Therapy “Dog Wedding” Celebration at Project Independence

Randolph Center’s Louise Sjobeck and her therapy dog Jasmine bring joy to local seniors

Randolph Center’s Louise Sjobeck with the dog bride and groom

Randolph Center’s Louise Sjobeck with the dog bride and groom

For almost two years Randolph Center resident Louise Sjobeck and her dog Jasmine have been making monthly visits to residents at Gifford’s Menig Nursing Home and participants in the Project Independence (PI) and the Bethel Adult Day centers, bringing entertainment and the unconditional love only a dog can offer to community seniors.

Sometimes Jasmine will be wearing conversation-starting costumes, but Sjobeck outdid herself on August 24th when she staged a dog wedding for Jasmine and PI mascot Ozzie at the Project Independence Center in Barre.

Project Independence’s “Muttrimony” wedding cake

Project Independence’s “Muttrimony” honeymoon game board

The wedding party, who all happened to be Shih Tzu’s, included the Dog Bride and Husband, a Dog of Honor, Best Dog, Flower Dog, and Ring Bearer—all decked out in appropriate outfits. There was even a wedding videographer.

Sjobeck wrote out a complete “muttrimony” service (all in canine terms), and human “Pawster” Tony Campos officiated with humor and grace. The PI staff all helped with decorating and planning, generated enthusiasm before the event by organizing craft

Project Independence’s “Muttrimony” honeymoon game board

Project Independence’s “Muttrimony” wedding cake

sessions (making wedding cards to give to the dogs) and creating activities around the event’s theme (a “where will the canines spend their honeymoon?” game). PI Chef Patricia Haupt created a beautiful tiered wedding cake for the celebration. Needless to say, all involved had a great time.

The event was so successful that in October Sjobeck and PI Assistant to the Director Barb Clark will be taking shorter repeat wedding performances to residents at Menig and participants at Bethel Adult Day.

Gifford Begins Construction on Independent Living Apartments

Randolph Center community offers range of support for seniors aging locally

independent living apartments

L to R: Gifford VP of Finance Jeff Hebert, Neagley & Chase CEO Andrew Martin, Wiemann Lamphere VP Steven Roy, Gifford VP of Operations Rebecca O’Berry, Wiemann Lamphere Architect Heidi Davis, Gifford Facilities Director Doug Pfohl, Gifford Director of Marketing and Development Ashley Lincoln, Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger, Neagley& Chase, Project Manager Rob Higgins, Northfield Savings Bank VP Megan Cicio, Neagley& Chase Project Superintendent Peter Nelson

Community members, early depositors, and Gifford staff and board members gathered on July 12 to celebrate groundbreaking for 49 independent living apartments at the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center. Planning for the multi-phased project, the largest building project in Gifford’s history, began in 2010. The apartments are scheduled to open in late July/early August, 2017.

The 30-acre senior community includes the new Menig Nursing Home (opened May, 2015), the independent living units, and a planned assisted living facility—all on a 30-acre campus surrounded by orchards, berry patches, landscaped gardens, and trails for walking, biking, and snowshoeing. The independent living building includes 49 apartments (studio, one bedroom, one bedroom and den, two bedrooms) and community space for fitness, a woodworking shop, and artist and crafts areas.

Several depositors brought their own tools to toss the ceremonial shovel full of dirt onto meadowland that will soon surround their home. Gifford Facilities Director Doug Pfohl gave special thanks to the creative design team at Wiemann Lamphere Architects: David Roy, Heidi Davis, Michael Minadeo; and the Neagley Chase Construction Management Team, led by Andrew Martin, Rob Higgins, and Peter Nelson.

Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger thanked the early depositors for their sustaining support through a lengthy permitting process. “Thank you for being an early supporter, and for having faith in our project,” she said. “It takes courage to embark on a vision that you cannot see.”

Al Wilker and Vance Smith, among the earliest depositors, shared some thoughts about the project. Wilker said that the diversity of the local community, which includes teachers, professionals, business people, artists, and farmers, would ensure that people from all walks of life would be living there, and keeping things fun and interesting. “It’s growing, not growing old!” he said. “I look forward to learning something new every day.”

