Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” Celebrates New Nursing Home

Tom Wicker, journalist who appreciated Gifford care, is honored at naming event

Tom Wicker's widow

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.”

To donate to the “Vision for the Future” campaign contact Ashley Lincoln, 728-2380, or visit

A Vision for the Future: Meeting Tomorrow’s Health Care Needs

A message from Development Director Ashley Lincoln

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.

Gifford Receives 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability Award from White River Valley Chamber of Commerce

Emma Schumann and Ashley Lincoln

Emma Schumann, executive director of the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce (left) with Ashley Lincoln, director of Gifford’s development and public relations.

On February 6, Gifford received the 2015 Business Excellence in Sustainability award from the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This award recognizes remarkable efforts to sustain and support the communities of the White River Valley, and was given to Gifford for its holiday gift certificate program.

The program, which distributes gift certificates redeemable at local businesses, allows Gifford to thank employees for their dedication and hard work while contributing to the economic health of the community it serves. Historically, within three weeks in December, Gifford employees spend nearly $40,000 at locally owned community businesses from Chelsea to Rochester, Sharon to Barre, and towns in between.

“For 14 years I have had the privilege of organizing this program, and I can honestly say that it is one of the more rewarding parts of my job. Some Gifford staff members have cried when they received their gift certificates,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of Development and Public Relations at Gifford. “Over the years many business owners have also told me how much Gifford’s support has meant to them during the slow winter months.”

Community has always been important to Gifford. Along with the gift certificate program, the medical center offers scholarships and grants each year to support area businesses and schools; during the growing and harvest season meals include produce from local farmers; and careful consideration of the community needs is considered when planning projects like the new senior living community being developed in Randolph Center.

Lincoln adds, “Nourishing and building healthy, sustainable communities ensures that we will be able to continue to provide quality local care for years to come.”

A Spoonful of Thanks: Message from the Development Director

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

spoonful of thanksGifford’s is a story steeped in tradition, and one that has only grown more positive in recent years. As director of fund-raising efforts, telling that story of a small hospital making it and improving year after year despite the odds is such a privilege.

In 2013, that is even more true. We’re celebrating another year of major achievements, including “making” budget, earning Federally Qualified Health Center status allowing us to soon provide enhanced primary care to the community and receiving all approvals needed to move forward with the construction of a Senior Living Community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.

In 2014, moving forward on our Senior Living Community and private patient rooms will become a major focus for the Development Office, Development Committee and our new Campaign Steering Committee.

These committees are comprised of hardworking volunteers. The project has already generated much excitement from both donors and from community members hoping to one day make this community home.

Over time, the Senior Living Community will include the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, independent living units and assisted living units. This vision allows our friends and neighbors to age in place rather than leaving their community for similar housing.

Constructing the nursing home, building infrastructure for the entire community and creating private inpatient rooms, however, will take community support. This support is already being demonstrated among the Gifford community, including our Auxiliary, Board and Medical Staff, and soon will be an exciting public campaign where community members can help make this project a reality through financial investments.

Ours is a community that supports its hospital and patients. We continue to have remarkable success each year with our annual fund and once again we have raised a record amount in support of end-of-life care through the Last Mile Ride – our charity motorcycle ride held each year on the third Saturday in August. Participants, volunteers and local business sponsors make this event possible and so positive for our hospital and community. We look forward to continuing and growing this (now) Randolph tradition in 2014.

As always, there are many ways to support Gifford – as a donor, as a patient, as an employee and as a volunteer both at the medical center and through the Auxiliary. I welcome your inquiries on how you can become involved in our story of success and in bettering patients’ lives.

~ Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development

Message from the Development Director

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

Development Department

Above left – Robin Palmer, Tammy Hooker and Ashley Lincoln – the team lucky enough to be charged with coordinating the Last Mile Ride each August, post for a photo. Above right – Jack Cowdrey, Chair of the Development Committee and one of the chase-truck drivers for the Last Mile Ride.

In this year’s Annual Report, we are fortunate to read stories from our long-time providers. Gifford is also fortunate to have many long-term supporters. Many of their names follow, but it is hard not to pull out one group for its remarkably long-standing relationship. That group is the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary.

In 2012, the now 106-year-old Auxiliary continued its support of Gifford programs and services, including “wish list” items awarded to individual hospital departments looking to improve care through new technology or training materials.

As these “wish list” gifts are distributed, there are often tears of thanks and happiness from the receiving department staff members. This speaks volumes to how much these gifts – and the Gifford Auxiliary – mean to the medical center and its patients.

Other major supporters in 2012 included those who gave to the Last Mile Ride. Now in its seventh year, this charity motorcycle ride raised a record $54,000 for end-of-life care and services. This year’s event brought a new run/walk and thus many new participants. Top among them was Todd Winslow and Lu Beaudry who raised more than $5,000 in memory of Todd’s mother, Joyce (read more about the Winslow family in our Donor Profile). The event was our largest individual fund-raiser to date.

