When Christina DiNicola, MD, FAAP started practicing in Gifford’s Pediatrics department this spring, she returned to work next to the mentor she had “job shadowed” before heading off to Stanford University in the fall of 1994. Today that mentor, Dr. Lou DiNicola, is not only her colleague but her father-in-law.
“I always knew I wanted to practice medicine, but that long-ago summer with Lou confirmed that I wanted to work in Pediatrics,” she said. “Last fall, I was about to sign into a partnership that would mean committing to living in Philadelphia when the Gifford position opened up, but we knew this was the right move for our family. I felt like I was coming home!”
DiNicola has worked in a range of communities (including suburban New Jersey, inner city Philadelphia, rural Appalachia, and on a Navajo reservation in Arizona), and with several national organizations including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Families USA. She was director of the Integrative Pediatrics program at the Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia, and founder and medical coordinator of the Reach Out and Read Program at South Philadelphia Pediatrics.
After that summer internship in Randolph, she attended Stanford University and graduated with a BA in human biology (concentration in Children, Family & Public Policy). She received a certificate of completion in the Children & Society Curriculum from the Stanford Center on Adolescence, and earned her medical doctorate degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Her residency training in pediatrics was at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she is board certified in pediatrics.
DiNicola says she brings a personalized, yet evidence-based approach to her practice, and stresses building healthy habits early on to prevent disease and mental health issues later in life. She especially enjoys helping families understand the direct connection between mental and physical wellbeing, and to use self-relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or other mind/body techniques that can help with anxiety, depression, or sleep issues. She prefers using a team oriented approach in partnership with families to create the best health outcomes for her patients.
When the DiNicola family’s moving van arrived in Randolph on April 1, 2015, the “meant-to-be” nature of her new position was highlighted by the fact that the chance encounter that connected her to Gifford and her subsequent career in Pediatrics had occurred on April 1st exactly 21 years ago.
Christina DiNicola was visiting a friend when she met Damian DiNicola on April Fool’s Day in the Randolph High School parking lot in 1994. She returned home to New Jersey with a prom date, and the two have been together ever since.
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.
109th Annual Meeting celebrates forward-looking growth in programs and facility
Administrator Joe Woodin answers questions during Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Meeting.
Nearly 100 community members gathered Saturday night for “Building for the Future,” Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Corporators Meeting.
Reporting on an exciting and transformative year, administrators and board members highlighted the implementation of several long-term initiatives:
The new Menig Nursing Home, looking out over the green mountains in Randolph Center, will open—on time and on budget—mid-May 2015.
The hospital wing vacated by Menig will be converted into state-of-the-art private patient rooms to offer privacy for provider consultations and family visits, and to accommodate medical technology at the bedside.
A new organizational structure, created to reflect Gifford’s new Federal Qualified Health Center designation, will allow Gifford to offer enhanced preventative, dental, and behavioral health services to our patients.
“It’s been an extraordinary year,” Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin stated. “These initiatives strengthen the services we offer our patients and also position Gifford well for the future in an era of healthcare reform.”
Moving forward while making budget for the 15th consecutive year
After presenting the annual hospital report and a brief update on the uncertain state of Vermont’s healthcare policy, Woodin noted that Gifford has maintained ongoing fiscal stability while pushing ahead with these forward-looking initiatives. For the 15th consecutive year Gifford has made budget and achieved its state-approved operating margin. The culmination of years of research and planning, each of these new projects reflect Gifford’s commitment to providing quality community care for years to come.
New $5 million capital campaign launched Lincoln Clark, board treasurer and co-chair of the “Vision for the Future” campaign, announced the launch of the public phase of the $5 million capital campaign.
“As of tonight this campaign is no longer silent,” Clark told the group. “It has been a remarkable experience—we started two and a half years ago with a vision, research, and a community survey. We decided then to wait until we raised 60 percent before going public, and we’ve exceeded that goal. We hope to reach the campaign’s $5 million goal by December 31st of this year.”
The “Vision for the Future” campaign supports the hospital’s conversion to industry-standard private patient rooms, and the construction of the new Menig Nursing home in Randolph Center. Menig, one of only twelve nursing homes in Vermont to retain a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will anchor the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.
Panel presentation describes a Gifford ready for tomorrow’s healthcare needs
A panel presentation looked at four recently implemented changes that will help Gifford provide for future community healthcare needs:
Dr. Martin Johns, medical director for Gifford’s FQHC and hospital division, talked about building the behind-the-scenes administrative structure now in place that will help Gifford provide expanded preventative, dental, and behavioral health services as a Federally Qualified Health Center.
Dr. Lou DiNicola, pediatrician, described the challenges staff faced while transitioning to a federally mandated Electronic Medical Record system. Now that the transition is complete, the benefits are clear: greater efficiency and improved patient care.
