Gifford’s Last Mile Ride Raises $104 K for End-of-Life Care

Two-day event exceeds 10th anniversary fundraising goal

Last Mile Ride 2015

Vermont Combat Veteran road guard leader and top LMR fundraiser Reg Mongeur, ride leader Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak, and LMR co-founder and former road guard leader Charlie Amico.

More than 385 Last Mile Ride participants joined together to raise $104,000 to support Gifford Medical Center’s end-of-life services on Friday and Saturday, exceeding the event’s ambitious 2015 goal of $100,000.

“The enthusiasm, spirit, and selfless efforts of all of you—volunteers, staff, participants, donors, and Combat Vet road guards who keep our event safe—have helped us to raise more than $300,000 over the years for end-of-life services,” Gifford’s Director of Development Ashley Lincoln told the crowd as she announced this year’s record-breaking figure. “Thanks to you we’ve exceeded our $100,000 goal allowing us to provide comfort and support to families when they are feeling most vulnerable.”

Lincoln went on to share that there will be a second garden room suite created during the hospital’s current renovations.

Started in 2006 with just 74 motorcyclists, the Last Mile Ride has grown into two days of fundraising activities that include a timed 5K, a one-mile walk, a 35-mile bicycle ride, and an 87-mile motorcycle ride. Last Mile Ride funds bring patients alternative therapies like Reiki, massage, and music therapy to help with pain management. They also provide unique services to support family members: providing meals for those spending last moments with loved ones in the hospital’s Garden Room, helping with transportation costs for far-away family, or arranging for photographs or a patient’s special last wish.

Last Mile Ride 2015Humidity was high and temperatures were in the 80’s for both evening and day events, but participants remained spirited and energetic. Some came to honor a friend or loved one, many came to “give back” for a Garden Room or special end-of-life experience, wanting to make sure others will have the same support and comfort during “life’s last mile.”

Firefighters Nick Benson and Ryan Kennedy braved the heat in full gear to honor Benson’s mother Roxanne Benson (a long-time LMR supporter who died last May) and Kennedy’s father-in-law Jimmy Boulter (who died in the garden room in 2011). Kennedy is a member of the Chelsea Fire Department. Benson grew up in Chelsea but now works for the Barre Fire Department. Benson explained their outfits: “My mom was big into getting me into fire services. She was a first responder with First Branch Ambulance and also a big supporter of Last Mile ride. I’m not mature enough to own a motorcycle,” Benson joked, “but I’m confident I can walk in this gear. I think we’re going to make this a tradition!”

After the race Friday evening, rain showers helped to cool the 179 hot runners and walkers as they gathered for prizes awarded to top fundraisers: Lindsay Haupt (5K) and Louise Clark (walk) received a gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods and a Stateline Sports sneaker voucher. Chris Gish was the top male 5K finisher and Sara Lewis was the top female 5K finisher. Total race results are listed at http://www.begoodsports.com/results-gifford-last-mile-ride-5k-2015/.

On Saturday, heavy rain held off until after the famous outdoor barbeque lunch, where 206 bicyclists and motorcyclists sat at long tables to share stories, welcome newcomers to the Last Mile Ride community, and receive raffle, door, and fundraising prizes.

Lincoln honored Randolph volunteer Reg Mongeur. A Vermont Combat Veteran’s road guard for all ten years of the event, he took over organizing the guards when co-founder Charlie Amico stepped down. Mongeur came to the event after several of his relatives died in the Garden Room, and soon became a top fundraiser, often sitting at a table in front of Shaw’s to spread the word about Last Mile Ride services and solicit donations.

Last Mile Ride 2015“Reg has done phenomenal work for Last Mile Ride,” Lincoln said. “He served his country in Viet Nam, came home, worked hard, raised a family, and now works hard serving our community.” Poking fun at Mongeur, Lincoln shared that he is well-known as he “hounds us on Facebook and Shaw’s” raising awareness and support for the event. “Reg will be turning his motorcycle keys in, but thankfully remains committed to our event.”

