Gifford Welcomes Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Podiatrist Jonathan Bjork has joined Gifford Medical Center’s Randolph and Sharon clinics.

A board-certified podiatrist, he received a BS from St. Olaf College, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Des Moines University, and completed his Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency at the William S. Middleton VA hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

While in medical school, Bjork chose to specialize in podiatry because it would offer opportunities for a varied practice: performing surgery, working in a clinic, helping patients with rehabilitation, and treating sports injuries. He brings widespread clinical interests to his work, from rear foot and ankle surgery, flat foot reconstruction, and heel spur resection to diabetes-related infections, sports injuries, and treatment for bunions and hammertoes.

“I like to develop good, ongoing relationships with patients so I can get to know their needs and expectations,” said Bjork. “This allows me to consider a patient’s specific concerns when treating injuries or infections.”

Bjork and his wife have family near Boston and were looking to settle in a small town where they could raise their 4-month-old son. They have purchased a home near the hospital with a yard (space for a golden retriever) and easy access to the outdoor activities they love: skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.

“Randolph is a very warm and welcoming community,” said Bjork. “It is smaller than Platteville, Wisconsin, where I grew up, but it reminds me of my home.”

Bjork is the newest member of Gifford’s team of podiatrists, which includes Dr. Nicolas Benoit (Randolph), Dr. Samantha Harris (Berlin), and Dr. Paul Smith (Sharon). He is now accepting new patients at our Randolph and Sharon locations—call 728-2777 to schedule an appointment.

Gifford’s 2014 Highlights: July – September

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.


Gifford concert seriesThe 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 HarrisPodiatrist 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.


Dr. Kenyatta NormanAfter 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.

Last Mile RideJP’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 Sue Schoolcraftparticipants.

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 TubensOb/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 ScaleraDr. 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.

Dr. Jeff LourieFamily nurse practitioner Jeff Lourie joins the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.

Project Independence of Barre officially merges with Gifford.

Gifford’s 2014 Highlights: April – June

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.


Gifford volunteersGifford employee Cindy Legacy, who shared her weight loss story in the 2013 annual report, starts a popular “Weight Loss Support Group” at Gifford on Wednesday evenings.

Gifford volunteers are celebrated at a luncheon. In 2013, 120 volunteers gave 16,678 hours to Gifford or 2,085 eight-hour days. Auxiliary volunteers working at the Thrift Shop gave another 6,489 hours or 811 eight-hour days. The celebration’s theme was “Hats Off to You.”


Gifford is named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation by iVantage Health Analytics. iVantage used what it calls a Hospital Strength INDEX to compare Gifford against 1,246 Critical Access Hospital nationwide on 66 different performance metrics.

Starr StrongStarr Strong retires from the Chelsea Health Center after 21 years. She was the first physician assistant Gifford ever hired. An open house recognizes both Starr’s contributions and welcomes new providers to the clinic, which is packed for the event.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and officials from the Health Resources and Services Administration release a video holding up Gifford as a national model for primary care.

Casa RinaldiSharon Health Center staff members cut a ribbon on their newly expanded health center. Added are 2,600 square feet and a sign beside the front door declaring the building “Casa Rinaldi” in honor of podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi who helped create the vision behind the popular sports medicine clinic.

New technology is also offered, such as a state-of-the-art Noraxon gait and movement analysis system, and a large wall-mounted monitor for a better look at live ultrasound imaging.

senior living facility groundbreakingGround is broken on a much-anticipated senior living community in Randolph Center. More than 100 are on hand to witness the start of the first phase of the project — a new, 30-bed nursing home to replace the current Menig Extended Care Facility.

A second “Infant and Child CPR” course is held, along with a second “Home Alone and Safe” course, a second “Babysitter’s Training Course” and another “Quit In Person” group smoking cessation series.

“Low Impact Water Aerobics for Chronic Conditions” is offered at Vermont Technical College’s pool for free for those with an economic need and chronic condition who are struggling to exercise.


Project IndependenceGifford announces that it will merge with Barre adult day program, Project Independence, at the end of September. Project Independence is the state’s first adult day program and serves 23 towns in Washington and northern Orange counties, providing an essential community resource.

The non-profit organization was facing financial struggles following flooding in 2011. A merger with Gifford means shared staff and reduced costs for the organization, allowing it to keep operating. The boards of both non-profits agreed to the merger in May.

Gifford renovationsGifford is the first hospital in Vermont to “go live” with the Vermont Department of Health interface for syndromic surveillance. The interface is part of federal meaningful use criteria.

Renovations begin on Gifford’s third floor specialty clinics to group medical secretaries, nurses, and patient waiting for improved efficiency and a modern model of care.

