Wiemann Lamphere Architects to Design Gifford Senior Living Project

Wiemann Lamphere Architects

(L to R) Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger, VP of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry, and Facilities Director Doug Pfohl

Gifford will work with Wiemann Lamphere Architects as they move into the second stage of building independent living apartments at the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, Vermont.

The Colchester, Vermont design firm will build on Gifford’s original design concept to create a vibrant neighborhood for the 25-acre campus, which includes the new Menig Nursing home and planned future assisted living.

“Wiemann Lamphere has worked on many housing projects and brings specific expertise in designing for seniors in independent living facilities,” said Gifford’s Vice President of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry. “They are an energetic and enthusiastic team who approached our project with creative ideas on how to encourage community interaction while incorporating nature and energy conservation into the design.”

The three-story, 49-apartment building will use internal common spaces (including a proposed dining room, library, fitness area, lounges, and sunroom) to encourage community interaction, and external gathering spots (a proposed campus green, orchard, gardens, and extensive nature trails) to strengthen the neighborhood feel of the campus.

Groundbreaking for the independent living apartments is anticipated in the spring of 2016, with an anticipated move-in date in late spring 2017.

“We are pleased to be working with Gifford to develop much needed senior housing opportunities in central Vermont and look forward to making the most of the wonderful views on the site,” said Weimann Lamphere President David P. Roy. “We have a passion for sustainability, and a drive to create healthy, invigorating spaces for people to live their lives to the fullest.”

To learn more about the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community, visit www.giffordmed.org/IndependentLiving or call 802-728-2787.

Customized Support for Patients Receiving Cancer Treatment

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

patient information bindersCancer treatment can be a complicated and lengthy process. It takes time to absorb and process information, and most patients find it helpful to return to reports, schedules, and resource listings at home, so they can bring back questions they didn’t ask when meeting with their provider.

Since cancer patients often see multiple specialists, a lot of paperwork is accumulated along the way. Patients who feel informed and involved in their treatment are less stressed, but things can quickly feel overwhelming.

This year Gifford’s Cancer Program initiated new efforts to improve communication, personalize support services, and simplify processes so patients will have the help they need at a time when life can feel out of control.

Patient Information Binder: Each patient starting cancer treatment at Gifford is given an 11 x 13 inch zippered binder with five multicolored section dividers to organize care team contact information, treatment plans, information on care at home, support services available at Gifford, and general cancer information and community resources. Other folders and pockets can store reports, medication lists, appointment schedules, and important treatment information.

“It helps keep life-with-cancer organized,” said Jessica Spencer, an oncology nurse who helped design the binder. “It also has lots of information and resource listings, so patients have a place to turn to when they are not at the hospital.”

Our oncology nurses have also found that using the binder with patients can help identify support services a patient may need earlier in their treatment process.

New Psychosocial Screening Tool: There are aspects of cancer care that go beyond actual medical treatment and oncology nurses, who establish ongoing relationships with patients as they take blood tests, administer medication or chemotherapy, and monitor treatment, are often the first to learn about patients who need extra support.

A new psychosocial screening discussion with patients at their initial treatment session now helps nurses identify and track these needs more effectively. The completed forms are reviewed and referred to a social worker for further follow up if needed. Patients have received assistance with insurance issues, finances, transportation or housing needs, or emotionally adjusting to their illness.

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Physician Assistant Ellen Bando Joins Gifford Health Care Pediatrics Team

Ellen Bando

Ellen Bando

Ellen Bando, PA-C has joined Gifford’s Pediatrics team, bringing 15 years of experience with pediatric and adolescent patients.

She most recently worked at the Winslow Indian Health Care Center in AZ, where she spent 5 years as part of a medical team providing outpatient care for Native American patients, and working a mobile medical van that brought preventive and screening services to remote communities on the Navajo Reservation.

Bando knew when she graduated from college that she wanted to help underserved rural communities, and first worked in hospital administration.

“I was disturbed by the inequality I saw in access to medical care, and decided that I wanted to make a difference by taking care of patients directly,” said Bando. “I began as a lab technician, and then at age 30 decided to train to be a physician assistant.”

She received a master of Medical Science from the Emory University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, completing rotations in pediatrics, family medicine, ob/gyn, inpatient and outpatient internal medicine, emergency medicine, and surgery. She also completed elective clinical service in rheumatology, newborn medicine, and pediatrics, and worked on the Navajo Reservation.

