you and your family for other emergency events, whether they are climate-related, technological, or terrorism. Any degree of preparedness is beneficial. The more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be and the more likely you can be part of the solution instead of part of the burden. For every dollar spent for preparedness, statistics show $7 is saved. Information on emergency preparedness can be obtained from the American Red Cross, FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (VT DEMHS), formerly Vermont Emergency Management (VEM), and others.

Brad Salzmann is an orthopedics physician assistant at Gifford in Randolph. He also has a master’s degree in disaster medicine and management, and serves as part of the national Disaster Medical Assistance Team based in Worcester, Mass.

Auxiliary Awards $19,000 to Gifford Departments

Auxiliary Award

Materials clerk Tina Brady uses a new handheld scanning device to quickly inventory supplies on one of many carts located throughout the medical center. The device is a gift from the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary and greatly improves the department’s efficiency.

The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is turning Thrift Shop earnings into major support for the community’s local hospital.

The Auxiliary has funded more than $19,000 worth of “wish list” equipment requests spanning multiple departments at the hospital and greatly benefiting patient care.

Funded were:

  • Lending library books for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
  • Multiple pieces of equipment, from IV poles to portable oxygen saturation monitors to cardiac chairs for the inpatient hospital units
  • A handheld scanning device for the medical center’s Materials Management Department
  • Pulse oximeters for primary care offices
  • Play equipment and furniture for The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center
  • Lead shield aprons for the Sharon Health Center
  • A changing table and digital scale for the Twin River Health Center

The Auxiliary historically has awarded “wish list” items to the hospital, meaning departments put their wishes in the form of funding requests to the Auxiliary. Auxiliary board members review the list and award what they can. This round the board fully funded the “wish list.”

Materials Management was granted a “wish list” item for the first time in memory. The scanning device is used to inventory supplies around the medical center, explained department supervisor James Shodunke Jr. It replaces a 15-year-old unit that didn’t meet the department’s needs, so staff had been taking notes with pen and paper.

As a staff member counts supplies around the medical center with the new device, which the department had been trialing, prints a report back in the materials holding area showing supply needs, meaning other staff members can immediately begin filling that supply order. The change in the busy department means a task that previously could have taken an hour and 15 minutes now takes less than 30 minutes.

“It greatly improves our efficiency and expedites the restocking process, which reduces interruptions in patient care,” Shodunke said.

Gifford’s inpatient unit received the bulk – $11,500 – of this round’s funding.

“The staff and nursing leadership of Howell Pavilion (Gifford’s inpatient unit) are very thankful for the extremely generous grants given by the Auxiliary. Many patients will benefit from the numerous requests, such as sturdier chairs for patient rooms, electronic vital sign monitoring system and alternative treatments for pain. The gifts will be a big help for both patients and staff. We would like to thank the Auxiliary for all of their hard work and support by granting our many requests,” said Alison White, vice president of patient care services.

Auxiliary board members Ruth Lutz, treasurer, and Nancy Gray, historian, walked around the medical center on Wednesday making in-person announcements to department staff that they had been funded.

Lutz was excited by the response from the departments. “They were so pleased,” she said.

Gray found the experience rewarding because of the inside look she got at the medical center and its many, diverse services.

But Lutz and Gray were quick to point out that it wasn’t they who were making the gift to the medical center, but rather the full Auxiliary and all who shop at the Thrift Shop. “We’re so fortunate to be able to do this because of what the Thrift Shop brings in,” Gray said.

Responding to Community Needs

Vermont Blueprint for Health

Gifford’s Blueprint for Health Team has expanded to include additional mental health and addiction counselors offering one-on-one care at all Gifford primary care locations. In this file photo, from left, care coordinator Keith Marino, Health Connections (financial assistance) case worker Michele Packard and certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton discuss a patient at the Bethel Health Center.

In 2012 as part of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Gifford Medical Center completed a Community Needs Assessment.

Less than two years later, the Randolph-based medical center has already made huge strides addressing many of the needs found in that study.

In a survey of Town Meeting attendees in nine communities in 2012 plus feedback from other groups, community members’ described their priorities for a healthy community, perceived health problems and risky behaviors in the community, and their health needs or lacking services.

Among factors for a healthy community were good jobs and a healthy economy, access to health care, good schools, and healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Top health problems listed by survey respondents included addiction, obesity, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Top health needs, or services community members have tried unsuccessfully to access, within the community were assisted living and nursing home care, alcohol and drug counseling, and dental care.

