3rd Annual Community Concert Series Starts July 8 at Gifford

South Royalton Band

The South Royalton Band plays in the Gifford park in 2012.

Gifford Medical Center and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce once again are partnering – with the help of area sponsors – to offer a summer concert series for six consecutive weeks.

Held each Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Gifford park on Route 12 south of the downtown, the 3rd Annual Community Concert Series will begin on July 8 with the South Royalton Band. The series continues on July 15 with Jeanne & The Hi-Tops performing old time rock and roll, on July 22 with Jennings & McComber offering Green Mountain indie folk and on July 29 with blues and soul from The Dave Keller Band.

South Royalton Band

The South Royalton Band opened the very first concert in 2012 in Gifford’s then-new park.

In August will be The Trail Blaizers, a bluegrass band, and Two for the Show and Company singing song standards and classics.

This year’s concert series features a couple of new elements. A farmers’ market will be held each week with farm products, crafts, handmade goods and more. And on July 29 Stagecoach will host a barbecue fund-raiser as part of the evening’s events.

All concerts are generously brought to the community for free thanks to sponsorships from Gillespie Fuels & Propane Inc., the Frankenburg Agency Inc. and the Gifford Auxiliary.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, picnic blankets, family and friends.

The concerts are weather dependent and may be canceled or rescheduled in the event of rain. Look for updates on Gifford’s and the Chamber’s Web sites and their Facebook pages. Cancellations will also be noted with signage near the park.

Call 728-2339 to learn more, including how to become a vendor. There is no vendor fee. Vendors may come when they’re able or all summer long during the concerts.

South Royalton Band

This season, the South Royalton Band opens the 3rd Annual Community Concert Series.

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One Bowl (Me Over) of Laughter: Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Stephannie Welch

Respiratory therapist Stephannie Welch and Tim Leno

Tim Leno of Graniteville has Stage 3 COPD. This summer he drove three times a week to Gifford to build his tolerance to exercise and get fit as part of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Gifford. The program is a place where laughter often rings out, in part due to the good humor of respiratory therapist Stephannie Welch and patients like Tim.

“I try to find some humor in every situation and laugh my way through life. Sometimes that is di‡ffcult but not at Giff‰ord Pulmonary Rehab. Stephannie was the perfect foil for some of my jokes, helping me set up for the punchline. She was a great sport and she can give as good as she takes.”
~ Tim Leno

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Two Cups of Comfort: Diagnostic Imaging and Inpatient Care

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Ben Cronan

Radiology technologist Ben Cronan, Donna Baker and nurse Shane Parks

Donna Baker is a cancer and MRSA survivor. Unable to walk, she also has COPD. These conditions have meant considerable hospital time for Donna. Of her time spent at Gifford, two faces are particularly memorable: inpatient nurse Shane Parks and radiology technologist Ben Cronan.

“Shane is a very good nurse. He’s very thorough and you feel confident when you’re with him … . When I would have trouble breathing, it would scare me and he would stay there until I calmed down.”

“Ben, I pick on him. When I would need chest X-rays, I would be on a stretcher. He would get right on up on the stretcher. He would like give me a hug around my arms and pull me forward, so (an image receptor could be placed under) me.”
~ Donna Baker

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One Teaspoon of Assurance: Phlebotomy

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Gifford phlebotomy

Thirteen-year-old Tucker Riley of Randolph has Down Syndrome and as a result, Graves’ disease, an overactive thyroid condition requiring frequent blood checks. He also has small veins, explains his mom Kate Porter. Tucker struggled with having his blood drawn for years, until the gentle touch and quick work of phlebotomist Charlene Baker alleviated his fears. For years now, the family always asks for Charlene when it is time to draw Tucker’s blood, Kate says.

“Charlene is so competent. Things happen on the first stick. It happens. It’s done. And she’s also just very friendly, and it’s painless. She remembers Tucker. It’s just kind of like having a personal friend there drawing blood every time we go over.”  ~ Kate Porter

Gifford phlebotomy

Phlebotomist Charlene Baker and Tucker Riley

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An Extra Cup of Care: Menig

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Menig

Gloria Tatro and Marion Currier have known each other for decades. Gloria was a resident at the Tranquility Nursing Home where Marion was a licensed nursing assistant before Tranquility closed and both came to Menig. Dawn Abdel-Fatah works for Upper Valley Services and spends a couple days a week with Gloria and sees the extra effort Marion makes.

If Gloria wants popcorn, Marion buys her a bag out of the hospital vending machine after work. If Gloria, who makes beaded necklaces, needs extra supplies, Marion picks them up for her.

“She’s just very kind. She cares about the way she looks, her hair, her clothes. She takes her time.”  ~ Dawn Abdel-Fatah

Marion Currier

LNA Marion Currier, Gloria Tatro and Dawn Abdel-Fatah

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A Dash of Friendship: Patient Registration

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

a dash of friendship

When 79-year-old Judy Harding fell in her kitchen, her neighbor gave her a ride to the Emergency Department, but she didn’t have a way to get home. Then she thought of someone she knew who would help her – Marcelo Reyes from Patient Registration. Marcelo hurried to get his car from the employee lot, drove her home, saw her inside, gave her his cell phone number in case she ever needed him, and shoveled her slippery walkway.

“Gifford has become my version of Cheers. Everybody knows my name. It’s the place I go for comfort and friendship. Marcelo and I have become sort of pals. I really like him a lot and he has been very good to me. He’s just a pleasure, and he smiles.”  ~ Judy Harding

Gifford patient registration

Patient registration receptionist Marcelo Reyes and Judy Harding

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One Teaspoon of Thoughtfulness: Community Clinics

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

one teaspoon of thoughtfulness

Phyllis and Roland Potter, 81 and 83 respectively, have been going to the Bethel Health Center since it opened. First the Sharon couple saw Dr. Ronald Gadway. They now see Dr. Mark Seymour. But another smiling face that greets them is just as impactful as their primary caregiver. That person is medical secretary Kathy Benson, says Phyllis.

“I’ve known Kathy since she was a little girl. We know her parents. She’s a very thoughtful girl. She’s a sweetheart. If I needed help out to the car, she’d be there in a minute. She would help anyone in a minute.”  ~ Phyllis Potter

Gifford medical secretary Kathy Benson

Medical secretary Kathy Benson with Phyllis and Roland Potter

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Project Independence Finds New Life in Gifford

Project Independence

Project Independence participants, from left, Marie, Diana and Kathy dance to singing and music by a visiting Chris Beltrami (not shown).

BARRE – The state’s first adult day center, Project Independence, got its start in Barre in 1975 when a nursing home activity director, Lindsey Wade, recognized an opportunity to do things better and more cost effectively.

Wade encountered nursing home residents who didn’t seem to medically belong there. Others were visiting the nursing home daily for the social interaction. Wade had an idea. The area needed an adult day care and not a medical model adult day, but a social model – something that didn’t exist anywhere else in the country.

An active board and an interested city brought to life Project Independence on Washington Street and in the decades since, its model has not only flourished but expanded statewide. There are currently 14 adult day programs in Vermont.

Project Independence

Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins visits with participants, from left, Flo, Gail, Beverly and Shirley as they wait to be served a home-cooked lunch that included baked macaroni and cheese and flavorful carrots.

Today’s Project Independence serves 23 towns in Washington and northern Orange counties, welcoming an average 38 seniors and the disabled each weekday. The project includes meals, showers, medication management and ample activities, allowing them a fun and safe day care experience while also allowing them to stay at home – a far more affordable model than nursing home care.

But statewide adult days are struggling. Funding available for adult days almost guarantees failure. “The Adult Day financial model is not a successful one,” says Project Independence Executive Director Dee Rollins. “It’s a continued struggle to support our model.”

And Project Independence has had some recent extra hurdles.

It bought a North Main Street location and moved in 2010. Less than a year later, in May of 2011, the building flooded during a period of torrential rains that had storm water draining through a bulkhead into the building’s basement causing $295,000 in damages and losses. The following summer a sewer hookup issue during Barre’s “Big Dig” caused backups and additional damages and losses.

Project Independence

Gifford licensed nursing assistant Penny Severance helps Project Independence participant, Maddie, to her table for lunch.

Between those losses and looming health care reform that promises changes to health care funding and encourages health care relationships, small, standalone Project Independence began looking for help in the form of a partner. It found it in Gifford Health Care in Randolph.

A merger
Project Independence of Barre and the Gifford Retirement Community, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph, will merge at the conclusion of Gifford’s fiscal year on Sept. 30. Boards for the two nonprofit organizations unanimously agreed to the merger in May after studying the relationship for more than a year.

It will be a full asset merger with Project Independence retaining its name, location and fund-raising dollars. Project Independence’s board will become an advisory board to provide local perspective and experience, and employees will become part of Gifford, opening the door to enhanced benefits. Project Independence will benefit from Gifford’s staff, from financial to billing to nursing help, as well as its buying power as a larger organization.

For Project Independence it is an opportunity for financial stability and more amidst what have been a stormy couple of years and the projected financial changes under health care reform. For Gifford, it is an opportunity to further its work to support seniors and to partner with a reputable organization.

“It’s the right thing. It’s the right match. We have the right partner,” says Rollins, who was drawn to Gifford because it has its own adult day, the Gifford Adult Day Program in Bethel, shares a mission of supporting seniors and because of the Randolph hospital’s commitment to community.

