Each year, too many people are killed or seriously injured by severe weather, despite advance warning. In 2012, more than 450 people in the United States were killed and more than 2,600 were seriously injured by severe weather. Seven events in 2013 accounted for losses over $1 billion each, with loss of lives and serious injuries.
Preparing for severe weather doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) will highlight the importance of preparing for severe weather before it strikes during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014. They ask that you “Be a Force of Nature” by knowing your risk, taking action, and being an example where you live.
Know Your Risk: Identify and understand the types of hazardous weather that can impact where you work and live. Here in New England, we can have severe winter weather, including snow, ice, wind, and cold. Rain/thunder storms, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, hot weather, and drought are also likely events.
Take Action: Bookmark weather.gov to get the latest forecast information. Obtain a NOAA weather radio; there are affordable models that run on AC, battery, solar, and/or hand crank power. Learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts (see below). Create or update your family emergency plan and disaster supplies kit(s).
Be an Example: Tell your friends and family what you have done to be “weather-ready.” Share your preparedness story on Facebook. Tweet your preparedness with hashtag #ImaForce.
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): WEA are emergency messages sent by authorized alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Alerts will include extreme weather alerts, local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action, AMBER alerts, and Presidential alerts during a national emergency. It will have a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice, and will look like a text message. The message will show the type of alert, the time of the alert, any action you should take, and the issuing agency. The message will be no more than 90 characters. Most newer devices are WEA capable; some older ones are not WEA capable. For more information on devices and carriers visit: www.ctia.org/wea. WEA messages are offered for free by the wireless carriers; you will not be charged for them and they will not count toward limits on your plan. You are not being tracked; messages are broadcast from cell towers in the areas of the threat. Even if you are not in your home area, you will get the alert. Likewise, if you enter an area of alert, you will receive it when you enter the area. WEA messages are not affected by network congestion.
Preparing for severe weather will also help prepare you and your family for other emergency events, whether they are climate-related, technological, or terrorism. Any degree of preparedness is beneficial. The more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be and the more likely you can be part of the solution instead of part of the burden. For every dollar spent for preparedness, statistics show $7 is saved. Information on emergency preparedness can be obtained from the American Red Cross, FEMA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (VT DEMHS), formerly Vermont Emergency Management (VEM), and others.
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.
Materials clerk Tina Brady uses a new handheld scanning device to quickly inventory supplies on one of many carts located throughout the medical center. The device is a gift from the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary and greatly improves the department’s efficiency.
The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is turning Thrift Shop earnings into major support for the community’s local hospital.
The Auxiliary has funded more than $19,000 worth of “wish list” equipment requests spanning multiple departments at the hospital and greatly benefiting patient care.
Lending library books for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Multiple pieces of equipment, from IV poles to portable oxygen saturation monitors to cardiac chairs for the inpatient hospital units
A handheld scanning device for the medical center’s Materials Management Department
Pulse oximeters for primary care offices
Play equipment and furniture for The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center
Lead shield aprons for the Sharon Health Center
A changing table and digital scale for the Twin River Health Center
The Auxiliary historically has awarded “wish list” items to the hospital, meaning departments put their wishes in the form of funding requests to the Auxiliary. Auxiliary board members review the list and award what they can. This round the board fully funded the “wish list.”
Materials Management was granted a “wish list” item for the first time in memory. The scanning device is used to inventory supplies around the medical center, explained department supervisor James Shodunke Jr. It replaces a 15-year-old unit that didn’t meet the department’s needs, so staff had been taking notes with pen and paper.
As a staff member counts supplies around the medical center with the new device, which the department had been trialing, prints a report back in the materials holding area showing supply needs, meaning other staff members can immediately begin filling that supply order. The change in the busy department means a task that previously could have taken an hour and 15 minutes now takes less than 30 minutes.
“It greatly improves our efficiency and expedites the restocking process, which reduces interruptions in patient care,” Shodunke said.