Today, Gifford is preparing to break ground in the spring on a senior living community in Randolph Center that will, over time, provide a full spectrum of housing options including the relocation of its award-winning nursing home and newly created assisted and independent living. Gifford has earned the coveted Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) designation, making it one of only three hospitals in the country to be both a Critical Access Hospital and an FQHC. This means expanded access to care, including dental and mental health care. And the medical center’s Vermont Blueprint for Health Team has greatly expanded over the past year to include more mental health and addiction counselors, providing services at all Gifford primary care locations.

chronic illness support group

Among Gifford’s free community services is a chronic illness support group. Here Gifford pharmacist Jane McConnell provides medication advice to past participants.

“Each of these major initiatives, which have taken substantial work, targets an identified community health need. Meeting these needs and addressing the community’s feedback defines the future of Gifford and its expanding role,” says Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.

The Community Needs Assessment process is required every three years, but Gifford’s efforts are ongoing. The medical center continually provides community outreach initiatives to meet care needs, many of which are offered for free. These include classes, support groups, and health fairs. Additionally, many initiatives support local economic health, including a buy local approach.

The medical center also continues community outreach daily through a boots-on-the-ground approach that has Blueprint Community Health Team working directly with individuals and community organizations to address health and socioeconomic needs, particularly for the chronically ill.

“The Blueprint for Health is a statewide initiative. Gifford has placed extra focus on meeting community members’ needs so they can successfully manage their health,” says Blueprint Project Manager LaRae Francis. “This approach means not waiting months or years for needs to be determined, but matching resources and needs today to create an ongoing healthier community for all.”

A grant from through the Vermont Department of Health helped support the costs of the 2012 report. The full report is available on Gifford’s website in the “About Us” section under Community Reports.

Gifford Seeking Applicants for Philip Levesque Grant

Community organizations must apply by Feb. 17

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

RANDOLPH – Nonprofit community organizations have an opportunity to apply for a $1,000 grant.

Gifford Medical Center is seeking applications for the annual Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award – a grant established in memory of the hospital’s late administrator.

Applications for the $1,000 grant are due to the hospital by Feb. 17.

The grant was established by Gifford’s Board of Trustees in 1994 in memory of Levesque, Gifford’s beloved president and chief executive officer from 1973-1994.

The award is given annually to an agency or organization involved in the arts, health, community development, education, or the environment in Gifford’s service area in recognition of Levesque’s commitment to the White River Valley.

“Phil was an admired leader who was dedicated to community service and improving our area. We’re excited to be able to carry on his legacy through this grant, and encourage community organizations to apply,” said Ashley Lincoln, Gifford director of development and public relations.

The hospital first awarded the grant in 1995. Past recipients include the Rochester Area Food Shelf; the South Royalton School’s Recycle, Compost and Volunteer Program; the Bluebird Recovery Program; Kimball Library in Randolph; Bethel’s Project Playground; Chelsea’s Little League field; the Rochester Chamber Music Society; the Royalton Memorial Library; the Tunbridge Library; the White River Craft Center; Safeline; Interfaith Caregivers; the Chelsea Family Center; the Granville Volunteer Fire Department; the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens in Hancock; and The Arts Bus Project.

A committee of hospital staff and Levesque’s family will review the applications and choose a winner. The announcement of the grant recipient will be made at Gifford’s Annual Meeting in March.

Contact Lincoln at (802) 728-2380 or alincoln@giffordmed.org for application guidelines, or click here. Send completed applications by Feb. 17 to The Philip D. Levesque Memorial Fund, Gifford Medical Center Development Office, 44. S. Main St., Randolph, VT 05060.

After 50 Years on Dry Land, Lori Sedor Tried – and Loved – Water Aerobics

water aerobicsThis story appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Lorraine “Lori” Sedor has a myriad of health problems and a healthy fear of the water. So when certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton invited Lori to attend a water aerobics class Gifford was offering at the Vermont Technical College pool, Lori thought “no way.”

A retired school driver, 67-year-old Lori of Braintree has diabetes, an enlarged heart, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries from an accident, and uses a walker to get around. She also nearly drowned at age 16 and hadn’t swum since.

But Lori told Jennifer she’d try it, if only to prove her wrong.

“She told me that I could do it and I told her I couldn’t, and she was right, as much as I hate to admit it,” says a good-natured Lori.

The class started back in January and lasted six weeks. She was slow at first, but soon she was doing jumping jacks, twisting, bending, touching her knees, “and I swam.”

“I loved it. I was able to exercise whereas on land it’s harder to exercise. My body felt better. It’s just fantastic.”

After the class, Lori’s daughter bought her a year’s pass to the pool and for a couple months, Lori and a friend went two or three times a week. Health problems have prevented Lori from swimming since, but she expects to soon be back in the pool.

