95-year-old Major Melvin McLaughlin warmly celebrated
From left, Patrice Thabault of Home Instead Senior Care presents 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin and Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin with a $5,500 in recognition of McLaughlin to support a charity of his choice, Gifford.
Randolph’s Maj. Melvin McLaughlin has spent more than 40 years selflessly volunteering at his local medical center, Gifford. On Wednesday that volunteerism was recognized – big time.
The 95-year-old retired U.S. Marine, fondly known as “Major,” was named the country’s 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer by Home Instead Senior Care.
Home Instead is the world’s largest provider of non-medical, in-home care services for seniors. Last year it launched the Salute to Senior Service Contest to recognize senior volunteerism.
Nominated by the staff at Gifford for his daily visits to the hospital, McLaughlin was named the Vermont winner of the contest last month and on Wednesday at noon at Gifford in Randolph was recognized as the national winner.
“Home Instead wants to encourage a positive outlook on aging,” Vermont franchise owner Patrice Thabault noted in presenting the award. “The Major and other (senior) volunteers are really changing the face of aging in the United States.”
With the recognition came a $5,500 check ($500 as the state winner and $5,000 as the national winner) from Home Instead to Gifford, the charity that McLaughlin chose to recognize with his award.
Representatives of VA Medical Center, from left, Chief of Voluntary Services Karen Campbell and Patient Services Manager Wendy DeCoff, present 2013 national Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph with a Courage of Valor award. The award is for World War II veterans who are VA patients.
The gifts didn’t stop at the national recognition, however.
Hearing about McLaughlin’s honor, VA Medical Center Chief of Voluntary Service Karen Campbell attended Wednesday’s presentation to honor McLaughlin, a long-time VA patient, with its Courage of Valor award.
“They don’t necessarily have the time, but they always have the heart,” Campbell said of volunteers, “and, boy, do you have that.”
Fran Keeler of Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) read a letter of commendation from DAIL Commissioner Susan Wehry. “Your more than 40 years of dedicated service … is appreciated. You’re an inspiration to us,” Wehry wrote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders sent his own letter of congratulations, thanking McLaughlin “for demonstrating such generosity and goodwill over the past four decades.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy sent McLaughlin a flag that had flown over U.S. Capitol.
And Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin unveiled a granite plaque anonymously donated and featuring the words McLaughlin says to each patient, nursing home resident, and staff member he visits at Gifford: “Has anyone today told you that they love you?” McLaughlin then answers, “God does and I do too.”
The plaque of Barre granite now sits in the hospital’s visitors’ entrance as a permanent fixture for all to see.
Major Melvin McLaughlin, the nation’s 2013 Outstanding Senior Volunteer, is surrounded by his three daughters, from left, Sally Truckenbrod of Bethel, Nancy Stevens of Raleigh, N.C., and Audrey Rhoades of Washington, N.H. The daughters surprised him by all attending a July 3 celebration of McLaughlin’s national recognition. It is the first time the family was all together since McLaughlin’s wife’s passing almost four years early to the day. She died on July 4 and was a resident of the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford, where McLaughlin still volunteers.
McLaughlin first moved to Randolph in 1967 after retiring from 25 years with the U.S. Marines, serving in World War II, Korea, and the infancy of Vietnam. He built a home and a second for one of his daughters, Sally, and then found himself with free time. He started volunteering at Gifford on Thursdays, delivering the local newspaper to patients.
Later, he took patient meal orders on a clipboard and then several years ago began making general rounds seven days a week, visiting with patients and staff alike, offering his telltale phrase of love, plenty of hugs, a positive attitude, and plenty of gratitude.
Woodin called that gift of love an intangible, but a powerful gift that anyone can afford. The fact that that gift and lesson on experiencing love comes from a tough Marine makes it all the more powerful.
Woodin sought to return the favor by asking the large crowd in attendance at Wednesday award announcement to honor McLaughlin with a warmly and loudly delivered, “We love you, Major.”
“My cup runneth over,” Major said in response, encouraging all in attendance to live each day with only gladness, no shame. “Thank you, Lord, for your blessings. I am a rich man.”
Read much more about McLaughlin on the Salute to Senior Service Web site, www.salutetoseniorservice.com, and look for him in Thursday’s Randolph Fourth of July Parade. He is the grand marshal.
