Christina DiNicola, MD, FAAP Joins Gifford Pediatrics

Dr. Christina DiNicola

Dr. Christina DiNicola

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.

Guiding the Future of Rural Health Care

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford volunteers

Back (left to right) Linda Morse, Peter Nowlan, Sheila Jacobs, Paul Kendall, Matt Considine, and Lincoln Clark. Front: Jody Richards, Barbara Rochat, Gus Meyer, Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara, Randy Garner, Sue Sherman, Joe Woodin, Carol Bushey, and Linda Chugkowski. Not pictured: Bill Baumann, Fred Newhall, and Bob Wright.

Volunteer board leads Gifford with vision, passion and energy

2014 was a year of great excitement for Gifford, as several projects moved from the planning stage into actual implementation. Our FQHC status, new senior living community, and the much-needed upgrade for inpatient rooms are all visible signs of Gifford’s readiness for quality community care in a larger landscape of changing healthcare reform.

Each of these accomplishments was built on years of behind-the-scenes planning. None of them would have been possible without the dedicated work of our 16 volunteer board members, who last year alone collectively gave more than 2,500 hours of their time to meetings and subcommittee activities. Board members bring passion and energy to the challenge of balancing the work that translates our mission (providing access to high-quality care to all we serve) with anticipating and planning for future healthcare needs.

“Gifford is woven into the fabric of this community. For more than 100 years generations have had the benefit of local access to quality care,” says board secretary Robert Wright, who was born at Gifford and now lives in Brookfield. “Gifford has been able to maintain that identity and also grow with the times, attracting highly skilled people and successfully investing in the equipment and facilities needed to provide the quality of care that people expect.”

Board members are recruited from across the community and have worked in various businesses and civic organizations. This diverse perspective keeps Gifford’s vision grounded in the community it serves, with a distinctive small town commitment to quality.

Board work is demanding, but members say learning about the hospital and participating in decisions that will shape the future of healthcare in their community is rewarding.

“It is by far the most rewarding volunteer activity that I have ever done,” says Randolph resident Randy Garner. “Gifford has shown me the model of being an actively engaged board member, and seeing the results of the board’s actions is extremely gratifying.”

Others want to give back to their community: “I joined the board because Gifford is community focused, a small town hospital that provides excellent healthcare and uses the latest technology,” says Northfield resident Linda Chugkowski. “I feel proud and privileged to be promoting the hospital during these troubled health care times.”

The job description for a Gifford board member might read: part planner, policy-maker, visionary, realist, promoter, cheerleader, and community advocate. It requires the ability to bring a pragmatist’s eye to sustaining robust primary care and a visionary’s openness to future possibilities. When asked what makes the institution unique, you’ll get the clear answer of a realist:

“Gifford is unique in that they are a small Critical Access Hospital and FQHC facility with niches that they do better than anyone else, like primary care, podiatry and sports medicine,” says Brookfield resident Carol Bushey. “They will never compete with the large hospital, but they will continue to do what they do better than anyone long into the future.”

But new possibilities and future community roles for Gifford are always part of the planning:

“I am excited to see the direction Gifford is going with the senior living community and hope that this continues to all levels so Randolph will have a place where folks can comfortably live out their lives,” says Garner. “Gifford will continue to be on the forefront of quality care with a small town feel.”

2015 Summer Concert Series Seeks Farmers Market Vendors

Sign up now for free vendor space at popular summer community concerts

Gifford Concert Series farmer's marketFree space is being offered to vendors who sign up to sell at the community market held during the 2015 Summer Concert Series on Gifford Park. The summer concerts, now in their 4th year, are a partnership between Gifford Medical Center and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Starting on Tuesday, July 7th, and continuing for the next six Tuesdays, there will be a different family-friendly concert in Gifford’s park (front lawn) on Route 12 in Randolph. Families bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets for an evening of fun and music starting at 6 p.m. and ending around 7:30 p.m. New this year will be weekly offerings from the grill prepared by a different nonprofit agency during each performance.

There is space for 8-10 vendors per show, so sign up now and reserve a spot to sell produce, flowers, baked treats, crafts, and other farmer’s market items at these popular community gatherings. Contact Jamie Miller, 728-2238; jmiller@giffordmed.org.