“I can’t wait to go back,” Lori says. “I’d recommend it for anyone who needs to exercise.”

Another water aerobics class is taking place now. If you have a chronic condition, call Jennifer Stratton at 728-7100, ext. 4 to learn about future classes.

Evolving Photographer Ken Goss in Gifford Gallery Wednesday

photographer Ken Goss

Photographs like this one, “Cascading Serenity,” taken in Berlin, Vt., are among the diverse works by experienced photographer Ken Goss of Randolph on display in the Gifford Gallery from Nov. 27 through Jan. 29. (Photo provided)

Ken Goss spent a career in precision aerial photography.

It was business.

In his retirement, he makes art – art that will be on display in the Gifford Medical Center gallery from Nov. 27 through Jan. 29.

The show is an eclectic mix of landscapes, still life and portraits, and is the latest from this evolving and popular local photographer.

Goss was first introduced to photography in high school, but the majority of his photography training came during his military career. “After I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I went through naval photo school in Pensacola, Fla., for aerial reconnaissance and photo interpretation,” Goss says. “Two years later I went through advanced 70 mm photo school at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla.”

After the military, Goss went on to work in both freelance photography and in a commercial studio for a short time. The bulk of his career, though, was in precision aerial photography, topographic mapping and aerial survey first with a civil engineering company on Long Island, N.Y., and then for his own business, Aerial Photo and Survey Corp., also on Long Island. He worked in the field for more than 40 years.

photographer Ken Goss

“Violin & Rose” is a still life by Randolph photographer Ken Goss that appears in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery beginning Wednesday afternoon. (Photo provided)

Along the way he had some remarkable accomplishments, including assisting the nation’s space program. He helped develop applied aerial photographic techniques for use in flight training simulators under contract to NASA and was a team member in the development of the original “Luna model” in the Apollo program.

Goss retired in the 1990s and moved to Vermont in 2003.

Since he’s worked as the chair of the Chandler Art Gallery from 2006 to 2008, has taught the basics of black and white photography at the White River Craft Center since 2009 and shown his works around the region.

“Now being again able to pursue photography as an ‘art’ form, I try to take what I feel in my heart or in spirit about a subject, capture it in film (or digitally) and print in such a manner to give the viewer the same feeling,” Goss says. “This transference of feelings, if successful, gives me all the satisfaction of the art that I need.”

To see Goss’ art, visit the Gifford Gallery. It is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 or Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer at (802) 728-2324 for more information, or visit www.giffordmed.org.

Assessing Quality of Life: Live Your Dash

The DashIn between birth and death there is a dash. You know: the diminutive line on a tombstone or obituary indicating all those years of life between birth and death.

Linda Morse made “The Dash” famous in a poem by the name that challenges us to reflect on how we live our dash.

On Dec. 5, Gifford Medical Center picks up the discussion with “The Dash: Quality of Life Matters.”

The free discussion open to all is a continuation of last winter’s popular education series on death and dying and reopens a new series expected to last into the spring, explains organizer Cory Gould, a mental health practitioner and member of Gifford’s Advanced Illness Care Team.

The talk will include interviews with pre-selected participants on their quality of life. For example, Dr. Daniel Stadler, assistant professor of medicine and an internist with special interests in geriatrics and palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, will interview a woman in her 90s about her life experiences.

Other discussion points during the 5-6:30 p.m. event will focus on:

  • What do we mean by “quality of life?”
  • How do you measure it?
  • Is your quality of life different than someone else’s quality of life?
  • Does quality of life change over time?
  • How does one’s quality of life relate to the quality of one’s death?

“There’s a truism that’s been repeated over and over again and that is that people die as they lived,” says Gould. “We want to involve participants in a discussion of the question: ‘What gives life meaning for you?’”

Following this free talk, other talks are planned on advance directives; what dying looks like; a “death café” or open discussion about death; and a discussion on death with dignity versus assisted suicide.

Speakers will explore the concepts but there will be ample opportunity for group discussion and sharing.

Last year, the popular series included sessions on starting the conversation of end of life and preparing for death, such as through Advance Directives; what is a “good” death; and various aspects of grief.

Prior attendance at discussions is not required and all are welcome.

No registration is required for this free educational discussion. Gould can be reached at (802) 728-7713 to answer questions.

The talk will be held in the Gifford Conference Center. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked with a green awning from the patient parking area. For handicapped access, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor. For directions to the medical center and more, visit www.giffordmed.org.

Randolph Pediatrician Expands Practice to Berlin

This article appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Dr. Pam Udomprasert

Pediatrician Dr. Pam Udomprasert with a young patient

Family health center now meeting even more of community’s needs for care

Pediatrician Dr. Pam Udomprasert joins the family medicine team at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin beginning this October.

