Joseph Woodin, Gifford’s administrator, speaks at Saturday’s Annual Meeting of the medical center’s corporators. Woodin outlined a year of success.
If there was any doubt that Randolph’s local hospital – Gifford – stands above when it comes to commitment to community and financial stability, it was wholly erased Saturday as the medical center held its 108th Annual Meeting of its corporators.
The evening gathering at Gifford featured an overview of the hospital’s successful past year, news of spectacular community outreach efforts, a video detailing employees’ commitment to caring for their neighbors and a ringing endorsement from Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board and the evening’s guest speaker.
Diane and William Brigham, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.
For Gifford, 2013 brought a 14th consecutive year “making” budget and operating margin, new providers, expanded services including urology and wound care, expanded facilities in Sharon and Randolph, a designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center and all permits needed to move forward on the construction of a senior living community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.
The Randolph medical center also collected a ranking as the state’s most energy efficient hospital, an award for pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, national recognition for Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph and, noted Board Chairman Gus Meyer, continued national accolades for the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home.
Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, speaks at Gifford’s 108th annual corporators meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital.
“In the meantime, we’re faced with an ever-changing health care landscape,” said Meyer, listing accountable care organizations, payment reform initiatives and a burgeoning number of small hospitals forming relationships with the region’s two large tertiary care centers.
For some small hospitals, these shifts cause “angst.” “We like to think it brings us possibility,” said Meyer. “As both a Critical Access Hospital and now a Federally Qualified Health Center, Gifford is particularly well positioned to sustain our health as an organization and continue to fulfill our vital role in enhancing the health of the communities we serve.”
Joan Granter, left, and Irene Schaefer, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.
The FQHC designation brings an increased emphasis on preventative care and will allow Gifford to invest in needed dental and mental health care in the community, Administrator Joseph Woodin said.
Gifford is but one of only three hospitals in the country to now be both a Critical Access Hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center.
“Congratulations! You’re a visionary,” said Gobeille in addressing Gifford’s new FQHC status. “It’s a brilliant move. It’s a great way to do the right thing.”
And Gifford is doing the right thing.
Gobeille was clear in his praise for Gifford’s management team and its commitment to stable budgets, without layoffs or compromising patient care.
Marjorie and Dick Drysdale, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.
Gifford’s commitment also extends to the community.
In a major announcement, Woodin shared that thanks to the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation, Gifford will grant a total of $25,000 to schools in 10 area towns to support exercise and healthy eating programs.
Gifford annually at this time of year also hands out a grant and scholarship. The 2014 Philip Levesque grant in the amount of $1,000 was awarded to the Orange County Parent Child Center. The 2014 Richard J. Barrett, M.D., scholarship was awarded to Genia Schumacher, a mother of seven and breast cancer survivor who is in her second year of the radiology program at Champlain College.
The continued use of “Gifford Gift Certificates,” encouraging local spending during the holiday, invested about $40,000 in the regional economy in December. “These small stores appreciate it. It really does make a difference,” noted Woodin, who also detailed Gifford’s buy local approach and many community outreach activities in 2013, including free health fairs and classes.
The community in turn has invested in Gifford. The medical center’s 120 volunteers gave 16,678 hours in 2013, or 2,085 eight-hour workdays. Thrift Shop volunteers gave another 6,489 hours, or 811 workdays. And the Auxiliary, which operates the popular Thrift Shop, has both invested in equipment for various Gifford departments and made a major contribution toward the planned senior living community that will begin construction in May.
Outgoing Gifford board member David Ainsworth arrives with wife Peggy to Saturday’s 108th Annual Meeting of the Corporators.
The night also brought new members to the Gifford family.
Corporators elected two new of their own: Matt Considine of Randolph and Jody Richards of Bethel. Considine, the director of investments for the State of Vermont, was also elected to the Board of Trustees and Lincoln Clark of Royalton was re-elected.
Leaving the board after six years was Sharon Dimmick of Randolph Center, a past chairwoman, and David Ainsworth of South Royalton after nine years.
‘Recipe for Success’
“Recipe for Success” was the night’s theme and built around a fresh-off-the-press 2013 Annual Report sharing patient accounts of Gifford staff members going above and beyond. The report, now available on www.giffordmed.org, credits employees’ strong commitment to patient-care as helping the medical center succeed.
Taking the message one step further, Gifford unveiled a new video with staff members talking about the privilege of providing local care and the medical center’s diverse services, particularly its emphasis on primary care. The video is also on the hospital’s Web site.