Alison White, vice president of Patient Care Services, talked about how important private patient rooms are for provider consultations, improved patient care, and how they will help bring medical technology to patients’ bedside.
Linda Minsinger, executive director for the Gifford Retirement Community, talked about plans for the new Morgan Orchard Senior Living Community in Randolph Center.
Gifford scholarships and awards presented
Bailey Fay was awarded the Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing a health care education. Laura Perez, communications director of the Stagecoach Transportation Services, accepted the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in recognition of his personal commitment to the White River Valley.
Retiring board member Randy Garner was presented with a gift to honor his 12 years of service at Gifford Medical Center’s 109th Annual Meeting. Vice-President of the board Peter Nowlan looks on.
For the second year of a two-year commitment, the $25,000 William and Mary Markle Community Grant was given to schools in Gifford’s service area to promote exercise and healthy eating and lifestyles.
Board of trustees and directors election and service recognition
During the corporators business meeting, retiring member Randy Garner was presented with a gift to recognize his 12 years of service, and retiring board member Fred Newhall was recognized for his three years of service.
The following slate of new corporators were elected: Brad Atwood (Sharon); Rob and Linda Dimmick (Randolph Center); Dee Montie & Murray Evans (Brookfield); Joan Goldstein (South Royalton); Kelly Green (Randolph); Kate Kennedy (Braintree); Doreen Allen Lane (Berlin); Larry and Susan Trottier (South Royalton); Clay Westbrook (Randolph)
The following were elected officers of the board of directors: Gus Meyer, chair; Peter Nowlan, vice chair; Barbara Rochat, secretary; Lincoln Clark, treasurer.
Randolph pediatrician and former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, Louis DiNicola, M.D., received the Green Mountain Pediatrician Award on Friday, November 14 at the chapter’s annual meeting in Montpelier.
Surrounded by approximately 50 of his Vermont colleagues, Dr. DiNicola was acknowledged for over 38 years of service as a Gifford pediatrician. The award is given annually to an outstanding pediatrician for their dedication and contribution to children’s health in the state.
“I was very surprised,” Dr. DiNicola said. “It humbles me when I am recognized. I do what I love; this is what makes me tick.”
The award was presented by long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Kim Aakre of Springfield. In addition to a plaque, she presented a 7-foot handwritten scroll, describing what makes Dr. DiNicola special. The scroll added even more emotion to the event.
DiNicola shared, “I lost a longtime neighbor and friend earlier in the day. This handmade gift has helped fill that hole in my heart; the timing was perfect.”
The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.
The theme of this year’s Annual Report is a Recipe for Success. Without question, Gifford had that recipe in 2013! We continued to gain great recognition for what we’ve done, while taking major strides to position ourselves to do even more in the future.
In 2013, as we awaited permits for the senior retirement community, we undertook important expansions to the Kingwood and Sharon health centers. Ultimately, the senior retirement Act 250 permits and Certificate of Need were granted, making us ready to break ground for the new nursing home in the spring of 2014, with independent and assisted living options to follow. Moving the nursing home will enable us to renovate our inpatient unit, with single-patient rooms that will significantly improve health safety and comfort for patients using that facility.
In addition, we earned designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center. This will enable us to expand our core commitment to primary care, including new initiatives and collaborations to extend dental and mental health services to underserved areas.
As we have pursued these plans for the future, Gifford has continued its commitment to patient care and furthering the health of our communities. We are extremely proud that Dr. Lou DiNicola was given the Physician Award for Community Service by the Vermont Medical Society. We are delighted that Major McLaughlin was named the national Outstanding Senior Volunteer. We are humbled by the continued recognition of the Menig Extended Care Facility.
As we reflect on these accomplishments and look forward with tremendous anticipation to 2014, it is an honor for the Board to serve an organization that continually goes above and beyond. Even as we experience constant change in today’s health care environment, we have great confidence that Gifford’s ever-evolving recipe will generate success this year and for many more to come.
The following was featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Our effectiveness as a medical home has grown this year with the expansion of health care teams and our collaboration with the Vermont Blueprint for Health. But at the heart of these teams are Gifford’s long-established primary care practices. In each of our health team locations, we have providers and support staff whose relationships with the community run deep.
Take Starr Strong, for example. For 19 years, Starr has committed herself to the people of Chelsea – first under the mentorship of Dr. Brewster Martin and now as a mentor in her own right.
With humility and compassion, family physician Dr. Ken Borie has cared for the people of Randolph for 32 years. The humanity he brings to medicine is an example for all, including the many medical students who he guides through the family medicine portion of their clinical studies.
And Dr. Lou DiNicola, a local pediatrician for 36 years, has been among the foremost leaders in this state when it comes to children, advocating at every turn for their health, safety, and welfare.
