Gifford Midwifery Team Holding Open House

Gifford midwifery team

Gifford’s 24-hour midwifery team includes, from left, certified nurse-midwives Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner, April Vanderveer and Kathryn Saunders. (Photo provided)

Gifford’s renowned midwifery team is holding an open house to introduce its recently expanded team to the community and offer some free health advice.

Gifford’s certified nurse-midwives, Kathryn Saunders, Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner and April Vanderveer, will hold an open house on Thursday, July 24 from 4-7 p.m. in The Family Center beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery off South Main Street in Randolph.

All are welcome, especially those expecting a baby, thinking of planning a family or interested in women’s health.

The open house will be an opportunity to meet the midwives, tour the Birthing Center (if it is not too full with new babies and families) and receive expert advice. In addition to the midwives, lactation consultant and childbirth educator Nancy Clark will be on hand to talk breastfeeding, child development and more. And, for those who are expecting, Gifford Vice President of Patient Care Services (and photographer) Alison White will be offering belly photos.

There will also be balloons for the kids, giveaways, refreshments and door prizes, including a belly casting kit, baby product basket, a yoga gift certificate generously donated by Fusion Studio of Montpelier and a one-hour massage generously donated Massages Professionals of Randolph.

“We’re enthusiastic for this support from Fusion Studio and Massage Professionals of Randolph, and we’re excited to introduce our team to the community. We are like-minded caregivers committed to offering women and families an experience that meets their desires and goals, while also resulting in safe and healthy pregnancies and babies,” said Sperry.

Stop by to meet the midwives and to learn more about women’s health. Call Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery at 728-2401 to learn more.

A Generous Sprinkling of Knowledge: New Parents Support Group

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

Nancy Clark

Childbirth educator Nancy Clark and babies

Nancy Clark has a diverse role. She is a care manager, nurse, lactation consultant and certified childbirth educator. She helps new moms with breast feeding, organizes trainings for new families, occasionally does home visits for families with special needs and leads a free New Parents Support Group for two hours each Wednesday. Since its inception, the New Parents Group, with Nancy at its helm, has been a cherished resource for new moms and dads.

“Nancy is awesome. She’s very supportive and very knowledgeable. She makes it easier to navigate all of the perils of being a new mom. Nancy calmly validates your thoughts as a mother.”
~ Julia O’Brien

generous sprinkling of knowledge

3rd Annual Community Concert Series Starts July 8 at Gifford

South Royalton Band

The South Royalton Band plays in the Gifford park in 2012.

Gifford Medical Center and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce once again are partnering – with the help of area sponsors – to offer a summer concert series for six consecutive weeks.

Held each Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Gifford park on Route 12 south of the downtown, the 3rd Annual Community Concert Series will begin on July 8 with the South Royalton Band. The series continues on July 15 with Jeanne & The Hi-Tops performing old time rock and roll, on July 22 with Jennings & McComber offering Green Mountain indie folk and on July 29 with blues and soul from The Dave Keller Band.

South Royalton Band

The South Royalton Band opened the very first concert in 2012 in Gifford’s then-new park.

In August will be The Trail Blaizers, a bluegrass band, and Two for the Show and Company singing song standards and classics.

This year’s concert series features a couple of new elements. A farmers’ market will be held each week with farm products, crafts, handmade goods and more. And on July 29 Stagecoach will host a barbecue fund-raiser as part of the evening’s events.

All concerts are generously brought to the community for free thanks to sponsorships from Gillespie Fuels & Propane Inc., the Frankenburg Agency Inc. and the Gifford Auxiliary.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets, family and friends.

The concerts are weather dependent and may be canceled or rescheduled in the event of rain. Look for updates on Gifford’s and the Chamber’s Web sites and their Facebook pages. Cancellations will also be noted with signage near the park.

Call 728-2339 to learn more, including how to become a vendor. There is no vendor fee. Vendors may come when they’re able or all summer long during the concerts.

South Royalton Band

This season, the South Royalton Band opens the 3rd Annual Community Concert Series.

One Teaspoon of Assurance: Phlebotomy

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

Gifford phlebotomy

Thirteen-year-old Tucker Riley of Randolph has Down Syndrome and as a result, Graves’ disease, an overactive thyroid condition requiring frequent blood checks. He also has small veins, explains his mom Kate Porter. Tucker struggled with having his blood drawn for years, until the gentle touch and quick work of phlebotomist Charlene Baker alleviated his fears. For years now, the family always asks for Charlene when it is time to draw Tucker’s blood, Kate says.

