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 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!”
Community support, local jobs, and the importance of relationships celebrated
On 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.”
Vice 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.”
Tom Wicker, journalist who appreciated Gifford care, is honored at naming event
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.”
A message from Development Director Ashley Lincoln
Above: Ashley Lincoln, Development Director, and Vision for the Future Campaign Committee members Dr. Lou DiNicola (Co-chair), Linda Chugkowski, and Lincoln Clark (Co-chair) at the site of Gifford’s new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community.
Since outreach began, a little over 18 months ago, many generous donors have stepped up to pledge $3 million for Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” campaign.
This $5 million capital campaign will support patient room upgrades and a new senior living community, improvements that will help us continue to provide the best possible community health care for years to come.
This impressive early support—from members of the business community, Gifford’s volunteer board of Trustees and Directors, former trustees, medical staff, employees, the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary—is already having an impact.
The beautiful new Menig building that you’ve watched growing in Randolph Center will open in May as an anchor for the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community. Soon after, renovation of the vacated hospital wing begins, creating 25 new single-patient rooms that will improve patient privacy, allow state-of-the-art technology to be brought to the bedside, and create an environment that promotes and speeds the healing process.
Humbled and energized by this wonderful start, I can now officially announce that our “silent phase” ended on Saturday, March 7, with the public launch of our “Vision for the Future” campaign at the medical center’s 109th Annual Meeting of Corporators.
Over the years our community has generously supported Gifford through many evolutions. Moving forward we will need everyone’s help to raise the remaining $2 million by the end of 2015. Our goal of $5 million may seem lofty, but this campaign will help us address unprecedented challenges and opportunities in health care.
Providing quality medical care in the hospital and our nine community health centers is central to our mission. We care for patients locally, eliminating the need to travel—sometimes over mountains, often in treacherous winter conditions. Over the years we have invested in state-of-the-art technology, retained high quality staff, and adopted a hospitalist model that helps us care for sicker patients. Modernizing our patient rooms is a next step in improving patient comfort and providing the best care.
A real community concern is a lack of living and care options for our seniors. As our friends and neighbors age and are looking to downsize, we want them to stay where they have grown up, worked, raised their family, and built relationships. Each individual is a piece of our community quilt: when one leaves, it starts to fray.
Your support for this project will help us sustain our community’s health—and protect our “community quilt”—with the very best care, from birth through old age, for another 110 years.
One patient per hospital room is good medicine. Here’s why…
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
Semi-private rooms offer little privacy or space for patients, their families and hospital staff. Private patient rooms will alleviate the overcrowding that is typical of shared rooms.
The reality of a shared hospital room is that you don’t get to choose your roommate.
“We do our best to match up personalities and scenarios and illnesses and infection issues,” says Alison White, vice president of the hospital division, “but there are things like having a roommate who is a night owl and you like to be in bed by 7:30. If we need a bed and your room happens to be that one empty bed, you get who you get.”
The new reality at Gifford is that every hospital patient will soon have a room of their own as part of a construction project that received its final okay in October 2013. In spring 2015, when 30-bed Menig Extended Care moves to Randolph Center, the hospital will begin converting the vacated wing. The number of rooms for hospital patients will double while the number of hospital beds—25—remains the same, a ratio that guarantees maximum comfort and safety. The renovations are also an opportunity to open up ceilings, replace old systems, and improve energy efficiency.
“When patients are recovering from surgery or from illness, they want what they want,” says Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of operations and the surgical division.
“Sharing a room with somebody else just doesn’t work for most patients. From the surgeon’s point of view, if I’ve just replaced your total hip, the last thing I want is for you to be in a room with someone who might be brewing an infection.”
White names several other factors, besides the risk of infection, that have helped make private rooms the standard in hospitals today. Among them:
Faster healing: Studies show that patients who are in private rooms need less pain medication because they’re in a more soothing environment. If your roommate has IV pumps that are going off, or the nurse has to check your neighbor every one or two hours—which is very common—the lights go on, the blood pressure machine goes off, the nurse has to speak with the person in the bed next to you. With private rooms, all that is removed.
Ease of movement: Our rooms were built before the current technology existed. IV poles didn’t exist. We now have people with two or three pumps. With today’s technology there’s no room to move around. When you have two of everything—two chairs, two overbed tables, two wastebaskets—it creates an obstacle course.
Better doctor-patient communication: As professionals, we don’t always get the whole story because the patient doesn’t want to be overheard by his neighbor.