Last Mile Ride Raffle prize winners were:

• Annette Sargent of Roxbury, who won the Harley-Davidson donated by Wilkins Harley-Davidson in South Barre

• Dr. Josh Plavin of Randolph, who won the bicycle donated by Green Mountain Bicycle Express in Northfield

• Wendy Wells of Randolph Center, who won the quilt made by Gifford nursing staff

• Ronald Warner of Randolph, who won the toolbox donated by Randolph Auto Supply

Ten riders raised over $1,000, with the top fundraisers being Reg Mongeur, Linda Chugkowski and Robert Martin, Chip Milnor, and Todd Winslow. Top fundraiser prizes were: four tickets to NH Speedway, four tickets to The Great Escape, a Gondola Ride and lunch at Stowe Mountain Resort, and the Local Prize Package (two tickets to the New World Festival, one-night stay at the Three Stallion Inn, and a gift certificate to Saap Restaurant).

Generous business support played a huge role in the event’s success. Forty-six businesses sponsored this year’s event, with major sponsors including Be Good Sports, The Frankenburg Agency, Froggy 100.9, Gillespie Fuels and Propane, HP Cummings, Lucky’s Trailer Sales, Mascoma Savings Bank, Northfield Savings Bank, and Wilkins Harley-Davidson.

As the rumble of the bikes rang through the towns, riders enjoyed support along the route from cheering community members, including local fire departments and the White River Valley Ambulance. Rider safety was ensured by volunteers from the Green Mountain Bike Patrol, the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, and ride leader Orange County Sheriff Bill Bohnyak.

Read More about Gifford’s Last Mile ride on Gifford’s website at www.giffordmed.org/lastmileride. The 2016 Last Mile Ride will be Friday August 19, and Saturday August 20.

Ribbon Cutting Officially Opens Gifford’s New Menig Nursing Home

Community support, local jobs, and the importance of relationships celebrated

Menig opening ceremonyOn June 10, 2015 Gifford officially celebrated the opening of the new Menig Nursing Home, an anchor facility for a new senior living campus on 30-acres of meadow land overlooking the Green Mountains in Randolph Center, Vermont.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, Green Mountain Care Board Chair Al Gobeille, and Division of Licensing and Protection Director Suzanne Leavitt were among the distinguished guests who gathered to cut a red ribbon that stretched across the entrance to the new building. Neighbors and community members, many who supported the project through a long planning and permitting process, joined Gifford staff and Menig residents—who had settled into their new home a week earlier—to share stories and a celebration cake.

The new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community has been designed to provide much-needed local living options for area seniors. Future independent and assisted living units are planned to offer people a continuum of care as they age.

Lt. Governor Scott noted that the project was a true example of doing things the “Vermont way” —from the construction jobs brought to local businesses, to the “recycling” of vacated hospital space into private patient rooms and the successful $3.5 million raised so far in an ongoing $5 million capital campaign.

“This tells me that you have the faith and trust of those around you here in Vermont,” he said. “This trust hasn’t been blindly given; it is something you have earned year in and year out.”

Green Mountain Care Board Chair Al Gobeille also noted the significant community support for the project, and spoke of the importance of integrating healthcare into our communities. “Everything Gifford has done here has been to properly integrate healthcare into this community,” he said. “The Gifford team has worked hard to bring this community the best care continuum you can get.”

Menig opening ceremonyVice President of Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry thanked those who helped complete the project: retired Gifford Facilities Director Theron Manning; Architect Bob Mallette and Morris Switzer Associates; Dan Smith, Stuart Nutting and HP Cummings Construction Company; Rob Favali and Dubois and King; Albie Borne and Bates and Murray; Jeff Gilman and WB Rogers; New England Air; Green Mountain Drywall; and John Benson.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin pointed out that Gifford has worked with some of these local contractors for decades.

“Relationships are important in all that we do at Gifford—with the community and with local businesses. This whole facility is built on staff and the relationships they have with patients and with each other,” he said. “Menig itself was named for a couple who chose to donate their money to help those in the community they loved.”