“Charlene is so competent. Things happen on the first stick. It happens. It’s done. And she’s also just very friendly, and it’s painless. She remembers Tucker. It’s just kind of like having a personal friend there drawing blood every time we go over.”  ~ Kate Porter

Gifford phlebotomy

Phlebotomist Charlene Baker and Tucker Riley

A Dash of Friendship: Patient Registration

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

a dash of friendship

When 79-year-old Judy Harding fell in her kitchen, her neighbor gave her a ride to the Emergency Department, but she didn’t have a way to get home. Then she thought of someone she knew who would help her – Marcelo Reyes from Patient Registration. Marcelo hurried to get his car from the employee lot, drove her home, saw her inside, gave her his cell phone number in case she ever needed him, and shoveled her slippery walkway.

“Gifford has become my version of Cheers. Everybody knows my name. It’s the place I go for comfort and friendship. Marcelo and I have become sort of pals. I really like him a lot and he has been very good to me. He’s just a pleasure, and he smiles.”  ~ Judy Harding

Gifford patient registration

Patient registration receptionist Marcelo Reyes and Judy Harding

One Teaspoon of Thoughtfulness: Community Clinics

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

one teaspoon of thoughtfulness

Phyllis and Roland Potter, 81 and 83 respectively, have been going to the Bethel Health Center since it opened. First the Sharon couple saw Dr. Ronald Gadway. They now see Dr. Mark Seymour. But another smiling face that greets them is just as impactful as their primary caregiver. That person is medical secretary Kathy Benson, says Phyllis.

“I’ve known Kathy since she was a little girl. We know her parents. She’s a very thoughtful girl. She’s a sweetheart. If I needed help out to the car, she’d be there in a minute. She would help anyone in a minute.”  ~ Phyllis Potter

Gifford medical secretary Kathy Benson

Medical secretary Kathy Benson with Phyllis and Roland Potter

Project Independence Finds New Life in Gifford

Project Independence

Project Independence participants, from left, Marie, Diana and Kathy dance to singing and music by a visiting Chris Beltrami (not shown).

BARRE – The state’s first adult day center, Project Independence, got its start in Barre in 1975 when a nursing home activity director, Lindsey Wade, recognized an opportunity to do things better and more cost effectively.

Wade encountered nursing home residents who didn’t seem to medically belong there. Others were visiting the nursing home daily for the social interaction. Wade had an idea. The area needed an adult day care and not a medical model adult day, but a social model – something that didn’t exist anywhere else in the country.

An active board and an interested city brought to life Project Independence on Washington Street and in the decades since, its model has not only flourished but expanded statewide. There are currently 14 adult day programs in Vermont.

Project Independence

Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins visits with participants, from left, Flo, Gail, Beverly and Shirley as they wait to be served a home-cooked lunch that included baked macaroni and cheese and flavorful carrots.

Today’s Project Independence serves 23 towns in Washington and northern Orange counties, welcoming an average 38 seniors and the disabled each weekday. The project includes meals, showers, medication management and ample activities, allowing them a fun and safe day care experience while also allowing them to stay at home – a far more affordable model than nursing home care.

But statewide adult days are struggling. Funding available for adult days almost guarantees failure. “The Adult Day financial model is not a successful one,” says Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins. “It’s a continued struggle to support our model.”

And Project Independence has had some recent extra hurdles.

It bought a North Main Street location and moved in 2010. Less than a year later, in May of 2011, the building flooded during a period of torrential rains that had storm water draining through a bulkhead into the building’s basement causing $295,000 in damages and losses. The following summer a sewer hookup issue during Barre’s “Big Dig” caused backups and additional damages and losses.

Project Independence

Gifford licensed nursing assistant Penny Severance helps Project Independence participant, Maddie, to her table for lunch.

Between those losses and looming health care reform that promises changes to health care funding and encourages health care relationships, small, standalone Project Independence began looking for help in the form of a partner. It found it in Gifford Health Care in Randolph.

A merger
Project Independence of Barre and the Gifford Retirement Community, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph, will merge at the conclusion of Gifford’s fiscal year on Sept. 30. Boards for the two nonprofit organizations unanimously agreed to the merger in May after studying the relationship for more than a year.

It will be a full asset merger with Project Independence retaining its name, location and fund-raising dollars. Project Independence’s board will become an advisory board to provide local perspective and experience, and employees will become part of Gifford, opening the door to enhanced benefits. Project Independence will benefit from Gifford’s staff, from financial to billing to nursing help, as well as its buying power as a larger organization.

