Gifford Celebrates Strong Foundation, Legacy of Outgoing Administrator

Joe Woodin

Administrator Joseph Woodin listens as Gifford staff and board members express appreciation for his 17 years of leadership. He will be leaving in late April.

More than 100 community members gathered for Gifford Medical Center’s 110th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday night and heard that the Randolph-based organization is in great shape and positioned to move ahead smoothly during transition into new leadership.

Current Administrator Joseph Woodin, who will leave Gifford in late April to lead a hospital in Martha’s Vineyard, received a standing ovation for his service. Throughout the evening voices representing all areas of the organization and community shared stories and expressed heartfelt appreciation for his years of leadership.

“Joe is leaving after 17 years of extraordinary leadership, and he is leaving us in great shape,” Board of Trustee Chair Gus Meyer said. “Perhaps the most important thing he leaves us with is an exceptionally strong leadership team and staff who are able to continue on the many positive directions we have established during his tenure. His time with Gifford underscores our capacity to sustain the organizational stability, clinical excellence, creative growth, and flexible response to changes in the health care world that have come to make Gifford a uniquely strong health care system.”

The Gifford Board will appoint an interim administrator to work with the hospital’s senior management team and facilitate operations and ongoing projects at Gifford. They have begun what is anticipated to be a 4 to 6-month national search for Woodin’s replacement

In his final Administrator’s Report, Woodin, who is leaving for personal reasons, reflected on his time at Gifford. He described looking through 17 years of hospital annual reports and how moved he was as he read the stories of patients he has met and people he has worked with over the years.

“At the end of the day there are so many beautiful things that happen at Gifford, and we can forget about that,” he said. “We’re so lucky to have an organization like this!”

After a short presentation documenting the changes at Gifford during his tenure, he ended with the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.

“I have never spent as much time or energy as I have at this organization and in this community and I have loved every minute of it,” he said in closing. “I will never be able to repeat this anywhere, and I’m hoping to retire up here in this independent living facility!”

A legacy of financial stability, vision, and growth

Highlights of Woodin’s tenure include the expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood, and Sharon; expanded patient services for all stages of life, from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 to provide local care for more serious illnesses, to the creation of the Palliative Care program; a new renovated ambulatory care center and expanded radiology and emergency departments; and the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, which includes the Menig Nursing Home, independent living (construction scheduled to start in the spring), and a future assisted living facility; 25 new private inpatient rooms. A renovated and updated Birthing Center scheduled to open in the spring.

Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation in 2013, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.

Long-term providers describe ongoing passion for mission and core values

Following the corporators meeting, three key long-term Gifford providers talked about what first brought them to Gifford and shared some of the changes they’ve witnessed over the years. General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli, Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, and Podiatrist Dr. Robert Rinaldi each stressed that the core values that sustain Gifford’s mission are kept alive and passed on by the committed staff who work there.

Dr. Ciccarelli, noting that many long-time providers are reaching retirement age, said the qualities that brought those people to Gifford remain and continue to attract new staff. “While there are some changes, the essence of what attracted people like myself to Gifford resides here,” he said.

Dr. DiNicola said that he has stayed at Gifford for 40 years because of the community. “The people I work with, the people in the community and those I work with in the schools,” he said. “ This is my family and this is why I am here.”

Dr. Rinaldi remembered that in 2003 he was first attracted by the passion he saw in the “Gifford family.” He noted that the hallways are still filled with people who treat each other like family, and who have maintained their passion for the organization.

He concluded with a tribute to Woodin: “Joe saw these things, the family, and the passion, and the desire to be the best for each other and for every patient,” Rinaldi said. “He led us to understand our family, and to understand ourselves. He leaves knowing that he led us to success and that we will continue to be successful.”

Community scholarships and awards presented

Jeanelle Achee was awarded the Dr. Richard J. Barrett M.D. Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing a health care education. Safeline, Inc. in Chelsea Vermont, received the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in recognition of his personal commitment to the White River Valley.

The $25,000 William and Mary Markle Community Grant was given to community recreation departments (Bethel, Chelsea, Northfield, Randolph/Braintree/Brookfield, Rochester, Royalton, and Strafford) to support youth exercise and activity programs.

