Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin wrote the following as an introduction to the 2012 Annual Report, segments of which we’ll be featuring on our blog:
It’s interesting to be working in an industry that continues to be under the microscope of the political process, with people wanting more control over the cost of health care. Frankly it can be a bit exhausting, but I can understand and agree with their concerns.
“What can we afford?” is becoming an uncomfortable theme both locally and nationally; although we can all relate to this in our daily lives when we go shopping for food or services. There are now so many involved in helping to “fix” the health care system that it becomes a daunting task just to stay focused on the basics: providing quality patient care with compassion and kindness.
This report highlights a few of our providers who have remained focused and undistracted by all of the changes in health care. As the years have ticked by, they have not lost their love of the profession, nor have they been dissuaded by all of the changes, paperwork, and new requirements. Their work has become a calling, and they have touched many of our lives when we have been in need of medical help.
The more we try to understand and solve the complicated aspects of health care, the more I am reminded that at the end of the day, there are still patients in beds or in clinic exam rooms awaiting care. They are usually anxious, at times scared or upset, and always hopeful that someone can give them answers and help them through the next step. Our role is to ensure that we have a provider willing to enter into patients’ lives, helping to answer questions and even hold their hand when the news is “not good”.
So regardless of where we end up with “health care reform”, hopefully Gifford will always be there with physicians and staff members who reflect the values of the professionals highlighted in this report. Many things will change moving forward, but unchanged will be our commitment to you and our communities.
Gifford is fortunate to have many long-time Medical Staff members. Some have worked in our community for 30 years or more. Most got their start as private practice physicians recruited to the area by the hospital and then became medical center employees.
Many came from outside the area. They could have chosen to work anywhere, but they chose to dedicate their careers and lives to the people of central Vermont and to bettering health care on a statewide level.
For patients, that means remarkable continuity of care, relationships embedded throughout generations, and access to some of the best and most experienced health care providers – anywhere.
With so much history and know-how behind them, we asked them to share some of their experiences with us. Our 2012 Annual Report is the result of their efforts to share what we’re calling brief “memoirs” or essays. Some talk about the amazing privilege of being entrusted with patients’ care and health. Others share stories of unique times with a patient.
We’ll begin featuring some of these memoirs as future blog posts. We hope you enjoy these reminiscences and are reminded, as we were, how very fortunate we are that these incredibly gifted individuals have given so much of themselves professionally, and personally, to our friends and neighbors.
As you’ll read, these long-time providers have also set the stage for our next generation of caregivers, who – like those who came before – are dedicating themselves to their communities and high-quality care for our region.
Experienced orthopedics physician assistant Bradford “Brad” Salzmann has joined Gifford Medical Center’s orthopedics team in Randolph.
Salzmann grew up in primarily Massachusetts and had two careers – first as a carpenter and then as a hospital-based paramedic – before becoming a physician assistant.
He also did ski patrol along the way and through his role as a ski patrol director got to know a physician assistant who ran a local clinic. Salzmann was inspired. He decided to pursue the “up and coming” profession.
He attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, earning his bachelor’s degree and physician assistant certification in 1996.
He went on to work as physician assistant in orthopedics at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., from 1996-2012 and at Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer, Mass., since 2000. He also worked in hospitalist medicine for a year for IPC Hospitalist of New England.
In addition, he has a master’s degree in disaster medicine and management and as part the Disaster Medical Assistance Team based in Worcester, Mass., responds to government requests for assistance in national disasters.
As part of this group, he’s responded to hurricanes in Florida, Louisiana, Georgia and the earthquake in Haiti. He was also recently part of the Hurricane Sandy response team.
His decision to come to Vermont was prompted by his love for the state.
“One of the reasons I’m here is we have family property and a little cabin in Stockbridge, so I’ve been coming here all of my life,” said Salzmann. “I love it here.”
Increasingly, he was excited to travel to Vermont, and reluctant to leave.
Now here to stay, Salzmann is living in Royalton, enjoying the Vermont outdoors and working full-time at Gifford seeing both outpatients and assisting Gifford’s two orthopedic surgeons in surgery.
“I like it. I’m really excited to be at Gifford,” he says, noting he turned down an offer at a larger hospital for the opportunity to work in a small hospital setting. “It’s personable. You get to know people and make more of a difference.”
Salzmann is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. He is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Physician Assistants in Orthopaedic Surgery.
This compassionate caregiver with a quick smile describes his practice style as respectful and truthful. He works with patients to explore options, such as therapy, injections or a visit to the chiropractor. “There are some things,” however, he notes, “that don’t get better without surgery.”