The motorcycle ride is just one way to support Gifford. Many offer their community medical center financial support each year through an annual gift to the hospital or a special purpose fund. Others include Gifford in their will or trust, while still others choose a charitable gift annuity where they receive a predictable return on their investment.

Increasingly, community members are also expressing tremendous interest in our planned senior living community. That interest and enthusiasm has come in the form of financial support as well as interested residents. This project shows so much promise, and it is our utmost honor to be working to provide a solution to a serious problem in our region – a lack of local housing alternatives for those wanting to age in place, in their communities, rather than having to travel great distances.

As always, the Development Department is available by calling 728-2380 to discuss the many ways to support Gifford. Your investment truly makes a difference and the impact is far-reaching. Please don’t hesitate to ask us your questions or visit our website,, to discover ways you can leave your legacy. New this year, we have included an option for online giving opportunities.

On behalf of Gifford, thank you. We appreciate your friendship.

~ Ashley Lincoln
Director of Development

Planned Gifts Leave a Lasting Legacy

planned givingThis information appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

From the Birthing Center to the Menig Extended Care Facility, we rely on donors to help us to continue improving upon the care we are so privileged to provide.

Together, we are working toward a strong future for Gifford and our community. When you extend your support through your estate or long-term financial plans, your dedication to Gifford will continue as a part of your legacy for years to come. You are truly making a difference when you include Gifford in your will.

For more information about including Gifford in your planned giving, please contact: Ashley Lincoln in the Development Department at 728-2380 or visit

Gifford Seeking Applicants 
for Philip Levesque Grant

grants and awardsCommunity organizations must apply by Feb. 11


RANDOLPH – Nonprofit community organizations have an opportunity to apply for a $1,000 grant.

Gifford Medical Center is seeking applications for the annual Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award – a grant established in memory of the hospital’s late administrator.

Applications for the $1,000 grant are due to the hospital by Feb. 11.

The grant was established by Gifford’s Board of Trustees in 1994 in memory of Levesque, Gifford’s beloved president and chief executive officer from 1973-1994.

The award is given annually to an agency or organization involved in the arts, health, community development, education or the environment in Gifford’s service area in recognition of Levesque’s commitment to the White River Valley. Continue reading

South Royalton Band Headlining First Free Concert in Gifford Park

South Royalton Town BandRANDOLPH – The South Royalton Band, often called the South Royalton Town Band, will headline a free community concert at Gifford Medical Center on Wednesday, July 11. The concert is the first public event in Gifford’s new park space since it was completed earlier this year.

Conducted by Dick Ellis, the South Royalton Band plays a mixture of marches, songs from Broadway, novelties, Dixieland music, patriotic numbers and features some soloists.

Marches include the work of American conductor John Philip Sousa, the “March king.” Melodies from such musicals as “The Music Man” and “The Sound of Music” will be heard.

“We try to have enough variety that everyone hears something that they enjoy,” said Ellis, who is in his 68th year of conducting the band and is known as this area’s “music man.”

Comprised of about 30 musicians from around central Vermont, the South Royalton Band is among the few surviving town bands in the region. Ellis credits word of mouth with attracting talent to the band and hard work with keeping it alive.

Ellis has dedicated his life to creating music in central Vermont as the band’s conductor; as the founder of high school bands in Randolph, Bethel, Rochester and his native South Royalton; and through the family business, Ellis Music Co., which supplies about 4,000 instruments to students in 350 Vermont and New Hampshire schools.

“My ambition was to give every youngster in Vermont the opportunity to play an instrument,” Ellis said.

Seven of Ellis’ former high school students still play in the band along with his own son and daughter. The band plays Thursdays on the South Royalton green and around central Vermont.

“I like to promote the arts as much as I can and Randolph for many years has been a place without a park,” he said.

When Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin started talking about including a park at the hospital, Ellis was immediately interested. It was an opportunity, he said, to support two of his favorite things – the hospital and the arts.

“I was very glad to see something like that happening,” said Ellis, who helped fund the park construction, which was built entirely with donations.

Now Ellis’ band kicks off what the hospital hopes are other community events in the park with a free concert.

“We hope many community members come out to enjoy this new space and the familiar favorite that is the South Royalton Town Band,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. and is expected to last until 8:30 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket, and even a picnic supper. The rain date is Wednesday, July 18. If the weather is questionable, visit on the afternoon of July 11 for an update.

The Gifford park is located between the hospital and the Thrift Shop on South Main Street (Route 12) south of Randolph village. Ample parking is available onsite.

Hospital Volunteers Recognized

Community members gave record 18,000 hours in FY 2011

Hospice Riverbend

Hospice singing group Riverbend sings at Gifford Medical Center’s volunteer appreciation luncheon on April 18. The hospital has more than 200 volunteers, who gave nearly 18,000 hours during the previous fiscal year.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s volunteers were honored Wednesday with a luncheon served by hospital managers, prize awards, musical performances, flowers and bags of toffee made by the Randolph hospital’s professional chefs.