Board of trustees and directors elected and service recognized

During the business meeting, retiring members Linda Chugkowski (9 years) and Linda Morse (3 years) were recognized for their years of service.

The following slate of new community ambassadors were elected: Dr. Nick Benoit (South Royalton), Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli (Wells), Dr. Robert Cochrane (Burlington), Dr. Marcus Coxon (Randolph Center), Christina Harlow, NP (Brookfield), Dr. Martin Johns (Lebanon), Dr. Peter Loescher (Etna, NH), Dr. Rob Rinaldi (Chelsea), Dr. Scott Rodi (Etna, NH), Dr. Ellamarie Russo-Demara (Sharon), Dr. Mark Seymour (Randolph Center), Rick & Rebecca Hauser (Randolph) and Peter & Karen Reed (Braintree).

The following were elected trustees: Bill Baumann (Randolph), Carol Bushey (Brookfield), Peter Reed (Braintree) Sue Sherman (Rochester) and Clay Westbrook (Randolph). Elected officers of the board of directors are: Gus Meyer, chair; Peter Nowlan, vice chair. Barbara Rochat, secretary. Matt Considine, treasurer.

Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Saxton Joins Gifford Primary Care

Elizabeth Saxton

Elizabeth Saxton

Nurse practitioner Elizabeth Saxton, APRN-AGNP, has joined Gifford’s primary care team. She is now seeing patients at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, and also Gifford patients who live in nursing homes in the area.

Saxton first came to Vermont as a student at UVM, fell in love with the state, and has lived here ever since. After receiving a BA in history, she went on to receive her MS in Nursing from UVM.

Board-certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, she is also a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and the Vermont Nurse Practitioners Association. Her clinical interests include preventative health, eldercare, mood disorders, LGBQT support, and addiction treatment.

“I like to get to know my patients well, and to make sure they understand their diagnosis, how they will be treated, and how to get the most affordable medications,” she said. “Patient education is very important to me. I see myself as a collaborative and supportive resource for people.”

An outdoor enthusiast, she is an avid skier and enjoys biking, kayaking, hunting, and fishing when she us not working.

In Berlin, Saxton works with family nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie. Other providers at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin (located just off Airport Road) include specialists in Neurology, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Urology, and Midwifery. Call (802) 229-2325 for an appointment.

Corrina Thurston Exhibit at Gifford Gallery

Corrina Thurston

Corrina Thurston

An exhibit of vibrant and detailed animal and wildlife drawings by Vermont artist Corrina Thurston is currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery.

“My favorite medium is colored pencil, and I was shocked at the amount of depth, detail, and richness of color I can achieve,” she writes. “I hope to help it be better recognized as a true fine art medium.”

Thurston turned to drawing as a constructive outlet after struggling with an unknown illness for more than six years. She had to medically withdraw from college, was unable to work, and was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, Bartonella, two types of pneumonia, an adrenal malfunction, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Now that she is on proper treatment and starting to feel better, she is focusing on a career in art.

“Every piece I tackle is an experiment and an opportunity to push the window of what I can accomplish,” she said.

Her work has been exhibited at VTC’s Hartness Library; the Chandler Gallery; Court Street Arts in Alumni Hall, Haverhill NH; the Craftsbury Community Center in Craftsbury VT; and Exile on Main Street, in Barre Vermont.

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through March 10, 2016. The gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S, Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 for more information.

Work by Photographer Tina Grant at Gifford Gallery

Tina Grant photography

Provided courtesy of artist; “Barred Owl,” by East Roxbury photographer Tina Grant.

An exhibit of 31 photographs by Tina Grant is currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center Art Gallery.

Most are stunning close-ups of birds—cardinals, humming birds, bald eagles, tufted titmouses, and owls—that she has observed near her home in East Roxbury, Vermont.

Grant lived on a farm as a child and spent summers on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Mink Island, where she spent hours observing (and later photographing) the wildlife around her. When she grew up and had a home of her own, she put up birdfeeders and started watching and photographing birds.