For Project Independence it is an opportunity for financial stability and more amidst what have been a stormy couple of years and the projected financial changes under health care reform. For Gifford, it is an opportunity to further its work to support seniors and to partner with a reputable organization.

“It’s the right thing. It’s the right match. We have the right partner,” says Rollins, who was drawn to Gifford because it has its own adult day, the Gifford Adult Day Program in Bethel, shares a mission of supporting seniors and because of the Randolph hospital’s commitment to community.

Project Independence

Tammy Mattote, left, a licensed nursing assistant at Project Independence in Barre, serves participant Joanne lunch.

Gifford is currently building a senior living community in Randolph Center that will include a new nursing home and independent and assisted living units after seeing a need in the community for these services.

The Randolph medical center also already has services in the Barre area in the form of a health center off the Airport Road in Berlin. The Gifford Health Center at Berlin is home to family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, infectious disease, midwifery, orthopedics, podiatry, neurology and urology services.

“The combination of the two of us makes a lot of common sense and a lot of business sense,” Project Independence Board Chairman Steve Koenemann said, calling his board’s vote a very easy one to make and the plan “a no-lose proposition.”

“The goal is try to see the program grow,” Koenemann said. “We don’t want to change Project Independence. It has nearly 40 years of experience and reputation serving that community that’s not something that you want to back away from.”

“It’s not taking away anything from Project. It’s all additions,” added Rollins.

Gifford employees have already been providing support to Project Independence over the last year as the two organizations have carefully studied a merger.

Project Independence

Project Independence staff pose in front of the North Main Street adult day center in Barre. The center will merge with Gifford Health Care in Randolph this fall.

“When someone has a humble request for help as it relates to the delivery of health care services, we take that seriously,” said Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, praising Project Independence’s board, values, volunteers and hardworking team. “For us, that’s extraordinarily appealing and we’re thankful that they’ve asked us.”

“We feel this is an honor that they asked,” agreed Linda Minsinger, Gifford Retirement Community executive director. “This is the right thing to do. It’s really important that these participants have a place that will carry on.”

Joining with Project Independence is in keeping with Gifford’s mission and providing support to a needed service that will no doubt grow as the state looks for more affordable ways to care for a growing senior population, said Gifford Board Chairman Gus Meyer.

“When you’re a very small organization, you don’t have the staff to do all of the different things to be done. It’s extremely difficult and it’s extremely draining to make an organization of that size successful. They’ve done a great job of keeping their organization alive in the face of huge challenges and at the same time provided a great service,” Meyer said. “A larger organization is much more able to absorb things that just come up. If there’s some facilities’ damage, it doesn’t become devastating.”

That is a scenario that has Project Independence breathing a sigh of relief.

“We are just all so encouraged. This just brings a true breath of fresh hope,” Rollins said. “We’re dancing in the streets.”

Well, maybe in the living room.

Project Independence participants – most of whom think of their home away from home as “the club” not an adult day center – let up a cheer upon hearing the news from Rollins that “the club” would merge with Gifford.

Staff members, who have been part of what have been very transparent discussions, were equally enthusiastic.

Cook Pam Bresette of South Barre said, “I think it’s going to be fabulous.”

Office Administrator Sue Catto of Barre took her job a year ago knowing positive changes were coming.

Licensed nursing assistant Amanda Koledo of Barre hopes to go to nursing school. Gifford provides tuition reimbursement.

Koledo has worked at Project Independence for six years. “I think it’s so exciting,” she said. “We’re on an island and we’ll now have life jackets.”

One Heaping Teaspoon of Heart: Cardiac Rehabilitation

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

Janet Kittredge

Janet Kittredge and cardiac rehabilitation nurse Annette Petrucelli

After having a stent placed in her heart, Janet Kittredge of Hancock did cardiac rehabilitation at Gifford. She was nervous to start, and then reluctant to leave.

“I love those ladies. They became friends and I couldn’t wait to get back to see them. I just thought they were such happy, positive people. They had (us) all feeling motivated and they made (us) all feel safe and secure … . We talked about all kinds of personal things. It was really fun. Anyone who was there was glad to come back and in no hurry to leave.”
~ Janet Kittredge

Bethel Artist Janet Hayward Burnham Coming to Gifford Gallery

Bethel acrylic artist Janet Hayward Burnham

“Long May She Wave” is one of Bethel acrylic artist Janet Hayward Burnham’s pieces in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph from May 28 through June 25.

