Two certified nurse midwives have joined Gifford’s Birthing Center team: Ali Swanson, who comes to Randolph from a practice in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Vermont native Susan Paris. Established in 1977, Gifford’s Birthing Center was the first in Vermont to offer an alternative to traditional hospital-based deliveries, and continues to be a leader in midwifery and family-centered care.
Ali Swanson grew up just north of Chicago and received a BA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her clinical interests include adolescent health and waterbirth.
After working as a midwife in the inner city of Chicago for two years, she was attracted to the Canadian midwifery model (where midwives function as autonomous providers who assist in childbirth in homes, hospitals, and free standing birthing centers) and obtained her Canadian licensure. She most recently was a registered midwife at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Wanting to relocate to Vermont, she is excited to have found a community hospital where she can draw on her experiences in both hospital and out-of-hospital settings.
“Birth is a life-changing event and a very unique experience,” says Swanson. “It is all about trust and a woman’s relationship to her body, her family, and her midwife. I want to help a woman experience it in a way that is supportive and comfortable for her.”
Susan Paris, raised in Jeffersonville, Vermont, always knew she wanted to help women with labor and delivery. “Midwifery is in my bones,” she says.
She received a BS from Johnson State College, an Associate in Nursing from VTC, and a Master of Science in Midwifery from the Midwifery Institute of Philadelphia. She most recently worked as a labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum nurse at Martin Memorial Health Center in Florida, and has also worked at Copley Hospital and the University Medical Center of Vermont. Paris says she brings a supportive and friendly approach to her work, and also a sense of humor—“It’s supposed to be fun too!” Her clinical interests include the prenatal and birthing experience, well-women care, and adolescent care. She is pleased to be back in Vermont and part of a team that offers women a broad skill set and choices in style as well as personality.
“With childbirth you need to have many ‘tools,’ available and consider many options –you never can predict how the process will go,” said Swanson. “I want to help women along the path they’ve chosen, but I’m always prepared to adapt and be ready to move in a different direction when needed.”
The Birthing Center team brings extensive knowledge and skill to their work: four licensed midwives and three board-certified obstetricians/gynecologists with expertise in high-risk pregnancy and birth collaborate when needed to provide compassionate, 24-hour care. At each step of the process they work to personalize the process, helping women choose their best options for a positive and rewarding birth experience.
Ali Swanson and Susan Paris are currently accepting new patients. To learn more about the Birthing Center, please call 728-2257.
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
The White River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Gifford once again partner to offer concerts and now a farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer in the Gifford Park. Two community barbecues — one by Stagecoach and one by the Randolph Center Fire Department — also draw a crowd.
Podiatrist Dr. Samantha Harris joins the Gifford Health Center at Berlin, providing full spectrum surgical and non-surgical podiatric care.
Gifford’s midwives hold an open house to introduce their new team to the community.
After working at Gifford since January as a locum tenens physician, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kenyatta Norman makes her position permanent.
A “Heartsaver CPR” certification course is offered to the community.
JP’s Flea Market, formerly the Randolph Antique and Artisans Fair, is held in the Gifford park on Aug. 9. Cars line the street looking for deals and meals.
The ninth annual Last Mile Ride raises a record $60,000 for end-of-life care. This year’s event is spread over two days and attracts a record 386 participants.
Sue Schoolcraft of Randolph gains media recognition statewide for her work to make personalized quilts for Menig residents. Her work is supported by the Last Mile Ride.
Ob/Gyn Dr. Sean Tubens joins the Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery team from his hometown of Baltimore, bringing total laparoscopic hysterectomies to Gifford for the first time.
Dr. Melissa Scalera, an Ob/Gyn, joins Gifford’s women’s health team, providing complete gynecologic and obstetrics care in Randolph.
Colorado couple, sports medicine physician Dr. Nat Harlow and family nurse practitioner Christina Harlow, join Gifford’s Sharon sports medicine and Randolph primary care practices respectively. Dr. Harlow is fellowship trained. Christina holds a doctor of nursing practice degree.
Family nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie joins the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.
Project Independence of Barre officially merges with Gifford.
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
The first baby of the year is born to Casandra Perry of Bethel. Baby Bryden is welcomed on Jan. 2 at 3:48 a.m.
A “Matters of the Heart” series is offered monthly all year long for heart patients, or anyone looking to improve his or her heart health. Also offered: Chronic Conditions Support Group, Caregiver Support Group, Diabetes Group Education Classes, childbirth classes, and a new Mood Disorder Support Group.
A “Quit In Person” tobacco cessation class helps those addicted to smoking or other tobacco products to quit.
A “Chronic Pain Healthier Living Workshop” is offered at the Randolph House. The six-week free series addresses coping with chronic pain.