Now Grant keeps her camera by her side, always ready to capture the many beautiful shots she sees outside her window, at her feeder, or in her travels.

“My friends have started calling me the Bird Whisperer—I tell them that you to need look up,” said Grant. “I am blessed to be able to see and photograph the many birds and animals I see. This exhibit is a way to share these blessings with everyone.”

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through February 10, 2016. The gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S, Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 for more information.

Gifford Seeks Philip Levesque Grant Applicants

Nonprofit community organizations encouraged to apply by February 12

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

Gifford Medical Center is seeking applications for the annual Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award – a $1,000 grant established in memory of the hospital’s late administrator. Applications must be received at the hospital by February 12, 2016.

The award 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.

Given annually to recognize Levesque’s personal commitment to the White River Valley, the grant is awarded to an agency or organization in Gifford’s service area that is involved in the arts, health, community development, education, or the environment.

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

The hospital first awarded the grant in 1995. Past recipients include the Stagecoach, Orange County Parent Child Center; Quin Town Senior Center; Rochester, Hancock & Granville Food Shelf; South Royalton’s School Recycle Compost and Volunteer Program; Bluebird Recovery Program; Kimball Library; Bethel’s Playground Project; Chelsea’s Little League Field; Rochester’s Chamber Music Society; Royalton Memorial Library; Tunbridge Library; White River Craft Center; Safeline, Interfaith Caregivers; the Chelsea Family Center, and the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

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 Ashley Lincoln at (802) 728-2380 or alincoln@giffordmed.org for application guidelines. Send completed applications by February 12, 2015, to The Philip D. Levesque Memorial Fund, Gifford Medical Center Development Office, 44. S. Main St., Randolph, VT 05060.

Gifford Celebrates Opening of Private Inpatient Rooms

25 new inpatient rooms offer privacy, supportive environment for faster healing

Gifford inpatient roomsGifford Medical Center celebrated the opening of 25 new private inpatient rooms on December 17, 2015. The new unit brings an upgraded standard of inpatient care unusual for a small community hospital in Vermont.

“It really is amazing that a health care facility of our size can provide this level of modern care to our community,” Administrator Joseph Woodin told a group of supporters gathered for an opening ceremony. “The private room model is now standard for new construction, but renovating older units is often expensive and takes years to complete. We began planning for this nearly ten years ago, and have been able to complete our project on time, on budget, and with very little disruption for patients and staff.”

Private rooms reduce infections and stress, allow medical teams to bring technology and service directly to the bedside, and give patients the privacy they need for bedside consultations and family visits. This model of care has been shown to improve sleep, reduce stress, promote healing, and shorten hospital stays.

Careful planning, creative use of existing space, and input from staff throughout the construction process allowed the hospital to incorporate important upgrades to the new inpatient unit including:

• Two larger rooms for patients unable to move easily have overhead lifts that can glide into special in-room showers to accommodate bathing

• Two isolation rooms with an enclosed entry can be used for patients with airborne infections

• Two end-of-life care rooms open onto a courtyard garden and have adjoining space for visiting family members and friends

• A physical therapy room with outside access allows recovering patients to practice getting in and out of cars before leaving for home

• New wound-care tub room

• Centralized nursing station to promote teamwork and promote better communication

• Comfortable family waiting room with furniture that extends to accommodate sleeping

• A restful décor with paintings and photographs by local artists, gentle lighting, and hallway visitor hand-washing stations.

The long-term strategic planning behind this project began nearly fifteen years ago, when a new addition was built to house Menig Extended Care. Because it was built to hospital (not nursing home) standards, that space could be converted into the new private rooms when the Menig Nursing Home relocated to a new building in Randolph Center last spring.

The new Menig Nursing Home and private patient rooms are part of a three-phased project supported by the “Vision for the Future” capital campaign. The last phase of renovations will create a new centrally located Birthing Center, scheduled to open in June 2016.

“This is the largest fundraising effort in Gifford’s 112-year history. Thanks to generous community support and our dedicated volunteer campaign steering committee, we are $800,000 from our $5 million campaign goal,” said Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “Years of creative planning and good fiscal stewardship made it possible for us to create industry standard private rooms, respond to a real need for senior housing, and upgrade our popular Birthing Center in this one project. It has been so satisfying to see the finished projects open and operating this year!”

