Nurturing Connection: The Art Behind the Science

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

Every surface was polished and shining and immaculately maintained: this is the detail that comes to mind when General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli thinks back to his first visit to Gifford.

This small detail reflected a sense of connection and ownership that still impresses him today: staff members feel connected to the organization and take pride in their work.

“The people who work here take care of what’s theirs,” says Podiatrist Dr. Nicolas Benoit, who took over as Director of Surgical Services when Dr. Ciccarelli stepped down from the role in December.

Building relationships—to employees, to patients, to the people we serve—is key to Gifford’s success. They form a connecting thread that keeps us in touch with community concerns and needs, and has sustained us through a changing healthcare landscape for more than 100 years. People feel they are an important part of the organization and they want to help make it the best it can be.

“Gifford is very well-managed and has a concern for its employees some find unusual in the 21st century,” said Dr. Ciccarelli. “Every employee is in the same boat. You see this in our quarterly staff meetings, in how people are treated, and even in how we’ve weathered financial ups and downs: there’s never been a layoff. Everyone’s expected to not panic, to ride with it, and to pull a little harder.”

Over the years significant expansion and growth has been driven not by a business strategy, but in direct response to specific community needs (improvements to ensure access to quality local care or to fill needs like sports medicine or senior needs).

Doctors Ciccarelli and Benoit have witnessed major changes in their area in the last 10 years: the addition of a third operating room; a new ancillary services wing and patient-friendly surgical services floor; a systematized approach to wound care; and a radiology department transformed by the most modern technology and the expertise of two full-time radiologists. They say that the sense of an “employee team” has contributed to the organization’s growth over the years, bringing a resiliency and nimbleness that has allowed quick and thoughtful responses to internal and external change.

“I’m always impressed by how fast we can band together to get something accomplished here,” said Dr. Benoit. “People are willing to give the extra effort—if something seems impossible, we break it down in smaller steps to build it faster.”

The Art Behind the Science

Across the organization people are encouraged to collaborate and to help bring new colleagues up to speed when needed. As a surgeon in a small community hospital, Dr. Ciccarelli says peer support is especially important.

“The biggest challenge for a surgeon in rural health care is isolation,” he said. “Electronic media has made it easier to stay current, but most of surgery is an art, not a science: knowing what to do when is important, but how you do it and how much to do—this is where having peers becomes important.”

For Dr. Ciccarelli, nurturing relationships is especially important for recruiting a new generation of community health care providers—so many students are now encouraged to specialize or to take positions in larger hospitals, primarily because of student loan obligations. Both Leslie Osterman and Rebecca Savidge completed rotations with him as students, and both are now practicing at Gifford.

“Direct patient care is an honor and a privilege. Believe me, nothing beats being at a bedside with a patient!” he says. “We need to show young people how rewarding caring for patients can be.”

The OR Team: Bringing compassion and respect to patient care

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford OR team

Members of the OR Team (l to r): Ella Armstrong, Josh Redden, Morgan Nichols, Jeanelle Achee, Andrea Scott, Tammy Schellong, Jamie Floyd, Rebecca Johnson, Caitlyn Welch, Jason Lewis, Victoria Pulie, Kelsey Mancini.

“Patients feel very vulnerable when they are in the hospital for surgery,” said Surgery Nurse Manager Jamie Floyd. “We provide our patients with high quality surgical procedures, and our strong team approach allows us to give safe and compassionate care.”

Rochester Health Center Welcomes New Provider

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Dr. Erwin LangeDr. Erwin Lange, who has been seeing patients in Rochester since November, is settling in as this community’s primary care provider.

Office Manager Dawn Beriau and Registered Nurse Gail Proctor, who have worked at the clinic for more than 30 years, have spent the last few months introducing him to local families—many who have been receiving care at the Health Center for generations.

Lange is filling the position that opened up when Dr. Mark Jewett retired last spring, after nearly 40 years at the Health Center. Lange says he has really appreciated how the community has welcomed him.

“Rochester really is an amazing community. Sometimes people have stopped in just to introduce themselves and visit, and that has been great!”

Board-certified in family medicine, he brings years of experience in rural primary and emergency care. He received a BA from Dartmouth College, a MD from the Brown Alpert Medical School in Providence RI, and completed a three-year residency in family practice at the St. Joseph Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, NY.

Lange began his career as a family practitioner in a small, rural community in New York State, but then moved into practice as an emergency physician in several NH and Vermont hospitals. When he decided to return to family medicine he was looking for a community like Rochester, where he could care for a variety of conditions but also establish ongoing relationships with patients and their families.

Dr. Lange sees patients at the center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and Physician Assistant Tammy Gerdes sees patients on Fridays.