Experienced nurse leader Alison White joins Gifford as vice president of patient care services – a role that oversees the Hospital Division, including inpatient care, the Birthing Center, Ob/Gyn and Midwifery, the Emergency Department, Menig nursing home, and Adult Day Program.
After considerable input from providers, staff, and clergy, the Gifford board passes a policy implementing the Patient Choice at End of Life law. The policy allows willing primary care providers to prescribe lethal prescriptions but prohibits use of such prescriptions in the hospital setting.
An educational event shares Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” with Corporators. The vision focuses in part on constructing a senior living community in Randolph
The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary awards $19,000 to various Gifford departments, including equipment for inpatient units, pulse oximeters for primary care offices, play equipment and furniture for The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, and a handheld scanning device for Materials Management.
Experienced hospitalist Dr. Robert Cochrane joins Gifford’s hospitalist (inpatient care) team.
An “Infant and Child CPR” class helps new parents and families learn lifesaving techniques.
A “Home Alone and Safe” course teaches children 8-11 how to respond to home alone situations.
A “Babysitter’s Training Course” is held for area pre-teens and teens seeking greater expertise in safe child care.
Chiropractor Dr. Michael Chamberland joins the Sharon Health Center sports medicine team.
A “Healthier Living Workshop” series begins, providing the chronically ill free information on improving their health.
A second “Quit In Person” tobacco cessation class is held, this time at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.
Gifford’s Health Connections office and Blueprint for Health team partner with Bi-State Primary Care to offer free help signing up for Vermont Health Connect. Help is available each weekday, but on March 6 and March 13 extra “navigators” come to Gifford to help even more people sign-up in advance of a March 15 deadline.
Gifford’s annual Diabetes Education Expo is merged with a Health Fair for all chronically ill and offered on March 14.
Gifford holds its 108th Annual Meeting of its corporators, announcing achievements of 2013, unveiling a new video about Gifford, and hearing a special presentation from Green Mountain Care Board Chairman Al Gobeille. Corporators elected Matt Considine of Randolph to the board and re-elect Lincoln Clark of Royalton. Grants were announced, including $25,000 in William and Mary Markle Community Foundation funds to 10 area towns’ schools to support exercise and healthy eating programs. The Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, in memory of Gifford’s late president, is awarded to the Orange County Parent Child Center.
Gifford staff raise $520 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies”.
Gifford’s mammography and nuclear medicine departments earn three-year, national re-accreditations from the American College of Radiology.
Certified nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner April Vanderveer joins Gifford’s 24-hour midwifery team.
Performs better than 84 percent of national facilities with similar number of births
Gifford 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
Breastfeeding assistance and contact between mother and infant
Facility discharge care
Structural/organizational aspects of care delivery
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
Crazy Angel Quilters donate warm, colorful quilts to Gifford’s Birthing Center
Left to right: Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Kim Summers, Crazy Angel quilter Kayla Denny, and Karin Olson, RN
Gifford Medical Center’s youngest patients can leave the hospital wrapped in warmth and vibrant color thanks to a generous donation of 36 baby quilts, lovingly crafted by a group of “Crazy Angels.”
Kayla Denny, of East Bethel, brought two plastic bins filled with beautiful, carefully folded quilts to Gifford’s Birthing Center on January 20, 2015. She explained that the Crazy Angel Quilters— her mother Bobbie Denny, grandmother Gladys Muzzy, and friends Kitty LaClair, and Maggie Corey—have been meeting weekly for over a year to create the donated baby quilts.
“You don’t know how happy it makes us to be able to offer these to families,” Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Kim Summers told Denny as she and Karin Olson, RN admired the colorful selection of donated quilts.
Denny, a CAT scan technologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center says she learned to quilt after her mother taught her to sew her own scrub tops for work when she finished her X-ray training. She fell in love with the craft and has been creating beautiful quilts ever since.
Baby Lola Alsup wrapped in a quilt donated by Crazy Angel Quilters
Inspired by Project Linus, a national nonprofit that provides homemade blankets to children in need, the The Crazy Angels wanted to do something for local children. “We all loved to sew and enjoyed sewing together,” said Denny. She estimates that each quilt takes five hours to complete. When not sewing with the Crazy Angels, Denny creates quilts to sell through her business, Sew Many Stitches.
Within hours of the donation, Monica and AJ Alsup of Thetford Center, VT, stood before a bed covered with quilts, trying to choose one for their day-old daughter. The happy family left for home with a sleeping baby Lola, warmly enveloped in playful owls, pink hearts, and polka dots.
This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.
Gifford’s women’s health team has grown to include two new ob/gyns.
Dr. Sean Tubens and Dr. Melissa Scalera have joined gynecologist Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara, as well as Gifford’s certified nurse-midwife team, in caring for women.