Call Salzmann at Gifford’s Randolph orthopedics office at (802) 728-2455.
RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center employees have raised $495 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies” on Friday.
The Randolph medical center and its clinics participate each year around St. Patrick’s Day in the fund-raiser, which allows employees who donate $5 to the March of Dimes to wear jeans to work for the day.
This year nearly 100 employees participated.
The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births and infant mortality.
“Gifford is pleased to be able to partner with the March of Dimes on initiatives to support prenatal and infant health,” said Robin Palmer, a member of Gifford’s Marketing Department who organized the hospital’s effort. “Employees appreciate the opportunity to both support a great cause and wear jeans to work.”
Roger Clapp, March of Dimes Vermont Chapter director, thanked hospital employees for their participation and noted that with this support Vermont has become the leading state in the nation in reducing premature birth. “Your support is paying off for thousands of Vermont families who are welcoming home stronger, healthier babies,” he said.
Other businesses wishing to wear “Blue Jeans for Babies” can contact the March of Dimes here in Vermont at (802) 560-3239.
From left, Menig Extended Care Facility licensed nursing assistants Loretta Cushing and Darlene Doyle and licensed practical nurse Anne Murphy gather around nursing home resident Della Allen, 99, on Wednesday. The nursing home at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph was recognized among the nation’s 2013 Best Nursing Homes.
RANDOLPH – For a third consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford Medical Center has been named among the nation’s very best nursing homes by U.S. News & World Report.
Looking at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data regarding health inspection, level of nursing staffing and quality of care for nearly 16,000 nursing homes nationwide, U.S. News & World created and released a “2013 Best Nursing Homes” list on Tuesday. Menig, along with seven other Vermont nursing homes, made the list for its “five-star” (the maximum available) rating.
Menig was also recognized in 2011 and 2012 and was named among the top 39 nursing homes in the nation last year.
“I am so proud of the Menig staff. We work in a place that is clean, well maintained, has great food and a dedicated pool of volunteers who love the elderly. Varied activities keep the residents’ quality of life high. This teamwork and our nursing staff’s commitment to care are what make Menig such a high-quality home,” said Cindy Richardson, Menig director of nursing. “This honor is wonderful recognition of the work we do on behalf of our residents every day.”
The U.S. News list is created to help consumers find quality nursing home care. Homes are given between one and five stars in the rankings.
“Fewer than one out of every five nursing homes got an overall rating of five stars,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News health rankings editor. “All seniors deserve the best nursing care available, and these are homes that merit their consideration by demonstrating such high quality.”
Menig is a 30-bed nursing home attached to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. The medical center is currently amid the permitting process to move the nursing to Randolph Center where it would become the anchor of a senior living community. The new community would include independent and assisted living as well, helping to meet a significant community need for more senior care and living options. The move would also free up space at Gifford to create industry-standard single inpatient rooms (rather than shared two-person rooms) for patient safety and privacy.
Learn more about the nursing home rankings here. Also, you can learn more about Menig online at www.giffordmed.org.
Medical Assistant Noreen Fordham practices evacuating a patient, Surgical Associates Manager Sherry Refino, down a flight of stairs.
The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.
In a disaster, the local medical center is a needed resource. With rooms filled with bed-ridden patients spanning multiple floors, a medical center must also be prepared for an emergency within.
Last year, Gifford held one of its largest emergency preparedness training events in recent years. In intense trainings held over two days, a total of 80 employees learned firsthand how put out a fire, communicate via emergency radios, and evacuate patients. They studied the locations of exits, emergency phones and medical gas shut-off valves. They learned about decontaminating patients and personal protection, and dealing with aggressive people.
Environmental Services Manager Ruthie Adams learns to use a fire extinguisher.
Ruthie Adams, Environmental Services manager, was among those who went through the training.
“I think it benefits the entire organization to have folks who understand key and critical points, especially non-clinical staff, such as how to evacuate a patient using an Evacusled, how to communicate on a radio properly, and just being a key go-to person in the event of an emergency,” says Ruthie, who used a fire extinguisher for the first time and now uses radio communication in her job.
The training was just one way Gifford prepares for an emergency. Employees take annual courses and exams electronically on workplace safety, such as fire, electrical, disaster preparedness, and violent situations.
Staff practice securing a patient, played by Environmental Services Team Leader Ralph Herrick, in the new Evacusled, used to evacuate bed-ridden patients.
