A Randolph Center resident, husband, and father, Dr. Christopher Soares joined the Gifford Medical Staff in 1993, spending his entire career to date in Randolph. Initially a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center provider, Dr. Soares opened his own practice, Soares Ocular Surgery, in 2007. In addition to caring for adults, he is also a pediatric ophthalmologist.
An avid cyclist, he has biked more than 40,000 miles, including from Canada to both the Grand Canyon and Mexico along the Pacific Coast Highway. Dr. Soares also enjoys kayaking, water skiing, boogie boarding, cross country and downhill skiing, ice skating, and more. He is originally from Massachusetts.
Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Raising a family of three children has tremendous rewards. After 20 years my last child is finishing college and preparing to enter an exciting new phase in her life. My two boys are finished with college and have started careers. All three have expressed their gratitude for the opportunities they were given while growing up. All three realize my wife and I love them unconditionally and we gave our all raising them the best way we knew how.
Working as an ophthalmologist in Randolph for nearly 20 years has similar rewards. In the early years, just like parenting, you are learning and developing your skills. People are glad that you are in town and they do not have to travel a great distance to get eye care. You develop a friendship with the patients. This friendship grows with the years. As the years go by, your skill sets expand and more patients come for care. All the while, friendships continue to grow. As a doctor’s experience and confidence grows, so do the positive outcomes. Challenging cares are taken on and the outcomes are even more rewarding.
At left – Dr. Soares, dressed in scrubs, is often seen riding his bicycle through Randolph. Right – an updated portrait of Dr. Soares.
That is certainly true in the case of Nathan Wheeler.
Nathan is a young man who last year tripped, fell, and hit his head on a piece of furniture, severely injuring his left eye. He had torn an essential eye muscle in half. Nathan had already been seen by two ophthalmologists and an oculoplastic specialist after an emergency room visit, and was finally referred to my practice three days after the injury. I explained to him and his family the seriousness of the injury and that several surgeries might be required. The first surgery was performed that very night in a Gifford operating room. It lasted four hours. I’ll spare you the details, but I was able to locate the muscle stumps and sew them back together.
A month later, Nathan was seeing well but required one more surgery to align his vision when looking down. This second surgery was also a success. Nathan’s vision was restored and he was able to return to work with no restrictions.
In Vermont fashion, I had done the job before me, to the best of my ability, but when I came home after that first surgery, I was distraught. In fact, I was nearly in tears. I had been in that OR for hours and I wasn’t sure if I had even helped Nathan. At the time, I didn’t know what I had accomplished.
Later, I researched more on the procedure and found that what I had accomplished was rarely, if ever, done by others. My case was so unique that I was asked to present it to a group of pediatric and adult strabismus specialists at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital. Of the 50 doctors in the room, none had ever attempted to find a ruptured muscle and suture it back to the remaining muscle.
Needless to say, Nathan was thrilled with the results and has sent patients to me ever since, some looking for “miracles”. I can’t perform miracles, but every week I am blessed to receive the gratitude of at least one patient. This appreciation for what I do energizes me and keeps me committed to offering the best eye care possible.
~ Christopher Soares, M.D.
Soares Ocular Surgery ophthalmologist
Dr. Soares examines patient Nathan Wheeler, whose injured eye he restored through a series of tough and rarely attempted surgeries. And a grateful Nathan has been referring patients to Dr. Soares ever since.
The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
Above left – Robin Palmer, Tammy Hooker and Ashley Lincoln – the team lucky enough to be charged with coordinating the Last Mile Ride each August, post for a photo. Above right – Jack Cowdrey, Chair of the Development Committee and one of the chase-truck drivers for the Last Mile Ride.
In this year’s Annual Report, we are fortunate to read stories from our long-time providers. Gifford is also fortunate to have many long-term supporters. Many of their names follow, but it is hard not to pull out one group for its remarkably long-standing relationship. That group is the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.
In 2012, the now 106-year-old Auxiliary continued its support of Gifford programs and services, including “wish list” items awarded to individual hospital departments looking to improve care through new technology or training materials.