Chiropractor Steven S. Mustoe Joins Gifford’s Sports Medicine Team

Dr. Steve Mustoe

Dr. Steve Mustoe

Steven S. Mustoe, D.C. has joined the Sports Medicine clinic at the Sharon Health Center. A board-certified chiropractor, he has practiced for the last 18 years in Brattleboro, VT and Charlottesville, VA.

Mustoe became a chiropractor because of his own experience with an injured back. “The only relief doctors could offer was through medication. When I went off drugs, the pain returned,” he said. “I eventually found a chiropractor who helped me heal. To be able to relieve someone’s pain like that is an amazing thing!”

Originally from London, England, he received a Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Life Chiropractic West in California after relocating to the States to be with his wife, Gail. The two met 25 years ago when Mustoe was a tour guide on a seven-week bus tour through Europe. They’ve been together ever since, and now have two children.

After years in private practice, Mustoe looks forward to collaborating with a multidisciplinary sports medicine team that includes podiatry, general sports medicine, and physical therapists. He is also excited about the equipment and technology at the Sharon center—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.

His special interest is in helping people regain the ability to enjoy their life: as an athlete, an injured veteran, or someone unable to perform daily tasks.

“I tend to work gently, to listen to people and then help with function as well as pain,” he said. “You don’t have to be an athlete—maybe what’s important to you is to be able to play with the grandchildren in the back yard.”

Dr. Mustoe is now seeing patients at the Sharon Health Center. Call 763-8000 to schedule an appointment.

Guiding the Future of Rural Health Care

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford volunteers

Back (left to right) Linda Morse, Peter Nowlan, Sheila Jacobs, Paul Kendall, Matt Considine, and Lincoln Clark. Front: Jody Richards, Barbara Rochat, Gus Meyer, Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara, Randy Garner, Sue Sherman, Joe Woodin, Carol Bushey, and Linda Chugkowski. Not pictured: Bill Baumann, Fred Newhall, and Bob Wright.

Volunteer board leads Gifford with vision, passion and energy

2014 was a year of great excitement for Gifford, as several projects moved from the planning stage into actual implementation. Our FQHC status, new senior living community, and the much-needed upgrade for inpatient rooms are all visible signs of Gifford’s readiness for quality community care in a larger landscape of changing healthcare reform.

Each of these accomplishments was built on years of behind-the-scenes planning. None of them would have been possible without the dedicated work of our 16 volunteer board members, who last year alone collectively gave more than 2,500 hours of their time to meetings and subcommittee activities. Board members bring passion and energy to the challenge of balancing the work that translates our mission (providing access to high-quality care to all we serve) with anticipating and planning for future healthcare needs.

“Gifford is woven into the fabric of this community. For more than 100 years generations have had the benefit of local access to quality care,” says board secretary Robert Wright, who was born at Gifford and now lives in Brookfield. “Gifford has been able to maintain that identity and also grow with the times, attracting highly skilled people and successfully investing in the equipment and facilities needed to provide the quality of care that people expect.”

Board members are recruited from across the community and have worked in various businesses and civic organizations. This diverse perspective keeps Gifford’s vision grounded in the community it serves, with a distinctive small town commitment to quality.

Board work is demanding, but members say learning about the hospital and participating in decisions that will shape the future of healthcare in their community is rewarding.

“It is by far the most rewarding volunteer activity that I have ever done,” says Randolph resident Randy Garner. “Gifford has shown me the model of being an actively engaged board member, and seeing the results of the board’s actions is extremely gratifying.”

Others want to give back to their community: “I joined the board because Gifford is community focused, a small town hospital that provides excellent healthcare and uses the latest technology,” says Northfield resident Linda Chugkowski. “I feel proud and privileged to be promoting the hospital during these troubled health care times.”

The job description for a Gifford board member might read: part planner, policy-maker, visionary, realist, promoter, cheerleader, and community advocate. It requires the ability to bring a pragmatist’s eye to sustaining robust primary care and a visionary’s openness to future possibilities. When asked what makes the institution unique, you’ll get the clear answer of a realist:

“Gifford is unique in that they are a small Critical Access Hospital and FQHC facility with niches that they do better than anyone else, like primary care, podiatry and sports medicine,” says Brookfield resident Carol Bushey. “They will never compete with the large hospital, but they will continue to do what they do better than anyone long into the future.”

But new possibilities and future community roles for Gifford are always part of the planning:

“I am excited to see the direction Gifford is going with the senior living community and hope that this continues to all levels so Randolph will have a place where folks can comfortably live out their lives,” says Garner. “Gifford will continue to be on the forefront of quality care with a small town feel.”

Gifford’s Dr. Rob Rinaldi Honored

Podiatrist/sports medicine advocate celebrated for His 12 years at Sharon Health Center

Dr. Rob Rinaldi

Dr. Rinaldi

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.