A 2010 grant supported a study, changes, and significant educational outreach on Gifford’s emergency codes. These codes are what employees hear called out as overhead pages during emergencies and include codes from fire to cardiac arrest to a violent situation.
Monthly fire drills are held regularly throughout all shifts and in varying areas of the hospital.
Physical therapist Patrice Conard and materials clerk Alice Whittington participate in a scavenger hunt utilizing their newly learned radio communication skills.
Director of Quality Management Sue Peterson defines an emergency as “anything that stretches the limits of our normal operations.”
Prior to October’s larger training, smaller emergency trainings were held with managers and facilities staff on radio use and responding to a “code amber,” which is a missing patient or person. Future drills on other codes are planned.
When mass casualty situations like a bus accident with multiple victims arise, which they occasionally do, follow-up meetings are held to discuss what went well and where staff needs to make improvements. An essential Emergency Operations Plan has been
painstakingly updated over the last year, detailing Gifford’s response to a variety of emergency circumstances. The plan continues to be updated so hospital staff can remain ready to address changing threats and adverse events.
“As a medical center committed to our community and as Vermonters with a can-do attitude, we do well,” says Sue. “But preparing for the diverse threats in today’s world is a huge task. Emergency preparedness planning is essential to ensuring that we as a caregiver keep our patients safe in a crisis.”
Say “Gifford” and locals no doubt think of Randolph’s long-standing hospital. Say “Dr. Gifford” and the hospital’s founder and namesake comes to mind for most. Except Priscilla Carpenter, that is. To Carpenter, “Dr. Gifford” was better known as “Uncle Pearl.”
John Pearl Gifford was the son of an East Randolph farmer who went on to Dartmouth College and then Dartmouth Medical School, graduating as valedictorian in 1897. A respected local physician, he purchased a South Main Street house in 1903 and with two nurses established the hospital there.
Thirty years later in 1933, he nicked a finger on his right hand while performing surgery on a patient with a then-deadly streptococcus infection and died several weeks later.
Nearly 80 years after this death, Gifford – the hospital – still remains at that South Main Street address, and Dr. Gifford remains entrenched in its name and history. In fact, an oversized photo and a biography adorn a wall at the hospital. And now beside it is a newly created Gifford family tree.
The genealogy was created thanks to the efforts of Gifford graphic designer Tammy Hooker; long-time hospital employee Marilyn Sargeant, a great niece of Dr. Gifford; and Sargeant’s sister, Carpenter.
Carpenter, 90, of Randolph, scoured records, relying chiefly on a genealogy created by a cousin and calling relatives to fill in the blanks of the family history that spans six generations. Carpenter relayed the details to Sargeant, who relayed them to Hooker, who created the family tree.
Sargeant, 76, of Randolph Center is too young to remember Uncle Pearl. She was born after his death. Carpenter was 10 when he died and remembers it well for she was suffering from chicken pox at the time. “I was bed-ridden when he died,” says Carpenter.
Uncle Pearl had visited a sick Carpenter at her home before he died. As the local doctor, “he took care of us,” Carpenter says. But in those days there was no such thing as annual exams and well-child visits. “You didn’t go to the doctor’s unless you were sick.”
Dr. Gifford sought treatment for his own hand infection at Deaconess Hospital in Boston. The recommendation, recalls Carpenter, was to amputate but Gifford’s wife, Eliza, refused to allow it because of what it would mean to Dr. Gifford’s surgical career.
Eliza and Dr. Gifford, as the family tree shows, never had children of their own. Eliza Gifford died in 1964.
Sargeant and Carpenter are the last surviving children of Dr. Gifford’s nephew Edson Gifford Sr.
Sargeant has worked at Gifford for more than 40 years. She is Medical Staff Services manager. Sargeant and Carpenter’s mother, Loeata, was also employed by Gifford as a nurse. She graduated from the hospital’s then-nursing school in 1917.
Carpenter remembers her parents visiting Uncle Pearl at the hospital and sitting on an oversized wooden lounge in Dr. Gifford’s office while she waited. That lounge is now in the hospital’s main lobby for use by patients and visitors.
Seeing these pieces of their past, the new family tree and their surname still so prominently displayed on the hospital is a remarkable tribute, the sisters say. “It’s a great honor.”
From left, sisters Priscilla Carpenter of Randolph and Marilyn Sargeant of Randolph Center pose with Gifford Medical Center graphic designer Tammy Hooker of Barre in front of a new family tree at the hospital. The graphic features hospital founder Dr. John Gifford’s genealogy. Dr. Gifford was Carpenter and Sargeant’s great uncle.