More than 200 community members support the medical center with gifts of time to the hospital, Auxiliary and Thrift Shop, working as clerks, sorting clothes, working in offices, welcoming and visiting with patients, and much more.

Ruthie Adams and Ellie Winzenried

Gifford Medical Center Environmental Services Manager Ruthie Adams shares a hug with hospital volunteer Ellie Winzenried. The Randolph medical center’s volunteers were honored on April 18.

“The quality of care and the experience that our patients enjoy at Gifford is because of you. It starts with you,” Ashley Lincoln, director of development, marketing and public relations, told the crowd of about 70. “We’re very fortunate to have a lovely campus, but the personal touch that you bring to it is what makes it special.”

Gail Bourassa, director of patient access and financial services, oversees the hospital’s patient registration department. Seeing a smiling volunteer at the front information desk helps make a patient’s day, and makes her day, Bourassa said.

Islane Runningdeer

Music therapist Islene Runningdeer of Brookfield performs at Gifford Medical Center’s volunteer recognition luncheon on April 18. Accompanying Runningdeer is her 4-year-old granddaughter, Livee True of Barre Town.

“Thank you so very much,” added Brooks Chapin on behalf of the Menig Extended Care Facility, Gifford’s nursing home. “The residents just adore you. The staff just adores you. It means so much.”

Volunteers gave a record of nearly 18,000 hours during the hospital’s last fiscal year, helping improve the medical center’s bottom line and bringing added compassion to the patient care experience.

“We celebrate all of you who offer your time each day. And there are a vast majority of you who are here who willingly evenings as well as weekends. We would not be the community we are without you. Thank you for allowing us to celebrate you during this event,” said Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer.

Martha Umba and Terry MacDougal

Gifford Medical Center volunteer Martha Umba is awarded a door prize from Terry MacDougal. MacDougal is the activities director at Gifford’s nursing home, which benefits from many volunteers.

Islene Runningdeer of Brookfield sang her thanks. “Thank you for our volunteers. Thank you for our caring friends,” the music therapist sang while her 4-year-old granddaughter, Livee True of Barre Town, accompanied her on the drum. Runningdeer sings and plays music for patients, often end-of-life patients, at Gifford and shared her gift with the volunteers at the luncheon.

Hospice singing group Riverbend also entertained. They joked that singing following a turkey dinner with all of the fixings was not their norm. They sing at the bedside of patients in distress or approaching the end-of-life at Gifford and at area homes, coming when called and offering their special brand of peace and comfort for free.

Gifford Honored with Legislative Resolution

Joe Woodin and Rep. Patsy French

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin stands with Rep. Patsy French, D-Randolph, in the State House on March 13. The House recognized Gifford and its recent national honors with a formal resolution.

MONTPELIER – The Vermont House of Representatives passed a resolution last week recognizing “the outstanding health care services provided by Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.”

The resolution recognized Gifford for its more than 100 years of service to the Randolph area and for its recent achievements and accolades.

In December, Gifford was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation by The National Rural Health Association. The hospital’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, just last month was named one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes by U.S. News and World Report, which recognized nursing homes achieving a solid year of five-star ratings on all Medicare benchmarks.

Gifford’s midwives were further recognized in 2011 as a “best practice” in the country by the American College of Nurse-Midwives for its positive results with vaginal births after cesareans and a “runner-up best practice” for having the fewest numbers of low birth weight infants and for its low use of vacuum or forceps.

The hospital’s day care, The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, earned the maximum five “STARS” from the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System, a voluntary quality program that is part of the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ Child Development Division. The program looks at compliance with state regulations, staff qualifications and training, daily activities with the children, improvement plans, and more.
Menig has also won many state awards for quality and national awards for resident satisfaction.

“Since before 2000, the Menig Extended Care Facility has allowed elderly Vermonters from the area to remain close to home, providing extremely qualified and compassionate patient care. My in-laws were able to use this facility in the last years of their life, making for an ideal connection for them and my family,” shared Rep. Larry Townsend, D-Randolph. “Randolph and the surrounding towns are blessed to have not only Menig, but Gifford as one of the treasures in our communities.”

Townsend initiated the Resolution and was among one of 12 legislators who brought forth the resolution, which was passed by the full House on March 13.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin and Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln were present to receive the resolution.

“We have appreciated some incredibly welcome, yet unsolicited awards over the last year or so,” Woodin said. “This is another unexpected honor.”

“We’re fortunate to have the privilege of caring for the people of this region. We’re humbled to be recognized for that work in such a public way.”

The resolution also recognized the hospital’s 12 consecutive years of meeting its state-approved budget and operating margin, and the recognition of all of Gifford’s primary care practices as Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Finally, the resolution called Gifford “a hospital of choice for Central Vermonters seeking high-quality care and an employer of choice for some of the region’s and even the nation’s best health care professionals.”

A special ceremony with Gov. Peter Shumlin; Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry; Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi and others is planned for April 6 from 3-4 p.m. at Menig to recognize the nursing home’s most recent and largest-ever achievement – the top 39 national ranking. Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to make the listing.