Assessing Quality of Life: Live Your Dash

The DashIn between birth and death there is a dash. You know: the diminutive line on a tombstone or obituary indicating all those years of life between birth and death.

Linda Morse made “The Dash” famous in a poem by the name that challenges us to reflect on how we live our dash.

On Dec. 5, Gifford Medical Center picks up the discussion with “The Dash: Quality of Life Matters.”

The free discussion open to all is a continuation of last winter’s popular education series on death and dying and reopens a new series expected to last into the spring, explains organizer Cory Gould, a mental health practitioner and member of Gifford’s Advanced Illness Care Team.

The talk will include interviews with pre-selected participants on their quality of life. For example, Dr. Daniel Stadler, assistant professor of medicine and an internist with special interests in geriatrics and palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, will interview a woman in her 90s about her life experiences.

Other discussion points during the 5-6:30 p.m. event will focus on:

  • What do we mean by “quality of life?”
  • How do you measure it?
  • Is your quality of life different than someone else’s quality of life?
  • Does quality of life change over time?
  • How does one’s quality of life relate to the quality of one’s death?

“There’s a truism that’s been repeated over and over again and that is that people die as they lived,” says Gould. “We want to involve participants in a discussion of the question: ‘What gives life meaning for you?’”

Following this free talk, other talks are planned on advance directives; what dying looks like; a “death café” or open discussion about death; and a discussion on death with dignity versus assisted suicide.

Speakers will explore the concepts but there will be ample opportunity for group discussion and sharing.

Last year, the popular series included sessions on starting the conversation of end of life and preparing for death, such as through Advance Directives; what is a “good” death; and various aspects of grief.

Prior attendance at discussions is not required and all are welcome.

No registration is required for this free educational discussion. Gould can be reached at (802) 728-7713 to answer questions.

The talk will be held in the Gifford Conference Center. The Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital and marked with a green awning from the patient parking area. For handicapped access, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor. For directions to the medical center and more, visit www.giffordmed.org.

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.

‘Keeping the Keys’

Gifford Medical CenterJune 18 talk looks at how to drive safely longer

RANDOLPH – At some point in life, driving may become more challenging or perhaps too challenging. “Keeping the Keys” is a free workshop by AAA that offers tips for safe driving longer. And Gifford Medical Center is bringing the talk to the Randolph area.

AAA Northern New England traffic safety specialist Rayette Hudson of Maine will offer the free workshop on June 18 in the Gifford Conference Center from 5-6:30 p.m.

Gifford Blueprint Project Manager LaRae Francis helped organize the talk. The talk is being held during Safe Driving Month.

The discussion targets drivers ages 50 and over as well as families of aging drivers. Discussed will be adjusting to natural changes in driving ability, keeping driving skills sharp and safe driving as long as possible.

“Everyone ages differently,” notes Francis. “Just because you hit a certain age, it doesn’t mean it’s time to take away your keys. But what are some signs to look for? How do you prolong safe driving? How do you choose a car for a senior?”

According to data from AAA, older drivers are actually among the safest drivers. They’re less likely to speed, less likely to drive after drinking, more likely to wear their seatbelts and avoid high risk driving situations, such as driving at night or in poor weather conditions.

Increasing age, however, is generally associated with a decline in functional abilities, such as vision and reaction time. An increase in medical conditions and consequently the number of medications taken can also both impact driving abilities.

Statistically, older drivers have lower crash rates per miles driven than young drivers. But because of their fragility, drivers age 85 and older are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents.

While the goal of the talk is to keep drivers on the road as long as possible to maintain quality of life and independence, the talk will open the door to discussions on when it is time for some drivers to relinquish the keys, Francis notes.

To join the discussion, register with Zach Bean at the Kingwood Health Center at 728-7100, ext. 6, by June 14.

Experienced Family Physician Brings Focus on Geriatrics to Gifford

Experienced family physician brings focus on geriatrics to Gifford

Dr. Barbara Lazar

As a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Barbara Lazar worked in a nursing home as a nurse’s aide.  She decided then that she wanted to spend her career caring for the elderly.

You could describe it as a calling, but what Lazar really discovered was that when it comes to older people, a little caring goes a long way, and that felt good.

After a stint doing Alzheimer’s research in a lab in Philadelphia, Lazar went on to earn her medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  Following her internship and residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Dr. Lazar launched a family medicine career that has focused on geriatrics.

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

She loved her work at PACE to help support older people’s ability to remain in their homes, she says, but was looking for a shorter commute to work.  A Sharon resident, she looked north to Gifford and found a remarkable fit.

“As a provider it’s very attractive to come to a place that has its heart in the right place and that is committed to serving the community.  It feels like a gift to have found a place like this,” says Dr. Lazar, who has started seeing patients at Gifford’s family medicine practice in Randolph.

A warm, caring and thoughtful doctor, it is Dr. Lazar’s goal to provide whole person and whole family care, considering a patient’s psycho-social needs as well as their medical needs.  She’s also hoping to serve the area’s elderly and families struggling to meet an elderly loved one’s needs.

Board certified by the American Board of Family Practice, Dr. Lazar is a native of upstate New York.  She makes her home in Vermont with her husband, Dr. Joel Lazar, a family physician at Dartmouth, and their two sons, ages 13 and 15.  In her free time, Dr. Lazar enjoys hiking and music.

For complete family care, call Dr. Lazar at Gifford Family Medicine at (802) 728-2445 or learn more at www.giffordmed.org.