As a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Barbara Lazar worked in a nursing home as a nurse’s aide. She decided then that she wanted to spend her career caring for the elderly.
You could describe it as a calling, but what Lazar really discovered was that when it comes to older people, a little caring goes a long way, and that felt good.
After a stint doing Alzheimer’s research in a lab in Philadelphia, Lazar went on to earn her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Following her internship and residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Lazar launched a family medicine career that has focused on geriatrics.
She began her career in 1996 working for the Indian Health Service at Northern Navajo Medical Center in New Mexico. Moving to Vermont in 2003, she served as a medical director at Genesis Elder Care in Lebanon while a member of the department of family medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She also worked at Brookside Nursing Home in White River Junction and most recently at PACE (the Program for All-inclusive Care of the Elderly) in Rutland.
She loved her work at PACE to help support older people’s ability to remain in their homes, she says, but was looking for a shorter commute to work. A Sharon resident, she looked north to Gifford and found a remarkable fit.
“As a provider it’s very attractive to come to a place that has its heart in the right place and that is committed to serving the community. It feels like a gift to have found a place like this,” says Dr. Lazar, who has started seeing patients at Gifford’s family medicine practice in Randolph.
A warm, caring and thoughtful doctor, it is Dr. Lazar’s goal to provide whole person and whole family care, considering a patient’s psycho-social needs as well as their medical needs. She’s also hoping to serve the area’s elderly and families struggling to meet an elderly loved one’s needs.
Board certified by the American Board of Family Practice, Dr. Lazar is a native of upstate New York. She makes her home in Vermont with her husband, Dr. Joel Lazar, a family physician at Dartmouth, and their two sons, ages 13 and 15. In her free time, Dr. Lazar enjoys hiking and music.
For complete family care, call Dr. Lazar at Gifford Family Medicine at (802) 728-2445 or learn more at www.giffordmed.org.
Volunteers, including LaRae Francis and Carol Blodgett from Gifford’s lab, stand in front of a burn pile at the site of Ken Perry’s former Thayer Brook Road home in Braintree.
The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.
Brenda Wright from Gifford’s Environmental Services Department was standing in boyfriend Ken Perry’s Thayer Brook Road home when it began to break apart. Irene’s torrential rain caused Thayer Brook to sweep over its banks, taking away much of Ken’s Braintree land, including that which supported the house.
They lost nearly everything, and on Oct. 28 – exactly two months after the flood – demolished the ruined home.
A group, including LaRae Francis, Carol Blodgett and Robin Palmer from Gifford, arrived the next morning to help pick up remaining debris to be trashed or burned. LaRae brought a group from her church. Carol hadn’t yet been to sleep after her night shift in the lab.
Preparing Students for the Next Stages of Their Lives
RUHS Student Services is hosting a Focus on Careers week for all students November 13-16.
Throughout the week, professionals from a wide range of occupations and organizations will give “lunch talks” to students who are interested in learning more about particular careers. Students may sign-up to attend any workshops they are interested in.
For each presentation a student attends, he/she will receive a raffle ticket to win local prizes such as gift certificates, VTC clothing, RUHS athletic gear, etc.
Our Obstetrician/Gynecologist Dr. Dina Levin was responsible for getting so many Gifford people involved. She wants kids to know and understand the variety of health care careers available – some medical, many not.
Here is a list of this year’s speakers.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Lyndley Mittler: Preschool Teacher, Warren Elementary School Dina Levin: Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Gifford Medical Center
MaryKay Dreher: Academic Coordinator, Community College of Vermont Anne Bridges: Registered Nurse, Gifford Medical Center
Mark McDonough: Firefighter, Burlington City Fire Department
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14
Amy Harris: Psychologist, Private Practice, Montpelier, VT Nicolas Benoit: Podiatrist, Gifford Medical Center Ed Striebe: Chef, Gifford Medical Center
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 15 Emma Shumann: Project Coordinator, Gifford Medical Center Samantha Medved: Social Worker, Gifford Medical Center Tammy Hooker: Graphic Design/Marketing, Gifford Medical Center
Geoffrey Schaubhut: Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience, UVM Kathy MacAskill: Medical Laboratory Technician, Gifford Medical Center
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Winthrop Smith Jr.: CEO Sugarbush Mountain Resort, Warren, VT LaRae Francis: Project Manager, Gifford Medical Center Tyson Moulton: Director of Facilities, Gifford Medical Center
TC Webb: Film/Media, RTCC
Ryan Dreimiller: Art Direction/Graphic Design, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters