Gifford Seeking Applicants for Philip Levesque Grant

Community organizations must apply by Feb. 17

Phil Levesque

Phil Levesque

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. 17.

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.

“Phil was an admired leader who was dedicated to community service and improving our area. We’re excited to be able to carry on his legacy through this grant, and encourage community organizations to apply,” said Ashley Lincoln, Gifford director of development and public relations.

The hospital first awarded the grant in 1995. Past recipients include the Rochester Area Food Shelf; the South Royalton School’s Recycle, Compost and Volunteer Program; the Bluebird Recovery Program; Kimball Library in Randolph; Bethel’s Project Playground; Chelsea’s Little League field; the Rochester Chamber Music Society; the Royalton Memorial Library; the Tunbridge Library; the White River Craft Center; Safeline; Interfaith Caregivers; the Chelsea Family Center; the Granville Volunteer Fire Department; the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens in Hancock; and The Arts Bus Project.

A committee of hospital staff and Levesque’s family will review the applications and choose a winner. The announcement of the grant recipient will be made at Gifford’s Annual Meeting in March.

Contact Lincoln at (802) 728-2380 or alincoln@giffordmed.org for application guidelines, or click here. Send completed applications by Feb. 17 to The Philip D. Levesque Memorial Fund, Gifford Medical Center Development Office, 44. S. Main St., Randolph, VT 05060.

‘Penguins, Polar Bears and Kodiak Cubs’ in Gifford Gallery

Gifford gallery

Polar bear lazing around (photo provided)

Rochester’s Barb DeHart is quick to sidestep the title “photographer,” but that doesn’t mean she won’t capture your eye.

DeHart is a retired business owner. She had a company that manufactured equipment for the electronics industry for three decades in Burlington, Mass. She retired to Rochester, Vt., and following the death of her husband in 1999 began investing more time in traveling.

“The photography sort of came along secondary,” says DeHart, who with little more than a basic point-and-shoot camera captured penguins on the Falkland Islands of Antarctica, polar bears in the Arctic Circle in Norway and on the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada, and brown Kodiak bears and cubs in Alaska.

Gifford gallery

Unexpected visitor (photo provided)

DeHart brought the images of never-seen-in-Vermont, frolicking wildlife home, printed them and hung them on her wall.

Friends took one look and encouraged her to do more with the stunning images.

Last fall, some of her works were part of the Middlebury Arts Walk.

Still DeHart downplays them.

“I’m not a professional at all. My byline is ‘Photos for Fun.’ It’s just to make people smile,” she says self-consciously.

Her nerves stem from presenting her works for the first time in a gallery show. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, DeHart’s images of penguins, polar bears and Kodiak cubs will be in the Gifford Medical Center art gallery in Randolph.

Gifford gallery

Cubs playing (photo provided)

The show runs two months, until March 26, and is free and open to the public.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” says DeHart, who in her regular life is a Rochester Budget and Finance Committee member, chairwoman of the Trustees of Public Funds and a justice of the peace.

Going forward, DeHart will continue to travel. She has a trip planned that will mean seeing more polar bears. And she will continue to take photos.

“It’s become a new hobby. Maybe it will become an avocation. But it’s been fun,” DeHart says.

Join the fun. See her show “Penguins, Polar Bears and Kodiak Cubs” from Jan. 29-March 26 at Gifford. The gallery is located just inside the hospital’s main entrance at 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) in Randolph. Call Gifford at (802) 728-7000 or Volunteer Coordinator Julie Fischer at (802) 728-2324 for more information.

A Message from the Medical Directors

The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.

medical directorsReflections on the past remind us of our roots and of how health care has changed in the past decades. Chief among those is the increasing role mid-level providers, such as nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, play in health care. Today, we have diverse physician-led health care teams in every area of medicine to encourage and support wellness.

Mid-level providers are extremely instrumental at birth, during hospital stays, in the primary care setting, specialty clinics, and even for our surgical patients. This team approach to care improves provider access and quality of care.

At Gifford, we are transitioning with great success to a team-based approach and are taking steps to ensure continued access to high-quality health care.

In 2012, some of those steps included new radiology services and technology, such as more interventional offerings, an upgraded 64-slice CT scanner, and a fluoroscopy room.

The midwifery team has expanded to the Twin River Health Center in White River Junction. Gifford’s approach to obstetrics and gynecology has grown to include more complicated cases.

The Blueprint Community Health Team has expanded and behavioral health is increasingly a part of Gifford’s offerings. Thanks to a generous gift from the Auxiliary, new CarePoint EKG transmission technology is available between our Emergency Department and ambulance services to identify heart attacks in the field and determine the best and fastest course of treatment.

