Year in Review – Part 4

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the fourth quarter excerpt.

OCTOBER

Food choices in the Gifford cafeteria get even healthier as the hospital transitions to a healthy breakfast bar; healthier, lower salt meats; less butter and heavy cream in foods; and more grains and legumes as starches.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stops at Gifford on his “Cycling Vermont’s 14″ 500-mile bicycle tour of the state’s 14 counties. He tours Menig as part of his stop.

Dr. Josh Plavin, a National Health Service Corps scholarship recipient, speaks out for the federal program supporting primary care providers on Corps Community Day on Oct. 11, and for the need for more primary care providers, especially in rural regions.

Two local women, Krista Warner and Teresa Bradley, organize a bowling tournament in support of Gifford’s Woman to Woman fund and raise $1,485 for breast cancer awareness.

The CT scanner is upgraded from a 40-slice model to a 64-slice model, offering patients faster service, clearer imaging, and less radiation.

NOVEMBER

A new system, a CAREpoint Workstation, for transmitting EKGs from ambulances in the field to the Gifford Emergency Department is brought online. The system, generously paid for by the Gifford Auxiliary, is for use with heart attack patients to determine if they should be brought to Gifford or directly to a cardiac catheterization lab at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center or Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Stuff a TruckMenig residents work with school children from the Baptist Fellowship of Randolph to create 100 boxes of gifts for children in Third World countries through Operation Christmas Child.

Working with Connor Contracting Inc., Gifford staff and community members Stuff a Truck for Hurricane Sandy survivors in the Rockaway neighborhood of Long Island, New York.

The first patient is seen in the Radiology Department’s new fluoroscopy room. The room is utilized for interventional radiology procedures, which have grown in number.

Great American Smoke OutAll Gifford grounds go smoke-free in concert with the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 15.

Gifford’s Annual Craft Fair raises funds for the Adult Day Program.

Married couple Elvira Dana and Jason Kass travel 36 hours from their home in Armenia to give birth at Gifford, for a second time.

Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Vermont Ethics Network, and Gifford’s Advanced Illness Care team join together to offer a community discussion around end-of-life care planning. Other talks on death and dying continue at Gifford in the months that follow.

DECEMBER

Family physician Barbara Lazar joins Gifford, bringing a love of geriatrics to the Randolph team.

Chef Wendell Fowler leads a free talk on the pitfalls of the American diet. He suggests cutting the food additives, chemicals, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup in favor of fresher, less-processed foods to improve our health.

Gifford once again supports the community through its holiday gift certificate program – a buy local program where employees receive “gift certificates” redeemable only at regional, locally-owned businesses.

Experienced Pediatrician Joins Gifford Team

Dr. Robert Smith returns to Northeast after 21 years in U.S. Army

Dr. Robert Smith

Dr. Robert Smith

A native of New Jersey, pediatrician Dr. Robert Smith is returning to the Northeast after 21 years spent as a U.S. Army doctor in Texas, Germany and Afghanistan.

Dr. Smith has joined Gifford Medical Center’s Randolph pediatric practice, bringing his decades of experience, commitment to continuity of care and warm sense of humor to Vermont families.

A graduate of Drew University in Madison, N.J., Dr. Smith went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Vermont and then his doctor of osteopathic medicine from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine. His pediatric internship and residency were at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.

Joining the Army helped provide scholarship money for Dr. Smith, then a young husband and father, to attend medical school and also allowed him to serve his country while seeing some of the world. He started his career in Texas and then moved to Germany in 1998, serving the majority of his career there as the head of pediatrics departments, primary care offices and health clinics at various U.S. military bases.

His most recent position was as chief of the Department of Pediatrics at the U.S. Army MEDDAC (Medical Department Activity) in Heidelberg, Germany and as a pediatric consultant to Europe Regional Medical Command.

From 2010-2011, he was in Kandahar, serving as a brigade surgeon. It was actually during down time in Afghanistan that Dr. Smith shopped for and bought his current home in Vermont.

He had maintained residency in Vermont since first going to college here in the 1980s and hoped to return upon his military retirement. That came just this month. He left Germany on July 1 and started at Gifford a week later on July 8.

“It’s a friendly hospital. It’s a great area,” says Dr. Smith with excitement over being able to practice medicine in a small community where he can build relationships with his young patients and their families.

Dr. Smith describes his style as warm and trusting. “The best compliment I’ve ever had is a child who said ‘Mommy, this guy is funny.’”

That humor leads to children being comfortable receiving care.

Dr. Smith provides care to children from birth through adolescents. Of special interest is ADHD, asthma, infectious disease and sports medicine or sports injuries, he notes.

