This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.
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.
E. Berton (Bert) Whitaker has been named interim CEO of Gifford Health Care in Randolph. He will be working with Gifford’s board of directors and Sr. Leadership team until a permanent chief executive is in place.
A national search to replace former CEO Joseph Woodin, who left after 17 years at Gifford, is anticipated to take six to eight months.
“Bert is a great fit for Gifford and our community in this period of transition,” said Peter Nowlan, board vice-chair and head of the search committee. “He prides himself on effective communication, financial stability, and quality performance.”
Whitaker, who is from Chattanooga, TN., was selected from a pool of eight applicants. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.
He has been in health care administration for 35-years and has held both CEO and interim-CEO positions in a variety of hospital settings, large and small healthcare organizations, acute and long-term care facilities, and multiple physician group practices. This is his fourth interim position since retiring as CEO and President at Baptist Health in Madisonville, Kentucky in 2013. Most recently he served as interim CEO of Calais Regional Hospital in Maine.
“Gifford has a clear vision, a solid and engaged board, and great staff. This organization is well positioned to go through this transition,” he said. “My role during this period is to respond to issues as they come up, and to balance a celebration of the good things at Gifford with gathering information so I can flag any issues or problems that may need to be resolved.”
RANDOLPH – Vision for the Future, the largest capital campaign in Gifford’s 113-year history, is making a final push to wrap up its $5 million fundraising goal. With just
$397,000 to go, the campaign committee is asking everyone to consider contributing to help raise this final amount.
Silently launched in 2013, the campaign has raised more than $4.6 million to support a 3-phased project: building a new Menig Nursing Home to anchor a senior living community, the creation of private inpatient rooms at the main medical center, and a new, updated Birthing Center.
“Our campaign goal was ambitious, but our vision was as well—to improve our facilities so we can continue to provide the best possible healthcare for future generations in our community, from newborns through old age,” said Gifford’s Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “I’ve been so moved by the hard work of our volunteer campaign steering committee and the generous support we’ve received from our community.”
Lincoln notes that over the course of just one year campaign contributors have been able to see firsthand the impact their gifts have on the lives of their neighbors:
• Residents transitioned into the beautiful new 25-bed Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center last year and they will celebrate a one-year move-in anniversary in May.
• The hospital opened 25 new private inpatient rooms in December, 2015.
• In June the new Birthing Center will open in a centralized location, with upgrades and four new private rooms overlooking a courtyard garden.
“It is exciting to see that our target is within reach,” Lincoln said. “Our donors’ enthusiasm, and their faith in our stewardship of their gifts, has supported us throughout the entire campaign. We are so close now—I hope people will be inspired to help us wrap up our funding in June.”
“Fuchsia,” pen and ink drawing by Bethel artist Carla Lamberton Powers Hodgdon.
RANDOLPH – Work by Bethel artist Carla Lamberton Powers Hodgdon is on display through May 25, 2016, in the Gifford Medical Center Art Gallery.
The 36 pieces in this exhibit display work in a variety of mediums, including watercolor, pen and ink, pencil, mixed media, and counted and stamped cross stitch. While she has never taken art classes or received formal training, over the years Hodgdon has turned to
art as a way to relax, especially during the winter months when she is not in the garden. Her mother first introduced her to needlework when she was a child, which led to her interest in cross stitch.
A native Vermonter, Hodgdon has lived and worked in Vermont for all but ten years of her life. She trained as a registered nurse and worked as a public health administrator, retiring from the VT State Department of Health in 2003. While away from Vermont, she served in the Peace Corps, working at the National University of Honduras as an associate professor of Nursing. After returning to the States in 1969, she worked at the Yolo County Health Department just outside Sacramento, CA. She returned to Vermont in 1977, and moved back to her hometown of Bethel in 1983.
Since her retirement she has enjoyed having time to volunteer in community and church activities, to care for extensive perennial flowerbeds, and especially to create art and needlework.
Since her retirement she has enjoyed having time to volunteer in community and church
activities, to care for extensive perennial flowerbeds, and especially to create art and
This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through May 25, 2016.
The 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 for more information.
RANDOLPH – Certified nurse-midwife Julia Cook has joined Gifford’s team of midwives, and is now seeing patients in our Randolph and Berlin clinics.
