Gifford Volunteers Honored

Selfless community members give 16,524 hours to non-profit hospital

Susan O'Malley of Randolph

Susan O’Malley of Randolph

Gifford Medical Center recognized its 120 volunteers at an annual appreciation luncheon on Wednesday.

Volunteers gave 16,524 hours in 2012. That’s 2,066 eight-hour workdays or the equivalent of eight full-time employees, noted Ashley Lincoln, director of development and marketing. “That’s a pretty incredible number,” Lincoln said. “We really appreciate the smiles that you bring, your enthusiasm, and your willingness to come when you’re called.”

Arlene Conant of Randolph Center and Robin Rafuse Gurney of Randolph

Arlene Conant of Randolph Center and Robin Rafuse Gurney of Randolph

Volunteers give of their time throughout the medical center, at its clinics, at the Adult Day, through chaplaincy, as part of the Board of Trustees and through the Gifford Auxiliary at the Thrift Shop. “We have a far reaching volunteer group and I thank all of you,” said Volunteer Services Coordinator Julie Fischer to the group of about 75 in attendance.

The volunteers were treated to live music by Thom Goodwin, quality and infection prevention manager at Gifford and a

Chris Furmeister of Randolph

Chris Furmeister of Randolph

musician. Gifford’s chefs prepared a meal based on the event’s Texas barbecue theme. Gifford staff volunteering as servers donned Western attire. And door prizes from generous local businesses, including Onion Flats, Randolph Village Pizza, Blue Moon Boutique, Belmains, Bud and Bella’s Bookshop, Dandelion Acres, Central Supplies, Chef’s Market, Holiday Beauty Salon and Tozier’s, were given out.

Major salutes

Major salutes

One volunteer in particular received a standing ovation after it was announced that the hospital has nominated him for a senior service award. Major Melvin McLaughlin, 95, has been volunteering at Gifford for more than 40 years.

Lincoln read the hospital’s nomination, which describes McLaughlin’s service and hospital staff members’ regard for the long-time volunteer. “We at Gifford love Major. He is a brilliant and beautiful light in the day. As one nurse put it, ‘A day without Major is a day without sunshine.’ He is the personification of what we are as an organization – warm, compassionate, supportive, humbled and blessed to be able to care for others. Introduce a new staff member, patient or nursing home resident to Major and we have just told them everything they need to know about us. We care. We’re family. We’re here for you.”

Nap and Agnes Pietryka of Randolph

Nap and Agnes Pietryka of Randolph

The text of the full nomination is available online at www.salutetoseniorservice.com. Hospital administrators are hoping staff, volunteers and community members visit the site between April 15-30 to vote for McLaughlin, a Randolph resident since 1967.

McLaughlin, a member of the U.S. Marines for 25 years, saluted his fellow volunteers as they cheered him.

Volunteers also offered their thanks for the opportunity to give of their time at the medical center, an experience so many find extremely rewarding.

The event concluded with a presentation from LaRae Francis of Gifford’s Blueprint Community Health Team, who explained the team’s work to connect Gifford patients with needed community services and to help them better navigate the health system. The program is aimed at helping the chronically ill better manage their diseases by reducing barriers to care. The team has had 600 referrals since it began in February of 2011.

Community members wanting to access the program to receive help and learn about available community services can call (802) 728-2499. For information on volunteering at Gifford, call Fischer at (802) 728-2324.

The Vermont Blueprint for Health: Redefining Primary Care

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report. Our 2012 Annual Report will be out soon.

Vermont Blueprint

Blueprint Care Coordinator Keith Marino meets in Gifford primary care with patient Cheryl Abbey of Randolph.

The Vermont Blueprint for Health is a state-led initiative aimed at improving care coordination, especially for the chronically ill. The goals of the initiative are to improve health, enhance the patient experience and reduce, or at least control, health care costs.

This is accomplished through what the Blueprint is calling “advanced primary care” that seamlessly coordinates a broad range of health and human services for patients and their families.

In 2011, the Vermont Blueprint for Health came to life at Gifford. Each of the medical  center’s primary care practices was recognized as a Patient-Centered Medical Home and a huge care coordination effort got under way to meet patients’ diverse needs.

The care coordination effort, which is supported in part by grant dollars, is twofold. First, Gifford formed its own small care coordination team made up of three core employees; Blueprint Care Coordinator Keith Marino, Gifford Diabetes Educator Jennifer Stratton and
Health Connections Caseworker Michele Packard. Second, a larger Community Health Team consisting of a diverse group of state and regional community housing, aging and disability agencies as well as eye care professionals, a pharmacy, insurers and more, was formed.