Dr. Smith is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. He is a fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the American Osteopathic Association. He has garnered many awards throughout his career, including the Bronze Star Medal in 2011, an Order of Military Medical Merit in 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Young Outstanding Uniformed Staff Pediatrician Award in 2002, multiple Meritorious Service Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals and much more.

Dr. Smith lives in Fayston. He and wife Rosemarie have four children, two daughters who are married, a third in nursing school and a 10-year-old son. In his free time, Dr. Smith enjoys the outdoors, including downhill skiing, gardening, camping and hiking.

He is now accepting new patients. Call him at Gifford pediatrics at (802) 728-2420.

Year in Review – Part 2

Our 2012 Annual Report included a month-by-month “Year in Review” section. Here is the second quarter excerpt.

APRIL

Blueprint teamTo support patient needs, the Blueprint team grows to include a behavioral health specialist (social worker) and a second care coordinator.

Gynecologist Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara of the Bethel and Twin River health centers leads a free women’s health talk at the Montshire Museum on menopause and genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers.

Gov. Peter Shumlin visits the Menig Extended Care Facility to offer thanks to the state’s top nursing home, calling it a “tribute to the community”. “We’re proud of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” the governor said to residents, families, and staff members. The governor’s visit came in the wake of the U.S. News Report “2012 Honor Roll” listing.

Gov. Peter ShumlinJoining Gov. Shumlin are Vermont Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry, Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi, Division of Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt, and Assistant Director Fran Keeler.

Gifford provides free assistance with advance directives in conjunction with National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Gifford’s more than 200 volunteers are honored with a luncheon served by hospital managers, prize awards, musical performances, and more.

Dr. Sandy Craig joins the hospitalist team, having previously practiced at The Health Center in Plainfield for many years.

March of DimesEmployees raise $455 for the March of Dimes by donning “Blue Jeans for Babies”. At the same time, the Vermont Chapter of the March of Dimes recognizes Gifford with a Leadership Legacy award for its commitment to prenatal, birth, and newborn care, and its support of the non-profit organization working to prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality.

Long-time pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola receives a national award for his work around childhood immunizations.

Dr. DiNicola is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and the CDC Foundation as the first ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for the state of Vermont.

MAY

Ob/gyn Dr. Anne Galante joins the women’s health team full-time. She had worked as a Menig celebrationlocum tenens, or part-time contracted, provider at Gifford since 2009.

Menig residents celebrate a “Day of Play” with representatives of the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. The day celebrated Older American’s Month and included a scavenger hunt.

JUNE

The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center holds its annual preschool graduation, complete with caps and gowns.

Gifford and Valley Rescue Squad Inc. move forward with the formation of a new non-profit aimed at stabilizing ambulance costs and maintaining or improving quality through a new non-profit to be called Supporting Ambulances for Vermont Emergencies (SAVE).

A free men’s health talk by general surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli and urologist Dr. Richard Graham address colorectal health, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.

For an eighth consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility receives a Nursing Home Quality Recognition from the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.

A free talk on Medicare insurance, why it’s important, why participating in Medicare Part B is beneficial, and what one’s choices are under Medicare Part D is offered.

The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons grants accreditation with commendation to the cancer program at Gifford. Gifford’s cancer program, which includes outpatient chemotherapy, has been accredited since 1965.

Family nurse practitioner Emily LeVan joins the Bethel Health Center.

Gifford is awarded a Hospital of Choice Award from The American Alliance of Healthcare Providers for “courteous, compassionate, and caring services for patients, family, and the community.” The ranking places Gifford among “America’s most customer-friendly hospitals”.

In Your Words…A Patient’s Story

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

patient feedbackThe following is excerpted from a letter sent to Gifford by patient Emily Betts Newman of Chelsea. With her permission, we share her words with you.

I underwent surgery at Gifford Medical Center, which was performed by Dr. Dina Levin. The short of it is that Dr. Levin treated me with kindness, compassion, and stellar professionalism – with some humor thrown in. I arrived at 8:30 a.m. and was escorted to a room where the business of prepping me for surgery commenced immediately. The nurse  was outgoing, friendly, and knew exactly what she was doing, pleasantly professional.

Very shortly in came Dr. Levin. She spoke to me and then to my husband. Then in came the anesthesiologist. He too was most approachable, but at the same time remained professional. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, along comes a young man and a young woman, dressed in surgical scrubs, to walk me to the OR. They were both most
solicitous toward me and made the walk to the OR quite entertaining.

But wait, it still gets even better. Upon entering the OR, I was instructed to get up on the  bed and stretch my arms out. As I did I felt many hands stroking my arms and touching my legs in very soothing manner, sending waves of reassurance through me. Dr. Levin came in, looked at me, smiled and said, “Emily, we are going to take such good care of you.” At that very moment I was relaxed, felt like all was well with me and the world. Dr. Levin was the last smiling face that I saw before I went into the dreamless world of anesthesia.