Smith encouraged the group to imagine a life free from the burdens of homeownership (mowing lawns, maintaining gardens, household repairs), and to think of new possibilities. She noted that each apartment plan is different, reflecting the design styles of early depositors. Even the breathtaking views surrounding the site offer variety: sunsets over the mountains to the west, and on the east views of a permaculture project blending wildlife, perennial, and vegetable gardens into a synergistic system that’s more than the sum of its parts. “We have the opportunity to build on and further the vision, to make this place what we want it to be,” she said. “That’s what this adventure is going to be, all of us making a greater whole!”

Gifford began offering health care specifically for seniors in 1993, when the state asked it to take over the Tranquility Nursing home in Randolph. Over the years it became clear that additional support was needed for seniors who wanted to remain in the community as they aged. Gifford has received many awards for the high-quality care offered at the hospital-run nursing home, and has expanded support for other senior needs: adult day care programs in Barre and Bethel, and the senior living community offering a continuum of senior care all on one campus in Randolph Center.

For more information about independent living at the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community, visit http://www.giffordmed.org/IndependentLiving or call 802-728-7888.

Gifford Campaign Celebrates a Vision Made Real

New nursing home, private inpatient rooms, updated Birthing Center now open

Campaign CommitteeMore than 125 supporters and friends gathered at the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph on June 28 to celebrate the closing of Vision for the Future, the largest capital campaign in Gifford’s 113-year history.

“In planning our campaign we believed that every gift was important, large or modest, and that the willingness to give to support others in the community was significant,” campaign co-chair Lincoln Clark told the crowd. “We have raised $4,685,548. Our largest gift of one million dollars came from the Gifford Medical Auxiliary, which laid the foundation for a successful campaign and the hundreds of gifts that followed.”

The Auxiliary gift was especially impressive since the funds were raised primarily through small-dollar sales of “re-purposed” items at their volunteer-run Thrift Shop. The campaign’s success reflects a tremendous outpouring of community support for Gifford: more than half of the donors gave gifts under $250.

Silently launched in 2013, the campaign went public in the spring of 2014 to raise funds for an ambitious three-phased project:

  • Building a new Menig Nursing Home to anchor the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center
  • Renovating the vacated Menig space at the hospital into industry-standard private patient rooms
  • Creating a new updated and centrally located Birthing Center, with upgrades, spacious rooms, and a calming décor

Strategic planning had identified these areas as facility improvements that would ensure that Gifford could continue to provide the best possible healthcare— from newborns through old age—locally for generations to come. Each phase was carefully planned and met a specific budget and timeline: the new Menig opened in May of 2015, 25 private patient rooms opened in December 2015, and the new Birthing Center opened on June 22, 2016.

“When it was clear that the Birthing Center renovation—the final phase of the project — would open in mid-June, our campaign committee decided to celebrate the end of our campaign at the same time,” said Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development. “Our festive event celebrated the close of an especially rewarding year. As each phase was completed, campaign contributors could see firsthand the impact their gifts have had on the lives of their neighbors and friends”.

She noted that the campaign could not have succeeded without the hard work and unfailing commitment of the Campaign Steering Committee, who volunteered their time and energy: Lincoln Clark and Dr. Lou DiNicola (campaign co-chairs),Carol Bushey, Linda Chugkowski, Lyndell Davis, Paul Kendall, Karen Korrow, Sandy Levesque, Barbara Rochat, and Sue Systma.

For more information about Gifford’s Vision for the Future campaign, call Ashley Lincoln at 728-2380, or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

The Transformative Power of a Small Gesture

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Dr. Lou DiNicola, Development Director Ashley Lincoln and Lincoln Clark

Dr. Lou DiNicola, Development Director Ashley Lincoln and Lincoln Clark

Gifford’s Vision for the Future began in 2008, with 31 acres in Randolph Center and a list of long-term facility and community needs. After years of community input and careful strategic planning, this year we watched the “vision” become real: the New Menig Nursing Home opened in May and 25 new private inpatient rooms opened in December. A new and modernized Birthing Center will open this coming spring.