Vermont Blueprint

Blueprint core team members – Health Connections caseworker Michele Packard and diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton – meet weekly with Blueprint Care Coordinator Keith Marino at the Bethel Health Center to discuss individual patients and how to better serve them.

The Community Health Team meets quarterly while a care coordination team meets weekly. More importantly, referrals are bouncing back and forth between the agencies and teams ensuring patients are getting the services they need to maintain and improve their health. Keith coordinates this work, meeting directly with patients, spending time in each
of Gifford’s Patient-Centered Medical Homes, conferring with health care providers and helping patients access needed services.

Patients and community members are referred to Keith for a huge variety of reasons. They may need help managing chronic conditions, be struggling socio-economically, need mental health assistance, be disabled or elderly, have housing or transportation needs or just need help navigating the health system.

The Blueprint provides that help directly or refers them to an appropriate community agency. The help comes in the form of one-on-one meetings with Keith and outreach on his part to get the patient connected with needed resources.

“My role is to make sure patients are getting access to proper services, which enables them to self-manage their chronic condition,” Keith says.

Medicine Division Vice President Teresa Voci gives the example of a chronically ill patient who, because of financial pressures, has to choose between food and medication. Without medication, their health suffers. With the Blueprint services, their health care provider has a central resource to offer the patient for those issues that fall outside the health care setting but are barriers to care, like help with finding resources to buy food and medications.

Kim Flood of Barre is a real life example.

All three of Kim’s sons were diagnosed with asthma. The younger two, ages 4 and 1, were especially sick, including being hospitalized. Kim thought she knew the problem – mold in her Barre apartment.

Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Lou DiNicola referred Kim to the Blueprint. “Keith helped us find someone to do mold testing, help us with legal aid,” Kim says, “and he got city officials to come to the apartment. I had tried for months to get the housing inspector and building inspector to our house. I just got the runaround from everyone.”

With the mold verified and the help of legal aid, Kim settled with the landlord and in October moved into a home she bought in Barre Town on nine acres.

The kids haven’t been sick since.

Kim is one of 230 referrals Gifford’s Blueprint team has received since Keith was hired and the program got under way in February, notes Blueprint Project Coordinator LaRae Francis. Most of the referrals are from primary care providers, like Dr. Terry Cantlin of the Bethel Health Center.

“He’s been invaluable,” says Dr. Cantlin of Keith, who does the work primary care physicians simply do not have time to do in their busy practices.

Now if a patient is not taking their medication due to financial pressures, is missing needed appointments because of transportation issues or struggling with social issues – all scenarios Dr. Cantlin sees – he now has a one-stop resource for the patient.

It also prevents patients unaware of available community resources from “falling through the cracks,” says Mary Ellen Otis, executive director of the Orange County Parent Child Center in Chelsea.

That center, which provides a vast array of family services from new baby visits to parenting education, is part of the Community Health Team and refers clients to Gifford as well as gets referrals from the hospital. Under the new coordinated effort, Mary Ellen says, referrals are now far more efficient.

Maryette Withington can attest to that.

The Barnard resident has a relative with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Cantlin referred Maryette to Keith for help learning more about the disease. He met with her at the Bethel Health Center and connected her with the Randolph Area Senior Center and the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Within 24 hours Maryette had information in her hands about the disease that she says has changed everything in her life.

“You’re totally responsible for that person. I just needed to know what to expect.”

She will have an ongoing relationship with the association and also continues to receive help from Keith, Dr. Cantlin and her Gifford health care team. It’s help she appreciates. “I have the best health care team in the world,” she says.

Need help yourself? Call the Blueprint Care Coordinator at (802) 728-2499.

Gifford Launching Caregiver Support Group

Caring for the CaregiverRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center is launching a Caregiver Support Group this November.

Open to anyone caring for a family member or loved one, the group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 11 a.m. to noon in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

The group is participant-driven with members deciding how the meetings will be designed, choosing a facilitator and picking discussion topics. Samantha Medved, a licensed social worker and behavioral health specialist at Gifford, will also work with the group, providing ongoing support.

“Caregivers invest so much of themselves – both physically and mentally – into caring for others. This group is an opportunity to have time away to deal with the normal range of emotions all caregivers experience, by gaining support from peers experiencing similar issues,” Medved said.

The group is offered as part of Gifford’s efforts through the Vermont Blueprint for Health. No registration is required. Medved and the Blueprint team can be reached at 728-7100, ext. 6, with any questions.