Soon I was back in the room where it all began. I was actually sorry to go when they decided to boot me out. The quality of care at Gifford is sterling and exceptional in every  way. I even got a call from a gentleman at Gifford asking how I was doing since my procedure. I now tell my friends that it certainly paid off to have the surgery and there is only one person on the planet who can do it with compassion, humor, and professionalism. That person is Dr. Dina Levin.

New Providers

This information appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

Dr. Barbara Lazar

Dr. Barbara Lazar

Dr. Barbara Lazar

Family physician Dr. Barbara Lazar has joined Gifford in Randolph, providing care to all  ages, especially older Vermonters.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Lazar did her internship and residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. She is board certified by the American Board of Family Practice.

She began her career in 1996 at the Indian Health Service at Northern Navajo Medical Center in New Mexico. Moving to Vermont in 2003, she worked as medical director at Genesis Elder Care in Lebanon, N.H., and as part of the family medicine department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She has also worked at Brookside Nursing Home in
White River Junction and most recently at the Program for All-inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) in Rutland.

A Sharon resident, wife and mother, Dr. Lazar joined Gifford for the opportunity to work close to home and at a small medical center committed to family care.

Call her at Gifford Family Medicine at 728-2445.

Tara Meyer, APRN

Tara Meyer, APRN

Tara Meyer, APRN

Family nurse practitioner Tara Meyer is the newest member of the family medicine team at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.

Board-certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and a graduate of the  University of Vermont, Tara has both nursing and family nurse practitioner experience. She worked as an inpatient nurse at Fletcher Allen Health Care, as a nurse practitioner to children and adults with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and most recently as a primary care nurse practitioner for the Program
for All-inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) in Colchester.

A Montpelier resident and wife, she calls her position at Gifford her “dream job.” “I’m very happy. I just love Gifford. A lot of my friends come to Gifford. A lot of my friends have had babies at Gifford,” Tara says. “It feels really great to work in a place where I’m proud of, that’s really invested in the community and has a great reputation.”

Tara provides care to all ages and also works in area nursing homes on Gifford’s
behalf. Call her at the Berlin Health Center at 229-2325.

Brad Salzmann, PA-C

Brad Salzmann, PA-C

Brad Salzmann, PA-C

Experienced orthopedics physician assistant Bradford “Brad” Salzmann has
joined Gifford’s orthopedics team in Randolph, providing office care and assisting
in surgery.

A graduate of Springfield College in Massachusetts, Brad is certified by the National
Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. He’s worked since 1996 in
orthopedics at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., and Wing Memorial
Hospital in Palmer, Mass. He also worked in hospitalist medicine at IPC Hospitalist
of New England.

In addition, he has a master’s degree in disaster medicine and management and serves as part of a disaster medical assistance team that responds to national crises.

Now a Royalton resident, this outdoor enthusiast has joined Gifford for the opportunity to work in Vermont and in a small hospital setting. “I’m really excited to be at Gifford. It’s personable. You get to know people and make more of a difference,” he says.

Call Brad in Gifford’s Randolph orthopedics practice at 728-2455. Orthopedics is also offered at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.

Hilda Gray: A Mammogram Found Her Breast Cancer

Now she encourages others to have their annual exams

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

radiologist Dr. Scott Smith

Radiologist Dr. Scott Smith performed Hilda’s biopsy and shared her diagnosis with her extended family.

Hilda Gray is a strong proponent of mammograms. The South Royalton resident has had one every year at her community hospital, Gifford Medical Center.

Last year was the first time this active grandmother got some unsettling news, however.

A small lesion in her left breast was found and merited further study. Gifford Patient Care Navigator Brittany Kelton scheduled all of Hilda’s follow-up care and was at her side during each appointment.

A diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound were performed and then an ultrasound-guided biopsy was done right in the Radiology Department.

At first, Hilda didn’t want the biopsy. “I wasn’t too thrilled about that,” she says. Her family, however, was insistent. “‘Momma, you’re going to have the biopsy and that is all there is to it,’” Hilda recalls one of her daughters saying.

On the day radiologist Dr. Scott Smith delivered the news that the small mass was indeed breast cancer, three of Hilda’s children and her husband, Robert Gray Sr., were at her side.

General surgeon Dr. Maury Smith

General surgeon Dr. Maury Smith removed Hilda’s cancer.

Dr. Smith “took the whole family in the office and explained to everybody. He didn’t try to hurry you out. He wanted to make sure all of our questions were answered,” Robert recalls.

