Giving Back to the Community

giving back to the community

Gifford’s Tom Maylin, Joe Woodin and Penny Maxfield load up Father Sixmund Nyabenda’s van with 36 boxes of outdated medical supplies to be shipped to Tanzania.

The following is an excerpt from our 2011 Annual Report.

Each year Gifford is fortunate enough to be the recipient of grants, such as Avon Breast Health Outreach Program funds, as well as donations as a nonprofit organization.

As a major local employer and business, however, Gifford is also the donor of tens of thousands of dollars each year in scholarships, grants, awards, sponsorships, volunteer hours, reduced cost conference room space, medical supplies and local spending through the Gifford Gift Certificate program.

The Gifford Gift Certificate Program alone invests more than $40,000 each year into the local economy in the month of December, giving local retailers a needed boost at year-end.

The gift certificates are Gifford’s alternative to holiday bonuses. Instead of cash, employees get gift certificates good only at a variety of locally owned businesses. In the past nine years, the program has invested about $325,000 in the local economy. It’s an investment
merchants appreciate.

“During many Christmas seasons I thought, ‘Thank goodness for that program,’” says Jeanne Ward, who owned Cover to Cover bookstore in Randolph for 16 years. “It made a huge impact and often people would come and spend more than their gift certificate, which I think was Gifford’s intention. What’s also nice is how well the money is spread throughout the communities.”

Now one of Jeanne’s daughters, Hillary Leicher, is running the second-generation
bookstore as Bud and Bella’s Bookshop. Hillary says the gift certificates help keep local  stores like hers going, especially in the slow months following the holidays.

“When you go into these lean months, it’s like a gift from Gifford. It’s like you got medicine from the doctors.”

Other medicine the hospital provides includes almost $25,000 in annual grants to community organizations through what is now called the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation. The grants go to food shelves, children’s recreation programs, schools and libraries.

Previously known as community health grants, Gifford has been offering the annual grants to community nonprofits for 10 years, amounting to about $250,000 invested back into the community.

The grants are announced at the hospital’s annual meeting in March along with an additional $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award to a White River Valley organization involved in arts, health, community development, education or the
environment. The 2011 award went the Granville Volunteer Fire Department.

A $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship is additionally awarded each year at Gifford’s Annual Meeting by the Medical Staff to an employee or an employee’s child pursuing a career in health care. The Medical Staff also awards a $1,500
scholarship to an area high school senior pursuing a health care career at graduation.

Free health talks, fairs, educational classes and support groups are regularly held at the medical center. Gifford sponsors Chandler events and the work of the March of Dimes, which shares the hospital’s mission to bring healthy, full-term babies into the world. Gifford once again supported the Vermont 100 Endurance Race with medical support
and supplies, and outdated medical supplies were sent to countries in need, like Tanzania, Honduras, Peru and Guatemala.

“ … we have received the box and all the items. I have … handed the box and all items to Rulenge Hospital ready for use,” wrote Tanzania priest Father John-Bosco Ndakimbuza upon receiving Gifford’s shipment. “They are high quality items I have been told. We are by this note expressing our sincere thanks for making this possible. I am sure many
people will be served by these items … .”

Tanzania, in Africa, is among the world’s poorest countries.

The collective efforts lead to a healthier community, and a healthier world.

And Jeanne, who still fills in occasionally behind the counter at Bud and Bella’s, suspects that is the point behind efforts like the gift certificates.

“The hospital supports the local business community because the people who work in the local business community are patients at the hospital, so it’s this mutually beneficial
relationship,” she says, adding, “A healthy downtown is a well community.”

Gifford Medical Center

Bud and Bella’s Bookshop owner Hillary Leicher has her arm around her son as she rings up a sale. Bud and Bella’s is one area business that has benefited from the Gifford Gift Certificate holiday shopping program.

Gifford Holds 106th Annual Meeting

Joe Woodin and Sharon Dimmick

Newly elected Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sharon Dimmick smiles at hospital Administrator Joseph Woodin at Gifford’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center held its 106th Annual Corporators Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital, electing three new members to the Board of Trustees, sharing the successes of 2011, and welcoming Steve Kimbell, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration commissioner, as the guest speaker.

Newly elected to the board were Leo Connolly, Fred Newhall, and Peter Nowlan following the retirements of long-time board members Barbara Harvey and Bruce MacDonald and the heavily-felt death of Dick Mallary. “We miss him terribly,” board member Bob Wright said.

MacDonald and Harvey offered a few parting words of thanks and encouragement.

MacDonald admitted to feeling reluctant when he was first asked to join the board in 2002. A decade later, his opinion had changed. “As a corporator I would encourage you to support the dedicated staff and management here,” he told the audience of about 90.

Barb Harvey, Bob Wright, Joe Woodin

Outgoing Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Wright, at the podium, and Administrator Joseph Woodin, left, thank Barbara Harvey of Rochester for her years of dedication to the Randolph hospital’s board.

Harvey, a member of the board since 2004, thanked the hospital for its quick response to get medications into isolated communities in the days following Tropical Storm Irene, especially in her town of Rochester.