Services include: annual physicals, blood work, sick visits, EKGs, chronic disease management, care coordination, and emergency procedures. To schedule an appointment, call 767-3704.

New Offices, Staff Increase Access for Berlin Primary Care Patients

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Berlin primary careIn late April patients at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin began seeing primary care providers in a new facility, just up the hill from the existing health center offices.

New providers Dr. Kasra Djalayer, nurse practitioner Elizabeth Saxton, and providers from Gifford’s Behavioral Health Team have joined nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie in the new Primary Care building, making it easier for area patients to build a relationship with a local provider. Ob/Gyn services are now available in Berlin, and our team of certified nurse-midwives will provide well-woman and prenatal care from offices in this new location.

The existing Health Center building, which opened in 2007, is now dedicated to specialty practices, including Orthopedics, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Neurology, and Urology. The vacated primary care space has been renovated for physical therapy services on site. Also provided in the specialty clinic are enhanced lab, X-ray, and diagnostic technology services, which include MRI’s from a visiting mobile unit.

Both buildings are conveniently located off Airport Road, with plenty of open parking spaces. Call today: 224-3200 (Primary Care) or 229-2325 (Radiology & Specialty Clinic).

Gifford Specialists Bring Quality Care Close to Home

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Gifford specialists are supported by the most current advanced diagnostic technology and offer a range of specialty services—all conveniently located right in your community, with easy access and parking. Specialty services include:

• cardiology
• general surgery
• neurology
• oncology
• ophthalmology
• orthopedics
• podiatry
• sports medicine
• urology
• rehabilitative services that include physical, occupational, and speech therapies

New Providers on the Specialty Services Team

General Surgeon Dr. Mario Potvin

General Surgeon Dr. Mario Potvin Born and raised in Quebec City, Dr. Potvin brings nineteen years of experience in general surgery, advanced laparoscopy surgery skills, and extensive knowledge of endoscopy and GERD investigation. He practiced in Canada for six years before accepting a position with the Mayo Health Systems in 1997. He has lived and practiced in Minnesota since then, but wanted to move closer to family in Quebec.

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni Board certified in both internal medicine and hematology/oncology, Dr. Tipirneni is now seeing oncology patients one day a week in Randolph. He is also a provider in the UVM Health Network, and so brings the resources of an academic cancer research center to his patients at Gifford, including participation in multidisciplinary tumor boards and current clinical trials.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Fazzone

Anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Fazzone has worked in several area hospitals, including the University of Vermont Health Care System, Springfield Hospital, and the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH. He has a special interest in regional anesthesia, which uses nerve blocks, spinal taps, or epidurals to help patients avoid high doses of medication and provide pain relief for patients after surgery.

E. Berton Whitaker Named Interim CEO of Gifford Health Care

Bert Whitaker

Interim CEO Bert Whitaker

E. Berton (Bert) Whitaker has been named interim CEO of Gifford Health Care in Randolph. He will be working with Gifford’s board of directors and Sr. Leadership team until a permanent chief executive is in place.

A national search to replace former CEO Joseph Woodin, who left after 17 years at Gifford, is anticipated to take six to eight months.

“Bert is a great fit for Gifford and our community in this period of transition,” said Peter Nowlan, board vice-chair and head of the search committee. “He prides himself on effective communication, financial stability, and quality performance.”

Whitaker, who is from Chattanooga, TN., was selected from a pool of eight applicants. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.

He has been in health care administration for 35-years and has held both CEO and interim-CEO positions in a variety of hospital settings, large and small healthcare organizations, acute and long-term care facilities, and multiple physician group practices. This is his fourth interim position since retiring as CEO and President at Baptist Health in Madisonville, Kentucky in 2013. Most recently he served as interim CEO of Calais Regional Hospital in Maine.

“Gifford has a clear vision, a solid and engaged board, and great staff. This organization is well positioned to go through this transition,” he said. “My role during this period is to respond to issues as they come up, and to balance a celebration of the good things at Gifford with gathering information so I can flag any issues or problems that may need to be resolved.”

Sophisticated Equipment, Less Travel, Compassionate Care

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford mammography

Gifford’s Lead Mammographer Terri Hodgdon

When Lead Mammographer Terri Hodgdon came to Gifford in 1991, the Radiology Department had four full-time employees and she took medical images in just two areas. Now patients come for mammography, ultrasound, X-rays, MRIs, and interventional radiology treatment. The darkrooms are gone (images are digital now), and the department is staffed by nearly a dozen people, including technologists at the Sharon and Berlin clinics.