Project Independence

Tammy Mattote, left, a licensed nursing assistant at Project Independence in Barre, serves participant Joanne lunch.

Gifford is currently building a senior living community in Randolph Center that will include a new nursing home and independent and assisted living units after seeing a need in the community for these services.

The Randolph medical center also already has services in the Barre area in the form of a health center off the Airport Road in Berlin. The Gifford Health Center at Berlin is home to family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, infectious disease, midwifery, orthopedics, podiatry, neurology and urology services.

“The combination of the two of us makes a lot of common sense and a lot of business sense,” Project Independence Board Chairman Steve Koenemann said, calling his board’s vote a very easy one to make and the plan “a no-lose proposition.”

“The goal is try to see the program grow,” Koenemann said. “We don’t want to change Project Independence. It has nearly 40 years of experience and reputation serving that community that’s not something that you want to back away from.”

“It’s not taking away anything from Project. It’s all additions,” added Rollins.

Gifford employees have already been providing support to Project Independence over the last year as the two organizations have carefully studied a merger.

Project Independence

Project Independence staff pose in front of the North Main Street adult day center in Barre. The center will merge with Gifford Health Care in Randolph this fall.

“When someone has a humble request for help as it relates to the delivery of health care services, we take that seriously,” said Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin, praising Project Independence’s board, values, volunteers and hardworking team. “For us, that’s extraordinarily appealing and we’re thankful that they’ve asked us.”

“We feel this is an honor that they asked,” agreed Linda Minsinger, Gifford Retirement Community executive director. “This is the right thing to do. It’s really important that these participants have a place that will carry on.”

Joining with Project Independence is in keeping with Gifford’s mission and providing support to a needed service that will no doubt grow as the state looks for more affordable ways to care for a growing senior population, said Gifford Board Chairman Gus Meyer.

“When you’re a very small organization, you don’t have the staff to do all of the different things to be done. It’s extremely difficult and it’s extremely draining to make an organization of that size successful. They’ve done a great job of keeping their organization alive in the face of huge challenges and at the same time provided a great service,” Meyer said. “A larger organization is much more able to absorb things that just come up. If there’s some facilities’ damage, it doesn’t become devastating.”

That is a scenario that has Project Independence breathing a sigh of relief.

“We are just all so encouraged. This just brings a true breath of fresh hope,” Rollins said. “We’re dancing in the streets.”

Well, maybe in the living room.

Project Independence participants – most of whom think of their home away from home as “the club” not an adult day center – let up a cheer upon hearing the news from Rollins that “the club” would merge with Gifford.

Staff members, who have been part of what have been very transparent discussions, were equally enthusiastic.

Cook Pam Bresette of South Barre said, “I think it’s going to be fabulous.”

Office Administrator Sue Catto of Barre took her job a year ago knowing positive changes were coming.

Licensed nursing assistant Amanda Koledo of Barre hopes to go to nursing school. Gifford provides tuition reimbursement.

Koledo has worked at Project Independence for six years. “I think it’s so exciting,” she said. “We’re on an island and we’ll now have life jackets.”

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Roll in Excellence: Materials Management

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

roll in excellence

When a patient arrives for surgery, they see doctors and nurses, but it takes a much bigger, behind-the-scenes team to ensure the operating room is ready to provide care. Materials Management, which purchases supplies and handles deliveries for the entire medical center, is one department that is especially vital, says Surgical Services Nurse Manager Jamie Floyd.

“Every single thing we do relies on specialized equipment and tools. Nearly all of this equipment is either disposable or has a disposable component. Materials Management provides excellent service and handles the complex logistics of ensuring that we have the items we need, when we need them.”  ~ Jamie Floyd

Gifford materials management department

Materials clerks Tina Brady and Alice Whittington, surgery nurse manager Jamie Floyd, shipping and receiving clerk Josh Fahnestock, and purchasing specialist Teresa Bradley.

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One Large Serving of Smiles: Room Service

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

one large serving of smiles

Jane Currier of Randolph Center spent weeks at Gifford, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, after a fall where she injured her head and fractured her shoulder. A bright spot in the 84-year-old’s day were meal deliveries by Simon Leong of the Food and Nutrition Services team. Both remember the day they met well.

“Who are you?” Jane recalls Simon asking. “I said, ‘I’m Jane.’ And he said, ‘I’m Tarzan.’ And we kept it up. He’s very friendly. He never forgets names. He’s somebody to talk to. He’s funny. He’s a character. I think I’ll keep him and take him home.”  ~ Jane Currier

Gifford cook Simon Leong

Cook Simon Leong and Jane Currier

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