Gus Meyer, chairman of Gifford’s board, honors retiring board members David Ainsworth and Sharon Dimmick.
Health care reform
Shifting resources to primary and preventative care is a key to health care reform initiatives, said a personable and humorous Gobeille, who emphasized affordability.
“We all want care. We just have to be able to afford care,” he said. “In the two-and-a-half years I’ve been on the board, I’ve grown an optimism that Vermont could do something profound.”
Gobeille described what he called “two Vermonts” – one where large companies providing their employees more affordable insurance and one where small businesses and individuals struggle to pay high costs. “The Affordable Care Act tries to fix that,” he said.
The role his board is playing in the initiatives in Vermont is one of a regulator over hospital budgets and the certificate of need process, one as innovator of pilot projects aimed at redefining how health care is delivered, and paid for, and as an evaluator of the success of these initiatives as well as the administration and legislators’ efforts to move toward a single-payer system.
Audience members asked questions about when a financing plan for a single-payer system would be forthcoming (after the election, Gobeille said), about how costs can be reduced without personal accountability from individuals for their health (personal accountability absolutely matters, he said) and how small hospitals can keep the doors open.
Gobeille pointed to Gifford’s record of financial success and working for the best interests of patients and communities as keys. “I don’t think Gifford’s future is in peril as long as you have a great management team, and you do,” Gobeille said.
Chiropractor Dr. Michael Chamberland has joined Gifford’s Sharon Health Center, fulfilling a dream to work at a multidisciplinary sports medicine practice.
Originally from Bellows Falls, Dr. Chamberland attended the University of Vermont, studying pre-medicine and nutritional sciences. He went on to Western States Chiropractor College in Portland, Ore., earning his doctor of chiropractic degree.
He credits a back injury with steering him toward chiropractic.
He got hurt playing hockey. Months went by without relief until he visited a chiropractor for the first time in his life. “It was a chiropractic miracle, so to speak,” he says, remembering recovering his full range of motion after his first adjustment and being symptom-free within two weeks. “For me, I just couldn’t believe it. I realized that it was the perfect profession for me.”
After a chiropractic internship at Western States Chiropractic Clinics in Oregon, Dr. Chamberland returned to Vermont. He opened a private practice, Catamount Chiropractic, in Colchester as well as working at Jerome Family Chiropractic in Montpelier and Temple Chiropractic in Bellows Falls.
He maintains his private practice part-time, which shares space with a physical therapy facility, but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work at the Sharon Health Center. “That was the ideal,” he says of the Sharon sports medicine team that includes podiatry, general sports medicine, physical therapists and an athletic trainer, and fellow chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass. “It (a multidisciplinary sports medicine team) doesn’t exist in Burlington. It generally doesn’t exist on the East Coast.”
The Sharon Health Center is part of Gifford Medical Center. Gifford’s family atmosphere and collaborative, team approach were also attractive, he notes.
Dr. Chamberland is board certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. His clinical interests include prevention and treatment of sports injuries, sports nutrition, posture assessment, injury risk assessment and advanced imaging.
A resident of Essex, Dr. Chamberland is an athlete in his free time, including playing hockey, kiteboarding, alpine skiing, golf, tennis, cycling, hiking, water skiing and wakeboarding. He worked as an alpine race coach in Vail, Colo., as well as Smugglers’ Notch, for a time. He was even part of a race crew for the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail.
Now he is putting his athletic and chiropractic experience to work in Sharon. Call him Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Sharon Health Center at (802) 763-8000.
Maggie Gardner was studying sociology at the University of Vermont when a nurse-midwife came to speak during a class on reproduction.
Gardner’s first thought: “I want to be her.”
Today, she is.
After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2001, Gardner went to work for that midwife’s home birth practice, Welcoming Home Family Nurse-Midwifery in Hinesburg. Gardner was the office manager and assistant, both clerically and clinically, including assisting at births.
She went on help start a midwifery practice in her hometown of Vergennes, Tapestry Midwifery, and returned to the University of Vermont, undertaking the master’s entry program in nursing and earning her registered nurse certificate. Next was nurse midwifery school at the Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky – a master’s degree program.
And now, Gardner, a Vermont native, is working at one of the state’s most coveted certified nurse-midwifery practices – Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery.
Board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and a member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Gardner is seeing patients at Gifford’s clinics in Randolph and Berlin.
“I’m excited,” says Gardner, calling Gifford’s practice on the top of the pedestal when it comes to midwifery. “It has a strong reputation in the midwifery community.