Patient satisfaction: Larger rooms, each with a bathroom, will give patients additional privacy and enhance the patient experience. It’s a win-win for everybody.
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
Board Chair Gus Meyer
What a momentous year it’s been! Things we had been planning for years came to fruition in 2014. Even as these fundamental changes in our organization have taken place, Gifford has maintained its remarkable fiscal stability and continued our steady growth in the proficiency, professionalism, and breadth of service that we provide.
In 2015, we anticipate completion of the nursing home, renovation of the space that Menig now occupies, expansion of mental health and dental services associated with the FQHC, and full implementation of the EMR, along with ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility and improvement in quality of care.
These accomplishments are all the more amazing because they have been achieved in a very uncertain health care environment. While Governor Shumlin has suspended planning for single payer health care, many other aspects of health care reform continue. For example, accountable care organizations are now in development, with the goal of changing from fee-for-service to covered lives reimbursement.
How these changes get implemented will have profound impact on how medical decisions are made, as well as how and where care is delivered. In the coming year, as we pursue the internal strands mentioned above, we will also maintain our active involvement in the health care reform planning process, working to ensure that Gifford’s patients continue to have the highest quality, locally provided health care possible.
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
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.
Podiatrist/sports medicine advocate celebrated for His 12 years at Sharon Health Center
Gifford staff gathered on March 25 to celebrate podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi’s 12 years of service to an expanding community of athletes, and to wish him well as he transitions to new roles in the organization.
The party featured a cake shaped like a foot, lots of foot jokes, and heartfelt stories about Rinaldi’s many contributions and roles at Gifford: as generous mentor, sports medicine advocate, surgeon, and the force behind the very successful Sharon Health Center and sports medicine clinic.
“I flunked the first time I retired!” Rinaldi quipped, explaining that he missed seeing patients when he left a thriving Connecticut practice and retired to his farm in Chelsea in 2000. So when Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin approached him about expanding sports medicine at Gifford, he was receptive: “I didn’t want to sound too anxious, so I said yes!”
Rinaldi helped design the first phase of the Sharon Health Center, which opened in 2005. By 2008 a 2,200 square foot expansion was added to accommodate the thriving sports medicine clinic, and a final planned 2,600 square foot expansion was added in 2014.
Today, athletes come from all over the Upper Valley to the center, which includes a physical therapy gym space; x-ray technology and mounted flat screens for reviewing radiological exams; physical therapy treatment rooms; and a state-of- the-art gait analysis system. The sports medicine team includes: Michael Chamberland, DC (chiropractic/sports medicine); Paul Smith, DPM (podiatry/sports medicine); Nat Harlow, DO; and Peter Loescher, MD (sports medicine); and a team of physical therapists.
“Rob brought years of business experience to the creation of Sharon Health Center,” Woodin said. “But he also brought his pride in what he does, and his entrepreneurial spirit to Gifford.”
The stories Rinaldi’s colleagues told described a generous and compassionate mentor: “Rob was the voice of wisdom, the one people came to when facing some sort of challenge,” said Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry.
Although he will no longer be seeing patients, Rinaldi will continue to serve on administrative committees at Gifford, and will work with residents at the new Menig Nursing Home when it opens this spring in Randolph Center.
109th Annual Meeting celebrates forward-looking growth in programs and facility
Administrator Joe Woodin answers questions during Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Meeting.
Nearly 100 community members gathered Saturday night for “Building for the Future,” Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Corporators Meeting.
Reporting on an exciting and transformative year, administrators and board members highlighted the implementation of several long-term initiatives:
The new Menig Nursing Home, looking out over the green mountains in Randolph Center, will open—on time and on budget—mid-May 2015.
The hospital wing vacated by Menig will be converted into state-of-the-art private patient rooms to offer privacy for provider consultations and family visits, and to accommodate medical technology at the bedside.
A new organizational structure, created to reflect Gifford’s new Federal Qualified Health Center designation, will allow Gifford to offer enhanced preventative, dental, and behavioral health services to our patients.
“It’s been an extraordinary year,” Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin stated. “These initiatives strengthen the services we offer our patients and also position Gifford well for the future in an era of healthcare reform.”