Howard Menig moved to Braintree when he retired as a chief engineer with Standard Oil. After he died in 2001, his wife Gladys discovered a significant collection of valuable company stock.

“Gladys Menig didn’t spend the money on herself; she donated to Gifford, which helped us build the original nursing home at the hospital,” Woodin said. “Today we are carrying the Gladys and Howard Menig name forward here in this new facility.”

Gifford’s Free Medical and Dental Health Access Day June 11

Oral exams, medical screenings, and wellness and health access resources

No insurance, high deductibles, or lack of a primary care provider keeps many from getting medical care until they find themselves in an emergency room with a serious problem.

Gifford Health Care in Randolph is sponsoring a free Dental and Medical Health Access Day on Thursday, June 11, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with free medical and dental health screenings and information about community resources that can help with access to care.

We know that regular primary care can help people manage many chronic conditions, and that dealing with health issues before they become serious can prevent expensive hospital visits. Research has linked gum disease and poor dental health to increased rates of heart disease, premature birth and low birth weights, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

On Dental and Medical Health Access Day, two local dentists (Dr. John Lansky and Dr. Chris Wilson) will give free oral exams, and Gifford primary care providers and pediatricians will provide free health screenings for registered participants. (Call 728-2781 to schedule an appointment.)

A day-long wellness fair, open to the general public, will offer information on preventative health programs and resources to help with access to medical and dental care, including:

  • Diabetes and diet
  • Smoking cessation
  • Vermont Blueprint for Health
  • Healthier Living Workshops
  • Health Connections
  • Other community resources

Refreshments will be served, and there will be a raffle for registered participants.

For more information, or to register for a free medical screening and oral exam, call Casey Booth at 802-728-2781.

Dental & Health Access Day

American Health Centers Inc. Sponsors Gifford Last Mile Ride

Mobile MRI provider donates $2K to annual fundraiser for end of life care

American Health Center donation for Last Mile Ride

Director of Ancillary Services Pam Caron, Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, AHCI President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Donald N. Sweet, and Radiologist Jeffrey Bath, M.D.

American Health Centers Inc. (AHCI) has donated $2,000 to the Last Mile Ride, Gifford’s annual fundraiser to support services for those with advanced illness or needing end-of-life care.

AHCI brings affordable mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units to community hospitals throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. MRI is a safe and painless test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body, and differs from a CAT scan because it doesn’t use radiation. The AHCI mobile magnetic unit serves patients at Gifford health centers in Randolph, Sharon, and Berlin.

“American Health Centers has been bringing services to Gifford patients since 2001,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Donald N. Sweet, who visited the hospital to deliver the donation. “We are very pleased to be able to honor this partnership by supporting the unique end-of-life services funded by the Last Mile Ride.”

“We are so grateful to have AHCI’s sponsorship in this 10th anniversary year of the Last Mile Ride,” said Gifford Director of Development Ashley Lincoln. “Funds raised this year will support the construction of a second Garden Room suite for patients and their families, and help us to expand access to special services that comfort those in life’s last mile.”

Gifford’s Last Mile Ride is an annual weekend fundraiser that supports special end-of-life services: a session for family photographs, massage, Reiki, or music therapy to help with relaxation and pain management; or funds to make one final wish come true. This year the 1-mile walk, and a timed 5-k run will be on Friday, August 14; the motorcycle and bike rides will be on Saturday, August 15. Learn more or register at www.giffordmed.org.

Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” Celebrates New Nursing Home

Tom Wicker, journalist who appreciated Gifford care, is honored at naming event

Tom Wicker's widow

Pam Hill, widow of journalist Tom Wicker, receives a sign that will mark Tom Wicker Lane, the road that leads into the new Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center, Vermont.

More than 150 people gathered at the newly completed Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center on May 20, 2015 to celebrate a milestone in Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” campaign.