“Many people don’t get to choose where they work. I get to choose to work at a place that’s committed to midwives.”
Gifford’s practice, she notes, takes the best of the home and hospital birth experience, and combines them into a natural, hospital-based midwifery birth.
Gardner will do the same in her practice at Gifford as well as focusing on open communication, equal partnerships with patients and families, and individualized care.
Gardner cares for all types of patients, from women needing routine gynecologic care to women expecting a baby, but has special interests in breast feeding support, Pap test follow-up, testing for and educating women on risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, and sexual health.
Those interests in part incorporate Gardner’s other work experience. In addition to her midwifery experience, Gardner has worked in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and infectious disease at Fletcher Allen Health Care in primarily office assistant type roles, and most recently was a manager at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, where she was responsible for the implementation of a new centralized lab management system for 21 Planned Parenthood health centers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Gardner lives in the home in which she grew up in Vergennes. She is married and has two children, a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old.
Call Gardner and the midwifery team at Gifford at 728-2401.
Experienced hospitalist Dr. Robert Cochrane has joined Gifford Medical Center’s 24-hour hospitalist team.
Originally from Montreal, Dr. Cochrane’s first career was in engineering. Consulting work in the field brought him to the United States and soon he was considering a major career change.
“Medicine was just interesting to me,” he says, noting that his parents were aging and he found himself wanting to be “part of the solution” for them.
He took a few classes, loved it, and decided to fully pursue it.
He attended the pre-medicine post baccalaureate degree program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and then the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Dr. Cochrane went on to residency at Fletcher Allen Health Care and quickly found himself drawn to intensive care and sicker patients.
“I wanted to really be involved in more acute, sicker people,” says Dr. Cochrane, who went to work as a hospitalist – a doctor caring for hospitalized patients.
Board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Cochrane worked for Apogee Physicians Group launching or working at hospitalist programs in medical centers across the state, including Northwest Medical Center, Springfield Hospital, Copley Hospital, and Porter Medical Center, as well as Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, N.Y.
The work with Apogee, a physician-owned business focused entirely on hospitalist medicine, meant switching jobs every few years, however. Dr. Cochrane of South Burlington was looking for more stability.
“I wanted to be in a community where I could stay for a long period of time and know the community well,” says Dr. Cochrane, who has now found that at Gifford.
Experienced nurse leader Alison White has joined Gifford Medical Center as its vice president of patient care services – a role that oversees the Hospital Division, including inpatient care, the Birthing Center, ob/gyn and midwifery practice, Emergency Department, nursing home and Adult Day Program.
A graduate of the bachelor’s degree nursing program at the University of Vermont and the master’s degree health care administration program at Independence University in Utah, White has spent her career in nursing and then nurse leadership.
Her nursing career focused on cardiac and dialysis patients – populations she loved because of the relationships formed with patients. “They grow to be your family,” she says.
White went on to serve as director of care management at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC), the director of regional care management and quality improvement for the Dartmouth Hitchcock Alliance, the director of clinical outcomes at CVMC and most recently vice president of quality, chief nursing officer and patient safety office at the Berlin-based hospital.
A motorcycle accident in August that nearly took her life left White reevaluating her priorities, however. She was seeking a better work/life balance, and says she has found that at Gifford.
“I felt like I hit the jackpot,” says White, who joined Gifford earlier this year. “The people are so open and warm and helpful and genuine, really genuine. Team comes through. It has a feeling of family. It doesn’t have a feeling of ‘corporateness,’ but at the end of the day the job gets done.
“I’m just so grateful to be here. I look forward every day to coming in.”
White succeeds Linda Minsinger, a long-time vice president who has transitioned to a new role: executive director of Gifford’s retirement community that will soon be under construction in Randolph Center and requires substantial planning.
“I think Alison is a great opportunity for Gifford’s Hospital Division. She comes with expanded current knowledge in the health care field and quality. I feel she will provide the staff and leaders with a new and different view of their roles,” says Minsinger, who is equally enthusiastic about her new role, which in part develops not just a community, but a culture “to ensure the residents and staff are happy and enjoy all the activities and opportunities that are offered.”
White lives in Barre with her husband Paul, a Vermont State Police captain. They have two children, Catie, 21, and Jeffrey, 18. White enjoys photography, volunteering at her church, serving on the Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice board and traveling in her free time.
The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
Reflections on the past remind us of our roots and of how health care has changed in the past decades. Chief among those is the increasing role mid-level providers, such as nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, play in health care. Today, we have diverse physician-led health care teams in every area of medicine to encourage and support wellness.
