A Message from the Medical Directors

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

medical directorsReflections 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

Bowling Tournament Raises Funds for Mammograms

bowling tournament for breast cancer awareness

Teresa Bradley of Braintree, left, and Krista Warner pose at the Valley Bowl in Randolph. The duo organized a fifth bowling tournament recently to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for mammograms at their local hospital, Gifford Medical Center. (Provided/Robin Palmer)

What started as a senior project has grown into an annual tradition.

Four years ago, Krista Warner, then a local high school senior, organized a bowling tournament to support Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund with the help of her aunt, Teresa Bradley of Braintree.

Warner of Randolph is now long out of high school, but the duo continues to organize the tournament to support local mammograms in the name of Warner’s grandmother and Bradley’s mother, Ruth Brown. Brown had several forms of cancer, including breast cancer in 1993 and lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in 2011.

A mammogram diagnosed her breast cancer.

“If she hadn’t had it, we would have lost her back in 1993,” says Bradley with conviction. “That mammogram gave her another 18 years.”

Following her death, Warner and Bradley renamed their tournament the Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament. This year’s tournament – their fifth – raised $857, which they recently gave to their local hospital.

The top fund-raiser in this year’s event was Patty Grueteke. Nate Olmstead won the tournament.

Bradley thanked Valley Bowl and Bob’s M & M for donating prizes as well as all of the bowlers all who participated. “It’s awesome that they come out and do it. They’re very enthusiastic,” Bradley said, adding, “It’s a good tournament. We have a good time, plus we’re raising money for people who are less fortunate.”

Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund pays for mammograms for low-income women not covered by other programs, such as Ladies First, and buys soft pads that go on the mammography machine to make mammograms more comfortable for all women.

“We want to encourage women to have their annual mammograms. Providing a more comfortable and more affordable experience helps substantially. We are so appreciative of Krista and Teresa for working hard each year to support this shared cause, raise awareness and bring a fun event to our community,” Gifford Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln said.

The Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament is held at Valley Bowl in Randolph on the fourth Sunday in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each year. Bowlers of all abilities are welcome.

The tournament has raised $5,150 since its inception.

“I Am Humbled by the Courage I Witness” – Starr Strong, PA-C

Starr Strong, PA-C

Starr Strong, PA-C

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.

Starr Strong, PA-C

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

Judy Alexander and Starr Strong

Friends and co-workers Judy Alexander and provider Starr Strong share smiles and laughter.

After 50 Years on Dry Land, Lori Sedor Tried – and Loved – Water Aerobics

water aerobicsThis story appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Lorraine “Lori” Sedor has a myriad of health problems and a healthy fear of the water. So when certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton invited Lori to attend a water aerobics class Gifford was offering at the Vermont Technical College pool, Lori thought “no way.”

A retired school driver, 67-year-old Lori of Braintree has diabetes, an enlarged heart, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries from an accident, and uses a walker to get around. She also nearly drowned at age 16 and hadn’t swum since.

But Lori told Jennifer she’d try it, if only to prove her wrong.

“She told me that I could do it and I told her I couldn’t, and she was right, as much as I hate to admit it,” says a good-natured Lori.

The class started back in January and lasted six weeks. She was slow at first, but soon she was doing jumping jacks, twisting, bending, touching her knees, “and I swam.”

“I loved it. I was able to exercise whereas on land it’s harder to exercise. My body felt better. It’s just fantastic.”

After the class, Lori’s daughter bought her a year’s pass to the pool and for a couple months, Lori and a friend went two or three times a week. Health problems have prevented Lori from swimming since, but she expects to soon be back in the pool.

“I can’t wait to go back,” Lori says. “I’d recommend it for anyone who needs to exercise.”

Another water aerobics class is taking place now. If you have a chronic condition, call Jennifer Stratton at 728-7100, ext. 4 to learn about future classes.

Comprehensive, Compassionate Orthopedics Care in Two Locations

This information appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Gifford orthopedists

Gifford’s Record of Success Continues for 14th Straight Year

Randolph hospital ‘makes’ budget, operating margin

meeting budget and marginFor a 14th consecutive year, Gifford Medical Center in Randolph has completed its fiscal year “in the black” and on budget.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin made the announcement to staff on Friday following a detailed auditor’s review of the hospital’s 2013 fiscal year finances. The fiscal year ended Oct. 31.

Specifically, the medical center achieved both its state-approved budget and operating margin. An operating margin is the money the medical center makes above expenses – usually by 2 to 3 percent – to reinvest in programs, staff and facilities.