Urology offerings have also grown and the Cancer Committee continues to expand. The Sharon Health Center sports medicine team has welcomed a nurse practitioner and second chiropractor.

These improvements are examples of the changes and quality upgrades we, as part of the health care team, can affect in an institution of the size and mindset of Gifford for the betterment of the community. Meld these improvements with Gifford’s foundation of patient care and advocacy, and we have a formula for success for decades to come.

Ovleto Ciccarelli, MD, Surgery Division
Martin Johns, MD, Hospital Division
Joshua Plavin, MD, MPH, Medicine Division

Chelsea Native Rebecca Savidge Joins Chelsea Health Center

Rebecca Savidge

Rebecca Savidge

Rebecca Savidge grew up in Chelsea, attended the local school and is now the latest health care provider at the Chelsea Health Center.

From her years at the Chelsea Public School, Savidge went on to the University of Vermont where she majored in biology with a chemistry minor. After graduating magna cum laude in 2009, she was part of the inaugural class of the physician assistant master’s degree program at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.

During her schooling, she completed training rotations at medical centers throughout Vermont and New Hampshire, including Gifford, the South Royalton Health Center, Androscoggin Valley Hospital in Berlin, N.H., Central Vermont Medical Center, Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, Little Rivers Health Care in Wells River, The Health Center in Plainfield, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

Since graduating nearly two years ago, Savidge has worked at The Health Center in Plainfield providing family medicine. She loved the job, but not the drive from Chelsea, where she lives.

A job at Gifford meant not only work close to home, but work at a hospital she respects and in a community she knows well.

“I love that Gifford is a community-based hospital with a range of ancillary patient services and it still feels accessible,” says Savidge, calling the rural medical center both well thought of in the community and among other hospitals.

“Chelsea is a special community because people choose to give back,” she adds. “A huge attraction of working at the Chelsea Health Center is taking care of people you understand and feel connected to.”

Savidge is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. She has special clinical interest in preventative care, women’s health, chronic care, small procedures and urgent care.

In addition to work in Chelsea, Savidge will work half a day a week in Randolph in the primary care office’s urgent care clinic.

Patients should expect a partner and collaborator in Savidge.

“I like to use shared, informed decision making within a patient-provider team model. Patients active in their care leads to better outcomes.”

In a small community where neighbors are friends, Savidge puts a large emphasis on respecting patients’ privacy.

Savidge is currently building a house in Chelsea with her husband. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, including cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and pick-up soccer games in town, as well as gardening and reading.

Call Savidge at Chelsea Health Center at 685-4400. The health center, a modern new facility offering family care as well as pharmacy services and mental health, is off Route 110 just north of the village.

Bowling Tournament Raises Funds for Mammograms

bowling tournament for breast cancer awareness

Teresa Bradley of Braintree, left, and Krista Warner pose at the Valley Bowl in Randolph. The duo organized a fifth bowling tournament recently to bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money for mammograms at their local hospital, Gifford Medical Center. (Provided/Robin Palmer)

What started as a senior project has grown into an annual tradition.

Four years ago, Krista Warner, then a local high school senior, organized a bowling tournament to support Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund with the help of her aunt, Teresa Bradley of Braintree.

Warner of Randolph is now long out of high school, but the duo continues to organize the tournament to support local mammograms in the name of Warner’s grandmother and Bradley’s mother, Ruth Brown. Brown had several forms of cancer, including breast cancer in 1993 and lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in 2011.

A mammogram diagnosed her breast cancer.

“If she hadn’t had it, we would have lost her back in 1993,” says Bradley with conviction. “That mammogram gave her another 18 years.”

Following her death, Warner and Bradley renamed their tournament the Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament. This year’s tournament – their fifth – raised $857, which they recently gave to their local hospital.

The top fund-raiser in this year’s event was Patty Grueteke. Nate Olmstead won the tournament.

Bradley thanked Valley Bowl and Bob’s M & M for donating prizes as well as all of the bowlers all who participated. “It’s awesome that they come out and do it. They’re very enthusiastic,” Bradley said, adding, “It’s a good tournament. We have a good time, plus we’re raising money for people who are less fortunate.”

Gifford’s Woman to Woman Fund pays for mammograms for low-income women not covered by other programs, such as Ladies First, and buys soft pads that go on the mammography machine to make mammograms more comfortable for all women.