The $5 million campaign has raised $3.5 million to support the construction of the new facility, and will now focus on the second phase of the project, the creation of private patient rooms in the vacated space on the hospital campus.

“We wanted these generous early donors to be able to see firsthand the significance of their support for our campaign,” said Gifford Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “This is the beauty of giving locally—you are able to really see the impact you make.”

Guests toured the new building in advance of the official ribbon cutting ceremony on June 9. The spacious hill-top facility, with breathtaking views of the Green and Braintree mountains, anchors a senior living community that will also include independent and assisted living units.

A highlight of the evening was the naming of Tom Wicker Lane, the road leading into the new Menig. An anonymous donor wished to honor a loved friend and asked that the entry lane be named for Wicker, an author and journalist whose writings chronicled some of the most important events of post-WW II America.

A journalist and political columnist for the New York Times, Wicker covered eight presidents and wrote during a tumultuous period that included the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Viet Nam war and the Watergate scandal. A Time to Die, one of the 20 books he wrote, explored the Attica Prison uprising and was later made into a movie starring Morgan Freeman.

After a writing career that spanned nearly 50 years, Wicker retired to Austin Hill Farm in Rochester, VT. He died at home in 2011, at the age of 85.

“In retirement, as his health began to slip, Tom came to know another of Vermont’s assets: that was Gifford,” Pam Hill, his wife of 37 years, wrote in remarks delivered by Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin. “He liked the excellent care, the easy comfort and beauty that assured him he was still in Vermont. He spent some of his last days at Gifford; for him it became a life-giving extension of his beloved Austin Hill Farm.”

Renovation of the old Menig wing of the hospital will start in June, with minimum disruption to patients. The 25 new private patient rooms are expected to be ready in approximately nine months.

“This is the largest campaign Gifford has undertaken in its 110 years. And we still have $1.5 million to go!” campaign Co-Chair Lincoln Clark said as he thanked the crowd for their early support. “Now, as we begin the public part of our campaign, we will need your help again in telling everyone you meet what an important project this is and what it will mean to our community.”

To donate to the “Vision for the Future” campaign contact Ashley Lincoln, 728-2380, or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Preparing and Adapting to a Changing Health-Care Landscape

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

building for the future with Gifford Medical Center

A message from Administrator Joe Woodin

FISCAL YEAR 2014 was a transformative one for Gifford as several long-term initiatives came to fruition—efforts that will not only benefit patients but also position Gifford well for the future in an era of health-care reform.

In November 2013, a very excited Senator Bernie Sanders called to say that Gifford had been designated a Federally Qualified Health Center. What we qualified for were federal funds that provide greater access to primary care—including dental and mental-health services—for Medicaid patients and the uninsured. By July, after a lot of hard work by our administrative team, we were ready to start drawing on those funds.

The Gifford Retirement Community now under construction in Randolph Center passed its final regulatory hurdle a month before the senator’s phone call, and ground was broken in the spring. Add to these developments the hospital’s conversion to single-patient rooms and Gifford’s transition to electronic medical records and you can see why we’ve titled this report “Building for the Future.” In the following pages, we discuss the new developments and relate them to the changing health-care landscape.

Last but not least, Gifford “made budget” for the fifteenth year in a row, a feat not replicated by any other hospital in Vermont. Achieving its state-approved operating margin is an indicator of Gifford’s health as a medical center, community organization, and employer, and credit for this achievement goes to the entire staff.

Primary Care Gets a Boost

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

primary care in Randolph VT

Family nurse practitioner Christina Harlow shares a laugh with Mary Williams of Randolph Center during a recent visit.

A family unable to afford dental care. An uninsured mother-to-be. A loved one suffering from depression. These are some of the people who will be helped by Gifford’s new status as a Federally Qualified Health Center.

The memo to staff was dated November 7, 2013, and sprinkled with exclamation points. It came from administrator Joseph Woodin and was entitled “A Must Read!” The message: Gifford had just been named a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)—an event that Woodin characterized as “some of the biggest news I have ever shared with staff since working at Gifford!”

