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.

Experienced Emergency Medicine Physician Joins Gifford

Dr.  A. Nicole Thran

RANDOLPH – Emergency medicine physician Dr. A. Nicole Thran has joined Gifford Medical Center full-time, providing care in the Randolph hospital’s 24-hour Emergency Department.

A native of New York City, Dr. Than attended Tufts University in Medford, Mass., earning her bachelor’s degree in biology. She went on to medical school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Her internship and residency in emergency medicine were at the University of Massachusetts in Worcester.

Dr. Thran has worked in emergency medicine since 1991 at hospitals in Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island, Oklahoma and, since 2012, in Vermont at Rutland Regional Medical Center and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. There she was what is known as a locums tenens physician. Continue reading

Cardiac Rehabilitation Gave Janet Kittredge Her Life Back

cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation nurse Annette Petrucelli shares a smile with patient Janet Kittredge. Besides getting stronger, one of Janet’s favorite parts of cardiac rehabilitation was the good times she had with staff. “I love those ladies,” says Janet. “They became friends and I couldn’t wait to get back to see them.”

This story appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Janet Kittredge of Hancock struggled to breathe for two years before miserably failing a cardiac stress test and being diagnosed with a 90 percent blockage of one of the arteries in her heart.

In April, she had a stent placed in the blocked artery at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Part of her follow-up care plan was cardiac rehabilitation at her home hospital, Gifford.

Janet remembers the day she started cardiac rehabilitation vividly. She was nervous. “It had been so long since I had been able to do anything,” she says.

For Janet, a walk out to the garage meant sitting and resting before returning to the house. Carrying in groceries meant pausing between trips. “I completely stopped walking. I just stayed in and pretty much all I did was watch TV.”

So faced with the treadmills, recumbent bike and arm ergometer that make up the cardiac rehabilitation gym, Janet was worried.

A welcoming staff and consistent monitoring of her pulse and heart rate put Janet more at ease and quickly she discovered that not only could she do some exercise, the more she came, the more she could do.

“I just got so excited. It made me feel so good. I walked taller. I felt younger. I just wanted to do more and more and get stronger,” says Janet, who found herself raising the difficulty level on her workouts before even being prompted by staff.

Janet finished her program in August. The 67-year-old Stanley Tool retiree is now back to the active life she once enjoyed. She is walking a mile and a half or more a day, shopping with her granddaughters and impressing her friends with the bounce in her step.

“I have totally gotten my life back. I feel 100 percent better. I have energy. I feel like doing things.”

“I can’t say it enough how much this changed my life. If I hadn’t had this rehab, I never would have gotten myself to this point.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is a 12-week outpatient exercise, education and nutrition program for people with coronary heart disease, angina, recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, stent placement or other heart conditions. It is offered in a special gym space at Gifford and overseen by specially trained registered nurses. To learn more, call 728-2222 or ask your health care provider for a referral.

Gifford Offering ‘Family and Friends CPR’ Course

Gifford Medical CenterRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s Blueprint Community Health Team is offering a non-certification CPR course, called Family and Friends CPR.

The class is Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6-8 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

The course will cover CPR for infants, children and adults and is designed to provide anyone with the basic skills needed to keep someone alive in the event that his or her breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

All are welcome to the course. There is a $5 fee. It is for the instructional booklet, which participants take home.

Attendance is limited to 12. Register by calling the Blueprint team at the Kingwood Health Center at (802) 728-7100, ext. 3.

The Gifford Conference Center is at the main medical center on Route 12 in Randolph. Park and look for the green awning marked “Conference Center.” For handicap accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs.

Gifford Senior Living Community, Hospital Renovations Clear Final Regulatory Hurdle

senior living community updateGifford Medical Center’s plans to create a senior living community in Randolph Center and renovate the Randolph hospital to have private inpatient rooms cleared a final permitting hurdle Thursday when it earned Certificate of Need approval from the Green Mountain Care Board.

The 5-0 decision was the final approval needed for the project to move forward.

“We’re ecstatic. This project has been years in the making and we’re excited to be moving forward. Our community is in dire need of more senior care and housing options and patients will benefit from the private room model, which is proven to enhance patient safety and satisfaction,” said Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, who was on hand in Montpelier Thursday to hear the board’s unanimous vote.

