Gifford and Project Independence merger official

Two organizations solidify commitment
to the care of area seniors

Dee Rollins and Linda Minsinger

Project Independence executive director Dee Rollins joins ribbons with Linda Minsinger, Executive Director of Gifford Retirement Community.

On September 30th, Project Independence and Gifford Retirement Community, part of Gifford Health Care in Randolph, officially merged in a ceremony and celebration held at the Barre-based adult day program.

The ribbon joining ceremony was attended by representatives from both organizations, participants and their families, dignitaries, and special guests, including Project Independence founder Lindsey Wade.

The merger comes after years of struggle for the independent adult care program, Vermont’s oldest, which faced flood recovery efforts in 2011 in addition to other facility issues and financial woes.

“It is very hard in these changing times in health care for a stand-alone nonprofit to make ends meet,” says Project Independence executive director Dee Rollins. “Merging with Gifford allows us to be off the island with more supports and resources so we can grow our services for our elders and caregivers. Gifford is the right and best partner Project Independence could imagine.”

While still responsible for their own bottom line and fundraising efforts, Project Independence now has the resources and backing of the financially stable Gifford to help maintain ongoing services.

Joe Woodin, Dee Rollins and Steve Koenemann

Gifford CEO Joe Woodin officially welcomes Project Independence to the Gifford family, shaking hands with board president Steve Koenemann and executive director Dee Rollins.

And the center is already experiencing the benefits of being part of a larger organization through savings in expenses and access to a wider range of resources.

For example, Project Independence is now able to utilize purchase point buying for a savings on supplies and groceries while also benefiting from the services of established Gifford departments such as billing, payroll, human resources, marketing, and others.

For Gifford, the merge is an opportunity to expand on its commitment to the region’s seniors. Already home to an award-winning nursing home and a successful adult day program located in Bethel, Gifford has a strong foundation in caring for the aging.

It’s a foundation they are building upon with the creation of a senior living community in Randolph Center. This new community will include a nursing home, assisted living and independent living units.

Construction on the campus began this past spring with work focusing on infrastructure and the building of a new Menig Extended Care facility, the 30-bed nursing home currently connected to the main hospital.

Current Menig residents are expected to transition to the new facility when construction is completed in the spring of 2015, a time that will also see the ground breaking of the first independent living facility.

Experienced Nurse Leader Alison White Joins Gifford

Alison White

Alison White

Experienced nurse leader Alison White has joined Gifford Medical Center as its vice president of patient care services – a role that oversees the Hospital Division, including inpatient care, the Birthing Center, ob/gyn and midwifery practice, Emergency Department, nursing home and Adult Day Program.

A graduate of the bachelor’s degree nursing program at the University of Vermont and the master’s degree health care administration program at Independence University in Utah, White has spent her career in nursing and then nurse leadership.

Her nursing career focused on cardiac and dialysis patients – populations she loved because of the relationships formed with patients. “They grow to be your family,” she says.

White went on to serve as director of care management at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC), the director of regional care management and quality improvement for the Dartmouth Hitchcock Alliance, the director of clinical outcomes at CVMC and most recently vice president of quality, chief nursing officer and patient safety office at the Berlin-based hospital.

A motorcycle accident in August that nearly took her life left White reevaluating her priorities, however. She was seeking a better work/life balance, and says she has found that at Gifford.

“I felt like I hit the jackpot,” says White, who joined Gifford earlier this year. “The people are so open and warm and helpful and genuine, really genuine. Team comes through. It has a feeling of family. It doesn’t have a feeling of ‘corporateness,’ but at the end of the day the job gets done.

“I’m just so grateful to be here. I look forward every day to coming in.”

White succeeds Linda Minsinger, a long-time vice president who has transitioned to a new role: executive director of Gifford’s retirement community that will soon be under construction in Randolph Center and requires substantial planning.

“I think Alison is a great opportunity for Gifford’s Hospital Division. She comes with expanded current knowledge in the health care field and quality. I feel she will provide the staff and leaders with a new and different view of their roles,” says Minsinger, who is equally enthusiastic about her new role, which in part develops not just a community, but a culture “to ensure the residents and staff are happy and enjoy all the activities and opportunities that are offered.”