To learn more about the “Vision for the Future” campaign visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Randolph Couple Displays Work at Gifford Gallery

Exhibit Features Art and Photographs by Joann and Lou DiNicola

Joann DiNicola

Provided courtesy of artist; “Lincoln Farm Pumpkins,” by Randolph artist Joann DiNicola

An exhibit of works by artist Joann DiNicola and photographer Lou DiNicola is on display through January 6, 2016, at the Gifford Medical Center art gallery.

Joann “Rig” DiNicola taught art in the public schools for 29 years and now works out of The Arte di Luna Studio in Randolph. She is a signature member of the Vermont Watercolor Society and a member of the Northern Vermont Artists Association, the Valley Arts Foundation, and the Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville, VT

“Portraits of people, animals, and old vehicles are favorite subjects for me, but I am always on the watch for inspiration wherever it may be found,” she said. “I work in a variety of media: transparent watercolor, pastels and acrylic paint, and photography.”

Lou DiNicola

Provided courtesy of artist; “Waiting,” by Randolph photographer Lou DiNicola

Lou DiNicola, who is also a pediatrician at Gifford, had his first camera at 13 and has been taking pictures ever since. After moving to Vermont in 1976 to begin his career in medicine, he continued with photography in his spare time. For more than 40 years he worked with film, mostly in landscape and nature photography, but now works exclusively in digital format.

“With digital format I have control over the entire process, and in composing, editing, printing, and framing I can present something that is my own work,” he said. “My passion is to use my camera to capture a moment in time that will linger in the minds of the viewer, hopefully evoking a renewed sense of wonder of the world around us.”

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through January 6, 2016. The gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S, Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 for more information.

Quality Improvement Initiatives

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

Rebecca O'BerryBy Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of surgery and operations

In 2014 the Cancer Program has focused on improving our screening efforts for colorectal cancer, the one cancer that can be prevented. Our two quality improvement goals for 2014 were to improve the tracking process we use for hemoccult cards given to patients and to increase the number of people screened for colorectal cancer.

Historically, less than half of the hemoccult cards given to patients are returned to the physician’s office for testing. We implemented a follow-up plan to increase our return rate and modified the system we use to track these cards. Our efforts were successful, and we were encouraged to explore bringing in a different test that is easier for patients to perform at home. This new laboratory test will be part of our quality initiative for 2015.

Throughout the organization we worked to increase the number of patients who receive some kind of colorectal screening. In the target age group of 50-75, our screening numbers increased from 59 percent (in 2013) to 90 percent (in 2014). This is a significant improvement, and shows how effective a targeted educational effort on the benefits of some form of colorectal screening can be! Unfortunately a large number of our patients still refuse to undergo colorectal screening. In 2015 we will work to improve patient access to screening by increasing the variety of our testing methods.

In 2014 we also increased our social services support for patients undergoing cancer treatment. To ensure that everyone has the help they need while moving through treatment, our patients now have easy access to a social worker and our Blueprint team. We also created a binder to collect all the information needed by someone undergoing cancer treatment.

The MagView program implemented at the end of 2013 has helped our radiology department track screening mammography in a more systematic way. This program keeps all a patient’s information in one location, and allows a much faster turnaround time for notification of results. The time a patient must wait to receive a mammography result notification letter is now less than two days!

Our providers are excellent communicators and have put a lot of time and energy into community education about prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. We work closely with our local senior centers to provide education sessions that are open to the public. Topics covered in these community outreach efforts include: skin cancer screenings and education (in several locations); discussions on breast cancer, bladder and prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. We will continue to provide this education in the upcoming year.

In 2014, 53 new cancer cases were identified, with breast cancer continuing to be the most prominent followed by lung, colon, and prostate. A total of 41 of those 53 cases were discussed at Tumor Board meetings.