Artist and author Janet Hayward Burnham brings her acrylic and pen and ink works to the Gifford Medical Center art gallery from May 28 through June 25.

Burnham, now of Bethel, was born in Indiana, but never lived there. She went on to live in nine other states, attending 14 schools from kindergarten through college.

Burnham came to Vermont in 1968 with her husband and four children. They bought a farm in the Champlain Valley in Orwell, where Burnham taught art for a number of years and also wrote for Vermont Life.

Burnham was 42 when she graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts from Castleton State College in 1979. “ … my two teenaged daughters – seated in the crowd – made me grin when they cheered as my name was called out at the graduation ceremonies,” Burnham recalls.

Art was Burnham’s first love.

“I think I’ve loved the art of making art since I picked up my first crayon,” she says. “Art was always my favorite class, bar none … even better than recess.”

She added the written word to her list of loves, and talents, in college.

Castleton was Burnham’s third college. Earlier at Columbia University in New York City in the late 1950s, while married and pregnant, an English professor first brought to light Burnham’s talent. He tasked the class with a first writing assignment. “When he passed the papers back two weeks later, he said we had all done fairly well, but there was one that was so outstanding, he was going to read it to the class. When he began reading, I was absolutely dumbfounded. It was mine. In all those schools I had attended – and some were excellent private schools – nobody ever told me I had a gift for working with words,” Burnham recalls.

“I now had two creative loves – art and the art of words.”

A poetry book Burnham wrote and illustrated, “A Week Ago Cat,” is the combination of those two loves.

Her show features illustrations and poems from the children’s book as well as other more adult pieces, and the book will be for sale in Gifford’s Gift Shop.

In addition to her book of poems, Burnham has been published in Yankee, Grit, The Boston Globe, The New York Daily News, Country Journal, Instructor, The Rutland Business Journal, The Herald of Randolph, and Woman’s World. She also penned two novels published in the United Kingdom that went on to editions in Sweden, Norway and the United States.

More recently, she helped research and was the lone writer of a book for The Bethel Historical Society titled “Vermont’s Elusive Architect George H. Guernsey.”

See Burnham’s unique art in the Gifford Galley. The show is free and open to the public. The Gifford Gallery is just inside the main entrance of the Randolph hospital at 44 S. Main St. Call Gifford at (802) 728-2324 for more information.

A New Family Medicine Team in Chelsea

Chelsea teamThis article was featured in our Spring 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

It’s not often you find just the right health care provider to join a clinic and a community. The Chelsea Health Center, remarkably, has two amazing new fits.

Dr. Amanda Hepler and physician assistant Rebecca Savidge, both family medicine providers, have joined the Route 110 health center as long-time physician assistant Starr Strong prepares to retire and family medicine physician Dr. Brian Sargent transitions to full-time emergency care at Gifford.

Rebecca is a Chelsea native. Dr. Hepler has a love of rural medicine.

“Dr. Hepler has a passion for rural primary care and will solely be working at the Chelsea Health Center while Rebecca is a young but experienced physician assistant who is a native of Chelsea and literally ‘grew up’ going to the Chelsea Health Center as a child. She truly understands the community,” notes Dr. Josh Plavin, the Medicine Division medical director at Gifford and a former Chelsea doctor.

Chelsea office manager and nurse Travis Worthen notes that patients are excited to have the duo aboard and to see Rebecca “coming back to her roots.”

Dr. Hepler’s experience, especially with the unexpected that can arise in a rural clinic, such as logging and farming injuries, is especially appreciated.

Both are also kind, thorough and accommodating caregivers, says medical secretary Deb Stender.

Dr. Hepler and Rebecca already see themselves as “a lasting fit” and as a team that both works well together and that hopes to improve care. They will do so by being at the clinic for more hours, meaning more opportunities for care and faster turnaround times on things like medication refills and lab results.

They also both have experience working with electronic medical records and are looking forward to seeing Chelsea make the transition, which will be more seamless thanks to their know-how.

“We are excited to welcome our new providers and announce expanded availability in Chelsea,” Dr. Plavin says. “We have developed a wonderful team, which I hope will be caring for patients in Chelsea for years to come.”

An open house was held Thursday, May 1 from 4-6 p.m. at the health center to welcome Dr. Hepler and Rebecca to the community and to wish Starr and Brian well.