Generations of Caring in Rochester – Dr. Mark Jewett

Dr. Mark Jewett

Dr. Mark Jewett has been an internal medicine physician at Gifford Medical Center for his entire 36-year career. Originally from Pennsylvania, Dr. Jewett came to Randolph in 1976, where he has lived since with his wife, Gifford pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Jewett. Together they have three grown children and one grandchild. In his free time, Dr. Jewett maintains a healthy lifestyle – hiking, biking, running, skiing, and sailing.

Except for a nine-month sailing trip in 2005, Dr. Jewett has worked at the Rochester Health Center. From 1976-2005, he also saw patients in Randolph.

Outpatient medicine is a passion for Dr. Jewett because it provides him an opportunity to interact with and help others. Sometimes that help comes in a cure. Sometimes it is with coping. Sometimes it is just to be understanding.

Below is his story as told in his own words, as featured in our 2012 Annual Report.

“Mitt Fowler and I were in residency together in Massachusetts when Gifford advertised for an internal medicine physician in the underserved Rochester area. We had come to Vermont to ski and liked the rural lifestyle. In fact, my role model as a child was an uncle who was a doctor in a town of 5,000 people, much like Randolph. That is what I envisioned for my life. So we convinced then hospital administrator Phil Levesque that it wasn’t one internal medicine physician that he needed, but two.

Milt and I opened the Rochester Health Center in 1976 and soon Dr. Lou DiNicola joined us. We were all fresh out of our residencies. A federal grant helped support the launch of the health center – called the Green Valley Health Center at that time – and its first three years of operations. While we “worked” for Gifford, as was the standard at the time, Milt, Lou, and I and the health center were a private practice. It wasn’t until about two decades later that we became employees of the medical center.

Dr. Mark Jewett

Drs. Mark Jewett, Lou DiNicola, and Milt Fowler in the early years shortly after coming to the Randolph area. The three physicians have spent the entirety of their careers providing medical care to the rural communities in central Vermont.

Initially I spent two days a week in Rochester, working in Randolph as well. In addition to Milt and Lou, other providers, including physician assistant Sue Burgos and family medicine provider Dr. Mark Seymour, rotated through Rochester throughout the years. But except for the nine months I took off in 2005 for my other passion – sailing – my trip from home in Randolph, over the mountain to Rochester, has been a constant for 36 years.

The road has changed over that time. In the early years when the top was a narrow dirt lane, I left a few mufflers behind. Since then it has been modernized, as has medicine. Initially as rural doctors, we took care of everything. There were far fewer specialists for referrals, we didn’t yet have CT scans or MRIs, and a radiologist’s availability to read X-rays was much more sporadic.

While I know today we’re taking better care of people thanks to these advances, I miss being able to do it all. I believe in the primary care medicine model where doctors know everything about their patients and coordinate all aspects of their care.

What’s nice about being in a community for 36 years is you get to see people over time. You see how people grow up in a community. You see how people grow old in a community. You see how people sometimes die in a community.

As an internal medicine physician, I see only adults. But even without youngsters in the mix, I still take care of up to four generations of the same family over time. To lose a patient – especially after decades of care – is painful for me as a doctor. It’s painful because of the relationships formed. Those relationships are what allow me to help families because I too am feeling the loss.

In a couple more years I will retire. While I won’t be driving over the mountain four days a week as I do now, I won’t stop caring – for the people of the Rochester area who have entrusted me with their care for so many years or for people in need of health care. While this area will always be with me in spirit, it’s my goal, if I’m still able, to sail my sailboat to the Caribbean and work in another underserved area, such as Haiti, providing care to new generations in need.”

~ Mark Jewett, M.D.
Rochester Health Center Internal Medicine Physician

generations of caring in Rochester

Above left: Madison Fuller and Kristi Fuller of Granville and Carol McLoughlin of Rochester “examine” Dr. Mark Jewett. Dr. Jewett has been providing care at the Rochester Health Center for 36 years and cares for generations of area residents, including this fun-loving grandmother, mother, and daughter trio. Dr. Jewett also cared for Carol’s late mother, Lilla Clancy. Carol shares that her mother used to bring Dr. Jewett cookies in the early days because she thought he was too skinny. Above right: Dr. Jewett in 1979 a few years after joining Gifford.

Pulling Together in the Face of Natural Disaster: Rochester

Gifford Medical Center

Rochester Office Manager Dawn Beriau crosses a first-generation
footbridge connecting Route 73 to Route 100. For weeks she and many others “on the island” had to carry supplies, like gas and groceries, over the bridge and then a sturdier second-generation bridge, along a winding path and through a muddy field to their cars.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.

The storm knocked out the bridge connecting Route 73 to Route 100 in Rochester. Isolated on the other side of the bridge, away from the Rochester clinic, was Office Manager Dawn Beriau.

When she finally arrived at the Rochester clinic, she found Dr. Mark Jewett and Stu Standish installing Gifford’s generator.

“I can’t tell you what a feeling it was to have the townspeople erect a footbridge and make my way into town to find Stu and Dr. Jewett at the health center setting up the operation,” Dawn says, “and how safe it made the townspeople feel to know there was a doctor in town. I have talked to people who say they slept better knowing Dr. Jewett was here.”

Tropical Storm Irene Hits Pittsfield and Rochester

Tropical Storm Irene's impact on Pittsfield and Rochester

Stu Standish, from Gifford’s maintenance department, Dr. Minsinger and Kris Minsinger transport a Gifford generator, which was used to power several of Gifford’s health centers following Irene to ensure care was available to patients in need.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report, which featured examples of Gifford employees helping in their community post-Irene.

Dr. Bill Minsinger, and his son Kris, followed Stu Standish of Gifford’s Maintenance Department and internal medicine physician Dr. Mark Jewett into Rochester in their van. Stu hooked up the generator, getting the Rochester clinic up and running, and left Dr. Jewett to begin seeing patients.

Dr. Minsinger and Kris then climbed in the truck with Stu and continued on to the isolated towns of Stockbridge and Pittsfield to answer medical calls. At times they had to abandon the truck, climb down a fallen section of road and borrow a vehicle on the other side in order to continue.

One sick patient was brought to the Rochester clinic for medical tests and then back to Randolph for hospital care. The Minsingers made other trips to the isolated communities, bringing medications and medical supplies.

“Rural Health is Vermont Strong”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFUKXFpddbc]

This video, starring our very own Dr. Jewett & Gail Proctor at the Rochester Health Center, describes how rural health care providers responded to Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. It was released last week during National Public Health Week, April 2-6, 2012.

With many bridges and roadways washed out after tropical storm Irene, it wasn’t just commuters, farmers, and tourists who were cut off. Health care providers as well as patients were cut off from clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies until roads were opened again.

In Rochester, Vermont, rural providers had to use two-way radios, cell phones, and 4-wheelers to get prescriptions filled and delivered to patients in need.

The State Office of Rural Health & Primary Care, a part of the Vermont Department of Health, works with and supports small rural hospitals, clinics and health care providers throughout Vermont to improve access to primary care, dental, and mental health care for all Vermonters, especially the uninsured, underserved and those living far from larger medical centers.