Gifford's primary care

Christina Harlow consults with family medicine physician Dr. Marcus Coxon.

The FQHC designation is a coveted one, opening the gate to a stream of federal dollars for primary care. The funding comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the primary federal agency for improving access to health-care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. Of particular interest to Gifford: support for dental care and mental health services for Medicaid patients and the uninsured.

“This assistance from the federal government allows us to develop programs for dentistry, psychiatry, and mental health that are hugely important for the community,” says Medical Director of the Hospital and Medicine Divisions Dr. Martin Johns. “It also allows us to place a bigger focus on primary care. It means we can take better care of our Medicaid patients, offering them services that we couldn’t before because of finances, and that’s huge.

“We’re finding out almost weekly that we can offer things to patients that we didn’t even know about, let alone have the capacity to apply for. The designation was designed to help small groups of physicians serving in rural communities. Our mission has always been that.” Gifford's mission To qualify for FQHC status, a community health center must be open to all, regardless of ability to pay. It must offer a sliding fee scale with discounts based on patient family size and income in accordance with federal poverty guidelines. The federal money is intended to offset these obligations.

Over the past year, Gifford has laid the groundwork necessary to begin drawing on those funds. Among the steps: conducting a search for a psychiatrist to join the medical staff, working out agreements with area dentists to provide care to Medicaid patients, and completing a transition to electronic medical records.

“HRSA is really concerned that they make these health centers as feasible as possible,” says VP of Finance Jeff Hebert, “so there’s a lot of grant opportunity that impacts our financial stability. We get support every year as long as we keep up with the requirements.

“Probably the biggest benefit is that we get bigger reimbursement for our Medicaid patients. Reimbursement is cost-based, and not fee-based, so instead of paying a percentage of the fee for x, y, and z, the government looks at how much it costs to provide those services. It’s a better reimbursement methodology for Medicaid.” Other perks of the designation are: insurance coverage for primary care physicians and relief from staggering medical-school debt, a powerful recruitment incentive.

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK

Dr. Marcus Coxon

The new FQHC designation allows primary care physicians like Dr. Marcus Coxon (left) to offer Gifford patients increased access to mental and dental health services.

The Gifford model is an unusual one: a community health center with satellite clinics and a small hospital at its hub. As such, it provides both primary and critical care to a rural population. It would thus seem eligible for both FQHC funding and the benefits it receives as a Critical Access Hospital, a designation conferred in 2001. But would the feds see it that way?

The FQHC “duck test” was a laborious application process that involved many hospital departments and years of preparation, followed by months of waiting. With acceptance, Gifford the health center became the “parent” of Gifford the hospital—one of only three FQHC/CAHs in the country.

“Our primary-care services—which include internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, and ob-gyn—are all part of that community health center parent,” explains Woodin.

“The concurrent designation is tremendous for us,” says Johns. “It enables us to provide the most possible benefit to the community while being a small hospital, and it protects us from a lot of the changes going around the state and the region with regard to accountable care: As an FQHC, we cannot be purchased by or absorbed by a larger organization.”

“I look at health-care reform as being primary-care focused,” says Hebert. “It’s that primary-care provider who keeps you healthy and works with you to make sure you as a patient are getting what you need. If you’re prompting that patient to come in for a physical, and to develop healthy behaviors, you’re going to keep that patient a lot healthier at a manageable level than a model that doesn’t focus on primary care. I use myself as an example of what not to do: I only go to a health-care provider when I get to the point when I’m ready to go into the hospital and that’s an extremely expensive proposition. It’s not as efficient, and you as a patient aren’t as satisfied because you’re looking at a long recovery time. By making Gifford Health Care the parent of our organization, we’ve set ourselves up for the future, and I feel we’re in a really good place.”

After eight months of administrative work, Gifford was ready to start drawing on its new funds. The first bill went out in July. “It’s probably going to take most of 2015 to really understand all the levers and dynamics,” says Woodin.