As part of the project, Gifford will move its 30-bed, award-winning nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, to 30 stunning acres in Randolph Center. When the new nursing home is built, current nursing home rooms at the downtown medical center will be converted into private hospital rooms.

Independent and assisted living options will be added over time in Randolph Center to create a vibrant senior living community. Up to 150 total units are planned. The project’s first phase calls for the reconstruction of the 30-bed nursing home and a 40-unit independent living facility. Later phases, including 60 more independent living units and 20 assisted living units attached to the nursing home, are spread over 20 years.

Faced with facility constraints and a great number of inefficient older buildings in its downtown location, Gifford has been planning for this project for years. Many options were considered, including rebuilding the entire medical center. Looking at the most affordable, least disruptive option, the hospital finalized its plans in 2011 and filed for Act 250 approval under select criteria on Oct. 3, 2011.

Significant discussions on the use of “prime agricultural soils” for the development delayed discussions and approval on those criteria did not come until Jan. 3 of this year. Full Act 250 approval was sought on April 2, 2013, and awarded Aug. 13. Randolph Development Review Board approval also came earlier this year.

The hospital first filed its Certificate of Need application on Oct. 3, 2012. After the initial detailed review, Gifford resubmitted a revised application in May. A final hearing was held just last month on Sept. 26 and a verbal decision issued on Oct. 10.

A written decision was released late Monday. In it, the board finds the project has met all Certificate of Need criteria, including regarding cost, need, quality and access, and public good. “Gifford has demonstrated that the project serves the public good by enhancing services, improving quality of care and increasing customer satisfaction,” the five-member board wrote.

“We appreciate the Green Mountain Care Board’s thoughtful review and support of this project. The board clearly saw the need and the vision. Due to this decision, we will soon be able to better meet the needs of our community,” said Woodin, who also thanked community members for their support.

“It’s very exciting for all of us, for the staff, for the residents of Menig as well as those who will live in independent and assisted living. Thank you very much for the time, effort and all of the work folks have put into this.”

The hospital plans to begin construction on the Randolph Center nursing home in the spring.

Photographer Lisa Wall in Gifford Gallery

Lisa Wall photography

This image is an example of photographer Lisa Wall’s work, now on display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph. (Photo provided)

Local photographer Lisa Wall has returned to the Gifford Medical Center art gallery

Wall is a Randolph resident and the owner of a hair salon, Drop Dead Gorgeous, which she opened in Randolph in 2003.

She has been taking photos since high school, including two years spent at the Randolph Area Vocational Center (now the Randolph Technical Career Center) studying graphic arts with an emphasis on photography and dark room skills.

She went on to cosmetology school but never gave up photography.

“My camera never leaves my side. (It is) always ready for whatever nature might present to me,” says Wall, who also gardens, fishes, hikes and cooks.

Wall works under the name Looking Glass Photography.

Her striking images of nature can be viewed at the Gifford gallery until Nov. 27. Visit her anytime on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LWallPhotography.

The Gifford Gallery 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.

Visit www.giffordmed.org for directions or to learn more.

Living Well with Bipolar Disorder

Gifford offering bipolar education and recovery group

bipolar disorderRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center mental health practitioner Cory Gould will lead a bipolar psychoeducation and recovery group called “Living Well with Bipolar Disorder” Sept. 16 through Nov. 18.

The group will be held Mondays over 10 weeks from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital Conference Center. It will offer group support, education, coping skills, help developing a support system and self-understanding.

Bipolar disorder is a neurobiological brain illness characterized by extremes of mood, anxiety, thought and behavior. Manic-depression is an older term for bipolar disorder and refers to the classic episodes of manic highs and depressive lows.

The latest research on bipolar disorder emphasizes it as a cycling illness. Gould points to a Web site by author and bipolar patient John McManamy dedicated to the disorder. “What we call bipolar is an enormously complex illness … . Simply knowing that we have ups and downs is not sufficient. What we need to know is how these ups and downs relate, what is driving them and what else is interacting with the dynamic,” McManamy writes.

Bipolar disorder is thought to affect 2-3 percent of the American population, although some expert researchers think the figure is closer to 5 percent. Equal numbers of men and women are affected.