Mid-level providers are extremely instrumental at birth, during hospital stays, in the primary care setting, specialty clinics, and even for our surgical patients. This team approach to care improves provider access and quality of care.
At Gifford, we are transitioning with great success to a team-based approach and are taking steps to ensure continued access to high-quality health care.
In 2012, some of those steps included new radiology services and technology, such as more interventional offerings, an upgraded 64-slice CT scanner, and a fluoroscopy room.
The midwifery team has expanded to the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction. Gifford’s approach to obstetrics and gynecology has grown to include more complicated cases.
The Blueprint Community Health Team has expanded and behavioral health is increasingly a part of Gifford’s offerings. Thanks to a generous gift from the Auxiliary, new CarePoint EKG transmission technology is available between our Emergency Department and ambulance services to identify heart attacks in the field and determine the best and fastest course of treatment.
Urology offerings have also grown and the Cancer Committee continues to expand. The Sharon Health Center sports medicine team has welcomed a nurse practitioner and second chiropractor.
These improvements are examples of the changes and quality upgrades we, as part of the health care team, can affect in an institution of the size and mindset of Gifford for the betterment of the community. Meld these improvements with Gifford’s foundation of patient care and advocacy, and we have a formula for success for decades to come.
Ovleto Ciccarelli, MD, Surgery Division
Martin Johns, MD, Hospital Division
Joshua Plavin, MD, MPH, Medicine Division
Rebecca Savidge grew up in Chelsea, attended the local school and is now the latest health care provider at the Chelsea Health Center.
From her years at the Chelsea Public School, Savidge went on to the University of Vermont where she majored in biology with a chemistry minor. After graduating magna cum laude in 2009, she was part of the inaugural class of the physician assistant master’s degree program at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
During her schooling, she completed training rotations at medical centers throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, including Gifford, the South Royalton Health Center, Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, N.H., Central Vermont Medical Center, Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, Little Rivers Health Care in Wells River, The Health Center in Plainfield, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Since graduating nearly two years ago, Savidge has worked at The Health Center in Plainfield providing family medicine. She loved the job, but not the drive from Chelsea, where she lives.
A job at Gifford meant not only work close to home, but work at a hospital she respects and in a community she knows well.
“I love that Gifford is a community-based hospital with a range of ancillary patient services and it still feels accessible,” says Savidge, calling the rural medical center both well thought of in the community and among other hospitals.
“Chelsea is a special community because people choose to give back,” she adds. “A huge attraction of working at the Chelsea Health Center is taking care of people you understand and feel connected to.”
Savidge is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She has special clinical interest in preventative care, women’s health, chronic care, small procedures and urgent care.
In addition to work in Chelsea, Savidge will work half a day a week in Randolph in the primary care office’s urgent care clinic.
Patients should expect a partner and collaborator in Savidge.
“I like to use shared, informed decision making within a patient-provider team model. Patients active in their care leads to better outcomes.”
In a small community where neighbors are friends, Savidge puts a large emphasis on respecting patients’ privacy.
Savidge is currently building a house in Chelsea with her husband. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and pick-up soccer games in town, as well as gardening and reading.
Call Savidge at Chelsea Health Center at 685-4400. The health center, a modern new facility offering family care as well as pharmacy services and mental health, is off Route 110 just north of the village.
Starr Strong was born in Brookfield and still lives there today. Married to John Button of Chelsea, the couple has two grown children. In her free time, Starr enjoys gardening, skiing, kayaking, and hiking.
Starr has been a physician assistant for 31 years, including 19 years at the Chelsea Health Center as well as at Gifford’s Randolph and Bethel practices and Vermont Technical College’s student health center.
Her greatest love, professionally, is the Chelsea Health Center and the long-term relationships she has forged with generations of families there. At a rural practice, she says, people matter and she is able to spend time with her patients. “It is a privilege in life to make a place your own, to grow a life that is bigger than just yourself,” she says.
Below is her story as told in her own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
“When I was young, it took me a long time to sort out what I wanted to do with my life. Through traveling and experiments with lifestyles, I discovered a new profession – physician assistant – that appealed to me. It fit my personality (rebellious) and, I hoped, my potential. In 1979 I told my potential educators that I wanted to be a family practitioner in a rural health center. Three decades later, that vision has evolved into a challenging and fulfilling life.
Top left: Strong examines a curious Xabian Bring in 2009. Bottom: A 1996 portrait of Strong reviewing a patient chart with a co-worker.