The Gifford Conference Center is in the main medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. From patient parking, the Conference Center entrance is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

New Healthier Living Workshop Begins Oct. 15 at Gifford

Class focuses on Chronic Disease Self-Management and peer support

Healthier Living WorkshopA new Chronic Disease Self-Management Healthier Living Workshop series begins Oct. 15 and continues Mondays through Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Gifford Medical Center.

Healthier Living Workshops are six-week classes for people with chronic conditions and their caregivers. They are offered for free – along with chronic pain workshops – throughout the year by Gifford as part of the Vermont Blueprint for Health.

The workshops are led by trained facilitators and are designed to help improve strength, flexibility and endurance. They also provide tips for managing medications, eating healthier and improving communications with family and friends.

The goal is to help people better manage their health conditions and deal with the frustration, fatigue, and pain that can accompany a chronic disease.

Participants also benefit from meeting other people with chronic conditions, learning how they cope and enjoying the camaraderie of knowing that they are not alone in how they’re feeling, notes Gifford workshop coordinator Susan Delattre.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, past participants report increased energy, reduced stress, more self-confidence and fewer doctors’ visits as a result.

Gifford Healthier Living Workshop participants have called the series “very relaxed and you really felt free to express yourself” and said they most enjoyed “meeting people who understand what I am going through.”

To register or for more information, call Zach Bean at Gifford’s Blueprint office at the Kingwood Health Center at (802) 728-7100, ext. 6.

The workshop will take place in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center at 44 S. Main St. From patient parking, the Conference Center is marked with a green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

Gifford, Council on Aging Offering Free Caregiver Classes, Support

caregiver supportRANDOLPH – There are an estimated 64,000 home caregivers in Vermont – those who care for a loved one or friend at home rather than relying on a home health agency or nursing home.

Gifford Medical Center’s Blueprint Care Coordination Team is collaborating with the Central Vermont Council on Aging to offer advice and peer support to home caregivers who often selflessly work long, stressful hours.

Over the coming months, Gifford will offer a one-night course called “5 Minutes for Yourself.” The class will be led by Samantha Medved, Gifford’s Blueprint behavioral health clinician and a licensed social worker.

“The class is really designed to identify why caregivers need to take five minutes for themselves, and we’ll also talk about how to find that time during the day.”

The class will be offered on Aug. 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Gifford in Randolph and from 5:30-7 p.m. on the following days and locations: on Aug. 23 at the Chelsea Health Center, on Aug. 28 at the Bethel Health Center, on Sept. 4 at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, and on Sept. 13 at Gifford.

Participants need only take one of the classes, which will cover identifying stress in the caregiver role, how taking time for oneself can improve the caregiver’s ability to provide care, breathing techniques, how to find that “me time” and what activities to do during that time.

The class will be followed up by a six-week course from Jeanne Kern of the Central Vermont Council on Aging called “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” and running Wednesdays, Sept. 5-Oct. 10 from 3-5 p.m. at the Council on Aging at 59 N. Main St., Suite 200, in Barre.

The six-week workshop is also anticipated to be offered in Randolph in the fall with Kern and Brooks Chapin, a nurse and Gifford’s director of senior services.

caregiver supportThe educational workshop is designed to help family caregivers take care of themselves while caring for a relative or friend. Participants will learn ways to reduce stress; communicate effectively; reduce guilt, anger and depression; set goals; and problem solve.

And finally, Gifford is planning ongoing, community-based support groups for caregivers beginning in September. The participant-run groups will be offered based on participants’ interest and availability.

The goal of all of the programs is to support caregivers and the vital, challenging role they play.

“Caregivers typically are caring for people they really love and are allowing those people to continue to live in their homes, with their families and in their communities.

Simultaneously, it’s a very hard and under-recognized role,” Medved said. “What we know is healthier caregivers provide healthier care, so we want to make sure we assist caregivers in being as healthy and happy as possible.”

To register for any of the upcoming “5 Minutes for Yourself” classes or to express interest in joining a support group, call Gifford’s Blueprint office at 728-7100, ext. 6. The class is free and light refreshments will be served.

To sign up for “Powerful Tools for Caregivers,” call Kern at the Council on Aging at (802) 476-2671. A $20 donation is suggested to help cover the cost of the course book that participants receive.

Participants need not be full-time caregivers. Anyone who helps support a loved one, such as through decision-making, providing transportation, or serving as a primary family support person is welcome.

Gifford also holds a monthly support group for those with chronic illnesses called the Chronic HealthShare Consortium. These free meetings continue on the second Wednesday of each month from 3-4 p.m.