This growth responded to a need for local radiology services, so patients could avoid travelling for care. Hodgdon sees primarily sports-related injuries when working in Sharon, but in Randolph she helps patients with mammograms, cardiac and lung issues. The newest procedures use interventional radiology (using medical imaging for breast biopsies, to place PICC lines, or to find and drain abscesses), which are less invasive than surgery.

“In radiology you have to be a perfectionist—it’s really important that everything is lined up perfectly,” said Hodgdon. “Still, easing people’s anxiety is a big part of my job. We’ve expanded. We have the newest technology, but helping the patient through the process still comes first. That’s stayed the same over the years.”

In-House Imaging Expertise for Faster Reports

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford’s radiologists Drs. Alan Ericksen and Jeffrey Bath

Gifford’s radiologists Drs. Alan Ericksen and Jeffrey Bath

For many, “Radiology” brings to mind a room filled with intimidating X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, or mammogram machines. Few think about the people behind the cutting-edge equipment, specially trained physicians who translate images into accurately diagnosed diseases or injuries. These specialists work closely with providers to troubleshoot and find the most effective treatments for patients.

Last spring Gifford hired two new radiologists, Dr. Jeffrey Bath and Dr. Alan Ericksen, to create our first employee-staffed Radiology Department (radiology services were previously contracted through outside private practices).

This change strengthens our personalized patient-care focus by providing seamless physician collaboration and shorter reporting times. Using new voice recognition software, the radiologists can read images and dictate their findings right into the digital storage system –often within just a few hours.

“With radiologists in-house the whole process is streamlined —I don’t have to wait for technicians to send images out as I’ve had to do in larger hospitals,” said Pediatrician Dr. Christina DiNicola. “In an emergency I could have a report within 20 minutes, the time it takes a patient to cross the street to radiology, have the procedure, and return to my office to discuss treatment!”

The Best Beginnings: Personalized, 24-Hour Support for Moms and Newborns

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford's Birthing Center

(L to R): Bonnie Hervieux-Woodbury, Ronda
Flagherty, Karin Olson, Kim Summers, Mary Borie, Bonnie
Solley, Jennifer Davis

For more than 35 years women have traveled from all over to have their babies at Gifford. Our nurses are famous for their loving care — many have helped welcome multiple siblings to a family.

“Our certified nurse midwives and Birthing Center nurses provide compassionate, personalized labor support for low-intervention births,” said Director of Women’s Health Bonnie Hervieux-Woodbury. “Women are attracted to Gifford because we offer a variety of choices, including epidurals and the back-up support of three ob/gyn physicians.”

Partnering to Improve Patient Access to Care

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are partnering with medical doctors to help patients get the care they need, when they need it. These health professionals have been specially trained to provide primary care and help patients learn how to make the lifestyle changes that will help them stay healthy.

Physician Assistants Certified (PA-C)

Physician assistants, under the supervision of a physician, are primary health care professionals who are trained to diagnose and treat acute illness and injury, assist in surgery, and manage chronic disease. Following a medical model, they use preventive medicine to promote healthy lifestyles and provide a broad range of healthcare services.

Education: Physician assistants graduate from a Master of Physician Assistant Studies program.

Certification: Physician assistants are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and, like physicians, licensed by the state Board of Medical Practice.

Nurse Practitioners (NP), also known as Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)

Nurse practitioners train to specialize in a specific area (including primary care). The core philosophy of the nurse practitioner field is individualized care, preventing illness, promoting wellness, and patient education.

Education: Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have completed a minimum of a master’s degree and received training in the diagnosis and management of
common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses.

Certification: Nurse practitioners are certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in specialized areas and are licensed by the state and overseen by the Vermont State Board of Nursing.

Rebecca Savidge, Chelsea Health Center PA-C

Rebecca Savidge Chelsea Health Center PA-C

Rebecca Savidge, Chelsea Health Center PA-C

“When I was growing up, I came to the Chelsea Health Center to see Starr Strong. The way she practiced medicine influenced my choice to become a PA.

Living close to those I care for is important to me. Now I see generations of patients in the same family. When I started, Starr passed her patient’s history on to me, as it had been passed on to her when she started. It’s like the passing of a community torch.”

Tammy Gerdes, Bethel/Rochester Health Center PA-C

Tammy Gerdes, Bethel/Rochester Health Center PA-C

Tammy Gerdes, Bethel/Rochester Health Center PA-C

“Patients want to be heard—when they feel heard, healing can happen. I wanted to be in a small clinic setting where I could give unique and individualized care because I treat every patient as if they were a member of my extended family.

Practicing medicine is a fine art. I have found that I am both a teacher and a student, asking questions on my medical journey. Gifford’s focus is on the patient, so I knew this setting would allow my practice style to flourish.”