Cook received a Master of Science in Nursing from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, KY. Her clinical interests include adolescent care, patient education, and helping women to be active participants in their ob/gyn care.
Born in rural Louisiana, she moved to a suburb of Atlanta while in High School, and went on to get an associate of Science in Nursing from Georgia Perimeter College. She was first attracted to ob/gyn care after the birth of her first child 16 years ago.
“The midwives who cared for me were amazing—they empowered me as a woman and as a new mother,” she said. “I was intrigued by what they did, and asked them what I needed to do to start on that career path.”
When Cook finished her training she began to look for work in a smaller community, and was drawn by the story of Gifford’s Birthing Center and its pioneering efforts in family centered birth. She also appreciates that her work will include opportunities for well-women and adolescent care.
“I feel that education is so important when it comes to women’s health,” she said. “I especially enjoy working with adolescents because they are at a time in life when information about how to be healthy is taken with them as they transition into adulthood.”
Cook says her husband and four children are also excited about moving to New England, and the family looks forward to living in a smaller community and exploring all the new things Vermont offers.
To schedule an appointment, or to learn more about Gifford’s Birthing Center, please call 802-728-2401.
Photo provided courtesy of Kate Reeves: “My Winter World.”
“My Winter World,” an exhibit of 14 watercolor paintings by Vermont artist Kate Reeves, is currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center Art Gallery.
An avid outdoors enthusiast, Reeves spent many years as a professional Nordic ski instructor and says winter is perhaps her favorite season in Vermont. She now shares her love of winter landscapes through her art, creating techniques to mimic falling or blowing snow.
Reeves will use gouache and oil crayon to depict snow-laden branches, or the frost on tree trunks and rocks. In the painting “Skaters Lingering on the Pond” she uses a razor blade to show the marks of skates scraping the ice. A spatter of gouache, blown thru a small screen, creates an image of falling snow—a technique she calls her ‘snow treatment’.
“I like the movement this spatter of snow creates. It gives the work more life,” she says. “Snow brings out the detail and textures of the barren woods and the bright colors of jackets on children ice skating on a pond.”
Reeves began studying watercolors 12 years ago with Annette Compton in Woodstock, VT. She is a signature member of the Vermont Watercolor Society, and has displayed her work in hospitals, libraries, and inns around the Upper Valley. She is one of a small group of artists who own STUDIO 33, a shared workspace and gallery in Woodstock, and also paints in her home in Barnard, Vt.
This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through April 20, 2016. The 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 for more information.
Photo: Dr. Erwin Lange (right) with Rochester Health Center Office Manager Dawn Beriau (left) and Registered Nurse Gail Proctor.
Dr. Erwin Lange has joined Gifford’s Primary Care team and is seeing patients at the Rochester Health Center. He started in Rochester as a locum in November, 2015 and has now settled in full-time as the community’s primary care provider. Lange brings many years of medical experience to his patients. He received a BA from Dartmouth College, a MD from the Brown Alpert Medical School in Providence RI, and completed a three year residency in family practice at the St. Joseph Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, NY.
Board certified in Family Practice, he began his career as a family practitioner in a rural community in New York State before moving into practice as an emergency physician in several NH and Vermont hospitals. When he decided to return to family medicine he was looking for a rural community like Rochester, where he could care for a variety of conditions but also establish ongoing relationships with patients.
Office Manager Dawn Beriau and Registered Nurse Gail Proctor have worked at the clinic for more than 30 years and are introducing him to local families, many who have been receiving primary care at the Health Center for generations. Lange says he really has appreciated how welcoming the Rochester community has been during his first months here. “Rochester really is an amazing community,” he said. “Sometimes people have stopped in just to introduce themselves and visit, and that has been great!”
The Rochester Health Center opened in 1976 and provides family and internal (adult) medicine in a convenient location at 235 Main Street. Dr. Lange sees patients at the center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and Physician Assistant Tammy Gerdes sees patients on Fridays. Services include: annual physicals, blood work, sick visits, EKGs, chronic disease management, care coordination, and emergency procedures. To schedule an appointment call 802-767-3704.
Dr. Kasra Djalayer has joined Gifford Health Care’s primary care team and is now seeing patients in the Berlin and Randolph clinics. He also sees Gifford patients at the Rowan Court Nursing Home in Barre, where he is the Medical Director.