Moving forward while making budget for the 15th consecutive year
After presenting the annual hospital report and a brief update on the uncertain state of Vermont’s healthcare policy, Woodin noted that Gifford has maintained ongoing fiscal stability while pushing ahead with these forward-looking initiatives. For the 15th consecutive year Gifford has made budget and achieved its state-approved operating margin. The culmination of years of research and planning, each of these new projects reflect Gifford’s commitment to providing quality community care for years to come.
New $5 million capital campaign launched Lincoln Clark, board treasurer and co-chair of the “Vision for the Future” campaign, announced the launch of the public phase of the $5 million capital campaign.
“As of tonight this campaign is no longer silent,” Clark told the group. “It has been a remarkable experience—we started two and a half years ago with a vision, research, and a community survey. We decided then to wait until we raised 60 percent before going public, and we’ve exceeded that goal. We hope to reach the campaign’s $5 million goal by December 31st of this year.”
The “Vision for the Future” campaign supports the hospital’s conversion to industry-standard private patient rooms, and the construction of the new Menig Nursing home in Randolph Center. Menig, one of only twelve nursing homes in Vermont to retain a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will anchor the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.
Panel presentation describes a Gifford ready for tomorrow’s healthcare needs
A panel presentation looked at four recently implemented changes that will help Gifford provide for future community healthcare needs:
Dr. Martin Johns, medical director for Gifford’s FQHC and hospital division, talked about building the behind-the-scenes administrative structure now in place that will help Gifford provide expanded preventative, dental, and behavioral health services as a Federally Qualified Health Center.
Dr. Lou DiNicola, pediatrician, described the challenges staff faced while transitioning to a federally mandated Electronic Medical Record system. Now that the transition is complete, the benefits are clear: greater efficiency and improved patient care.
Alison White, vice president of Patient Care Services, talked about how important private patient rooms are for provider consultations, improved patient care, and how they will help bring medical technology to patients’ bedside.
Linda Minsinger, executive director for the Gifford Retirement Community, talked about plans for the new Morgan Orchard Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.
Gifford scholarships and awards presented
Bailey Fay was awarded the Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing a health care education. Laura Perez, communications director of the Stagecoach Transportation Services, accepted the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in recognition of his personal commitment to the White River Valley.
Retiring board member Randy Garner was presented with a gift to honor his 12 years of service at Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Meeting. Vice-President of the board Peter Nowlan looks on.
For the second year of a two-year commitment, the $25,000 William and Mary Markle Community Grant was given to schools in Gifford’s service area to promote exercise and healthy eating and lifestyles.
Board of trustees and directors election and service recognition
During the corporators business meeting, retiring member Randy Garner was presented with a gift to recognize his 12 years of service, and retiring board member Fred Newhall was recognized for his three years of service.
The following slate of new corporators were elected: Brad Atwood (Sharon); Rob and Linda Dimmick (Randolph Center); Dee Montie & Murray Evans (Brookfield); Joan Goldstein (South Royalton); Kelly Green (Randolph); Kate Kennedy (Braintree); Doreen Allen Lane (Berlin); Larry and Susan Trottier (South Royalton); Clay Westbrook (Randolph)
The following were elected officers of the board of directors: Gus Meyer, chair; Peter Nowlan, vice chair; Barbara Rochat, secretary; Lincoln Clark, treasurer.
Menig resident Barbara Wright enjoys a visit from Jasmine, a Vermont Therapy dog.
As the sun was lowering on a cold February afternoon, Gifford volunteer Louise Sjobeck and her dog Jasmine walked down a quiet hall toward two Menig residents who were visiting on a bench.
Before she could reach them, a woman in a wheelchair appeared, stretching out her arms to stroke the brown and white Shih Tzu’s silky fur: “What nice ears you have!”
Within minutes more people appeared, filling the space with smiles and stroking hands and conversations: “I love dogs, we used to have two dogs….” “This little doggie is so soft!” “I hope it won’t leak on me—oh, I wouldn’t mind. I‘d just brush it off!”
The visit marked the beginning of a new role for Sjobeck, who had spent nearly a year training and working with five-year-old Jasmine to prepare her for the Therapy Dogs of Vermont certification test. Dogs that are gentle, enjoy being touched, aren’t fearful, and are able to remain calm in new situations are allowed to take the exam, which tests for 48 criteria.
To celebrate their inaugural visit, Jasmine was dressed in a red ruffled dress decorated with Valentine’s Day hearts, bringing some early holiday spirit to Menig.
“I love to see the residents’ faces light up when the pet visits occur,” said Brooks Chapin, director of nursing at Menig. “There is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog.”