Dr. Sean Tubens
Dr. Tubens is a native of Baltimore who joined the U.S. Marines out of high school. He went on to work in his father’s trade – as a hairdresser – before illness took his parents’ lives just months apart. Dr. Tubens found himself wanting to do more and pursued a career in medicine.
He attended Towson University in Baltimore, graduating magna cum laude in just three years while working full-time. He went on to Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica in the West Indies and New Jersey and completed his ob/gyn residency at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. During his residency, he worked exclusively on high risk pregnancies and performing gynecologic
His work at Bayfront earned him recognitions for excellence in laparoscopic surgery, excellence in reproductive endocrinology and as outstanding resident teacher of the year.
When it came time to look for a job, Dr. Tubens looked for a warm and friendly community where he and his wife could settle with their two huskies.
He has found that in Vermont and at Gifford.
“People are so welcoming. They smile. That’s very attractive,” said Dr. Tubens. “We hope we can spend the rest of our lives here.”
Dr. Melissa Scalera
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Scalera was the first person in her immediate family to go to college. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Williams College located just three miles south of Vermont in Williamstown, Mass. She worked at a direct marketing company that made and sold leather books before deciding that she wanted a change.
“I want to be a doctor,” she decided, quit her job, and moved in with her parents. With no science classes to her credit, she did two years of post-baccalaureate studies in the pre-medical curriculum at nearby Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., before attending the New Jersey School of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark. She went on to residency at Albany Medical Center in nearby New York.
Since then she has worked for 13 years as an ob/gyn physician in Washington, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New Zealand, and North Carolina. A love of snow and skiing has brought her and her family to Vermont, and to Gifford.
“Gifford,” she says, is “a really fantastic match for me.”
A new team
Dr. Scalera brings a love of all things ob/gyn to the practice. Dr. Tubens is a new resource in high-risk pregnancies, gynecologic surgery as well as office procedures. Specifically, Dr. Tubens offers urogynecology procedures for uterine prolapse, bladder and rectal prolapse, and urinary incontinence. He also performs total laparoscopic hysterectomies – something not previously offered at Gifford.
Dr. Tubens and Dr. Scalera are currently working exclusively in Randolph. Their skills meld nicely with Dr. Russo-DeMara, who focuses on gynecologic and menopause care. Dr. Russo-DeMara works out of Gifford’s Bethel and White River Junction practices. Joining them are Gifford’s midwifery team, which focus on prenatal care and births as well as well-woman care in Randolph and Berlin.
“This new team is providing comprehensive women’s health medical and surgical services, from contraception to menopause management and everything in between,” explained Alison White, Gifford vice president of patient care services.
On her road to becoming an ob/gyn, Dr. Melissa Scalera flirted with Vermont. First there was her undergraduate studies at Williams College just three miles south of the Vermont border in Massachusetts. She crossed the border for Chinese food, antiques, and skiing. Later her residency was at Albany Medical Center in nearby New York.
Now she and her ski enthusiast family are thrilled to be calling Vermont home.
Dr. Scalera has joined Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery in Randolph.
Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Scalera was the first person in her immediate family to attend college.
Her mother made a list of “academically acceptable” schools, starting with Harvard, that her daughter would be “allowed” to attend, Dr. Scalera recalls. Williams was on it. Scalera loved the school and everything about learning. Initially she thought that she’d major in Spanish literature or art history. “Choose something else” was her dad’s reply.
She graduated with a degree in psychology in the middle of a recession and applied for any and every job she could find. She took a position with a direct marketing company that made and sold leather bound books.
Hunched over a budget report one night at 10 p.m. at that long-ago job, she had an epiphany.
Unhappy stuck in a cubical all day, she wanted to be more active, look at fewer spreadsheets, see the sun, and talk to people.
About the same time, she had seen an ob/gyn for a routine exam and blood work. The exam went well, but the follow-up appointment to go over the results of the blood work with a different doctor was less than stellar. He was cranky, didn’t listen, and she left thinking “I can do better than that.”
Twenty-one and full of confidence, she called her mom and said, “I want to be a doctor.” She quit her job, moved in with her parents, and did two years of post-baccalaureate studies in the pre-medical curriculum at nearby Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.
She went on to the New Jersey School of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, earning her doctor of medicine degree in 1997. A four-year ob/gyn residency followed at Albany Medical Center in New York.
She spent the next 14 years working as an ob/gyn physician in the United States, in Washington, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and in New Zealand.
Her work in New Zealand was meant to be a six-month adventure. She liked it so much she stayed seven years. Her role in New Zealand was that of a specialist. Midwives in New Zealand provide complete obstetric care for low-risk births. General practitioners’ offices provide Pap smears and routine gynecologic care. Dr. Scalera consequently handled high-risk maternity cases, colposcopy or abnormal Pap smears, and gynecologic surgeries.
“I basically backed up every mid-wife in town.”