An NCCPA-certified physician assistant, Bando has provided a wide spectrum of primary care services to children and their families, and she has a special interest in pediatric and adolescent care. Other clinical interests include pediatric obesity, adolescent health, and cross-cultural medicine.

Bando practiced at Upper Valley Pediatrics in Bradford VT before accepting her most recent position in Arizona. Wanting to be closer to family in Hartford, VT, she began to look for a position in a rural Vermont community where she could settle with her family. The position at Gifford was a good fit, and she has already purchased a home nearby.

“Patient-centered care is the heart of medicine—I’ve always practiced in a small community where people can get to know you and you can get to know them,” says Bando. “My work with Navajos taught me to be a good listener. I listen to what my patients say and then try to be their advocate.”

To schedule an appointment, please call 802-728-2777.

New Tool Brings Hope for Those with Chronic Bone and Muscle Pain

This article was published in our Fall 2015 Update.

Ginger PotwinAnyone who has suffered chronic muscle and bone pain knows that it can be difficult to find a treatment that relieves the discomfort. Sometime these injuries can significantly impair mobility, or your ability to enjoy daily activities.

“We’re always looking for new ways to treat these conditions because one person’s response can differ from that of someone else who has the same condition,” said Sharon Health Center Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Peter Loescher.

Loescher suffers from chronic tendonitis of the knee himself, so he was especially open to trying out a new technology that might help similar conditions. He recently tested the EPAT (extracorporeal pulse activation technology) tool, a hand held device that looks like a small hairdryer, which uses pressure waves to increase blood flow to regenerate damaged tissue and promote healing. He liked that the tool offered a non-invasive treatment option to traditional cortisone injections or plasma replacement needle therapy.

“EPAT is especially good with repetitive injuries—carpenters elbow, tennis elbow, and some knee conditions,” Loescher said. “The body has long since given up trying to heal these daily repetitive injuries, and EPAT can help restart the body’s own healing process.”

After successfully using the technology on himself and other staff members at the Sharon Health Center, Loescher began a 3-month trial with patients who had not found a successful treatment plan and were willing to try something new.

Chronic shoulder pain interfered with work, limited daily routines
Randolph Personal Fitness Trainer Ginger Potwin came to see Dr. Loescher when the exercises and anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by an orthopedist failed to ease increasing pain in her shoulders. Over the course of a year, her daily activities caused flare-ups, and each time her symptoms worsened. She worried that she would be unable to continue working as a trainer.

“The flare-ups in both shoulders prevented me from doing outside activities like raking the lawn, shoveling, and gardening. Also, doing household chores such as mopping and folding laundry proved challenging,” she said. “I was unable to demonstrate exercises to clients.”

Initially Loescher used a needle to break up significant calcium deposits in both of Potwin’s shoulders. He mentioned that EPAT therapy might help her condition, and Potwin decided to try it.

I felt immediate results,” said Potwin, who has had four EPAT treatment sessions. “Following each session I noticed increased range of motion in my shoulders and the pain significantly subsided—including the flare-ups with regular activities.”

Potwin says that the EPAT session lasted about seven minutes (her needle therapy sessions were about 40 minutes), with a post-treatment recovery time of a few days compared to the two weeks she had previously experienced. When she first began EPAT she had about 20 percent use of her shoulders—this increased to about 70 percent after the first treatment. Very quickly she was once again able to demonstrate exercises to her clients, which is critical for her work.

“I am back to my normal routines: I am able to rake my yard, garden, and fold clothes without pain or potential flare ups,” says Potwin. “I am also training for a thirteen mile obstacle race (Spartan Beast Race) in Killington this fall. I would have not been able to participate in this race if my shoulders were in the condition they were in prior to the EPAT treatment!”

To learn more about EPAT therapy, call the Sharon Health Center at
(802) 763-8000.

Expanded Behavioral Health Team Enhances Primary Care Services

This article was published in our Fall 2015 Update.

Gifford's behavioral health clinic hoursWith the unique ongoing relationship primary care providers establish with patients and families, they may be among the first to recognize that someone is struggling with depression, anxiety, or even substance abuse.

This year Gifford expanded the Behavioral Health team (it now includes a psychiatrist, a master’s level psychotherapist, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner) to help primary care providers identify ongoing issues and help patients get the support and care they need.

“There are people in our community who are struggling with sadness, depression, are grieving a loss, or are overwhelmed by money issues. We want them to know that they can get help,” said Gifford’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Martin Johns.