“We want to encourage women to have their annual mammograms. Providing a more comfortable and more affordable experience helps substantially. We are so appreciative of Krista and Teresa for working hard each year to support this shared cause, raise awareness and bring a fun event to our community,” Gifford Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln said.

The Ruth Brown Memorial Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament is held at Valley Bowl in Randolph on the fourth Sunday in October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each year. Bowlers of all abilities are welcome.

The tournament has raised $5,150 since its inception.

Generator Safety

Brad Salzmann

Brad Salzmann, PA-C

By Brad Salzmann, PA-C

Portable generators can provide a temporary source of electric power when “grid” power is not available. Many of us have portable generators for back-up power when the electricity “goes out.” While these generators can be very useful, there are safety considerations of which to be aware.

Carbon Monoxide: Most portable generators run on fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, kerosene, propane, natural gas) and therefore emit carbon monoxide (CO) as one of the exhaust gases. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas that causes hundreds of accidental poisoning deaths each year. These unintentional poisonings occur most often during the colder months and after disasters. Therefore, it is important to make sure the home or business has functioning CO detectors and to test them monthly.

Placement: Portable internal combustion engine generators must be placed and run outdoors where exhaust fumes cannot enter enclosed spaces. The current recommendation is to place them on a level, well-ventilated, dry area at least 25 feet from a building and away from windows, vents and doors (including the neighbor’s). It is NOT OK to run them in an attached garage, porch, or in the basement. Because most generators are not weatherproof, they should be protected from direct exposure to rain and snow. Most generators are very noisy; try to place them in a location that minimizes disruption.

Connections: Generators must not be connected directly to a home’s electrical circuit. The electricity can back feed into the power lines connected to the home. Utility transformers then can increase the voltage to thousands of volts and kill utility workers miles away. Nor should a generator be plugged into an outlet in the home or garage, for the same reason. A common, but improper practice is to plug the generator into the dryer outlet with a 220-volt cord. The best way to connect is to have an electrician install a box with a cut-off switch that prevents back feed into the grid. These are typically wired to several pre-determined essential circuits such as the furnace, water pump, refrigerator, etc. If using an extension cord, use one that is approved for outdoor use and heavy duty enough to carry the electrical load. Check the generator’s operating manual for correct grounding instructions.

Power: Portable generators do not typically have enough power to run an entire household. The wattage of the generator should be at least 1.3 times the total wattage of the appliances used. Overloading the generator can make it run hot and catch fire, and/or damage the appliances and electronics. Try to avoid starting all appliances at once.

Fuel: This seems obvious, but make sure you know the type of fuel your generator uses, and the type of fuel you have to fill it. Keep fresh fuel on hand; gasoline and biodiesel have a shelf life of about 6 months, diesel about a year. Adding appropriate fuel stabilizers can extend the useful life of these fuels. Remember, if the power is out, gas stations may not be open. Fuel should be stored in approved containers, correctly labeled, and kept outside of living areas and away from the generator and other potential ignition sources. Turn off the generator and let it cool down before refilling; never refill a running generator. Wear gloves and safety glasses while refilling, and have a B class fire extinguisher nearby.

Generator use: Test your generator regularly; once a month is best, but at least once a season. Only a qualified service technician should perform repairs. Engine parts get very hot; serious burns may result if touched.

Having a portable generator during power outages can be very handy, and even life-saving for those dependent on electric life support systems. However, if appropriate safety measures are not adhered to, generator use can be dangerous and deadly.

Brad Salzmann is an orthopedics physician assistant at Gifford in Randolph. He also has a master’s degree in disaster medicine and management, and serves as part of the national Disaster Medical Assistance Team based in Worcester, Mass.

“I Am Humbled by the Courage I Witness” – Starr Strong, PA-C

Starr Strong, PA-C

Starr Strong, PA-C

Starr Strong was born in Brookfield and still lives there today. Married to John Button of Chelsea, the couple has two grown children. In her free time, Starr enjoys gardening, skiing, kayaking, and hiking.

Starr has been a physician assistant for 31 years, including 19 years at the Chelsea Health Center as well as at Gifford’s Randolph and Bethel practices and Vermont Technical College’s student health center.

Her greatest love, professionally, is the Chelsea Health Center and the long-term relationships she has forged with generations of families there. At a rural practice, she says, people matter and she is able to spend time with her patients. “It is a privilege in life to make a place your own, to grow a life that is bigger than just yourself,” she says.

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

“When I was young, it took me a long time to sort out what I wanted to do with my life. Through traveling and experiments with lifestyles, I discovered a new profession – physician assistant – that appealed to me. It fit my personality (rebellious) and, I hoped, my potential. In 1979 I told my potential educators that I wanted to be a family practitioner in a rural health center. Three decades later, that vision has evolved into a challenging and fulfilling life.