White lives in Barre with her husband Paul, a Vermont State Police captain. They have two children, Catie, 21, and Jeffrey, 18. White enjoys photography, volunteering at her church, serving on the Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice board and traveling in her free time.

Phil Scott’s Visit

arrival of Phil Scott

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott arrives at Gifford on Tuesday (Photo provided by Robin Palmer)

In the final day of his “Cycling Vermont’s 14” 500-mile bicycle tour of the state’s 14 counties, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott stopped at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph early Tuesday afternoon.

Scott, who is seeking re-election next month, was met by a small group of Gifford employees and community supporters. Scott briefly talked fitness as vital to good health, and safety. On the first day of his journey he encountered railroad tracks and cracked his helmet, he said.

On the last day, with a new helmet securely in place, his visit to Gifford led to an impromptu tour of the medical center’s Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home, which Gifford is trying to rebuild in Randolph Center as part of a senior living community.

Scott, riding with John Connor, was scheduled to conclude his eight-day journey on the chilly Tuesday in Barre at 5:30 p.m. Continue reading

Menig Named Among Nation’s Top 39 Nursing Homes

Governor presents award

Gov. Jim Douglas presents Menig Extended Care Facility administrators with Nursing Home Quality and Gold Star Employer awards in 2010. Menig has now been recognized among the nation’s top 39 nursing homes.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility in Randolph, has been named among the nation’s 39 best nursing homes.

U.S. News and World Report on Tuesday released a list of its “2012 Honor Roll” nursing homes. The 39 listed were the only ones out of more than 15,500 reviewed nationally to receive four straight quarters of perfect five-star ratings from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in all three areas that CMS evaluates – health inspections, nurse staffing and quality of care.

Menig, repeatedly recognized in Vermont with quality awards and included among the U.S. News and World Reports “2011 Best Nursing Homes” listing, is the only Vermont nursing home on the 2012 top 39 “Honor Roll” listing.

Menig staff

Menig Extended Care Facility resident Edie Reynolds knocks down stacked cans with the toss of a beanbag during a fall fair reminiscent of the region’s county fairs. Menig, with its rich activities and caring staff, has now been recognized among the nation’s top 39 nursing homes.

“This is an amazing recognition of the work our nursing and support staff do to provide the highest standard of care for our residents, a remarkably clean and well-maintained facility and a loving home,” Menig Director of Nursing Cindy Richardson said. “We had no idea this recognition was coming, or that it even existed, and are so thrilled that work like ours – to provide the best care possible to our most vulnerable seniors – is receiving notice nationally.”

Menig was constructed in 1998 to help meet the community’s need for nursing home care following the closure of the larger, 53-bed Tranquility Nursing Home in Randolph. Part of non-profit Gifford, the nursing home initially had 20 beds but grew to 30 beds with an addition that opened in 2006.

Menig staff

Registered nurse Nicole Hutson poses with Menig Extended Care Facility resident Gloria Tatro who has lived at Menig since it opened in 1998. Menig’s high quality of care has now been recognized by the U.S. News and World Report.

The only nursing home in Orange County, Menig consistently has a waiting list of 120 people hoping for local nursing home care. Gifford is currently seeking permits to build a senior living community on 25.6 acres of land it owns in Randolph Center. The project would provide area adults and seniors more housing and care options, including independent and assisted living, and build on the success of Menig.

Menig has previously been awarded seven consecutive Nursing Home Quality recognitions from the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) and Gold Star Employer awards from DAIL and the Vermont Health Care Association.

The nursing home has also repeatedly been recognized with Excellence in Action awards from My Inner View, a national organization that surveys families of residents regarding their satisfaction.

“All of these awards, and certainly this new 2012 Honor Roll recognition, validate the work that we do and demonstrate to the community what an outstanding facility and caregivers we have at Menig,” Linda Minsinger, nursing home administrator and Gifford vice president of patient care services, says. “As we look at our amazing community and both the public and private services available here, this is another reason to hold our heads up high. This community is doing its best to provide for its seniors, and that is truly special.”

Click here to read the U.S. News & World Report article.