“Dr. Pam,” as patients affectionately know her, is a graduate of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn and completed her three-year residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

She worked in Connecticut before joining Gifford and moving with her family to Randolph in 2011.

Board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the National Board of Medical Examiners, she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. She has a special interest in lactation support as well as asthma and allergies.

Personable and responsive, Dr. Pam continues to see patients in Randolph part of the week. In Berlin, she joins family nurse practitioners Sheri Brown and Tara Meyer as well as internal medicine physician/infection control practitioner Dr. Jim Currie.

The diverse team is available to care for all of your primary care needs, from birth through end-of-life.

The clinic is also home to Gifford’s remarkable team of certified nurse-midwives providing prenatal and well-woman care, neurologist Dr. Robin Schwartz, orthopedist Dr. Stephanie Landvater and podiatrist Dr. Kevin McNamara.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pam or another member of the Berlin team, call 229-2325.

Get Help Signing Up for an Insurance Plan from ‘Navigators’

Vermont Health Connect

Beginning Jan. 1, federal law requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a tax penalty. Gifford has specially-trained staff called “navigators” available to help you sign-up for a health plan.

This information appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Beginning on Jan. 1, federal law requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

In the Green Mountain State, Vermont Health Connect is the new online marketplace where individuals, families and businesses with 50 or fewer employees can shop for, compare and purchase insurance plans.

Open enrollment for these plans began this October. Vermonters can determine their eligibility and enroll online. For those without computer access or needing in-person support, Gifford has resources to help.

Across the state, “navigators” have been trained and taken rigorous exams to provide one-on-one assistance with the Vermont Health Connect marketplace.

Gifford has three navigators through its Health Connections office, a part of the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured, as well as the medical center’s Blueprint for Health team.

If you’re:

  • A Vermonter without health insurance,
  • A Vermonter who currently purchases insurance yourself,
  • A Vermonter with Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur,
  • A Vermonter with Catamount or the Vermont Health Access Program,
  • A Vermonter with “unaffordable” coverage provided by your employer, or
  • A small business with 50 or fewer people

and you need help understanding the exchange, get help by calling Gifford Health Connections at 728-2323.

Individuals who are fully enrolled by Dec. 16 will have health coverage starting Jan. 1.

Under Vermont Health Connect, an employer-sponsored plan is considered “unaffordable” if your premium for yourself is more than 9.5 percent of your household income. To learn more, call (855) 899-9600 or visit www.healthconnect.vermont.gov.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Gave Janet Kittredge Her Life Back

cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation nurse Annette Petrucelli shares a smile with patient Janet Kittredge. Besides getting stronger, one of Janet’s favorite parts of cardiac rehabilitation was the good times she had with staff. “I love those ladies,” says Janet. “They became friends and I couldn’t wait to get back to see them.”

This story appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Janet Kittredge of Hancock struggled to breathe for two years before miserably failing a cardiac stress test and being diagnosed with a 90 percent blockage of one of the arteries in her heart.

In April, she had a stent placed in the blocked artery at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Part of her follow-up care plan was cardiac rehabilitation at her home hospital, Gifford.

Janet remembers the day she started cardiac rehabilitation vividly. She was nervous. “It had been so long since I had been able to do anything,” she says.

For Janet, a walk out to the garage meant sitting and resting before returning to the house. Carrying in groceries meant pausing between trips. “I completely stopped walking. I just stayed in and pretty much all I did was watch TV.”

So faced with the treadmills, recumbent bike and arm ergometer that make up the cardiac rehabilitation gym, Janet was worried.

A welcoming staff and consistent monitoring of her pulse and heart rate put Janet more at ease and quickly she discovered that not only could she do some exercise, the more she came, the more she could do.

“I just got so excited. It made me feel so good. I walked taller. I felt younger. I just wanted to do more and more and get stronger,” says Janet, who found herself raising the difficulty level on her workouts before even being prompted by staff.

Janet finished her program in August. The 67-year-old Stanley Tool retiree is now back to the active life she once enjoyed. She is walking a mile and a half or more a day, shopping with her granddaughters and impressing her friends with the bounce in her step.

“I have totally gotten my life back. I feel 100 percent better. I have energy. I feel like doing things.”

“I can’t say it enough how much this changed my life. If I hadn’t had this rehab, I never would have gotten myself to this point.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a 12-week outpatient exercise, education and nutrition program for people with coronary heart disease, angina, recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, stent placement or other heart conditions. It is offered in a special gym space at Gifford and overseen by specially trained registered nurses. To learn more, call 728-2222 or ask your health care provider for a referral.