My family’s ancestral home is a humble hill farm in Brookfield. I’ve known all my life that it is my true home. In 1981 when I was completing physician assistant (PA) school, I met with Phil Levesque, Gifford’s president at the time. He told me that Gifford didn’t have a place for me and he doubted that the Medical Staff would accept a PA in the years to come. I kept knocking on the door, and nearly 20 years ago I got an opportunity to “try it” in Chelsea. I was the first PA at Gifford, the first non-physician provider in Chelsea, and the only woman to practice there.
“The door” in Chelsea was opened to me largely by the gracious support of Dr. Brewster Martin who became my teacher, mentor, advisor, very dear friend, and, eventually, my patient. Brewster was the wisest person I have known and his influence on my life is immeasurable. I promised him that I would practice in Chelsea for 20 years and I am nearly there. During our lunchtime chats we shared the deepest thoughts and concerns in our hearts, and we shared funny stories. It was a privilege to be his friend and I miss him every day.
Family medicine is at least as much about relationships as it is about science. The depth of that trust can be built through years of commitment and listening. I am fascinated by the richness of families and individual’s lives, their dignity and fears, joys and sorrows. I am humbled by the courage I witness, and am grateful for the privilege of such trust.
Just like with Brewster, some of my fondest and most challenging experiences are with those I know best. I especially treasure my relationship with Judy Alexander, a woman who is my patient, friend, and co-worker. She has taught me a lot about humor and the joy of sarcasm, and she strengthens my love of play. Her courage in facing the battle of her life keeps me grounded, humble, and ever so appreciative of the fullness of life. I treasure that we will walk this road together as far as it takes us.
I love this place.”
~ Starr Strong, PA-C
Chelsea Health Center physician assistant
Friends and co-workers Judy Alexander and provider Starr Strong share smiles and laughter.
This article appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.
Pediatrician Dr. Pam Udomprasert with a young patient
Family health center now meeting even more of community’s needs for care
Pediatrician Dr. Pam Udomprasert joins the family medicine team at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin beginning this October.
“Dr. Pam,” as patients affectionately know her, is a graduate of SUNY Downstate College of Medicine in Brooklyn and completed her three-year residency at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
She worked in Connecticut before joining Gifford and moving with her family to Randolph in 2011.
Board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the National Board of Medical Examiners, she is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. She has a special interest in lactation support as well as asthma and allergies.
Personable and responsive, Dr. Pam continues to see patients in Randolph part of the week. In Berlin, she joins family nurse practitioners Sheri Brown and Tara Meyer as well as internal medicine physician/infection control practitioner Dr. Jim Currie.
The diverse team is available to care for all of your primary care needs, from birth through end-of-life.
The clinic is also home to Gifford’s remarkable team of certified nurse-midwives providing prenatal and well-woman care, neurologist Dr. Robin Schwartz, orthopedist Dr. Stephanie Landvater and podiatrist Dr. Kevin McNamara.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pam or another member of the Berlin team, call 229-2325.
Beginning Jan. 1, federal law requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a tax penalty. Gifford has specially-trained staff called “navigators” available to help you sign-up for a health plan.
This information appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.
Beginning on Jan. 1, federal law requires all Americans to have health insurance or face a tax penalty.
In the Green Mountain State, Vermont Health Connect is the new online marketplace where individuals, families and businesses with 50 or fewer employees can shop for, compare and purchase insurance plans.
Open enrollment for these plans began this October. Vermonters can determine their eligibility and enroll online. For those without computer access or needing in-person support, Gifford has resources to help.
Across the state, “navigators” have been trained and taken rigorous exams to provide one-on-one assistance with the Vermont Health Connect marketplace.
Gifford has three navigators through its Health Connections office, a part of the Vermont Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured, as well as the medical center’s Blueprint for Health team.
A Vermonter without health insurance,
A Vermonter who currently purchases insurance yourself,
A Vermonter with Medicaid or Dr. Dynasaur,
A Vermonter with Catamount or the Vermont Health Access Program,
A Vermonter with “unaffordable” coverage provided by your employer, or
A small business with 50 or fewer people
and you need help understanding the exchange, get help by calling Gifford Health Connections at 728-2323.
Individuals who are fully enrolled by Dec. 16 will have health coverage starting Jan. 1.
Under Vermont Health Connect, an employer-sponsored plan is considered “unaffordable” if your premium for yourself is more than 9.5 percent of your household income. To learn more, call (855) 899-9600 or visit www.healthconnect.vermont.gov.