Typically, the first episode occurs in the teens or early 20s. But bipolar disorder can also begin in childhood. Fortunately, kids respond to treatment and can lead normal lives – just like adults with the illness – when it is managed optimally, Gould notes.

“Knowledge is power. Learning everything you can is essential to recovery,” Gould says. “We now have many more tools to help people with bipolar disorder.”

There is a fee to attend. Insurance is accepted. Sign-up by calling Gould at 728-7100, ext. 7. A brief screening interview is required for all participants.

The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the medical center. From patient parking, take the stairs under the green awning. For handicapped accessibility, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center. The group meets in the Markle Room.

Last Mile Ride Raises Record $56,000 for Patients at End of Life

Last Mile Ride

The Stockwell family is ready to ride Saturday at Gifford Medical Center. (Provided: Janet Miller)

RANDOLPH – Nearly 300 motorcyclists, cyclists and runners/walkers participated in Gifford Medical Center’s eighth annual Last Mile Ride on Saturday, raising a record $56,000 for end-of-life care.

Beneath sunny skies, the day juxtaposed heart-wrenching, yet inspiring, stories of loss with a celebration featuring the high tempo sounds of “Jeanne and The Hi-Tops,” food, fun and prize awards.

Earning the top prize for his fund-raising efforts was Reg Mongeur of Randolph, who collected $3,458 from generous friends, family and strangers alike. A much-anticipated Harley/$5,000 cash raffle was won by Carol Bushey of Brookfield. A quilt made by Gifford nursing staff and a patient went to Martha Howe of Randolph.

Last Mile Ride

Runners sprint through the start line of the 5K Fun Run as part of the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Palliative care physicians Dr. Cristine Maloney and Dr. Jonna Goulding along with rider/founder and Gifford nurse Lynda McDermott all addressed the crowds, offering thanks for riders’ efforts to make the hospital’s dream of providing alternative therapies, special wishes and more for free for patients in the last mile of life.

“Everyone has arrived here today for unique personal reasons to unite in a larger, common cause. Many are motivated to be here to honor the loss of a loved one and to ensure that future families shepherding someone to the end of life are granted gifts or services … ,” Gifford Director of Development Ashley Lincoln said.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists leave Gifford Medical Center Saturday for the Last Mile Ride. (Provided: Janet Miller)

“The enthusiasm of this crowd and the building excitement of riders garners more and more sponsors, gives me and the staff at Gifford … not only financial reserves but emotional reserves to walk alongside our friends and neighbors on some of their longest days,” Lincoln continued.

Shelly Pearce knows how long those days can be. Her husband Kevin died in the Garden Room on July 4. On Saturday, Shelly Pearce offered an emotional, personal thanks to riders.

“The Last Mile Ride funds helped us as a family in numerous ways,” said Pearce, describing massages for pain management, meals for the family, a gas card and a special family celebration. “So whether this is your first or your eighth time participating in the Last Mile Ride, I want you all to know what a difference you making in a patient and their family’s life. Keep participating or volunteering even if it seems like a small thing, because it is very important and appreciated.”

Last Mile Ride

Led by Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, motorcyclists return to Gifford during the Last Mile Ride held Saturday in support of end-of-life care. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride began in 2006 when McDermott brought the idea forward to help provide comfort measures for people in life’s last mile. The first ride was held in 2006, and since its number of participants, funds raised and impact have all grown.

The event now includes a 5K and cycle ride in addition to the popular motorcycle ride. And this year’s event featured a Friday night “Kick-Off Rally” of dinner and dancing at the Three Stallion Inn with more than 80 community members and Last Mile participants in attendance.

The Randolph Area Chamber of Commerce made the event possible.

Last Mile Ride

Cyclists and motorcyclists line up for the post-ride BBQ. (Provided: Janet Miller)

The Last Mile Ride was made possible by a huge group of volunteers, who were mostly Gifford employees who gave up their Saturday to support the cause, as well as volunteers from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, the Green Mountain Bike Patrol, police support in multiple towns, and Terry Heath and Erin Bianchi of Massage Professionals of Randolph.