A lumpectomy, surgery to remove the mass, was the next step. This time, Hilda was fearless. “If its something that’s got to be done, it’s got to be done,” she recalls saying at the time.

She also had every confidence in the general surgeon who would operate – Dr. Maury Smith. “To Dr. Smith, you are a person, not just a patient,” says Robert.

This time with Robert, all four of her children and their spouses with her, Hilda returned to Gifford last fall for surgery to remove the cancer. A follow-up mammogram earlier this year found no additional lesions, says a happy, cancer-free Hilda.

“I feel like the hospital did wonderful by me,” she says, encouraging others to have their annual mammograms.

“Just do it,” she says. “If I hadn’t gone, I would never have known it was there. I really think it’s something women should do every year.”

Wound Care Now Available at All Gifford Clinics

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

wound care available at Gifford clinics

Wound care nurse Jan Giles cares for patient Lisa Sayman of Barre.

With an increase in conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and peripheral artery disease, more and more people are suffering from wounds that don’t heal well.

Gifford podiatrists and general surgery staff already offer help with wound care, but now Gifford is launching a special mobile wound care clinic for the convenience of patients.

Registered nurse Jan Giles is leading the effort. She is specially certified in both wound care and diabetic wound care. Jan is now seeing patients in Gifford’s general surgery office and at all Gifford health centers for the convenience of patients.

Jan’s wound care help includes monitoring wounds, applying dressings, utilizing compression as appropriate, referring patients to a health care provider for additional care, and working with home health care agencies to coordinate proper wound care at home.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do for years,” says Jan. “I think it’s an art and a science, and I really enjoy the challenge of it.”

Diabetic foot ulcers and venous stasis ulcers are the most common chronic wounds. Wounds can also occur following an injury or surgery.

A key to wound healing success is seeking treatment early, Jan notes.

To schedule an appointment with Jan in the wound care clinic, call 728-2777.

An Inside Look at Haiti

Gifford Medical Center

Photo provided. Gifford laboratory technician Jennifer Celley plays with a young earthquake survivor at an orphanage in Haiti. Celley visited Haiti as part of a medical mission last year and is now sharing images in the Gifford gallery of her remarkable experience there. The show is a fund-raiser for a return trip to the impoverished country.

Braintree’s Jennifer Celley shares compelling images from medical mission

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center laboratory technician Jennifer Celley traveled to Haiti in June 2012 for a medical mission through the Community Health Initiative, a non-profit co-founded by Gifford Emergency Department physician Dr. Josh White.

The trip was Celley’s first ever to Haiti and she didn’t know what to expect. Would Caribbean island or post-earthquake rubble await? What Celley found was poverty, desperation, warmth and love.

“Before going to Haiti, I was excited yet nervous about what I was going to see,” says Celley of Braintree. “I had an image in my mind of a beautiful Caribbean island covered with rubble from the earthquake two years earlier. I was unsure and as the plane took off. I felt butterflies in my stomach. ‘Have I made a mistake?’ ‘Maybe I should go home’ ran through my head.

“As the plane descended I looked out the window and saw a lush, beautiful Caribbean island and felt relief. But as the plane continued descending, I saw an island so barren you could see tires burning on the ground, and thousands and thousands of rusty tin roofs staring up at you. It was at this moment that my heart sank. It sank for these people, and I knew then that I was supposed to be on this plane. I was destined to love Haiti.”

At first blush, Haiti assaults the senses. “The heat slaps you across the face,” Celley recalls. “It takes your lungs a minute to breathe in the hot, humid air. It takes your nose by surprise when you smell the rotting garbage and the raw sewage.”

But then there are the people – the thousands and thousands of desolate, smiling, joyful people.

“The amount of suffering that these loving, caring, happy people have to live with every day is heartbreaking, but the surprising part is how they cope with it and move forward. I did not hear anyone complain. I did not see anyone frown. I did not see one tear,” Celley says.

It is these people and these experiences that Celley documented through photographs, and it is these experiences that she is now sharing with the community in hopes of making an even greater difference.

Celley’s photos of her time in Haiti are in her employer, Gifford Medical Center’s, art gallery from the afternoon of May 29-July 31.

Created with the help of Dr. Lou DiNicola and Shari Voghell at the Corner Frame Shop in Randolph, the pieces are for sale. All profits from the sale support Celley’s effort to return to Haiti for another mission with the Community Health Initiative and directly support the organization.

To learn more about this organization with Randolph roots, visit www.chihaiti.org. To see Celley’s show, visit Gifford’s art gallery, located just inside the main lobby (marked “Registration”) and to the left.

Learn more about Gifford and get directions on the Web at www.giffordmed.org.

A Message from the Administrator

Joe WoodinGifford 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 Provider Memoirs

2012 annual reportGifford 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.

Enjoy!