For us, one of the most gratifying aspects of this past year has been seeing people experience firsthand the impact that their gift has on our community. Our Menig residents are enjoying a new home, filled with light and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and meadows, and anyone visiting the hospital can see how new private rooms have improved the healing environment for patients.

The highlight of our year came in November, when the Gifford Auxiliary made a million dollar contribution to the campaign—the largest gift in Gifford’s history! This gift is especially impressive as the funds were raised primarily through small-dollar sales of “re-purposed” items at the Thrift Shop.

Who could imagine that the ripple created by a donated box of unused household clutter could extend so far?

It is humbling what dedication, persistence, and belief in a unified vision can do. The investment of the Auxiliary and so many other generous donors represents a powerful affirmation of what we do every day at Gifford. Each gift has contributed to an outpouring of support that will help us continue to provide quality local care for generations to come.

Your generosity, and your faith in Gifford’s mission, makes transformation possible. We can never say it enough: thank you!

Gifford Auxiliary

Ashley Lincoln
Development & Public Relations Director

Lincoln Clark & Dr. Lou DiNicola
Vision for the Future co-chairs

Gifford Celebrates Strong Foundation, Legacy of Outgoing Administrator

Joe Woodin

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.

Gifford Celebrates Opening of Private Inpatient Rooms

25 new inpatient rooms offer privacy, supportive environment for faster healing

Gifford inpatient roomsGifford Medical Center celebrated the opening of 25 new private inpatient rooms on December 17, 2015. The new unit brings an upgraded standard of inpatient care unusual for a small community hospital in Vermont.

“It really is amazing that a health care facility of our size can provide this level of modern care to our community,” Administrator Joseph Woodin told a group of supporters gathered for an opening ceremony. “The private room model is now standard for new construction, but renovating older units is often expensive and takes years to complete. We began planning for this nearly ten years ago, and have been able to complete our project on time, on budget, and with very little disruption for patients and staff.”

Private rooms reduce infections and stress, allow medical teams to bring technology and service directly to the bedside, and give patients the privacy they need for bedside consultations and family visits. This model of care has been shown to improve sleep, reduce stress, promote healing, and shorten hospital stays.

Careful planning, creative use of existing space, and input from staff throughout the construction process allowed the hospital to incorporate important upgrades to the new inpatient unit including:

• Two larger rooms for patients unable to move easily have overhead lifts that can glide into special in-room showers to accommodate bathing

• Two isolation rooms with an enclosed entry can be used for patients with airborne infections

• Two end-of-life care rooms open onto a courtyard garden and have adjoining space for visiting family members and friends

• A physical therapy room with outside access allows recovering patients to practice getting in and out of cars before leaving for home

• New wound-care tub room

• Centralized nursing station to promote teamwork and promote better communication

• Comfortable family waiting room with furniture that extends to accommodate sleeping

• A restful décor with paintings and photographs by local artists, gentle lighting, and hallway visitor hand-washing stations.

The long-term strategic planning behind this project began nearly fifteen years ago, when a new addition was built to house Menig Extended Care. Because it was built to hospital (not nursing home) standards, that space could be converted into the new private rooms when the Menig Nursing Home relocated to a new building in Randolph Center last spring.

The new Menig Nursing Home and private patient rooms are part of a three-phased project supported by the “Vision for the Future” capital campaign. The last phase of renovations will create a new centrally located Birthing Center, scheduled to open in June 2016.

“This is the largest fundraising effort in Gifford’s 112-year history. Thanks to generous community support and our dedicated volunteer campaign steering committee, we are $800,000 from our $5 million campaign goal,” said Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “Years of creative planning and good fiscal stewardship made it possible for us to create industry standard private rooms, respond to a real need for senior housing, and upgrade our popular Birthing Center in this one project. It has been so satisfying to see the finished projects open and operating this year!”