Angelina Jolie’s courageous decision to undergo a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing hereditary breast cancer has brought to light an important test done regularly, and promoted, at Gifford.
The reason behind Jolie’s decision was a positive BRCA test. BRCA is a test for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. It is as pain-free as a test gets; all you have to do is spit in a test tube.
In more scientific terms, the test is of your saliva or, buccal DNA, and is done right in the doctor’s office to check for an inherited mutation or alteration in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene.
While hereditary breast and ovarian cancer account for only 5 percent of these cancers, knowing your BRCA status can help you and your family make informed decisions and choices.
A woman with BRCA 1 or 2 mutations has a markedly elevated risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, including:
Up to a 50 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 50 (compared to 2 percent in the general population)
Up to an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer by age 70 (compared to 8 percent in the general population)
Up to a 64 percent risk of developing a second breast cancer
Up to a 44 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer by age 70 (compared to less than 1 percent in the general population)
Knowing whether you have this mutation will enable you to have increased surveillance and/or treatment, which can potentially save your life and help your family members make informed decisions. Management strategies may include earlier breast cancer screening with mammography or MRI, risk reducing surgery such as ovary removal after childbearing is completed, and chemoprevention, such as tamoxifen or birth control pills.
Red flags for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, include:
Breast cancer before age 50
Ovarian cancer at any age
Male breast cancer at any age
Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
Relatives of a BRCA carrier
If you or a loved one falls into one of these categories, contact your primary care or gynecologist’s office to inquire about testing.
Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara is a gynecologist at Gifford’s Bethel Health Center and Twin River Health Center in White River Junction. She provides BRCA advice and testing. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
Class focuses on chronic disease self-management and peer support
RANDOLPH – A new Healthier Living Workshop series begins May 15 and continues Wednesdays through June 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Chelsea Health Center.
Healthier Living Workshops are six-week classes for people with chronic conditions and their caregivers. They are offered for free – along with chronic pain workshops – throughout the year by Gifford as part of the Vermont Blueprint for Health.
The workshops are led by trained facilitators and are designed to help improve strength, flexibility and endurance. They also provide tips for managing medications, eating healthier and improving communications with family and friends.
The goal is to help people better manage their health conditions and deal with the frustration, fatigue and pain that can accompany a chronic disease.
Participants also benefit from meeting other people with chronic conditions, learning how they cope and enjoying the camaraderie of knowing that they are not alone in how they’re feeling, notes Gifford workshop coordinator Susan Delattre.
According to the Vermont Department of Health, past participants report increased energy, reduced stress, more self-confidence and fewer doctors’ visits as a result.
Gifford Healthier Living Workshop participants have called the series “very relaxed and you really felt free to express yourself” and said they most enjoyed “meeting people who understand what I am going through.”
To register or for more information, call Zach Bean at Gifford’s Blueprint office at the Kingwood Health Center at (802) 728-7100, ext. 6.
The workshop will take place at the Chelsea Health Center at 356 Route 110 in Chelsea.
Hospital VP receives ‘Patriot Award’ for support of citizen soldiers
David Wheel, executive director of the Vermont Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presents Gifford Medical Center Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry with a Patriot Award. Joining in receiving the award are, from left, Gifford Surgery Nurse Manager Jamie Floyd, Gifford Surgical Services Office Manager Bethany Osha, Wheel, O’Berry, Guard specialist and Gifford health care assistant Marc Truedson, and former Guard member and Gifford registered nurse Caitlyn Bushey. Truedson nominated O’Berry for the award. (Provided: Robin Palmer)
Marc Truedson’s commitment to serve the country as a specialist in the Vermont National Guard means time away from work as a health care assistant at Gifford Medical Center. Truedson’s employer supports his time away, filling shifts so that he can serve.
Recently Truedson discovered a way to thank Gifford and his senior manager, Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry, for that support. He nominated O’Berry for a Patriot Award through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).
The ESGR is a Department of Defense operational committee that, with the help of volunteers, promotes and enhances civilian employer support of citizen soldiers.
On Monday afternoon, Vermont ESGR Executive Director David Wheel delivered the award and many kind words to O’Berry and her team. Continue reading →
Gifford Medical Center volunteer Maj. Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph has been nominated in the Salute to Senior Service Contest for his 40-plus years of volunteerism at the Randolph hospital.