The 2015 concert schedule is as follows:

JULY 7: South Royalton Band; Grilling by Potters Angels rescue
JULY 14: Jennings & McComber (Green Mt Indie Folk); Grilling by Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.
JULY 21: Dave Keller Band (Smooth New Jazz); Grilling by Stagecoach
JULY 28: Sol Food (New Orleans Brass Band); Grilling by White River Valley Ambulance
AUG 4: Jeanne & The Hi-Tops (Old Time Rock & Roll); Grilling by Randolph & Bethel Rotarians
AUG 11: Possum Haw (Folk Music/Bluegrass/Country); Grilling by Randolph Center Fire Dept.

The 2015 Summer Concert Series on Gifford Park is brought to you by Chuck Adams Builders, Frankenburg Agency, Gifford Auxiliary, and Gillespie Fuels and Propane.

15 Years Financially Stable

Working together to achieve not only a healthy community, but a healthy company

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford budget

Gifford staff pose with VP of Finance Jeff Hebert (center left) and Administrator Joe Woodin (center right) to celebrate achieving budget.

In a feat not replicated by any other hospital in Vermont, Gifford achieved its state-approved operating margin for the 15th straight year, closing the 2014 fiscal year books with a three percent margin.

As a fiscally stable medical center, community organization, and employer, Gifford has been able to consistently provide care and services without facing cuts and uncertainty.

This achievement is especially remarkable this year, given the many healthcare changes and an equally challenging economic climate.

“By managing our expenses and the budget process, we’ve once again met our state-approved operating margin goals,” said Jeff Hebert, vice president of finance.
“Consistently maintaining a steady operating margin — the money the medical center makes above expenses — is an indicator of an organization’s fiscal health and allows us to continue to invest in new clinical programs, equipment, staff, and facilities.”

Gifford Offers ‘Home Alone and Safe’ Course for Kids May 23

home alone courseWellness educator Jude Powers will offer “Home Alone and Safe,” a course for children ages 8-11 on Saturday, May 23, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Gifford’s Family Center (next to Ob/Gyn and Midwifery).

Designed by chapters of the American Red Cross to meet the needs of children who spend time without adult supervision, this course will help them understand rules and responsibilities, and to anticipate and resolve potential problems.

Participants will learn how to safely respond to a variety of home alone situations, including:

• Internet safety
• Family communications
• Telephone safety
• Sibling care
• Personal safety
• Gun safety
• Basic emergency care

The morning class will include role play, brainstorming, and watching a video on the topic. Each child will take home a workbook and handouts, and earn a certificate upon completion.

“Home Alone and Safe” will be held at Gifford‘s Family Center space at the hospital on Route 12 (South Main Street) in Randolph. The Family Center is beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery. Please register with instructor Jude Powers at (802) 649-1841. The cost is $15.

Andrew Erickson, M.D. Joins Gifford’s General Surgery Team

Dr. Andrew Erickson

Dr. Andrew Erickson

Dr. Andrew Erickson has joined Gifford Medical Center, adding a fourth provider to the hospital’s general surgery team.

He most recently worked as a surgeon at a Mid Valley Hospital, a rural community hospital in Omak, Washington; and as a general and acute care surgeon at the Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

Born and raised in Seattle, Erickson earned a BS in physics at the University of Washington, where he also competed in national collegiate cycling championships. Before moving on to graduate school, he took a year off to work as a bike messenger in Boston. A physician from one of the city’s larger hospitals was among the avid cyclists he met that year, and he began to consider a career in medicine.

“I felt more social than most physics majors, and I knew I wanted to interact more with people than with particle detectors and telescopes,” he said. “Being a surgeon seemed like a good fit. I enjoy people and the problem-solving involved in fixing bikes and machines—a surgeon helps people by solving problems and fixing things in the body.”

Erickson returned to Seattle, took premed courses, and received a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He completed his general surgery residency was at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, where he gained experience in emergency general surgery, transplantation, and cardiovascular surgery.

Erickson and his wife, Gifford Ob/Gyn Elizabeth Nigrini, have been looking for a small community where they could raise their two young daughters and easily access the hiking, biking, and skiing that the family enjoys. They were drawn to Gifford because they felt the hospital was responding to changing healthcare needs in a thoughtful and proactive way, and offered opportunities to provide service to central Vermont.

Dr. Erickson brings to his work an enthusiasm for minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery. He likes to partner with his patients, clearly explaining the problem and available options, so that together they can find an approach that works for the patient. To learn more about Gifford’s General Surgery program, visit www.giffordmed.org or call the General Surgery office at 802-728-2430.

A Message from the Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

As president of the Medical Staff I have witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication not only of our medical team, but of all those behind the scenes who make Gifford a place where patients are a priority.