As these “wish list” gifts are distributed, there are often tears of thanks and happiness from the receiving department staff members. This speaks volumes to how much these gifts – and the Gifford Auxiliary – mean to the medical center and its patients.
Other major supporters in 2012 included those who gave to the Last Mile Ride. Now in its seventh year, this charity motorcycle ride raised a record $54,000 for end-of-life care and services. This year’s event brought a new run/walk and thus many new participants. Top among them was Todd Winslow and Lu Beaudry who raised more than $5,000 in memory of Todd’s mother, Joyce (read more about the Winslow family in our Donor Profile). The event was our largest individual fund-raiser to date.
The motorcycle ride is just one way to support Gifford. Many offer their community medical center financial support each year through an annual gift to the hospital or a special purpose fund. Others include Gifford in their will or trust, while still others choose a charitable gift annuity where they receive a predictable return on their investment.
Increasingly, community members are also expressing tremendous interest in our planned senior living community. That interest and enthusiasm has come in the form of financial support as well as interested residents. This project shows so much promise, and it is our utmost honor to be working to provide a solution to a serious problem in our region – a lack of local housing alternatives for those wanting to age in place, in their communities, rather than having to travel great distances.
As always, the Development Department is available by calling 728-2380 to discuss the many ways to support Gifford. Your investment truly makes a difference and the impact is far-reaching. Please don’t hesitate to ask us your questions or visit our website, www.giffordmed.org, to discover ways you can leave your legacy. New this year, we have included an option for online giving opportunities.
On behalf of Gifford, thank you. We appreciate your friendship.
Elaine Soule’s relationship with Gifford began at birth, and possibly before. Her mother graduated from the nursing school in 1923 and worked under hospital founder Dr. John P. Gifford. Elaine was born at the Randolph hospital in 1933.
Raised in Randolph Center, she attended local schools and married the summer following high school graduation. His career in the U.S. Air Force took them around the country and beyond. Elaine’s own six children were born on military bases in New York, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Bermuda, Louisiana, and Maryland.
In 1971, after 20 years of military life, the family returned to Randolph. Before the families’ furniture had even arrived, Elaine had landed a job at Randolph National Bank. She started out typing signature cards and eventually became a branch manager of what was Randolph Savings and Loan, then Vermont Federal and finally Vermont National over her 28-year career.
Along the way, Elaine worked at Gifford on weekends from 1990-1995 in patient registration. After retiring from the bank in 1998, she came to work at Gifford in 2001 as the volunteer services coordinator.
“I have always felt close to Gifford,” says Elaine, who served on the hospital Board of Trustees for nine years in the 1990s.
So when Elaine retired in 2006 after five years as volunteer services coordinator to undergo cancer treatment, she knew she’d be back. “I knew I’d come back to volunteer, because I wanted to be part of this place,” says Elaine. “I just loved the Gift Shop. I’d loved volunteering. I thought it was a way to continue to be involved with Gifford after I retired.”
For months, Elaine came to Gifford as a patient for chemotherapy treatments. “My cancer treatments were wonderful,” Elaine says, calling the staff “so compassionate”. When her treatments ended in early 2007, Elaine continued her trips to Gifford – this time as a volunteer two days a week in the Gift Shop.
“Now I don’t have to be here, but I choose to be here,” she says from her post behind the desk of the boutique. “I think the volunteers at the Gift Shop are great. I hope we serve a purpose. I think we do.”
For Elaine, now 79, it is about staying active and connected in her community and at her community hospital. “I love it because it gets me out of the house to meet people and I feel that I am contributing to Gifford in a small way,” she says.
The following was featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Our effectiveness as a medical home has grown this year with the expansion of health care teams and our collaboration with the Vermont Blueprint for Health. But at the heart of these teams are Gifford’s long-established primary care practices. In each of our health team locations, we have providers and support staff whose relationships with the community run deep.
Take Starr Strong, for example. For 19 years, Starr has committed herself to the people of Chelsea – first under the mentorship of Dr. Brewster Martin and now as a mentor in her own right.
With humility and compassion, family physician Dr. Ken Borie has cared for the people of Randolph for 32 years. The humanity he brings to medicine is an example for all, including the many medical students who he guides through the family medicine portion of their clinical studies.