He notes that the new Behavioral Health team will complement the work of the Clara Martin Center, which handles more long term psychotherapy needs, and offers a depth of expertise that is unusual in a small rural hospital.

“Having behavioral health expertise onsite to assist in the emergency room if needed, or to consult on inpatient and outpatient care, will allow our primary care provider to help more patients manage mental illness issues,” he said.

Behavioral Health Director Dr. Peter Thomashow says his team looks closely at how biological, psychological, and social factors influence health. They offer individual, couples, and family psychotherapy and education and also collaborate with primary care providers to help them manage depression in patients.

“We are especially interested in helping individuals having difficulty coping with chronic medical illness,” said Thomashow. “Behavioral health needs to be integrated into a primary care plan, especially when treating chronic illness.”

The Behavioral Health clinic services include comprehensive evaluation and treatment for a wide range of psychiatric disorders for adults (age 18 and older) including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dementia
  • Substance abuse

BELOW IS OUR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TEAM:

Peter Thomashow

James Tautfest

Cory Gould

Morgan Dion

Personalized Care, a Healing Space Near Home

Vision for the Future co-chair experiences first-hand the importance of quality local care

This article was published in our Fall 2015 Update.

Lincoln ClarkLincoln Clark, Gifford trustee and co-chair of the Vision for the Future campaign, has been actively raising funds for the new Menig Nursing home and the subsequent private patient
room conversion at the hospital.

In an odd twist of fate, the Royalton resident recently experienced first-hand just how important quality local care and private patient rooms can be to both the patient and their family.

While on an annual fishing trip with his son in northern Maine, Clark fell and broke his hip as they were taking their boat to get the motor serviced. After a 178-mile ambulance ride to Portland, ME, he found himself facing surgery by a surgeon he’d never met.

“I spent approximately four minutes with him prior to the operation. I was doped up to the gills, and I couldn’t understand his precise and very technical description of the procedure,” Clark said. “The next day he was off-duty so his partner, a hand surgeon, looked at my wound.”

That same day a care management representative visited to say that he would be released the following morning—they were looking for a rehabilitation facility that could take him.

Clark asked if he could go home to his local hospital, and was told that Medicare would only pay for an ambulance to the closest facility (to pay for an ambulance to Vermont, would cost him thousands of dollars). He was transferred to a facility in Portland the following morning.

“The new room was sectioned off with brown curtains, the bed pushed up against a wall, and there was a 3-foot space at the bottom of the bed for my wife, Louise, to sit,” he said. “It was smaller than most prison cells! My roommate’s family (six of them) was visiting, and they were watching a quiz show on TV at full volume.” This was the low point.

Overwhelmed, the Clarks struggled to figure out the logistics of a long stretch in rehab for Lincoln, and the hours-long commute for Louise, who had to maintain their house in Royalton.

After an unimpressive start in the rehab physical therapy department, they made an unusual but obvious choice: Louise packed Lincoln into the car and they made the 4-hour drive to Randolph.

“I wanted to be at Gifford. I knew the physical therapy team was first rate, and I was confident I would get the kind of therapy I needed to get me out of the hospital,” Clark said.

Fortunately, a room was open and he spent ten days at Gifford this summer. He worked on his laptop in the Auxiliary Garden, met with people in his room, and was even wheeled to the conference center to attend board and committee meetings. Once discharged, he was able to continue his therapy as an outpatient.

“After this experience I really can see how important a private patient room is,” he said. “And I can attest that the letters to the board, the positive comments patients make on surveys, and the occasional letters to the editor don’t begin to describe all that it means to be cared for by Gifford’s staff. This is just a great hospital!”

Gifford Cancer Program Overview

Gifford's cancer program

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford cancer committeeEstablished in 1959, Gifford’s Cancer Program is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

A dedicated cancer committee meets regularly to provide leadership for the program, including setting program goals and objectives, driving quality improvements and best outcomes for patients, and coordinating Gifford’s multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment.

Operating out of our relaxing Ambulatory Care Unit, Gifford’s Oncology Department includes:

  • Cancer care from an experienced oncologist
  • Specially certified oncology nurses
  • Planning options for cancer treatment following a diagnosis
  • Outpatient chemotherapy
  • Treatments for some hematology conditions

The medical center is home to advanced diagnostic technology, including stereotactic breast biopsies; a breast care coordinator providing education and outreach; a patient care navigator; many surgical offerings; data management and quality oversight; and cancer prevention programs, including a “Prevention into Practice” model that works with patients and their health care providers to bring screenings to the forefront.