Major, as he is known, is one of seven Vermonters nominated and hospital staff members are hoping that those who know and love Major will visit www.salutetoseniorservice.com between April 15-30 to vote for Major as the state’s winner and for a chance at a national recognition as “the most outstanding senior volunteer in the U.S.”
Your vote determines the state winner. A panel of judges picks the national winner.
A complete write-up on Major is available on the site. Here’s a bit of what the medical center had to say about their friend:
Every single day, now 95-year-old Maj. Melvin McLaughlin makes the short drive from his Randolph home to his local hospital, Gifford Medical Center, to lend more than a helping hand; he lends a helping heart. Pushing a walker, Major visits every hospital unit and Gifford’s adjoining nursing home to offer patients and staff alike love, a listening ear, and the sincerest of thanks. Whether at a patient or staff member’s side, male or female, stranger or friend, Major – as most know him – breaks the ice with a catch phrase: “Has anyone told you today that they love you?” If the answer is no, Major is ready with his reply: “Well, God loves you and so do I.” Staff members are also treated to the most heartfelt thanks for the job they do and somewhere in this sharing of love, there is almost always a hug between the kind-hearted Major and those lucky enough to step in his path.
“Gifford is home,” he’s told us on more than one occasion. “I have so many friends here, from the top to the bottom. And I emphasize the bottom because I like to tell those people, ‘Thank you for what you do, because without your labors this place would not stand.”
We at Gifford love Major. He is a brilliant and beautiful light in the day. As one nurse put it, “A day without Major is a day without sunshine.” He is the personification of what we are as an organization – warm, compassionate, supportive, humbled and blessed to be able to care for others. Introduce a new staff member, patient, or nursing home resident to Major and we have just told them everything they need to know about us. We care. We’re family. We’re here for you. This is the type of individual who walks our halls. This is our benchmark for love. For his boundless selflessness, remarkable strength of character, and length of commitment, we can’t imagine an individual more deserving of this service award than our amazing, treasured friend Major.”
When the nomination was read at a volunteer appreciation luncheon at the medical center on April 10, Major received a standing ovation from all in attendance. The former Marine saluted his fellow volunteers.
RANDOLPH – For more than 40 million Americans, Medicare provides their health insurance. Across the nation and here in Vermont, more Americans become eligible each day, leaving big questions about the federal insurance program and just what it covers.
Gifford Medical Center is aiming to help answer some of those questions for its employees and the public in a free talk this April.
“Medicare – Ready or Not… ” is being held on April 11 from 6-7 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center. The talk will feature a presentation from Acadia Benefits Inc. health insurance specialist Scott McKee on Medicare parts A through D, eligibility and resources. Continue reading →
Free Gifford evening out focuses on couples’ sexual health
Health experts from Gifford Medical Center are joining forces to offer couples an educational evening out.
Gifford in Randolph is hosting “Aging Together: A special presentation for couples on changing sexual health” on March 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.
“Our goal,” says organizer Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford’s vice president of surgery, “is to have people come in to a comfortable environment to talk about how normal physical changes can affect couples’ lives together.”
Dr. Richard Graham
Speaking will be experienced urologist Dr. Richard Graham and veteran gynecologist and menopause expert Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara.
Urologists treat male reproductive health conditions, as well as urinary health in men and women, and gynecologists care for female reproductive health. Common conditions like erectile dysfunction, which millions of men in the United States experience, and menopause, typically beginning around age 51 for women, can affect a couple’s relationship – often when those couples are finally able to spend time together.
“This is an important time in your life,” says O’Berry. “Your kids are getting older. You get to be back to being a couple and you don’t want normal signs of aging or medical problems to hinder that time together.
“There are ways that we as medical professionals can help you. There are answers.”
Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara
Drs. Graham and Russo-DeMara will review common problems and solutions and take questions from participants. Light refreshments will be served as the medical center strives to make the talk a fun “date night” out.
All are welcome to this free event. Those wanting to participate should register by calling Robin Palmer at (802) 728-2284 by March 21.