And Dr. Lou DiNicola, a local pediatrician for 36 years, has been among the foremost leaders in this state when it comes to children, advocating at every turn for their health, safety, and welfare.
Those of us enjoying long-standing relationships with Gifford and with our central Vermont community consider ourselves fortunate to know and work with these practitioners and their support teams. Such stability, and depth, builds our medical homes into more effective tools for helping our patients.
~ Marcus Coxon
Medical Staff President & family physician
The following article was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
Above left – One of Gifford’s newer providers, internal medicine physician Dr. Cristine Maloney, lives in Randolph and brings special training in palliative care to Gifford’s already robust advanced illness care program. Here she is pictured with patient David Wark of West Topsham. Above right – Emergency Department physician and clinical director Dr. Saul Nurok joined Gifford in 2010. Here he is shown with patient George Carr of Bethel.
Gifford is fortunate to have many long-serving health care providers, but the medical center would not be successful without the providers who have joined Gifford in more recent years.
Lured in part by the stability and quality provided by the very individuals highlighted in this year’s report, Gifford has welcomed new providers in almost every area of medicine.
For example, joining long-time pediatricians Dr. Lou DiNicola and Dr. Elizabeth Jewett, who have both been at Gifford for 36 years, are Dr. Joe Pelletier, now with Gifford for 10 years, and Dr. Pam Udomprasert, who joined more recently in 2011.
“Joe is now the cornerstone of pediatrics here,” says Dr. DiNicola.
At the Chelsea Health Center, long-time U.S. Navy family physician Dr. Brian Sargent joined physician assistant Starr Strong in practice in 2008. “I am especially appreciative of Brian,” Starr states, “and his commitment to the folks of this valley and the joy he takes in developing relationships in this unique place.”
In Bethel, family nurse practitioner and former emergency department nurse Emily LeVan joined long-time family physicians Dr. Mark Seymour and Dr. Terry Cantlin just this year. “Emily brings her wealth of emergency room experience and a firm commitment to primary care. She also has a strong tie to the area, working with her husband and family running a local farm,” Medicine Division Medical Director Dr. Josh Plavin says.
In the Emergency Department, Drs. Steven Fisher, Josh White, and Saul Nurok have filled the shoes of long-term physicians like Dr. Lucy Wollaeger, who retired from full-time work in 2012 after 21 years at Gifford.
“Often people’s first opinion of the hospital is through the emergency room, and Steve, Saul, and Josh are amazing,” Dr. Ken Borie, a family physician at Gifford for 32 years, says.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Dennis Henzig, a 20-year veteran of Gifford, has been joined by Drs. Jon-Richard Knoff in 2007 and Nazek Shabayek in 2012. Both of Gifford’s orthopedists, Dr. Stephanie Landvater and Dr. Bess Brackett, have come to Gifford within the last decade as Dr. Bill Minsinger prepared to retire.
Hospitalist medicine is a newer specialty. Consequently, it melds newer doctors and mid-level providers with experienced ones who have transitioned from another area of medicine, such as family care. Gifford’s certified nurse-midwifery team additionally melds newer and more experienced members. Ob/gyn physicians Dr. Anne Galante and Dr. Dina Levin have both joined Dr. Brent Burgee, a 27-year veteran of Gifford, and experienced gynecologist Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara.
The most recent addition in the Randolph primary care office is family physician Dr. Barbara Lazar. “Barb brings a wealth of experience, particularly in geriatrics, and is an extremely competent and kind provider. She is an excellent long-term fit for our community-focused practice,” adds Dr. Plavin, who is also among those providers who have committed themselves to the community.
Most of Gifford’s newer providers – of which there are many more – are from the immediate area or have made it their home, raising children here and engrossing themselves in the community in a variety of ways.
Together – even as health care changes and recruitment, particularly of primary care physicians, becomes more and more challenging – they are carrying on the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors and of high-quality, accessible care in our communities.
Above left: Family physician Barbara Lazar joined Gifford in 2012, bringing a background in geriatric care. Above right – Certified nurse midwife Donna Butler, pictured here with a patient and her baby, only joined Gifford in 2010, but this Vermont native has more than 25 years of experience.
