Beyond “Cookie-Cutter” Medicine: Keeping the Passion Alive

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

beyond cookie cutter medicine

Drs. Jonathan Bjork and Robert Rinaldi

When podiatrist Rob Rinaldi first visited Gifford in 2003, he was struck by the energy and passion he encountered as he talked with staff.

“Everyone shared two ideals—to serve their patients in the best way they possibly could, and to make the hospital grow in good ways. Everyone wanted to make a contribution.”

Rinaldi says this first impression hasn’t changed over the years. The hospital has grown: clinics, buildings, and additional staff have been added and new technology brought in. He helped to create a new Sports Medicine program in 2005. Today, athletes come from all over the Upper Valley to the Sharon Health Center, which now has a physical therapy gym space, physical therapy treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art gait analysis system.

“I’m amazed at how much has changed and happened, but the passion—the focus on the health and well-being of the people we serve—is still here,” he said. “We don’t treat patients with cookie-cutter medicine. People are not just numbers here.”

This focus on personalized care also brought Podiatrist Jonathan Bjork to Gifford last spring.

“I like to develop good, ongoing relationships with patients—not just performing surgery but also helping with rehabilitation, and treating patients in the clinics,” he said. “I saw I could do that here.”

Like Rinaldi years ago, Bjork was impressed by the open and supportive environment created by his colleagues.

“There’s no sense of hierarchy here,” he says. “People offer help and guidance, but it isn’t done with a critical eye.”

Rinaldi says that new providers at Gifford are nurtured by seasoned staff, many who have been at Gifford for years, and that this model transforms the traditional mentoring role.

“It’s unusual because the long-term providers all still have the passion they started with!” he says. “Now they are showing new providers—not how to be a better doctor necessarily, but about the rewards of personalized patient care and how this helps to keep the passion alive.”

Nurturing Connection: The Art Behind the Science

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art Behind the Science

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

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

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

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

The OR Team: Bringing compassion and respect to patient care

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford OR team

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

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

New Offices, Staff Increase Access for Berlin Primary Care Patients

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

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

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

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

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

Gifford Opens Remodeled New Birthing Center

Experienced providers, compassionate staff,
many options for personalized birth

Soon after opening on June 23, Gifford’s Birthing Center staff welcomed three new babies and their families into a beautiful new remodeled space at the hospital.

New features include a large tub room with spa-like comforts for those choosing hydrotherapy or water births, and a fully-equipped modern nursery for infants needing extra care. Families like that they can remain in a single room during their stay and are not moved after their child’s birth.

Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh

Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh

Twins Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder actually arrived on June 21, but stayed with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh in a spacious new room after they were born—one by caesarean section. Small details like dimmable lights, quilts, a rocker, and additional sleeping space right in the room made their first days together as a family more relaxed and special.

Willow Wonder’s first child was born at home and she did not want a hospital birth for her twins. She and her husband Eric Clifford came to Gifford when it became clear that she would need to induce labor. As the birth progressed, the birthing center nurses helped her with a series of unplanned choices: an epidural provided relief from the exhaustion of a long labor, and when only one of the twins could be delivered vaginally, she had an emergency C-section for the second birth. Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola immediately cared for the stressed infant.

“At the last minute I realized Dr DiNicola had been my own pediatrician!” said proud father Eric Clifford, of Barre Town. “We were so well taken care of. We had not planned on a hospital birth, to induce labor, to have an epidural or a C-section—we really got the hospital at its A-game.”

Makayla Carol Peyton with her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton

Makayla Carol Peyton with her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton

Makayla Carol Peyton was the first baby born in the new space, arriving on June 26. Her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton of Barre said they stayed closely connected with their midwife and loved that the atmosphere was so supportive and personal.

Gifford was the first hospital in Vermont to support individual preferences and childbirth outside of the traditional delivery room. Today women have the best of both worlds at Gifford: our certified nurse midwives and experienced Birthing Center nurses provide compassionate support for low-intervention births. But since each mother’s experience is different, other options are available as birth unfolds, including epidurals and the 24/7 back-up support of three ob/gyn physicians.

For more information about Gifford’s Birthing Center, call 802-728-2257 or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/BirthingCenter.

Gifford Campaign Celebrates a Vision Made Real

New nursing home, private inpatient rooms, updated Birthing Center now open

Campaign CommitteeMore than 125 supporters and friends gathered at the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph on June 28 to celebrate the closing of Vision for the Future, the largest capital campaign in Gifford’s 113-year history.

“In planning our campaign we believed that every gift was important, large or modest, and that the willingness to give to support others in the community was significant,” campaign co-chair Lincoln Clark told the crowd. “We have raised $4,685,548. Our largest gift of one million dollars came from the Gifford Medical Auxiliary, which laid the foundation for a successful campaign and the hundreds of gifts that followed.”

The Auxiliary gift was especially impressive since the funds were raised primarily through small-dollar sales of “re-purposed” items at their volunteer-run Thrift Shop. The campaign’s success reflects a tremendous outpouring of community support for Gifford: more than half of the donors gave gifts under $250.

Silently launched in 2013, the campaign went public in the spring of 2014 to raise funds for an ambitious three-phased project:

  • Building a new Menig Nursing Home to anchor the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center
  • Renovating the vacated Menig space at the hospital into industry-standard private patient rooms
  • Creating a new updated and centrally located Birthing Center, with upgrades, spacious rooms, and a calming décor

Strategic planning had identified these areas as facility improvements that would ensure that Gifford could continue to provide the best possible healthcare— from newborns through old age—locally for generations to come. Each phase was carefully planned and met a specific budget and timeline: the new Menig opened in May of 2015, 25 private patient rooms opened in December 2015, and the new Birthing Center opened on June 22, 2016.