To learn more about the “Vision for the Future” campaign visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Wiemann Lamphere Architects to Design Gifford Senior Living Project

Wiemann Lamphere Architects

(L to R) Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger, VP of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry, and Facilities Director Doug Pfohl

Gifford will work with Wiemann Lamphere Architects as they move into the second stage of building independent living apartments at the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, Vermont.

The Colchester, Vermont design firm will build on Gifford’s original design concept to create a vibrant neighborhood for the 25-acre campus, which includes the new Menig Nursing home and planned future assisted living.

“Wiemann Lamphere has worked on many housing projects and brings specific expertise in designing for seniors in independent living facilities,” said Gifford’s Vice President of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry. “They are an energetic and enthusiastic team who approached our project with creative ideas on how to encourage community interaction while incorporating nature and energy conservation into the design.”

The three-story, 49-apartment building will use internal common spaces (including a proposed dining room, library, fitness area, lounges, and sunroom) to encourage community interaction, and external gathering spots (a proposed campus green, orchard, gardens, and extensive nature trails) to strengthen the neighborhood feel of the campus.

Groundbreaking for the independent living apartments is anticipated in the spring of 2016, with an anticipated move-in date in late spring 2017.

“We are pleased to be working with Gifford to develop much needed senior housing opportunities in central Vermont and look forward to making the most of the wonderful views on the site,” said Weimann Lamphere President David P. Roy. “We have a passion for sustainability, and a drive to create healthy, invigorating spaces for people to live their lives to the fullest.”

To learn more about the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community, visit www.giffordmed.org/IndependentLiving or call 802-728-2787.

Personalized Care, a Healing Space Near Home

Vision for the Future co-chair experiences first-hand the importance of quality local care

This article was published in our Fall 2015 Update.

Lincoln ClarkLincoln Clark, Gifford trustee and co-chair of the Vision for the Future campaign, has been actively raising funds for the new Menig Nursing home and the subsequent private patient
room conversion at the hospital.

In an odd twist of fate, the Royalton resident recently experienced first-hand just how important quality local care and private patient rooms can be to both the patient and their family.

While on an annual fishing trip with his son in northern Maine, Clark fell and broke his hip as they were taking their boat to get the motor serviced. After a 178-mile ambulance ride to Portland, ME, he found himself facing surgery by a surgeon he’d never met.

“I spent approximately four minutes with him prior to the operation. I was doped up to the gills, and I couldn’t understand his precise and very technical description of the procedure,” Clark said. “The next day he was off-duty so his partner, a hand surgeon, looked at my wound.”

That same day a care management representative visited to say that he would be released the following morning—they were looking for a rehabilitation facility that could take him.

Clark asked if he could go home to his local hospital, and was told that Medicare would only pay for an ambulance to the closest facility (to pay for an ambulance to Vermont, would cost him thousands of dollars). He was transferred to a facility in Portland the following morning.

“The new room was sectioned off with brown curtains, the bed pushed up against a wall, and there was a 3-foot space at the bottom of the bed for my wife, Louise, to sit,” he said. “It was smaller than most prison cells! My roommate’s family (six of them) was visiting, and they were watching a quiz show on TV at full volume.” This was the low point.

Overwhelmed, the Clarks struggled to figure out the logistics of a long stretch in rehab for Lincoln, and the hours-long commute for Louise, who had to maintain their house in Royalton.

After an unimpressive start in the rehab physical therapy department, they made an unusual but obvious choice: Louise packed Lincoln into the car and they made the 4-hour drive to Randolph.

“I wanted to be at Gifford. I knew the physical therapy team was first rate, and I was confident I would get the kind of therapy I needed to get me out of the hospital,” Clark said.

Fortunately, a room was open and he spent ten days at Gifford this summer. He worked on his laptop in the Auxiliary Garden, met with people in his room, and was even wheeled to the conference center to attend board and committee meetings. Once discharged, he was able to continue his therapy as an outpatient.

“After this experience I really can see how important a private patient room is,” he said. “And I can attest that the letters to the board, the positive comments patients make on surveys, and the occasional letters to the editor don’t begin to describe all that it means to be cared for by Gifford’s staff. This is just a great hospital!”

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 “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.