Also recognized was Wright, who ended his two years as board chairman. Elected to his role was Sharon Dimmick. Gus Meyer was named vice chairman, Paul Kendall was chosen as secretary and Lincoln Clark was named treasurer.

Before stepping down, Wright delivered his final chairman’s report, recognizing his fellow board members and the hospital as a strong community asset that meets quality standards, changing regulations and community members’ expectations.

The hospital also “made budget” for a 12th consecutive year and is moving forward positively due to the medical center’s strategic planning efforts and commitment to service excellence through a program the hospital calls BEST.

The hospital is in its fourth three-year strategic plan. The plan guides the medical center in its efforts to remain vital and meet patient needs. “We’ve tried very hard over the years to make sure we’re doing a good job and you’re choosing us,” Administrator Joseph Woodin said, touching on the medical center’s commitment to reviewing quality indicators at each board meeting, a slate of new providers who joined the hospital in 2011, technology improvements, and some unexpected awards the hospital received.

Those awards include a recognition for Gifford as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation, a listing by U.S. News and World Report last month naming the hospital’s Menig Extended Care Facility as one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes, and a national “best practice” award for Gifford’s midwives.

Woodin also praised volunteers’ efforts and briefly reviewed plans for a senior living community on 25.6 “Hillside” acres Gifford owns in Randolph Center.

The immediate goal, said Woodin, is to reconstruct the 30-bed Menig Extended Care Facility on the property and create industry-standard private patient rooms in the vacated space once Menig has moved out. The next phase would include 40 independent living units. The long-range plan includes assisted living units and opportunities to build more independent living. The hospital is currently going through the permitting process and hopes to break ground on the new nursing home before next winter.

Woodin called 2011 financially difficult. Employees went without wage increases and some cut back on hours. “Last year was a very tough year,” he said. But, “compared to other hospitals, we do quite well. We’re very stable and it does allow us to make these necessary investments.”

Vermont Blueprint for Health

A main focus for 2011, and consequently the focus of the hospital’s newly released 2011 Annual Report, was Gifford’s role as a medical home. All five of Gifford’s primary care practices were recognized as Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The designation is part of Vermont Blueprint for Health efforts to improve care for the chronically ill through advanced primary care. Gifford is working diligently on Blueprint goals, including bringing together a diverse Community Health Team and employing an outpatient care coordinator whose job is to help patients with socioeconomic needs and connect them to community resources.

“We’re offering them an opportunity for better health,” Vice President of Medicine Teresa Voci said of patients who are now receiving help navigating various systems and reducing barriers to care.

The results, said Voci, are healthier patients who are better able to manage their chronic conditions and reduced health care costs.

Commissioner Kimbell

Commissioner Steve Kimbell

Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISCHA) Commissioner Steve Kimbell leads a talk on health care reform at Gifford Medical Center’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday at the Randolph hospital.

Kimbell spoke on health care reform, explaining the various state boards and agencies involved in the ambitious effort to create a single-payer health care system in Vermont and a federally-required health benefits exchange.

According to Kimbell, some think the task the state has undertaken under Act 48 is “crazy,” but the law is necessary to try to rein in health care spending to better match annual inflation rate increases.

And the state has had past success on payment reform, Kimbell noted, holding up the Vermont Blueprint for Health and the Catamount health plan as examples of the state’s record of successful reform.

“A lot of groundwork has been done to set the stage for health care reform,” said Kimbell, calling Catamount “up and running,” “successful” and “a model of where we’re trying to go.”

But, he acknowledged, if citizens don’t change their health habits, reform efforts will fail.

Audience members asked questions about dental access and incentives for preventative care. MacDonald questioned how savings could be found. “It’s hard to visualize for us in this organization … how you can recover that much cost just knowing on a monthly and annual basis how hard it is to run this organization,” the former Gifford board member and accountant by trade said.

A lot of economy will be found in Vermont hospitals functioning as a system, but also still keeping their community identity, Kimball said.

He also spoke of provider retention. “What’s the impact on the provider community?” he asked. “How they get paid is going to be something we’ll be sticking our fingers in very deeply. I believe there is plenty of money in the system that everyone can settle somewhere.”

Hospitals will not close under the plan, Kimbell ensured, which broadly speaking will pay hospitals and providers to keep people healthy rather than per visit or procedure.

Awards

Two awards were also given out Saturday evening. The $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award was awarded to the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens.

Formed in 1972, the Quin-Town Center provides meals, including Meals on Wheels; educational programming; and socialization opportunities for seniors in Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Pittsfield and Stockbridge. In 2011, the center provided 5,950 meals to 350 seniors in these communities. The grant will help pay for a commercial refrigerator, replacing smaller models from the 1980s.

Receiving the $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship was Sarah Davis of Northfield. A member of Gifford’s inpatient team, Davis is a full-time licensed practical nurse, a mother of three and a full-time student at Norwich University, where she is seeking a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Davis has been working in health care since the age of 12, when she when she became a junior volunteer at a nursing home. By age 14, she was a personal aide at Level III home for the elderly and at age 16, she completed her licensed nursing assistant course. She’s worked at Gifford as an LPN since 2007.

She is also the first member of her family to go to college.