“When it was clear that the Birthing Center renovation—the final phase of the project — would open in mid-June, our campaign committee decided to celebrate the end of our campaign at the same time,” said Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development. “Our festive event celebrated the close of an especially rewarding year. As each phase was completed, campaign contributors could see firsthand the impact their gifts have had on the lives of their neighbors and friends”.

She noted that the campaign could not have succeeded without the hard work and unfailing commitment of the Campaign Steering Committee, who volunteered their time and energy: Lincoln Clark and Dr. Lou DiNicola (campaign co-chairs),Carol Bushey, Linda Chugkowski, Lyndell Davis, Paul Kendall, Karen Korrow, Sandy Levesque, Barbara Rochat, and Sue Systma.

For more information about Gifford’s Vision for the Future campaign, call Ashley Lincoln at 728-2380, or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Cardiopulmonary Services Help Rebuild Strength, Improve Quality of Life

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Gifford cardiopulmonary servicesAfter Richard Polarek had a heart valve replacement at the VA hospital in Boston last summer, his doctor coordinated with Gifford for his follow-up care so he could be closer to his home in Randolph Center.

For nearly two months he left his treatment sessions at Gifford’s Cardiopulmonary Services Department feeling discouraged. “Even though I challenged myself a little more each time, I didn’t feel any change,” he said. “Then, in the last month, I began to experience the benefits—not huffing, being able to walk longer and faster, but most of all not making excuses for not doing something. Now I’m hooked!”

During his multiple weekly visits he became friends with Bob Perry Sr., a pulmonary rehab patient who exercised on the bio stair machine and bicycle to treat his COPD. “I love this!” said Perry.” I can walk further and I don’t breathe as hard. When I come in now I can walk up the entrance ramp.”

Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients build strength and endurance after a heart attack, heart surgery, and other heart illness. The program includes exercise with specially-trained nurses, education, and nutrition advice. The goal is to return patients to good physical, mental, and social health and to help people better understand and adapt to their disease.

The Pulmonary rehabilitation program combines monitored exercise and education to help people with lung disease, such as COPD, to decrease symptoms and hospitalizations, increase exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life. To learn more about these programs and testing, call the Cardiopulmonary Department at Gifford at 728-2222 or ask your health care provider for a referral.

Gifford Specialists Bring Quality Care Close to Home

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

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

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

New Providers on the Specialty Services Team

General Surgeon Dr. Mario Potvin

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

Oncologist Dr. Eswar Tipirneni

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

Anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Fazzone

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

Federal Award Supports Increased Substance Abuse Services

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

federal funding

Gifford was one of four Vermont health centers to receive Affordable Care Act funding in March for programs that will help address an escalating national heroin epidemic. The Department of Health and Human Services award will be used to expand substance abuse services, especially those for people addicted to opioids.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Martin Johns said Gifford is collaborating with the Clara Martin Center to support a SBIRT (screening, brief intervention, referral to treatment) model of care. The award will primarily fund additional staff for the program (a primary care provider with training in substance abuse treatment, a
social worker, and supporting staff).

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand services for alcohol and drug dependence and misuse in our community,” said Johns. “These funds will allow us to increase patient access and to collaborate with other community organizations to provide seamless, all-encompassing treatment for those seeking help.”

Nationwide $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding was awarded to 271 health centers in 45 states. The other three organizations in Vermont that received funding were the Community Health Centers of Burlington, Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region, and Northern Counties Health Care in St. Johnsbury.

2016 Summer Concert Series Seeks Farmers Market Vendors

Sign up now for free vendor space at popular summer community concerts

farmer's marketFree space is being offered to vendors who sign up to sell or promote products at the community market held during the 2016 Summer Concert Series in Gifford Park.

The summer concerts, now in their 5th year, are a partnership between Gifford Medical Center and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Starting on Tuesday, July 5th, and continuing for the next seven Tuesdays, there will be a different family-friendly concert in Gifford’s park (front lawn) on Route 12 in Randolph. Families bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets for an evening of fun, food, and music starting at 6 p.m. and ending around 7:30 p.m. This year there will again be weekly food offerings prepared by a different nonprofit agency during each performance.

There is space for 10-15 vendors per show, so sign up now and reserve a spot to sell produce, flowers, baked treats, crafts, and other farmer’s market items at these popular community gatherings. Contact Emma Schumann, 728-2339; eschumann@giffordmed.org.

The 2016 concert schedule:

JULY 5: South Royalton Band; food offered by Randolph Center Fire Department
JULY 12: Jennings & McComber (Green Mt Indie Folk); food offered by Gifford’s Last Mile Ride
JULY 19: IHS Kava Express (Funk Rock); food offered by White River Valley Chamber of Commerce
JULY 26: Tim Brick (Country); food offered by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department D.A.R.E. prgram
AUG 2: John Lacard Band (Blues and Classic Rock); food offered by Randolph Rotary Club
AUG 9: Dave Keller Band (Smooth New Jazz); food offered by Stagecoach Transportation and Sunrise Rotary Club of Randolph
AUG 16: Swing Noir (Gypsy Jazz and Hot Swing); food offered by TBD

The 2016 Summer Concert Series on Gifford Park is brought to you by the Frankenburg Agency and the Chandler Center for the Arts.