“I think Gifford and Vermont are the closest to New Zealand that I’m going to get and still be in the continental U.S.,” says Dr. Scalera, who returned to the States to be near family but looked north for snow.
Dr. Scalera and her family, including her husband of 20 years, Bob Pressey, son Michael, 11, and daughter Catherine, 5, are living in Randolph, where they are loving the community and the school system. They hope to find an older home to buy within walking distance of Gifford.
“I think people are really, really nice, and already kids are coming over to ask if my son would like to come out and play,” says Dr. Scalera, remembering her own childhood of neighborhood children at play and wanting that for her family.
Dr. Scalera is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
She describes her bedside manner as “friendly.” “I like people and I love to talk,” she says. Her clinical interests include general obstetrics and gynecology.
“Gifford,” she says, is “a really fantastic match for me.”
Dr. Scalera is accepting new patients. Call her at Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery at (802) 728-2401.
Gifford’s 24-hour midwifery team includes, from left, certified nurse-midwives Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner, April Vanderveer and Kathryn Saunders. (Photo provided)
Gifford’s renowned midwifery team is holding an open house to introduce its recently expanded team to the community and offer some free health advice.
Gifford’s certified nurse-midwives, Kathryn Saunders, Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner and April Vanderveer, will hold an open house on Thursday, July 24 from 4-7 p.m. in The Family Center beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery off South Main Street in Randolph.
All are welcome, especially those expecting a baby, thinking of planning a family or interested in women’s health.
The open house will be an opportunity to meet the midwives, tour the Birthing Center (if it is not too full with new babies and families) and receive expert advice. In addition to the midwives, lactation consultant and childbirth educator Nancy Clark will be on hand to talk breastfeeding, child development and more. And, for those who are expecting, Gifford Vice President of Patient Care Services (and photographer) Alison White will be offering belly photos.
There will also be balloons for the kids, giveaways, refreshments and door prizes, including a belly casting kit, baby product basket, a yoga gift certificate generously donated by Fusion Studio of Montpelier and a one-hour massage generously donated Massages Professionals of Randolph.
“We’re enthusiastic for this support from Fusion Studio and Massage Professionals of Randolph, and we’re excited to introduce our team to the community. We are like-minded caregivers committed to offering women and families an experience that meets their desires and goals, while also resulting in safe and healthy pregnancies and babies,” said Sperry.
Stop by to meet the midwives and to learn more about women’s health. Call Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery at 728-2401 to learn more.
The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
Childbirth educator Nancy Clark and babies
Nancy Clark has a diverse role. She is a care manager, nurse, lactation consultant and certified childbirth educator. She helps new moms with breast feeding, organizes trainings for new families, occasionally does home visits for families with special needs and leads a free New Parents Support Group for two hours each Wednesday. Since its inception, the New Parents Group, with Nancy at its helm, has been a cherished resource for new moms and dads.
“Nancy is awesome. She’s very supportive and very knowledgeable. She makes it easier to navigate all of the perils of being a new mom. Nancy calmly validates your thoughts as a mother.”
~ Julia O’Brien
This article was featured in our Spring 2014 Update Community Newsletter.
Gifford renews its decades-long focus on providing area women 24/7 midwifery care with the addition of two new midwives.
Certified nurse-midwives Maggie Gardner and April Vanderveer have recently joined Kathryn Saunders and Meghan Sperry at Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery in Randolph and the Gifford Health Center at Berlin. Certified nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses specially licensed to practice midwifery and board certified.
Nurse-midwives plays an essential role in providing women’s health care throughout life, including at birth. This unique commitment to midwifery care is what attracted Maggie and April.
“The institution’s commitment to midwifery goes beyond just the midwives in the office. It’s the nurses in the Birthing Center, the layout of the Birthing Center itself where moms labor, birth and stay post-partum in the same room, and the administration’s commitment to making the practice successful,” said Maggie of the state’s oldest Birthing Center of its kind.
The strongest component of Gifford’s unique program is woman-centered care.
“The team is committed to women-centered care and respect for each family’s unique needs during pregnancy and childbirth,” April explains.
“We have longer visits than many other prenatal clinics, meaning we take the time to really listen to women about their concerns and questions,” April said.
And as mindsets over birthing have changed, the practice has changed with it.
“We are the oldest midwifery practice in the state of Vermont with a solid commitment to birth with women, encouraging women to decide how they want to birth. We move with the times. That is, we have everything from non-medicated births and water births to women who desire medication such as epidurals,” noted Kathryn.
In 2013, 14 percent of midwifery patients chose to have an epidural and 10 percent chose an intrathecal. Sixty-five percent of patients had natural births.
“We believe in a woman’s body’s ability to have a natural birth, but we also respect women who choose otherwise,” Meghan said. “We do not judge. We care and are open to the ideas of our clients.”