The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
At the annual Employee Awards Banquet last year on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at the Vermont Technical College, the following employees were honored for their years of dedication and service to Gifford and its patients. (Employees are honored on their 5-, 10-, 15-, etc., year anniversaries.)
Debra St. Germain
Sue St. Peter
The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
Above left – Peter and Joyce Winslow. Above right – Pictured at Magee is Peter and sons Todd and Dale. Not present is son Scott. Together they support community organizations, including Gifford.
Joyce Winslow instilled in her sons the value of giving.
“My mom told me there were two places in town that you need to take care of, because they can’t be replaced, and those are the hospital and Chandler,” Todd Winslow recalls.
For Joyce’s husband, Peter, the value of giving also came early on in life. During his childhood, his own mother went out of her way to give to the less fortunate. During their marriage, Peter and Joyce, in spirit and action, carried on that tradition.
The family nurturer and steadfast promoter of harmony, Joyce gave smiles and kindness to her children, their friends, and the customers she met at family-owned Belmains where she worked for more than 30 years. She was so thoughtful, says Peter, that if someone needed clothing, she’d take clothes right out of her own closet to give.
Together Joyce, Peter, their sons, and their first business – Magee Office Products, also in Randolph – have for years supported a variety of Vermont organizations, including annual gifts to Gifford. “We were a family of giving,” says Peter, who moved his family to Randolph in 1959.
When Joyce passed away in Gifford’s Garden Room 52 years later in November of 2011, it stands to reason that this family of giving once again considered how they could support their community. They designated both Gifford and Chandler for memorial donations in Joyce’s name. Memorial gifts soon came in great numbers.
The following summer Todd took up his mother’s memory once again as a participant in Gifford’s annual Last Mile Ride, a charity motorcycle ride for end-of-life care. Todd collected donations in Joyce’s name totaling more than $5,000 – the most money raised by a rider that year, or any year.
Todd credits the quality of the Garden Room and Gifford as two reasons behind the giving. “Most towns don’t have a hospital like Gifford,” he says.
But the real motivator was surely his mother.
“I really think it was because of my mom,” Todd said after the charity motorcycle ride in August. “One guy (I asked for a donation) said, ‘How can you not say yes?’”
In Joyce’s memory and for the good of their community, the Winslow family has made a tradition of saying yes.
Originally from Milwaukee, anesthesiologist Dr. Dennis Henzig came to Randolph 20 years ago for a position at Gifford. He has worked at the hospital since. His work, he says, is to help people get through some of the most anxious moments of their lives, including surgery.
Married with three children and one grandchild, Dr. Henzig lives in Randolph.
Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
“Practicing anesthesia for 20 years in a small town provides unique opportunities to help people at what can be among the most stressful, painful, and joyous times of their lives, including during surgery and labor. It also affords the opportunity to form bonds and improve patient care over the years. In a community the size of ours, there’s no doubt you are going to care for the same patient more than once.
A portrait of Dr. Henzig in surgery in 1992
As I write this, fresh in my mind is a patient who required a caesarean section (C-section). I was her anesthetist. I also had the privilege of caring for her a few years prior when she also had a child by C-section. That first delivery was a complicated and long labor with a lot of back swelling. Giving her spinal anesthetic was consequently a challenge, but together we were successful and she had a healthy baby. As this mother reached the recovery room, however, she became violently ill.
As we readied for her C-section this second time, I knew her challenges from the past and was able to tweak her spinal ingredients a bit, skipping the morphine that I suspected made her sick. This time the spinal slipped right in without a hitch (no labor swelling helped a lot) and she was able to experience excellent pain relief without getting sick to her stomach. This also allowed her to bond with her baby right in the operating room. In her own words, she was “ecstatically happy” in the recovery room.
We both enjoyed the experience. She was happy because she had a healthy new baby. I was happy because she made my day.
Helping to give her the gift of healthy labor and birth that she envisioned is why I do what I do.”
~ Dennis Henzig, M.D.
Dr. Henzig with members of Gifford’s surgical team