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Dr. Laura Barber Joins Chelsea Health Center

Gifford welcomes experienced primary care physician to community health center team

Dr. Laura Barber

Dr. Laura Barber

Dr. Laura Barber, MD, has joined the Chelsea Health Center, bringing more than 20 years of experience caring for families as a primary care physician.

When the private primary care group practice she had led in Abilene, Texas recently dissolved, rather than affiliate with a larger healthcare organization, Dr. Barber saw an opportunity to move to New England, where her son and sister live.

“When I visited the Chelsea Health Center, I liked what I saw,” she said. “I like to get to know people over a period of time, to work with entire families. This is the kind of patient-centered care I want to be doing.”

Barber earned a BS from Newcomb College of Tulane University, and an MD at the University of Texas Medical School, San Antonio. She completed her family practice residency at the Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene Texas, stayed on in private practice, and has been president of Abilene Primary Care Associates since July of 1996.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Barber often visited a small rural Eastern Texas town that inspired her first dreams of becoming a physician.

“I loved science and working with people, and medicine combined these interests. As it turned out, I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “My first dream was to set up a practice over the post office in that small rural town I’d come to love as a child.”

That Texan town was later ruined by strip mining, but Barber and her sister, who has owned a cabin in Tunbridge since the early 80’s, say the area around Chelsea brings back memories of the rural community they had loved as children and “feels like home.”

The move cross-country makes sense in other ways as well. One of Barber’s three sons is working with a technology firm in Nashua, NH. And Barber and her husband, avid history buffs, have purchased the historic Federal-style Denison house in Royalton Village.

“I was up until midnight the night we purchased it, rubbing orange oil and bees wax on the dry, old wood paneling!” she said.

Dr. Barber is board-certified by the American Board of Family Practice and a fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice. At the Chelsea Health Center she joins physician assistant and Chelsea native Rebecca Savidge, and is now seeing new patients. Call for an appointment at 802-685-4400.

Alan Jacobs Exhibit at Gifford Medical Center’s Art Gallery

Alan Jacobs

Oil on canvas abstract by Alan Jacobs

Twelve vibrantly colored abstract paintings by Vermont artist Alan Jacobs are currently on display in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery. The exhibit will run through September 23, 2015, and is free and open to the public.

Jacobs, a retired psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and self-taught artist, describes his process as being “more determined by a conversation between fingers, paint, canvas, and unreflective thought and impulses than by any conscious ideas.”

After moving to Vermont several years ago, he began to paint at the suggestion of his artist daughter. He started working with pastels, but moved on to oil on canvas. Jacobs
says that he trusts the viewer to connect and react to the recurrent colors and images in his work in their own unique way.

Jacobs’ work was displayed earlier this year in VTC’s Hartness Library.

Gifford Welcomes Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Dr. Jonathan Bjork

Podiatrist Jonathan Bjork has joined Gifford Medical Center’s Randolph and Sharon clinics.

A board-certified podiatrist, he received a BS from St. Olaf College, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Des Moines University, and completed his Podiatric Medicine and Surgery Residency at the William S. Middleton VA hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

While in medical school, Bjork chose to specialize in podiatry because it would offer opportunities for a varied practice: performing surgery, working in a clinic, helping patients with rehabilitation, and treating sports injuries. He brings widespread clinical interests to his work, from rear foot and ankle surgery, flat foot reconstruction, and heel spur resection to diabetes-related infections, sports injuries, and treatment for bunions and hammertoes.

“I like to develop good, ongoing relationships with patients so I can get to know their needs and expectations,” said Bjork. “This allows me to consider a patient’s specific concerns when treating injuries or infections.”

Bjork and his wife have family near Boston and were looking to settle in a small town where they could raise their 4-month-old son. They have purchased a home near the hospital with a yard (space for a golden retriever) and easy access to the outdoor activities they love: skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.

“Randolph is a very warm and welcoming community,” said Bjork. “It is smaller than Platteville, Wisconsin, where I grew up, but it reminds me of my home.”

Bjork is the newest member of Gifford’s team of podiatrists, which includes Dr. Nicolas Benoit (Randolph), Dr. Samantha Harris (Berlin), and Dr. Paul Smith (Sharon). He is now accepting new patients at our Randolph and Sharon locations—call 728-2777 to schedule an appointment.