Achieving the operating margin can be an indicator of an organization’s success. “No margin, no mission” is a saying often used within non-profits. Gifford has made both its budget and margin each of the last 14 years – a major feat among Vermont hospitals. Continue reading

Evolving Photographer Ken Goss in Gifford Gallery Wednesday

photographer Ken Goss

Photographs like this one, “Cascading Serenity,” taken in Berlin, Vt., are among the diverse works by experienced photographer Ken Goss of Randolph on display in the Gifford Gallery from Nov. 27 through Jan. 29. (Photo provided)

Ken Goss spent a career in precision aerial photography.

It was business.

In his retirement, he makes art – art that will be on display in the Gifford Medical Center gallery from Nov. 27 through Jan. 29.

The show is an eclectic mix of landscapes, still life and portraits, and is the latest from this evolving and popular local photographer.

Goss was first introduced to photography in high school, but the majority of his photography training came during his military career. “After I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I went through naval photo school in Pensacola, Fla., for aerial reconnaissance and photo interpretation,” Goss says. “Two years later I went through advanced 70 mm photo school at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla.”

After the military, Goss went on to work in both freelance photography and in a commercial studio for a short time. The bulk of his career, though, was in precision aerial photography, topographic mapping and aerial survey first with a civil engineering company on Long Island, N.Y., and then for his own business, Aerial Photo and Survey Corp., also on Long Island. He worked in the field for more than 40 years.

photographer Ken Goss

“Violin & Rose” is a still life by Randolph photographer Ken Goss that appears in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery beginning Wednesday afternoon. (Photo provided)

Along the way he had some remarkable accomplishments, including assisting the nation’s space program. He helped develop applied aerial photographic techniques for use in flight training simulators under contract to NASA and was a team member in the development of the original “Luna model” in the Apollo program.

Goss retired in the 1990s and moved to Vermont in 2003.

Since he’s worked as the chair of the Chandler Art Gallery from 2006 to 2008, has taught the basics of black and white photography at the White River Craft Center since 2009 and shown his works around the region.

“Now being again able to pursue photography as an ‘art’ form, I try to take what I feel in my heart or in spirit about a subject, capture it in film (or digitally) and print in such a manner to give the viewer the same feeling,” Goss says. “This transference of feelings, if successful, gives me all the satisfaction of the art that I need.”

To see Goss’ art, visit the Gifford Gallery. It is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 or Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer at (802) 728-2324 for more information, or visit www.giffordmed.org.

Dawn Blodgett is Back on Her Feet Following New Tenex Procedure

Tenex procedure

Dawn Blodgett is happily back to riding horses, dairy farming, and more following a Tenex prodedure at Gifford.

This story appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Dairy farmer Dawn Blodgett has struggled with foot pain her whole life. But when a lump formed on the bottom of her left foot last summer, what was a daily ache turned into sharper pain.

“I felt like I was stepping on a marble,” says 33-year-old Dawn of Brookfield.

Gifford podiatrist Dr. Robert Rinaldi diagnosed the nodule as plantar fibromatosis. Dawn tried orthotic shoe inserts and wearing sneakers instead of barn boots, but still the pain persisted. Dr. Rinaldi offered another possible solution. On the day before Thanksgiving, he performed a new procedure – a Tenex Health TX.

The procedure is aimed at relieving tendon pain – a problem for millions of Americans. Tendon pain is often the result of damage or overuse injuries. The body attempts to heal itself, causing scar tissue. Scar tissue can be painful because it doesn’t stretch and function as a tendon should, explains Dr. Rinaldi.

The Tenex procedure removes and breaks up the scar tissue, or in Dawn’s case the nodule. It is a procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia or even a single stitch. Patients are given local anesthesia, or an injection. The doctor then makes a very small incision and inserts a device the size of a needle. The device is used to make holes in the scar tissue and delivers ultrasound energy designed to break down and remove damaged tissue. Saline solution helps keep tissues cool during the procedure.

The procedure takes about 20 minutes.

For Dawn, the relief was immediate.

“As soon as the procedure was done, there was an immediate difference,” she says. “I cooked Thanksgiving dinner the next day.”

Today, Dawn is back to milking cows, mucking stalls, doing fieldwork and putting up fencing with much less pain. She’s spending more time with her horses, chasing her kids, and running for exercise.

In fact, she’s 20 pounds lighter than she was before the procedure, which she recommends to others suffering from tendon pain.

The Tenex procedure is new and available for use in orthopedics, sports medicine and podiatry. Gifford is the first hospital in Vermont to offer the technology.

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.

Randolph Pediatrician Expands Practice to Berlin

This article appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Dr. Pam Udomprasert

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.