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.

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni Provides Cancer Care at Gifford

Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni has joined Gifford Medical Center’s Oncology Department and is now seeing patients in Randolph.

Gifford is one of only five hospitals in Vermont designated as an accredited cancer program by the national American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

The Oncology Department includes a team of specially certified oncology nurses and provides compassionate cancer care and services (planning options for treatment following a diagnosis; outpatient chemotherapy; and some treatments for hematology conditions, such as anemia).

Board certified in both internal medicine and hematology/oncology, Dr. Tipirneni received his MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) at Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences in Andhra Pradesh, India. He completed his internal medicine internship at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, his internal medicine residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA, and his hematology/oncology fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA, where he was the chief fellow.

Also a provider in the UVM Health Network, Tipirneni brings the resources of an academic cancer research center to his care for patients at Gifford, including participation in multidisciplinary tumor boards and current clinical trials. He says he was drawn to cancer care during his first student rotations in outpatient oncology.

“I saw the deep attachment patients have with their oncologists, a person they often will see every other week during treatment, and I was interested in providing this continuity of care,” he said. “I learn a lot from my patients—their positive attitude in the sickest of times is a driving force for me.”

Dr. Tipirneni is married to Dr. Saranya Kodali, who is currently finishing her internal medicine residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA and they have a three-year-old daughter. When not working he enjoys traveling, hiking and cricket.

Hospital Administrator Joe Woodin Will Leave Gifford in May

Administrator Joe Woodin

Administrator Joe Woodin

The Gifford Health Care Board of Directors announced on Friday that long time Administrator Joseph Woodin will be leaving the organization in May to live in Massachusetts where he has accepted the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO position.

In announcing his resignation, Woodin stressed that the move was for personal reasons.

“There is not a single reason why I should leave, or want to leave Gifford,” Woodin said. “In the last three years I lost my wife, and then my mother, and it has been a time of personal reflection for me. It’s the right time for me to move forward in life and pursue another opportunity.”

He expressed great appreciation for the relationships he has built with the board, staff, and community during his 17-year tenure, and for the accomplishments they had achieved together.

To assure a smooth and successful leadership transition, 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 6-9 month national search for Woodin’s replacement.

“Gifford’s Board is fully supportive of Joe as he pursues this new chapter in his life,” said Gifford Board Chair Gus Meyer. “Gifford has a solid foundation, and we have exciting ongoing projects that we will continue to work on. Thankfully, we have an extraordinary staff, providers, and a management team, and we will continue to support of the excellent work they do.”

Since Woodin came to Gifford in 1999, the hospital has met its state-approved operating margin for 16 consecutive years while enjoying a period of expansion in services and physical growth.

Today Gifford has more than 600 employees in 11 locations. In 2013, Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.

During his tenure Woodin oversaw expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood and the popular Sharon Health Center. His commitment to strategic planning and master facility planning has brought a newly renovated ambulatory care center, expanded radiology and emergency department.

Woodin’s latest vision includes the creation of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private patient rooms. The Randolph Center campus includes the Menig Nursing Home and work is slated to begin in the spring on the first independent living building. Patients and staff transitioned to the new private patient rooms in December and work continues on the renovated Birthing Center.

Gifford has also expanded patient services during this time, ranging from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 that has allowed the hospital to provide local care for more serious illnesses to the creation of a the Palliative Care program. The guiding philosophy has been to provide appropriate care for all stages of life from birth to end of life.

Woodin’s commitment to the community has spread beyond the walls of Gifford to include ongoing support for local businesses. He has worked diligently to encourage economic growth and vibrancy to help build a healthy community.

Mario Potvin, M.D. Joins Gifford’s General Surgery Team

Dr. Mario Potvin

Dr. Mario Potvin

Dr. Mario Potvin has joined Gifford Medical Center’s general surgery team. A board-certified surgeon, he has lived in Minnesota for the last 19 years and most recently practiced at the Fairview Lakes Medical Center, in Wyoming, Minnesota.