Podiatry care when you need it most

Emily Wheeler certainly didn’t want an injury so late in her pregnancy but was glad for the care she received

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Dr. Samantha HarrisEight months into her pregnancy, Emily Wheeler of Corinth didn’t expect to need a podiatrist.

But the unlikely happened. The day after her baby shower on a routine walk out her front door, she fell down her steps. Her first concern was for her baby and she rushed to Gifford’s Birthing Center for monitoring. Only after determining that her baby was fine did she go upstairs to the Emergency Department to have what she suspected was a broken ankle X-rayed.

She followed up with Gifford podiatrist Dr. Samantha Harris of the Gifford Health Center at Berlin. Dr. Harris confirmed Emily’s worry. Her ankle was fractured. She spent the last weeks of her pregnancy in an air cast and wheelchair.

Emily had never heard of Dr. Harris before. She is new to Gifford, but Emily was familiar with the Berlin health center. She was already going there for her prenatal care with Gifford’s midwives. Now she had another reason to go.

“She was really quick with the diagnosis and quick to give treatment,” says Emily, praising her new podiatrist. “The office there has been really great and Dr. Harris has been available.”

Emily delivered a healthy, 10-pound baby boy in August. Days later she headed back to Gifford Health Center at Berlin to get back on her feet once again and – now for a third reason – to have Owen’s first check-up.

About the health center
The Gifford Health Center at Berlin, located off Airport Road, offers a full spectrum of care, including family and internal medicine, help with infectious diseases, midwifery, neurology, orthopedics, urology, and podiatry.

About Dr. Harris
Dr. Harris joined Gifford in July from a practice in her native Tennessee. She got her start in medicine as a physical therapist and went on to attend Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence, Ohio. Her residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo followed.

A desire to start farming and produce maple syrup brought her to Vermont, and she found the right fit at Gifford, which is home to four podiatric surgeons working out of Gifford clinics in Randolph, Sharon, and Berlin.

State-of-the-art gait analysis system is only one in Vermont

This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.

Gifford gait analysis systemIn his 50-year career, Sharon Health Center podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi was always pretty certain that his gait analysis skills were spot on.

In his early years in private practice in Connecticut, he analyzed an athlete’s gait through observation. Next came a high-speed Nikon camera. Dr. Rinaldi would take pictures, develop the images, and study them for what the industry calls foot strike and toe off.

A video camera followed, and then most recently the Sharon Health Center had a treadmill, video camera, and monitor set-up. “I really thought we were cutting-edge,” says Dr. Rinaldi.

That is, until the clinic purchased a Noraxon MyoPressure Lab – a state-of-the-art gait and movement performance system – as part of its recent renovations and expansion.

Now providers at the Sharon clinic are using the new technology to diagnose problems, come up with treatment plans, and improve patient outcomes.

The new system includes a treadmill with a force plate that can analyze pressure, show that on a monitor, and immediately print out those results, showing where someone is putting pressure on his or her feet both walking and running, and with and without shoes.

It has two video cameras that can show live images on a computer monitor or be recorded. The health center is also using its original camera, meaning three video cameras are really at work monitoring gaits. And it has a surface EMG to measure muscle activation patterns throughout the body.

Gifford is the only hospital in Vermont with the technology. In fact, one would have to drive to Boston’s Children’s Hospital in Waltham, Mass., or to White Plains, N.Y., to find the closest other such systems.

Dr. Rinaldi is using the new technology for every sports analysis and for individuals at risk of falling. The health center’s other providers – including podiatrists, chiropractors, and sports medicine physicians – are using it as well to look at muscles, joint angles, alignment, and to train athletes.

The results of the Noraxon analysis lead to treatment plans, including sharing information with in-house physical therapists.

“We’ve always felt our success was based on a team approach. Now we’re able to quantify and graphically share information (among the team),” Dr. Rinaldi says.

“What I have found is my outcomes seem to be better,” he says. In some instances, he’s also offering more conservative treatments to surgery.

The Sharon Health Center is a renowned, multi-discipline sports medicine practice located off Route 14 in Sharon. Call the center at 763-8000.

Podiatrist Dr. Samantha Harris Joins Berlin Practice

Gifford podiatrist Samantha Harris

Dr. Samantha Harris

Drawn to the region because of the maple industry, podiatrist Dr. Samantha Harris has joined Gifford Medical Center, specifically the Gifford Health Center at Berlin.

A native of Nashville, Tenn., Dr. Harris started her medical career as a physical therapist, attending Tennessee State University in Nashville and working for seven years in the field before deciding to advance her career. “I wanted to be able to do more for patients and looked into medical school,” she said.

She considered a career in orthopedics but after two podiatric surgeries of her own – one on each foot a year apart – her eyes were opened to the field of foot and ankle surgery.