2014 Gifford cancer statistics

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

Gifford Auxiliary Gives $1 Million to Hospital’s Capital Campaign

Funds raised through sales at popular volunteer-staffed community Thrift Shop

Gifford Auxiliary

Members of Gifford Medical Center’s Auxiliary at their quarterly membership luncheon on November 15, 2015. (Photo credit: Bob Eddy)

Gifford Medical Center’s Auxiliary announced a million-dollar gift to the hospital’s Vision for the Future campaign at the organizations quarterly membership luncheon on November 15, 2015.

Funds for the generous gift were raised through sales at the popular volunteer-staffed Thrift Shop in Randolph.

The Vison for the Future campaign is raising funds to support a multi-phased project that built the new Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center (which opened last spring), 25 private inpatient rooms (which will open mid-December), and an updated and more centrally located Birthing Center in the hospital (planned to open next spring). The campaign needs just $800,000 to close the $5 million campaign, and hopes the Auxiliary’s gift—created through hard work and small-dollar sales—will inspire others to invest in the hospital’s future.

“This gift represents an overwhelming generosity of time and resources,” said Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, who noted that over the years the Auxiliary has supported strategic projects (including the original Menig Extended Care wing, the Philip Levesque Medical Building, and the employee day care center) as well as annual departmental “wish list” items not included in the hospital budget. “The Auxiliary is a key part of Gifford’s success, and truly adds tremendous value to our community.”

The Thrift Shop first opened its doors in 1956 and has been providing clothing and household items to bargain hunters and those in need ever since. The 148-member Auxiliary runs the Thrift Shop, with some paid staff and many dedicated volunteers who sort through donations, clean and mend clothes, price items, stock shelves, and staff the store. Each year the Auxiliary also funds scholarships for college students pursuing health careers, financial aid for students enrolled in LNA programs, and supports other community outreach programs.

Auxiliary President Margaret Osborn says the Thrift Shop’s success can be measured in terms of money raised, but also by the enthusiasm of the volunteer workers, the creativity of employees, and the many community customers and donors.

“This million dollar gift reflects our community’s enthusiasm for re-gifting their possessions through the thrift shop, helping to ensure that we have high-quality local hospital care and good merchandise at prices everyone can afford—from fire victims to frugal shoppers,” said Osborn. “We provide an effective, simplified process that gets unused goods out to those who can use them. At the same time we offer tremendous opportunities for people with vitality and skills who want to give time to community service.”

Woodin also notes the many layers of the Thrift Shop’s community contributions. “We are so fortunate to have this unique community resource,” he said. “It helps the hospital, it helps people with limited resources, it keeps unused items from cluttering homes and out of the landfill, and it offers everyone the joy that comes with finding a good bargain. That’s a universal gratification!”

To volunteer or learn more about the Thrift shop, call (802) 728-2185. For more information about Gifford’s Vision for the Future campaign, call Ashley Lincoln at 728-2380 or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Finding Patient-Friendly Colorectal Cancer Screening Options

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

Gifford cancer program

One of our program goals for 2014 was to screen more people for colon cancer to help decrease the number of later-staged colon cancers found in our patients. Providers and nursing staff talk with patients during office visits about cancer screening services available at Gifford, and the benefits of detecting cancer early—especially with colon cancer, the “preventable cancer.”

A typical colorectal cancer starts as a slow-growing polyp in the lining of the colon or the rectum. These precancerous polyps and early cancers can be detected (and removed) during a colonoscopy, which is the preferred colon cancer screening test. But many patients delay or refuse colonoscopy screening, and we still want to encourage those people to at least have a fecal blood cancer detection test with their annual physical.

The hemoccult cards traditionally used for this screening required a patient to collect multiple samples at home and bring them back to their provider’s office. Even with an improved follow-up system to remind people to return their cards, less than half of the tests made it back to Gifford. Many patients reported that the dietary restrictions, multiple sample collecting, and the embarrassment of having to carry the card back to their provider caused them not to complete the test.

Cancer program staff explored other screening options and found a test that detects blood in the stool more accurately, is easier for patients to use and, more importantly, can be discretely mailed back to the lab for analysis. The FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Testing) cancer detection test is now offered as part of annual physicals at Gifford.

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