With economic and healthcare issues front and center in our daily news, it’s reassuring to work for an organization that is fiscally stable without sacrificing quality of care. I know I speak for the entire health care team when I say how fortunate we are to have our new FQHC designation, which will allow us to provide much needed dental and mental health services to our community.

Gifford continues to lead the way in its vision for the future of providing quality care for our community. At the forefront of that vision is the creation of a new Senior Living Community, where our seniors can be cared for in a home-like setting.

As part of this process we are fortunate to be able to “rejuvenate” our existing space into private, more comfortable rooms that will allow us to improve the efficiency and quality of the care we offer our patients.

It has been an exciting year of planning and creating new ways to provide access to the high-quality care we offer through all stages of life—from newborn through to nursing home resident.

A Vision for the Future: Meeting Tomorrow’s Health Care Needs

A message from Development Director Ashley Lincoln

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.

Space that Speeds the Healing Process

One patient per hospital room is good medicine. Here’s why…

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

individual hospital rooms

Semi-private rooms offer little privacy or space for patients, their families and
hospital staff. Private patient rooms will alleviate the overcrowding that is typical of shared rooms.

The reality of a shared hospital room is that you don’t get to choose your roommate.

“We do our best to match up personalities and scenarios and illnesses and infection issues,” says Alison White, vice president of the hospital division, “but there are things like having a roommate who is a night owl and you like to be in bed by 7:30. If we need a bed and your room happens to be that one empty bed, you get who you get.”

The new reality at Gifford is that every hospital patient will soon have a room of their own as part of a construction project that received its final okay in October 2013. In spring 2015, when 30-bed Menig Extended Care moves to Randolph Center, the hospital will begin converting the vacated wing. The number of rooms for hospital patients will double while the number of hospital beds—25—remains the same, a ratio that guarantees maximum comfort and safety. The renovations are also an opportunity to open up ceilings, replace old systems, and improve energy efficiency.

“When patients are recovering from surgery or from illness, they want what they want,” says Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of operations and the surgical division.

“Sharing a room with somebody else just doesn’t work for most patients. From the surgeon’s point of view, if I’ve just replaced your total hip, the last thing I want is for you to be in a room with someone who might be brewing an infection.”

White names several other factors, besides the risk of infection, that have helped make private rooms the standard in hospitals today. Among them:

Faster healing: Studies show that patients who are in private rooms need less pain medication because they’re in a more soothing environment. If your roommate has IV pumps that are going off, or the nurse has to check your neighbor every one or two hours—which is very common—the lights go on, the blood pressure machine goes off, the nurse has to speak with the person in the bed next to you. With private rooms, all that is removed.

Ease of movement: Our rooms were built before the current technology existed. IV poles didn’t exist. We now have people with two or three pumps. With today’s technology there’s no room to move around. When you have two of everything—two chairs, two overbed tables, two wastebaskets—it creates an obstacle course.

Better doctor-patient communication: As professionals, we don’t always get the whole story because the patient doesn’t want to be overheard by his neighbor.

Patient satisfaction: Larger rooms, each with a bathroom, will give patients additional privacy and enhance the patient experience. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Gifford Staff Raise Money for March of Dimes

Blue Jeans for Babies fundraiser

Roger Clapp and JoEllen Calderara from March of Dimes in Vermont, receive check from Ellen Fox, RN, and Kim Summers, Birthing Center assistant nurse manager. The check was for $505 in employee donations to Blue Jeans for Babies day, and Gifford’s sponsorship of the CVT March for Babies in May.

More than 100 Gifford Medical Center employees raised $505 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies” to work on Friday, March 20, 2015.

Each March the Randolph medical center and its outlying health clinics participate in the fund-raiser, which allows employees who donate $5 to the March of Dimes to wear jeans to work for the day. The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality.

Roger Clapp, executive director of the March of Dimes in Vermont, thanked hospital employees for their participation in the fund-raiser and – as a medical center with a renowned Birthing Center – for their work toward healthy births.

“The March of Dimes recognizes the care and commitment to excellence among the Gifford team that contributes to Vermont’s national lead in preventing premature birth. We’re particularly thankful to be able to reinvest the staff’s fund-raising proceeds to give every baby in Vermont a healthier start,” Clapp said.

Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Karen Summers and RN Ellen Fox presented the check to Clapp and Jo Ellen Calderara of March of Dimes in Vermont.

Gifford is also a sponsor of the Central Vermont March for Babies walk on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at Montpelier High School. Sign-up online at www.marchforbabies.org or by calling 802-560-3239.