Board-certified in internal medicine, Dr. Djalayer received his license of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Complutenese (Madrid, Spain). He completed his residency at the Yale-Griffin Hospital Prevention Research Center and did post graduate training in Obesity at Harvard University and in Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the University of Vermont. His clinical interests include dementia-related behavioral disorders, geriatric medicine, and rheumatology.
Most recently he has worked at Franklin Regional Hospital (Franklin, NH) and as a hospitalist at the New London Hospital (New London, NH), and the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (Brattleboro, VT). “Dr. DJ,” as he is known to his patients, has received both the Patients Choice Award and the Compassionate Doctor recognition for five consecutive years (2000-2014).
“I like to use humor in my conversations, and find it energizing to build ongoing relationships with patients,” he said. “We talk about the details of their medical problem but also about their situation in general—any family issues or other concerns. It’s an important part of good care.”
When not working, Dr. Djalayer enjoys cycling, tennis, swimming, and reading to keep up with current events and new medical developments.
Administrator Joseph Woodin listens as Gifford staff and board members express appreciation for his 17 years of leadership. He will be leaving in late April.
More than 100 community members gathered for Gifford Medical Center’s 110th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday night and heard that the Randolph-based organization is in great shape and positioned to move ahead smoothly during transition into new leadership.
Current Administrator Joseph Woodin, who will leave Gifford in late April to lead a hospital in Martha’s Vineyard, received a standing ovation for his service. Throughout the evening voices representing all areas of the organization and community shared stories and expressed heartfelt appreciation for his years of leadership.
“Joe is leaving after 17 years of extraordinary leadership, and he is leaving us in great shape,” Board of Trustee Chair Gus Meyer said. “Perhaps the most important thing he leaves us with is an exceptionally strong leadership team and staff who are able to continue on the many positive directions we have established during his tenure. His time with Gifford underscores our capacity to sustain the organizational stability, clinical excellence, creative growth, and flexible response to changes in the health care world that have come to make Gifford a uniquely strong health care system.”
The Gifford Board will appoint an interim administrator to work with the hospital’s senior management team and facilitate operations and ongoing projects at Gifford. They have begun what is anticipated to be a 4 to 6-month national search for Woodin’s replacement
In his final Administrator’s Report, Woodin, who is leaving for personal reasons, reflected on his time at Gifford. He described looking through 17 years of hospital annual reports and how moved he was as he read the stories of patients he has met and people he has worked with over the years.
“At the end of the day there are so many beautiful things that happen at Gifford, and we can forget about that,” he said. “We’re so lucky to have an organization like this!”
After a short presentation documenting the changes at Gifford during his tenure, he ended with the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.
“I have never spent as much time or energy as I have at this organization and in this community and I have loved every minute of it,” he said in closing. “I will never be able to repeat this anywhere, and I’m hoping to retire up here in this independent living facility!”
A legacy of financial stability, vision, and growth
Highlights of Woodin’s tenure include the expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood, and Sharon; expanded patient services for all stages of life, from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 to provide local care for more serious illnesses, to the creation of the Palliative Care program; a new renovated ambulatory care center and expanded radiology and emergency departments; and the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, which includes the Menig Nursing Home, independent living (construction scheduled to start in the spring), and a future assisted living facility; 25 new private inpatient rooms. A renovated and updated Birthing Center scheduled to open in the spring.
Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation in 2013, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.
Long-term providers describe ongoing passion for mission and core values
Following the corporators meeting, three key long-term Gifford providers talked about what first brought them to Gifford and shared some of the changes they’ve witnessed over the years. General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli, Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, and Podiatrist Dr. Robert Rinaldi each stressed that the core values that sustain Gifford’s mission are kept alive and passed on by the committed staff who work there.
Dr. Ciccarelli, noting that many long-time providers are reaching retirement age, said the qualities that brought those people to Gifford remain and continue to attract new staff. “While there are some changes, the essence of what attracted people like myself to Gifford resides here,” he said.
Dr. DiNicola said that he has stayed at Gifford for 40 years because of the community. “The people I work with, the people in the community and those I work with in the schools,” he said. “ This is my family and this is why I am here.”
