The Gifford Health Care Board of Directors announced on Friday that long time Administrator Joseph Woodin will be leaving the organization in May to live in Massachusetts where he has accepted the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital CEO position.
In announcing his resignation, Woodin stressed that the move was for personal reasons.
“There is not a single reason why I should leave, or want to leave Gifford,” Woodin said. “In the last three years I lost my wife, and then my mother, and it has been a time of personal reflection for me. It’s the right time for me to move forward in life and pursue another opportunity.”
He expressed great appreciation for the relationships he has built with the board, staff, and community during his 17-year tenure, and for the accomplishments they had achieved together.
To assure a smooth and successful leadership transition, 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 6-9 month national search for Woodin’s replacement.
“Gifford’s Board is fully supportive of Joe as he pursues this new chapter in his life,” said Gifford Board Chair Gus Meyer. “Gifford has a solid foundation, and we have exciting ongoing projects that we will continue to work on. Thankfully, we have an extraordinary staff, providers, and a management team, and we will continue to support of the excellent work they do.”
Since Woodin came to Gifford in 1999, the hospital has met its state-approved operating margin for 16 consecutive years while enjoying a period of expansion in services and physical growth.
Today Gifford has more than 600 employees in 11 locations. In 2013, Gifford’s long-time focus on community primary care was strengthened with a Federally Qualified Health Center designation, and in 2014 it was named a top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation.
During his tenure Woodin oversaw expansion of Gifford’s network of community health centers to include clinics in Berlin, White River Junction, Wilder, Kingwood and the popular Sharon Health Center. His commitment to strategic planning and master facility planning has brought a newly renovated ambulatory care center, expanded radiology and emergency department.
Woodin’s latest vision includes the creation of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private patient rooms. The Randolph Center campus includes the Menig Nursing Home and work is slated to begin in the spring on the first independent living building. Patients and staff transitioned to the new private patient rooms in December and work continues on the renovated Birthing Center.
Gifford has also expanded patient services during this time, ranging from the creation of a hospitalist program in 2006 that has allowed the hospital to provide local care for more serious illnesses to the creation of a the Palliative Care program. The guiding philosophy has been to provide appropriate care for all stages of life from birth to end of life.
Woodin’s commitment to the community has spread beyond the walls of Gifford to include ongoing support for local businesses. He has worked diligently to encourage economic growth and vibrancy to help build a healthy community.
(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.”
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
Executive Director of Gifford Retirement Community Linda Minsinger
Vermont has a huge need to figure out how to care for its seniors. Isolation is one of the biggest problems of aging in a rural area. Humans are meant to be with humankind. We proved that years ago when we tried to understand how much touch people need as a baby; when you don’t get it, you fail.
It’s the same with seniors. We want everyone to treasure our seniors as much as we treasure our babies.
Adult day care is a cost-effective way to help seniors age. Yet it has been underdiscussed and underplanned. The state of Vermont only wants one adult day-care center per county. That doesn’t make sense. Orange County has two sets of mountains. It takes me an hour and a half to get from Bradford to Randolph—that’s still in my county. It’s unfair to ask fragile seniors to sit on the bus for an hour and a half.
The state puts a lot of money into nursing homes, so there isn’t much left over for other programs. Adult day gets what we call “budget dust.” We should be trying to figure out how to have fewer people in nursing homes. Let’s tip this pyramid upside-down.
When someone is diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimers, that’s the time to start. The earlier you get them into social situations, the better it will be for them and for their caregivers in the long run.
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.”
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
Gifford 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 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.
Sharon 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.
Ground 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.
Gifford 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 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.
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.”
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.
The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
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.”
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.
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.