Starr Strong, PA-C

Top left: Strong examines a curious Xabian Bring in 2009. Bottom: A 1996 portrait of Strong reviewing a patient chart with a co-worker.

My family’s ancestral home is a humble hill farm in Brookfield. I’ve known all my life that it is my true home. In 1981 when I was completing physician assistant (PA) school, I met with Phil Levesque, Gifford’s president at the time. He told me that Gifford didn’t have a place for me and he doubted that the Medical Staff would accept a PA in the years to come. I kept knocking on the door, and nearly 20 years ago I got an opportunity to “try it” in Chelsea. I was the first PA at Gifford, the first non-physician provider in Chelsea, and the only woman to practice there.

“The door” in Chelsea was opened to me largely by the gracious support of Dr. Brewster Martin who became my teacher, mentor, advisor, very dear friend, and, eventually, my patient. Brewster was the wisest person I have known and his influence on my life is immeasurable. I promised him that I would practice in Chelsea for 20 years and I am nearly there. During our lunchtime chats we shared the deepest thoughts and concerns in our hearts, and we shared funny stories. It was a privilege to be his friend and I miss him every day.

Family medicine is at least as much about relationships as it is about science. The depth of that trust can be built through years of commitment and listening. I am fascinated by the richness of families and individual’s lives, their dignity and fears, joys and sorrows. I am humbled by the courage I witness, and am grateful for the privilege of such trust.

Just like with Brewster, some of my fondest and most challenging experiences are with those I know best. I especially treasure my relationship with Judy Alexander, a woman who is my patient, friend, and co-worker. She has taught me a lot about humor and the joy of sarcasm, and she strengthens my love of play. Her courage in facing the battle of her life keeps me grounded, humble, and ever so appreciative of the fullness of life. I treasure that we will walk this road together as far as it takes us.

I love this place.”

~ Starr Strong, PA-C
Chelsea Health Center physician assistant

Judy Alexander and Starr Strong

Friends and co-workers Judy Alexander and provider Starr Strong share smiles and laughter.

After 50 Years on Dry Land, Lori Sedor Tried – and Loved – Water Aerobics

water aerobicsThis story appeared in our
Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Lorraine “Lori” Sedor has a myriad of health problems and a healthy fear of the water. So when certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton invited Lori to attend a water aerobics class Gifford was offering at the Vermont Technical College pool, Lori thought “no way.”

A retired school driver, 67-year-old Lori of Braintree has diabetes, an enlarged heart, rheumatoid arthritis, injuries from an accident, and uses a walker to get around. She also nearly drowned at age 16 and hadn’t swum since.

But Lori told Jennifer she’d try it, if only to prove her wrong.

“She told me that I could do it and I told her I couldn’t, and she was right, as much as I hate to admit it,” says a good-natured Lori.

The class started back in January and lasted six weeks. She was slow at first, but soon she was doing jumping jacks, twisting, bending, touching her knees, “and I swam.”

“I loved it. I was able to exercise whereas on land it’s harder to exercise. My body felt better. It’s just fantastic.”

After the class, Lori’s daughter bought her a year’s pass to the pool and for a couple months, Lori and a friend went two or three times a week. Health problems have prevented Lori from swimming since, but she expects to soon be back in the pool.

“I can’t wait to go back,” Lori says. “I’d recommend it for anyone who needs to exercise.”

Another water aerobics class is taking place now. If you have a chronic condition, call Jennifer Stratton at 728-7100, ext. 4 to learn about future classes.

Comprehensive, Compassionate Orthopedics Care in Two Locations

This information appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.

Gifford orthopedists

Gifford’s Record of Success Continues for 14th Straight Year

Randolph hospital ‘makes’ budget, operating margin

meeting budget and marginFor a 14th consecutive year, Gifford Medical Center in Randolph has completed its fiscal year “in the black” and on budget.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin made the announcement to staff on Friday following a detailed auditor’s review of the hospital’s 2013 fiscal year finances. The fiscal year ended Oct. 31.

Specifically, the medical center achieved both its state-approved budget and operating margin. An operating margin is the money the medical center makes above expenses – usually by 2 to 3 percent – to reinvest in programs, staff and facilities.

Achieving the operating margin can be an indicator of an organization’s success. “No margin, no mission” is a saying often used within non-profits. Gifford has made both its budget and margin each of the last 14 years – a major feat among Vermont hospitals. Continue reading