Dr. Rinaldi remembered that in 2003 he was first attracted by the passion he saw in the “Gifford family.” He noted that the hallways are still filled with people who treat each other like family, and who have maintained their passion for the organization.
He concluded with a tribute to Woodin: “Joe saw these things, the family, and the passion, and the desire to be the best for each other and for every patient,” Rinaldi said. “He led us to understand our family, and to understand ourselves. He leaves knowing that he led us to success and that we will continue to be successful.”
Community scholarships and awards presented
Jeanelle Achee was awarded the Dr. Richard J. Barrett M.D. Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing a health care education. Safeline, Inc. in Chelsea Vermont, received the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in recognition of his personal commitment to the White River Valley.
The $25,000 William and Mary Markle Community Grant was given to community recreation departments (Bethel, Chelsea, Northfield, Randolph/Braintree/Brookfield, Rochester, Royalton, and Strafford) to support youth exercise and activity programs.
Board of trustees and directors elected and service recognized
During the business meeting, retiring members Linda Chugkowski (9 years) and Linda Morse (3 years) were recognized for their years of service.
The following slate of new community ambassadors were elected: Dr. Nick Benoit (South Royalton), Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli (Wells), Dr. Robert Cochrane (Burlington), Dr. Marcus Coxon (Randolph Center), Christina Harlow, NP (Brookfield), Dr. Martin Johns (Lebanon), Dr. Peter Loescher (Etna, NH), Dr. Rob Rinaldi (Chelsea), Dr. Scott Rodi (Etna, NH), Dr. Ellamarie Russo-Demara (Sharon), Dr. Mark Seymour (Randolph Center), Rick & Rebecca Hauser (Randolph) and Peter & Karen Reed (Braintree).
The following were elected trustees: Bill Baumann (Randolph), Carol Bushey (Brookfield), Peter Reed (Braintree) Sue Sherman (Rochester) and Clay Westbrook (Randolph). Elected officers of the board of directors are: Gus Meyer, chair; Peter Nowlan, vice chair. Barbara Rochat, secretary. Matt Considine, treasurer.
The Gifford Health Care Board of Directors announced on Friday that long time Administrator Joseph Woodin will be leaving the organization in May to live in Massachusetts where he has accepted the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO position.
In announcing his resignation, Woodin stressed that the move was for personal reasons.
“There is not a single reason why I should leave, or want to leave Gifford,” Woodin said. “In the last three years I lost my wife, and then my mother, and it has been a time of personal reflection for me. It’s the right time for me to move forward in life and pursue another opportunity.”
He expressed great appreciation for the relationships he has built with the board, staff, and community during his 17-year tenure, and for the accomplishments they had achieved together.
To assure a smooth and successful leadership transition, the Gifford Board will appoint an interim administrator to work with the hospital’s senior management team and facilitate operations and ongoing projects at Gifford. They have begun what is anticipated to be a 6-9 month national search for Woodin’s replacement.
“Gifford’s Board is fully supportive of Joe as he pursues this new chapter in his life,” said Gifford Board Chair Gus Meyer. “Gifford has a solid foundation, and we have exciting ongoing projects that we will continue to work on. Thankfully, we have an extraordinary staff, providers, and a management team, and we will continue to support of the excellent work they do.”
Since Woodin came to Gifford in 1999, the hospital has met its state-approved operating margin for 16 consecutive years while enjoying a period of expansion in services and physical growth.
Today Gifford has more than 600 employees in 11 locations. In 2013, Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.
During his tenure Woodin oversaw expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood and the popular Sharon Health Center. His commitment to strategic planning and master facility planning has brought a newly renovated ambulatory care center, expanded radiology and emergency department.
Woodin’s latest vision includes the creation of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private patient rooms. The Randolph Center campus includes the Menig Nursing Home and work is slated to begin in the spring on the first independent living building. Patients and staff transitioned to the new private patient rooms in December and work continues on the renovated Birthing Center.
Gifford has also expanded patient services during this time, ranging from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 that has allowed the hospital to provide local care for more serious illnesses to the creation of a the Palliative Care program. The guiding philosophy has been to provide appropriate care for all stages of life from birth to end of life.
Woodin’s commitment to the community has spread beyond the walls of Gifford to include ongoing support for local businesses. He has worked diligently to encourage economic growth and vibrancy to help build a healthy community.