Born and raised in Quebec City, Canada, Potvin earned his Medical Degree at the Universite de Montreal, Quebec, and completed a fellowship in Laparoscopic Surgery at Montreal General Hospital.

He practiced in Canada for six years before accepting a position with the Mayo Health Systems in Minnesota in 1997, and recently began looking for a position in New England so he could be closer to family in Quebec.

Potvin brings nineteen years of experience in general surgery, advanced laparoscopy surgery skills, and extensive knowledge of Endoscopy and GERD investigation. He likes to establish a direct and honest relationship with patients so they can discuss problems and treatment options together.

“I tell my patients that I’m here to give them the best treatment possible,” he said. “Sometimes this is surgery, sometimes there are other options to consider.”

Potvin has purchased a home in Randolph Center, and when not working enjoys skiing, reading, all kinds of music, and playing piano and guitar.

Gifford’s General Surgery team provides a wide range of services including skin lesion and cyst removal, comprehensive breast care, hernia treatment, and colonoscopies. To learn more about Gifford’s General Surgery program visit www.giffordmed.org, or call the General Surgery office at 802-728-2430.

Christmas Spirit Brought to a Whole New Level at Gifford

Katie Duprey

Katie Duprey and her holiday deliveries

On December 18th, every employee on Gifford’s main campus arrived to find a bag filled with four homemade cookies and a homemade caramel, either waiting on their desk or hand-delivered by an amazing Christmas spirit wearing a bright red reindeer nose.

Katelyn Duprey, a RN on HP, worked the night shift last night. After her shift ended, she pushed a cart overflowing with treats to every section of the hospital, making sure she left a bag for each staff member.

It took 48 batches of cookie dough and 7 batches of caramel to fill the 465 bags. Duprey and her mother Gloria started baking on Monday morning, helped by two friends, and they finished filling the last bag at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

“I made up all the cookie dough in advance and we worked on a rotation system,” she explained. “Two trays of cookies in the oven, two trays cooling, and 2 trays lined with dough, ready to bake. “

Duprey began working at Gifford just before Christmas in 2013. Last year she made Christmas cookies for her co-workers on the HP/TCU units, adding extras for others in the hospital.

“I thought I gave out cookies to the entire hospital last year, but then I realized this year there were so many more here on the main campus!” she said. “So I counted up all the employees on the address book to make sure I had enough.”

“This tastes like Christmas in a cookie!” lab technician Susan Gallagher said, as she helped with the distribution cart Friday morning.

Duprey says comments like this, and the surprised reaction of people receiving an unexpected “goodie bag”, makes all the work worthwhile.

She said by far the best reaction this year came from Administrator Joe Woodin, who was uncharacteristically at a loss for words when given his gift.

“He just stood there looking at all the bags and saying, “Impossible! Impossible!” Duprey said.

Barbara E. Quealy Joins Gifford as Chief Operating Officer

Gifford COO Barbara QuealyBarbara E. Quealy, RN, MBA, has joined Gifford Medical Center’s senior leadership team as Chief Operating Officer (COO). She will lead Gifford’s hospital-based operations and report directly to Administrator Joseph Woodin.

“We are very happy to have Barbara join our Gifford team,” said Woodin. “Because of her early experiences as an RN, and in key leadership positions in small critical access hospitals, she understands how important collaboration and communication is to delivering quality patient care.”

Quealy was most recently vice president of Physician and Ancillary Services at the Huggins Hospital in Wolfboro, NH, where she oversaw the operations of the primary care and specialty practices, medical imaging, cardiopulmonary, laboratory, and rehabilitation departments. Previously she was vice-president of Physician Services at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, NH.

A Boston native, she began working as a candy-striper when she was fourteen, worked as a nurses’ aide through high school and college, and worked for 10 years as an RN in intensive care, cardiac care, and cardiac rehab units before moving into hospital administration. Quealy says she was attracted to Gifford’s commitment to community and strong financial performance, and because she could be an administrator and still interact with patients and their families.