The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital. Take the elevator from the main lobby and follow signs to the conference center or take the stairs under the green awning from the patient parking lot. The conference rooms are just inside. For directions and more information, visit www.giffordmed.org. Like Gifford on Facebook to receive notices of other upcoming free community talks.
From left, Menig Extended Care Facility licensed nursing assistants Loretta Cushing and Darlene Doyle and licensed practical nurse Anne Murphy gather around nursing home resident Della Allen, 99, on Wednesday. The nursing home at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph was recognized among the nation’s 2013 Best Nursing Homes.
RANDOLPH – For a third consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford Medical Center has been named among the nation’s very best nursing homes by U.S. News & World Report.
Looking at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data regarding health inspection, level of nursing staffing and quality of care for nearly 16,000 nursing homes nationwide, U.S. News & World created and released a “2013 Best Nursing Homes” list on Tuesday. Menig, along with seven other Vermont nursing homes, made the list for its “five-star” (the maximum available) rating.
Menig was also recognized in 2011 and 2012 and was named among the top 39 nursing homes in the nation last year.
“I am so proud of the Menig staff. We work in a place that is clean, well maintained, has great food and a dedicated pool of volunteers who love the elderly. Varied activities keep the residents’ quality of life high. This teamwork and our nursing staff’s commitment to care are what make Menig such a high-quality home,” said Cindy Richardson, Menig director of nursing. “This honor is wonderful recognition of the work we do on behalf of our residents every day.”
The U.S. News list is created to help consumers find quality nursing home care. Homes are given between one and five stars in the rankings.
“Fewer than one out of every five nursing homes got an overall rating of five stars,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News health rankings editor. “All seniors deserve the best nursing care available, and these are homes that merit their consideration by demonstrating such high quality.”
Menig is a 30-bed nursing home attached to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. The medical center is currently amid the permitting process to move the nursing to Randolph Center where it would become the anchor of a senior living community. The new community would include independent and assisted living as well, helping to meet a significant community need for more senior care and living options. The move would also free up space at Gifford to create industry-standard single inpatient rooms (rather than shared two-person rooms) for patient safety and privacy.
Learn more about the nursing home rankings here. Also, you can learn more about Menig online at www.giffordmed.org.
Waterbury Woman Donates Vermont Paintings, Photos to Gifford in Daughter’s Memory
Elise Braun poses by just two of 25 pieces of framed Vermont art donated in her daughter’s memory to Gifford Medical Center.
RANDOLPH – Octogenarians Elise Braun of Waterbury and Gilbert Myers of Williston on Friday hand-delivered 25 pieces of artwork to 25-bed Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.
The framed art is by 13 different Vermont painters and photographers and is a gift from the Susan Sebastian Foundation to Gifford for its patient rooms.
The foundation is named for Braun’s daughter who passed away in 2009 and had a wish to brighten hospital rooms through local art.
The art given to Gifford holds a common look and feel. Each piece depicts Vermont’s warm weather months – spring, summer and fall – and is of the outdoors.
Braun and Myers used the book Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being by Dr. Esther Sternberg to help guide their purchases, which are meant to take the patient out of the room and into the outdoors to a favorite vista or recreational hobby.
“It gets you out of the room and gets you thinking about getting out,” says Braun. “It makes you feel like you want to get better.”
For Gifford, which helped pick out the pieces and invited many local artists to participate, the artwork is a welcome addition to patient care and the patient experience.
“This is truly an extension of Gifford’s commitment to support local – as this gift allows us to showcase our local talent while bringing warmth to our patients,” says Ashley Lincoln, Gifford director of development and public relations. “We are thankful to the Susan Sebastian Foundation for including Gifford in its outreach and appreciate the amount of work and effort that goes into a gift like this.”
For Braun, the foundation’s work is healing.
“It has been very therapeutic for me, extremely therapeutic. It makes me feel she (Sebastian) is at work in the world and that makes me happy.
“This is Susan. This is what she was about,” Braun says.
Sebastian’s good work continues.
In addition to Gifford, Fletcher Allen Health Care received 47 pieces from the foundation in 2009, Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans received 37 pieces, 12 pieces then went to Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend and 38 to Porter Medical Center in Middlebury.
Next will be Copley Hospital in Morrisville. Myers and Braun’s goal is to provide local art to all Vermont hospitals over the next several years.