“My thanks and appreciation go out to the staff behind the scenes who made this happen. It was a huge amount of work, and yet strategically, it positions us well, given health-care reform both in the state of Vermont and nationally. It helps us to have the right focus again around primary care, taking care of Medicaid and the uninsured, and looking to build from there.”

Gifford Receives 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability Award from White River Valley Chamber of Commerce

Emma Schumann and Ashley Lincoln

Emma Schumann, executive director of the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce (left) with Ashley Lincoln, director of Gifford’s development and public relations.

On February 6, Gifford received the 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability award from the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This award recognizes remarkable efforts to sustain and support the communities of the White River Valley, and was given to Gifford for its holiday gift certificate program.

The program, which distributes gift certificates redeemable at local businesses, allows Gifford to thank employees for their dedication and hard work while contributing to the economic health of the community it serves. Historically, within three weeks in December, Gifford employees spend nearly $40,000 at locally owned community businesses from Chelsea to Rochester, Sharon to Barre, and towns in between.

“For 14 years I have had the privilege of organizing this program, and I can honestly say that it is one of the more rewarding parts of my job. Some Gifford staff members have cried when they received their gift certificates,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of Development and Public Relations at Gifford. “Over the years many business owners have also told me how much Gifford’s support has meant to them during the slow winter months.”

Community has always been important to Gifford. Along with the gift certificate program, the medical center offers scholarships and grants each year to support area businesses and schools; during the growing and harvest season meals include produce from local farmers; and careful consideration of the community needs is considered when planning projects like the new senior living community being developed in Randolph Center.

Lincoln adds, “Nourishing and building healthy, sustainable communities ensures that we will be able to continue to provide quality local care for years to come.”

Levesque Grant Now Available

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

Gifford is now accepting applicants for the Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award.

The $1,000 grant is given annually to an agency or organization involved in arts, health, community development, education or the environment in Gifford’s service area in recognition of Levesque’s commitment to the White River Valley.

The award has been awarded to a variety of organizations including: Orange County Parent Child Center; Quin Town Senior Center; Rochester, Hancock & Granville Food Shelf; South Royalton’s School Recycle Compost and Volunteer Program; Bluebird Recovery Program; Kimball Library; Bethel’s Playground Project; Chelsea’s Little League Field; Rochester’s Chamber Music Society; Royalton Memorial Library; Tunbridge Library; White River Craft Center; Safeline, Interfaith Caregivers; the Chelsea Family Center and the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

Community organizations are encouraged to apply. Applications are due by Monday, February 16th. Click here to download the grant application.

The announcement of the 2015 grant recipient will be made at Gifford’s Annual Meeting on March 7th.

Gifford Scores above National Average on Infant Feeding Practices

Performs better than 84 percent of national facilities with similar number of births

first New Year's babyGifford Medical Center ranks above the national average for infant feeding practices in maternity care settings, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC).

Gifford scored 91 of 100 points, performing better than 84 percent of facilities nationwide with a similar number of births per year (less than 250). Across Vermont, the average mPINC score was 88; the national average score was 75.

“Gifford has always been a leader in providing women’s and obstetrics services and supporting moms and babies,” said Alison B. White, vice president of Patient Care Services at Gifford. “This report reflects the excellent care programs embedded in our pregnancy and maternity care, which create an environment that promotes and supports health and nutrition practices.”

Nationally 2,666 facilities providing maternity services responded to the 2013 mPINC survey (83 percent).The survey evaluates participating facilities in seven dimensions of care, a group of interventions that improve breastfeeding outcomes:

  • Labor and delivery care
  • Postpartum care
  • Breastfeeding assistance and contact between mother and infant
  • Facility discharge care
  • Staff training
  • Structural/organizational aspects of care delivery

For more information on the mPINC survey visit: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/mpinc/index.htm.

Gifford’s Birthing Center: For more than 35 years, Gifford’s Birthing Center has been the standard of care for women in Vermont, and today continues to be a leader in family-centered care, obstetrics, and midwifery. For more information call 802-728-2257 or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/BirthingCenter