She attended the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence, Ohio, and then completed her residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.

She returned to Tennessee to work in private practice before love and maple syrup had her looking to Vermont.

Dr. Harris’ significant other, Devin Randall, lives in Upstate New York and has a passion for maple production and farming. For the couple, that meant casting their eyes to Vermont. For Dr. Harris, Gifford, which is home to bustling podiatry practices, was the perfect fit.

“I felt like I had known everyone for years on the interview. It was like, ‘Wow, this place is perfect for me,’” says the personable caregiver. “I loved it.”

Gifford has multiple podiatrists, Dr. Rob Rinaldi, Dr. Nick Benoit and Dr. Paul Smith, practicing in Randolph, Sharon and Berlin. Dr. Harris joins the Berlin practice.

Podiatrists diagnose and treat disorders of the foot and ankle, from ingrown toenails and diabetic foot care to reconstructive surgery. Dr. Harris provides all types of podiatry care. Her physical therapy experience also brings extensive knowledge of the body and she is known for spending time with patients, listening and partnering with patients in their recovery.

“I understand the patient point of view as well as the physician point of view,” she says, recalling her own podiatric surgery experiences. “I can look from the inside out.”

Dr. Harris is accepting new patients. Call her at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin at (802) 229-2325 or schedule an appointment with any member of the podiatry team by calling Gifford’s central scheduling line at (802) 728-2777.

Sharon Health Center Expands

Podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi

Surrounded by Sharon Health Center staff, podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi cuts a ribbon on the sports medicine clinic’s expansion. Dr. Rinaldi has been with the center since it opened in 2005. This is the second expansion.

When podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi retired to Vermont, he didn’t envision continuing to practice medicine and certainly not for a hospital.

But Dr. Rinaldi found a cause worthy of coming out of a retirement. Working with Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, he helped create not only the vision – but the heart – behind the abundantly successful Sharon Health Center sports medicine clinic.

He has been such a positive influence that on Thursday at a ribbon cutting for an expansion to the health center, Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin unveiled a new sign recognizing Dr. Rinaldi and his Italian heritage. “Casa Rinaldi” reads the sign positioned beside the clinic’s front door.

It brought a surprised Dr. Rinaldi to laughter and tears.

Originally built in 2005, the Sharon Health Center got its start as both a primary care and sports medicine clinic, but quickly the sports medicine practice bloomed. In 2008, a 2,200-square-foot addition was added to the original 2,700-square-foot building.

In October, a third and final planned expansion got under way to better meet patient demand. It was that recently completed expansion, this time 2,600 square feet, that clinic staff and hospital administrators celebrated with a ribbon cutting.

On hand were staff, members of the public, and those involved in the project.

Casa Rinaldi

Podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi, right front, reacts to Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin’s, left, announcement that a new sign names the building “Casa Rinaldi.”

Woodin praised the now retired Theron Manning, Gifford’s former director of facilities, as well as the project architect, Joseph Architects of Waterbury, and builder Connor Contracting, Inc.

All three phases of the building have had the same architect and contractor. “The fact that we have a consistent architect and builder, it looks like it has always been there,” Woodin said of the expansion.

“You stand back and look at this building and you can’t tell new from old,” agreed John Connor of Connor Contracting.

And Woodin praised Dr. Rinaldi and the complete Sharon Health Center sports medicine team.

“Thank you,” said Woodin. “You care for patients so well. The stories that come out of here. You save people (from debilitating injuries).”

“This started with a vision,” Dr. Rinaldi explained, noting that since many people have contributed to the health center, but the vision has remained.

Casa Rinaldi

“Casa Rinaldi”

That vision focuses on athletes, which Dr. Rinaldi described as “anyone who is doing a consistent exercise to reach a goal.” Sure, he said, the clinic attracts world class athletes on a regular basis. But if someone is walking a dog every day and feeling pain, the clinic is there for that athlete as well.

Overall the goal is to get athletes of all abilities back to the activities they love.

Dr. Rinaldi has been joined in his love of caring for athletes over the years by physical therapists, chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass, sports medicine physician Dr. Peter Loescher, certified athletic trainer Heidi McClellan, a second podiatrist, Dr. Paul Smith, and, the latest addition to the team, a second chiropractor, Dr. Michael Chamberland. A second sports medicine physician is expected to join the practice in September.

The first addition added physical therapy gym space and X-ray technology. This latest expansion adds more gym space, a third physical therapy treatment room, four new exam rooms, a start-of-the-art gait analysis system and wall mounted flat screens for viewing ultrasounds.

Visit the Sharon Health Center, a.k.a. Casa Rinaldi, at 12 Shippee Lane, just off Route 14, in Sharon. Call 763-8000.