Those of us enjoying long-standing relationships with Gifford and with our central Vermont community consider ourselves fortunate to know and work with these practitioners and their support teams. Such stability, and depth, builds our medical homes into more effective tools for helping our patients.
~ Marcus Coxon
Medical Staff President & family physician
Born in New Jersey, Dr. Lou DiNicola moved to Randolph in June of 1976 to become a local pediatrician. Passing up job offers in much larger areas then and since, he chose to stay in Randolph because he’s been able to able to practice medicine as he always envisioned. He has been able to affect change on a state level; create unique, trend-setting models of health care; and demonstrate his love of the community through his work.
Married to his wife Joann for 43 years, the couple has two grown children, two grandchildren, and a third on the way. Dr. DiNicola is an outdoor enthusiast, enjoying hiking, snowshoeing, walking, and gardening. He’s also a photographer and works with his artist wife, framing her paintings.
Dr. DiNicola has spent his entire career in Randolph while also working in Rochester from 1977-1992 with internal medicine physicians Drs. Mark Jewett and Milt Fowler.
Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.
Thirty-six years ago I was fresh out of residency and looking for job opportunities when I saw an ad in a magazine for a pediatrician in rural Vermont. Vermont was where I wanted to work, so I sent in my curriculum vitae, the medical equivalent of a resume, but never heard a word back. I called but the response was less than enthusiastic. I was basically told “thanks, but no thanks.”
I had three job offers in Pittsburgh and was literally sitting down to take a job at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where I’d just completed my internship and residency when my pager went off. It was Gifford President Phil Levesque’s secretary, wondering if I could come up in a couple of weeks for an interview. “I’ll come this weekend, or I’m not coming at all” was my response. The secretary covered the phone, relaying my message to Phil. “Hell, let him come” was his reply.
Needless to say, I came, and stayed.
More than three decades later I hope I have made a positive impact on the community and my patients, and know they have made a remarkable impact on me – teaching me how to communicate care, respect, and love.
It’s amazing how much you can love your patients. Also amazing is the window being a pediatrician gives you to see the love between a parent and a child. No more clearly is that demonstrated than in the unconditional love between a parent and a special needs child. More than once, parents of special needs children have amazed me and inspired me, as have the children themselves. I’ve seen parents of special needs children go on to adopt more children with special needs. Those are the moments that touch you most; those, and loss.
Dr. DiNicola thumb wrestles with patient Troy Daniels.
There is no greater loss than the loss of a child. Throughout my career, there have been car accidents, disease, malignancies, and newborn deaths. I think of two patients I lost to cancer, both of whom I visited at their bedsides at home as they were dying. As I reflect on my career, I think of them not with tears but fondness because of the relationships I have had with their families.
At Gifford, we are small enough to have that closeness with our patients and courageous enough to get up the next day and reflect on what we did or didn’t do, what we could have done differently, and how we can improve care. This ability to affect change is one of the things that has kept me practicing – happily – in this community and state for so many years.
One of the biggest changes Gifford has been able to enact in health care is around childbirth. When I first came to Gifford, I kept hearing about this guy Thurmond Knight, a local physician who was delivering babies in people’s homes. I met Thurmond at a Medical Staff meeting. He was knitting. I asked him what it would take for him to deliver babies at the hospital. He answered “a Birthing Center”. We opened the Birthing Center (the first in the state of Vermont) 35 years ago in 1977.
I’ve also been fortunate to be part of and help form organizations that were decades ahead of their time, in many ways laying the foundation for today’s medical home and Vermont Blueprint for Health models as well as utilizing computers for communication at the advent of the computer revolution. Additionally, Vermont has provided me with the opportunity to work on important legislation, such as child abuse laws, outlawing corporal punishment in schools, mandatory kindergarten, and the recent immunization law. These opportunities along with the privilege of making a difference in kids’ and families’ lives keep me going.
One of the things I find incredibly rewarding is living and working in the same town. I don’t mind if I run into someone downtown and they ask me a question. And I feel it’s so important that we recognize and talk to kids. One way I have been able to successfully converse and care for kids for so long is through humor. I try to infuse that in my appointments with children and often am treated – sometimes at unexpected moments – to humor in return.
One such humorous moment came from a 5-year-old. I try to end all my appointments by asking if patients have any questions for me. This 5-year-old’s question: “Why do frogs jump so high?” Should I ever write a book, I think this will be the title.
~ Lou DiNicola, M.D.
Above left – Dr. DiNicola in 1979. Above right – Dr. DiNicola with Kim Daniels of Berlin and her adopted son Troy. Troy along with his siblings, Maggie, Ben, and Alex, were patients of Dr. DiNicola’s for years. Dr. DiNicola credits Kim, who had a special needs child and then adopted two more, with showing him the true meaning of love and parenting. Troy credits Dr. DiNicola with seeing him as a person.