“I began my career in nursing and learned early on the importance of these relationships. Because of this I’m able to bring the patient care conversation to the highest levels of an organization,” she said. ´“At Gifford I’ve been especially impressed by the attention to patient care, and the team work and collaboration I see in all areas of the organization.”

Quealy recently served as vice president of the NH Medical Group Management Association. She received a Masters of Business Administration at Franklin Pierce University, an Associates of Science in Nursing at North Shore Community College, and a Bachelor of Arts at Boston College.

Her new position at Gifford brings her closer to family (one of her two grown sons lives in St. Albans, VT), and she says she immediately felt comfortable here. She and her husband have already purchased land in Randolph, where they are building a home.

Scott Rodi, MD, MPH joins Gifford Medical Center

Dr. Scott Rodi

Dr. Scott Rodi

Emergency medicine physician Dr. Scott Rodi has been appointed Gifford Medical Center’s Emergency Department and Hospital Division Medical Director.

For the past 15 years Rodi has worked at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where he has been the Medical Director and Section Chief of Emergency Medicine. He is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, and since 2007 has also worked part-time in Gifford’s Emergency Department.

“I came to Gifford initially because I wanted to work in a rural community hospital and to work more directly with patients, which was difficult in a teaching hospital,” Rodi said. “Gifford’s community focus resonates with me, and I enjoy working with an administration that is so accessible.”

A native of San Diego, CA, Rodi first came to the East Coast to attend Dartmouth College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Biology. He went on to Cornell University Medical College, where he earned an MD, and then returned to Dartmouth‘s Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences for a Master of Public Health. He completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at UCLA Medical Center, and trained in Orthopedic Surgery in the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and in General Surgery at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA.

While at Dartmouth Rodi founded the Center for Rural Emergency Services and Trauma (an outreach program aimed at Critical Access Hospital Emergency Departments) and was involved in the early development of tele-emergency medicine. He has been named New Hampshire Magazine’s Top ED Doctor annually since 2010, and his clinical interests include emergency department management, rural emergency care delivery, and telemedicine.

Dr. Rodi comes from a long line of doctors (his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all physicians), and said because of this it seemed inevitable that he would practice medicine: “I saw that it offered opportunities to do meaningful work and be steadily employed.” Married with three daughters, he lives in Lyme NH, where he is currently working on building an Annapolis Wherry rowing shell.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Fazzone joins Gifford Medical Center

Anthony Fazzone

Anthony Fazzone, M.D., M.S.

Anesthesiologist Anthony Fazzone, M.D., M.S. has joined Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. He brings nearly 20 years of experience and has worked at several area hospitals, including the University of Vermont Health Care System, Springfield Hospital, and the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH.

Dr. Fazzone attended Georgetown University (where he earned his M.D. and a master of science in Physiology) and received a master of science in Human Nutrition from Columbia University. He completed his residency in Anesthesia at Fletcher Allen Health Care, and residencies in Surgery at Abington Memorial Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Board-certified by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Fazzone was first drawn to physiology (the normal functions of living systems) and says moving on to medicine and anesthesiology was a natural extension of this interest.

“Anesthesia alters how the body functions, so understanding how the heart, lungs, and neurological systems work helps us take a personalized approach with each patient,” he says. “I can often use regional anesthesia (nerve blocks, spinal taps, and epidurals) to help patients avoid high doses of medication and provide pain relief for patients after surgery.”

Fazzone has most enjoyed his work in smaller hospitals like Gifford because he has time to meet with patients to develop ongoing relationships. After his residency at UVM he knew he wanted to settle in Vermont, and says the Randolph area reminds him of the rural part of western Connecticut where he grew up. He enjoys mountain biking, snowboarding, and in summer relaxes by kite-boarding on Lake Champlain.

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.