Gifford’s inpatient unit received the bulk – $11,500 – of this round’s funding.
“The staff and nursing leadership of Howell Pavilion (Gifford’s inpatient unit) are very thankful for the extremely generous grants given by the Auxiliary. Many patients will benefit from the numerous requests, such as sturdier chairs for patient rooms, electronic vital sign monitoring system and alternative treatments for pain. The gifts will be a big help for both patients and staff. We would like to thank the Auxiliary for all of their hard work and support by granting our many requests,” said Alison White, vice president of patient care services.
Auxiliary board members Ruth Lutz, treasurer, and Nancy Gray, historian, walked around the medical center on Wednesday making in-person announcements to department staff that they had been funded.
Lutz was excited by the response from the departments. “They were so pleased,” she said.
Gray found the experience rewarding because of the inside look she got at the medical center and its many, diverse services.
But Lutz and Gray were quick to point out that it wasn’t they who were making the gift to the medical center, but rather the full Auxiliary and all who shop at the Thrift Shop. “We’re so fortunate to be able to do this because of what the Thrift Shop brings in,” Gray said.
Gifford’s Blueprint for Health Team has expanded to include additional mental health and addiction counselors offering one-on-one care at all Gifford primary care locations. In this file photo, from left, care coordinator Keith Marino, Health Connections (financial assistance) case worker Michele Packard and certified diabetes educator Jennifer Stratton discuss a patient at the Bethel Health Center.
In 2012 as part of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Gifford Medical Center completed a Community Needs Assessment.
Less than two years later, the Randolph-based medical center has already made huge strides addressing many of the needs found in that study.
In a survey of Town Meeting attendees in nine communities in 2012 plus feedback from other groups, community members’ described their priorities for a healthy community, perceived health problems and risky behaviors in the community, and their health needs or lacking services.
Among factors for a healthy community were good jobs and a healthy economy, access to health care, good schools, and healthy behaviors and lifestyles. Top health problems listed by survey respondents included addiction, obesity, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Top health needs, or services community members have tried unsuccessfully to access, within the community were assisted living and nursing home care, alcohol and drug counseling, and dental care.
Today, Gifford is preparing to break ground in the spring on a senior living community in Randolph Center that will, over time, provide a full spectrum of housing options including the relocation of its award-winning nursing home and newly created assisted and independent living. Gifford has earned the coveted Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) designation, making it one of only three hospitals in the country to be both a Critical Access Hospital and an FQHC. This means expanded access to care, including dental and mental health care. And the medical center’s Vermont Blueprint for Health Team has greatly expanded over the past year to include more mental health and addiction counselors, providing services at all Gifford primary care locations.
Among Gifford’s free community services is a chronic illness support group. Here Gifford pharmacist Jane McConnell provides medication advice to past participants.
“Each of these major initiatives, which have taken substantial work, targets an identified community health need. Meeting these needs and addressing the community’s feedback defines the future of Gifford and its expanding role,” says Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.
The Community Needs Assessment process is required every three years, but Gifford’s efforts are ongoing. The medical center continually provides community outreach initiatives to meet care needs, many of which are offered for free. These include classes, support groups, and health fairs. Additionally, many initiatives support local economic health, including a buy local approach.
The medical center also continues community outreach daily through a boots-on-the-ground approach that has Blueprint Community Health Team working directly with individuals and community organizations to address health and socioeconomic needs, particularly for the chronically ill.
“The Blueprint for Health is a statewide initiative. Gifford has placed extra focus on meeting community members’ needs so they can successfully manage their health,” says Blueprint Project Manager LaRae Francis. “This approach means not waiting months or years for needs to be determined, but matching resources and needs today to create an ongoing healthier community for all.”
A grant from through the Vermont Department of Health helped support the costs of the 2012 report. The full report is available on Gifford’s website in the “About Us” section under Community Reports.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
The following was published in our 2012 Annual Report.
Reflections 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Friends and co-workers Judy Alexander and provider Starr Strong share smiles and laughter.