Significant community involvement came in the forms of people lining the event routes to show support and many, many sponsors. Among this year’s sponsors were the Frankenburg Agency Inc., Froggy 100.9, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Northfield Savings Bank, Wilkins Harley-Davidson, Booth Brothers Dairy, Connor Contracting, E-Management Associates, Mascoma Savings Bank, Aubuchon Hardware, Barry T. Chouinard Inc., Dimmik Wastewater Service, Gillespie Fuels and Propane, Infinitt North America, K&R Rentals and Storage, Kleen Inc., Magee Office Products, MetLife, Rain or Shine Tent and Events Company, Schiring Radiographic Imaging, Superior Development and many others.

Next year’s Last Mile Ride will be Aug. 16, or the third Saturday in August.

Last Mile Ride

Shelly Pearce, right, offers her heartfelt thanks to Last Mile riders as her daughter, Samantha Blakeney, provides her comfort. Pearce’s husband, who was Blakeney’s stepfather, died just last month in the Garden Room at Gifford. The ride raises money for patients like Kevin and families like the Pearces. (Provided: Tammy Hooker)

Motorcycle Ride Honors Kevin Pearce, Others in Life’s Last Mile

On Saturday, Aug. 17, hundreds of motorcyclists, cyclists, and runners/walkers will take to the streets of the Randolph area for the Last Mile Ride. The ride raises money for special services for Gifford Medical Center patients in advanced illness and at the end of life.

This is one patient’s story.

Kevin Pearce

Kevin Pearce in 1976 at age 16. (Photo provided)

A native of Waitsfield, Kevin Pearce was born in Vermont in 1960. He moved to Massachusetts with his family when he was just 3. He grew up in Charlemont and Ashfield, Mass., dropping out of high school to work on a potato farm during a time when dyslexia was less understood and Kevin found himself labeled as “dumb” for his inability to read.

He went on to run heavy equipment, assembling and disassembling ski area chair lifts in Massachusetts, until tragedy brought him back to Vermont.

Kevin had been married, divorced, was engaged, and moving in with his fiancée when she was killed in an automobile accident by a drunk driver on her way to bring her final carload of belongings to what was to be their shared home.

Immediately following the funeral, Kevin packed a bag and took a bus to his native Vermont. Continue reading

Watercolors by Greg Crawford Now in Gifford Gallery

watercolor paintingDetailed and gorgeous watercolors by Stockbridge’s Greg Crawford fill the walls of the Gifford Gallery now until Sept. 25.

Crawford is a self-taught artist who has been a graphics professional for nearly fifty years. His father was an artist too, and Crawford was determined to be one from the time he could hold a pencil.

While still a junior in high school, he sold a cartoon about the Beatles to the Saturday Evening Post. The issue appeared the week the group appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” in February of 1964. As a result, Crawford was a celebrity of sorts for a while, and then went back to being the “weird kid” who drew pictures in algebra class, he says.

A rich and varied career as an illustrator and graphic designer that started right out of high school provided him with the opportunity to work in nearly every medium there is, but his first love has always been watercolor.

“Watercolor can be an unforgiving medium; you cannot cover up a mistake as easily as oils or acrylics might permit,” Crawford says. “Ah, but the ‘happy accidents’ one occasionally encounters can be gratifying, indeed.

“Juxtaposing detailed subjects with loose, washy backgrounds can yield dramatic results. The subtle transitions that can be achieved when blending colors are unique to watercolor.”

Crawford has illustrated several books and covers and has a few children’s books to his credit, some of which he wrote as well. He is currently illustrating “The Flying Mouse,” which will be followed by a book he wrote and illustrated called “Hill Farm.”

When illustrating a book, Crawford researches his subjects thoroughly and takes many reference photos so light, shadow, fabric and reflections are accurately rendered.

Crawford has also enjoyed taking part in community theater for more than two decades, and has portrayed many well-known characters in musical theater. He designed and helped to build sets for many productions. For the past six years, he has designed and built the sets for Chandler Center for the Arts children’s theater camp productions that are presented over the Fourth of July weekend every year.

Not content to simply paint, illustrate, design, and act, Greg also writes the occasional theater review for The Herald of Randolph. He wrote a short play called “Finding Earl” and well over a hundred articles for The Mountain Times of Killington.

Crawford was not born in Vermont, but he says he got here as fast as he could, sometime back in the 1970s.

See his free show in the Gifford Gallery, located just left of the main lobby of the medical center at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. To learn more about the Gallery, call (802) 728-2324.