Ob/Gyn Dr. Melissa Scalera Joins Gifford Team

Dr. Melissa Scalera

Dr. Melissa Scalera

On her road to becoming an ob/gyn, Dr. Melissa Scalera flirted with Vermont. First there was her undergraduate studies at Williams College just three miles south of the Vermont border in Massachusetts. She crossed the border for Chinese food, antiques, and skiing. Later her residency was at Albany Medical Center in nearby New York.

Now she and her ski enthusiast family are thrilled to be calling Vermont home.

Dr. Scalera has joined Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery in Randolph.

Originally from New Jersey, Dr. Scalera was the first person in her immediate family to attend college.

Her mother made a list of “academically acceptable” schools, starting with Harvard, that her daughter would be “allowed” to attend, Dr. Scalera recalls. Williams was on it. Scalera loved the school and everything about learning. Initially she thought that she’d major in Spanish literature or art history. “Choose something else” was her dad’s reply.

She graduated with a degree in psychology in the middle of a recession and applied for any and every job she could find. She took a position with a direct marketing company that made and sold leather bound books.

Hunched over a budget report one night at 10 p.m. at that long-ago job, she had an epiphany.

Unhappy stuck in a cubical all day, she wanted to be more active, look at fewer spreadsheets, see the sun, and talk to people.

About the same time, she had seen an ob/gyn for a routine exam and blood work. The exam went well, but the follow-up appointment to go over the results of the blood work with a different doctor was less than stellar. He was cranky, didn’t listen, and she left thinking “I can do better than that.”

Twenty-one and full of confidence, she called her mom and said, “I want to be a doctor.” She quit her job, moved in with her parents, and did two years of post-baccalaureate studies in the pre-medical curriculum at nearby Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.

She went on to the New Jersey School of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, earning her doctor of medicine degree in 1997. A four-year ob/gyn residency followed at Albany Medical Center in New York.

She spent the next 14 years working as an ob/gyn physician in the United States, in Washington, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and in New Zealand.

Her work in New Zealand was meant to be a six-month adventure. She liked it so much she stayed seven years. Her role in New Zealand was that of a specialist. Midwives in New Zealand provide complete obstetric care for low-risk births. General practitioners’ offices provide Pap smears and routine gynecologic care. Dr. Scalera consequently handled high-risk maternity cases, colposcopy or abnormal Pap smears, and gynecologic surgeries.

“I basically backed up every mid-wife in town.”

“I think Gifford and Vermont are the closest to New Zealand that I’m going to get and still be in the continental U.S.,” says Dr. Scalera, who returned to the States to be near family but looked north for snow.

Dr. Scalera and her family, including her husband of 20 years, Bob Pressey, son Michael, 11, and daughter Catherine, 5, are living in Randolph, where they are loving the community and the school system. They hope to find an older home to buy within walking distance of Gifford.

“I think people are really, really nice, and already kids are coming over to ask if my son would like to come out and play,” says Dr. Scalera, remembering her own childhood of neighborhood children at play and wanting that for her family.

Dr. Scalera is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

She describes her bedside manner as “friendly.” “I like people and I love to talk,” she says. Her clinical interests include general obstetrics and gynecology.

“Gifford,” she says, is “a really fantastic match for me.”

Dr. Scalera is accepting new patients. Call her at Gifford Ob/Gyn & Midwifery at (802) 728-2401.

Gifford Midwifery Team Holding Open House

Gifford midwifery team

Gifford’s 24-hour midwifery team includes, from left, certified nurse-midwives Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner, April Vanderveer and Kathryn Saunders. (Photo provided)

Gifford’s renowned midwifery team is holding an open house to introduce its recently expanded team to the community and offer some free health advice.

Gifford’s certified nurse-midwives, Kathryn Saunders, Meghan Sperry, Maggie Gardner and April Vanderveer, will hold an open house on Thursday, July 24 from 4-7 p.m. in The Family Center beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery off South Main Street in Randolph.

All are welcome, especially those expecting a baby, thinking of planning a family or interested in women’s health.

The open house will be an opportunity to meet the midwives, tour the Birthing Center (if it is not too full with new babies and families) and receive expert advice. In addition to the midwives, lactation consultant and childbirth educator Nancy Clark will be on hand to talk breastfeeding, child development and more. And, for those who are expecting, Gifford Vice President of Patient Care Services (and photographer) Alison White will be offering belly photos.

There will also be balloons for the kids, giveaways, refreshments and door prizes, including a belly casting kit, baby product basket, a yoga gift certificate generously donated by Fusion Studio of Montpelier and a one-hour massage generously donated Massages Professionals of Randolph.

“We’re enthusiastic for this support from Fusion Studio and Massage Professionals of Randolph, and we’re excited to introduce our team to the community. We are like-minded caregivers committed to offering women and families an experience that meets their desires and goals, while also resulting in safe and healthy pregnancies and babies,” said Sperry.

Stop by to meet the midwives and to learn more about women’s health. Call Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery at 728-2401 to learn more.

Gifford Welcomes Certified Nurse-Midwife Maggie Gardner

nurse-midwife Maggie Gardner

Nurse-Midwife Maggie Gardner

Maggie Gardner was studying sociology at the University of Vermont when a nurse-midwife came to speak during a class on reproduction.

Gardner’s first thought: “I want to be her.”

Today, she is.

After graduating from the University of Vermont in 2001, Gardner went to work for that midwife’s home birth practice, Welcoming Home Family Nurse-Midwifery in Hinesburg. Gardner was the office manager and assistant, both clerically and clinically, including assisting at births.

She went on help start a midwifery practice in her hometown of Vergennes, Tapestry Midwifery, and returned to the University of Vermont, undertaking the master’s entry program in nursing and earning her registered nurse certificate. Next was nurse midwifery school at the Frontier Nursing University in Kentucky – a master’s degree program.

And now, Gardner, a Vermont native, is working at one of the state’s most coveted certified nurse-midwifery practices – Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery.

Board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and a member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Gardner is seeing patients at Gifford’s clinics in Randolph and Berlin.

“I’m excited,” says Gardner, calling Gifford’s practice on the top of the pedestal when it comes to midwifery. “It has a strong reputation in the midwifery community.

“Many people don’t get to choose where they work. I get to choose to work at a place that’s committed to midwives.”

Gifford’s practice, she notes, takes the best of the home and hospital birth experience, and combines them into a natural, hospital-based midwifery birth.

Gardner will do the same in her practice at Gifford as well as focusing on open communication, equal partnerships with patients and families, and individualized care.

Gardner cares for all types of patients, from women needing routine gynecologic care to women expecting a baby, but has special interests in breast feeding support, Pap test follow-up, testing for and educating women on risk factors for sexually transmitted infections, and sexual health.

Those interests in part incorporate Gardner’s other work experience. In addition to her midwifery experience, Gardner has worked in pediatrics, emergency medicine, and infectious disease at Fletcher Allen Health Care in primarily office assistant type roles, and most recently was a manager at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, where she was responsible for the implementation of a new centralized lab management system for 21 Planned Parenthood health centers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Gardner lives in the home in which she grew up in Vergennes. She is married and has two children, a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old.

Call Gardner and the midwifery team at Gifford at 728-2401.