Gifford Honored with Legislative Resolution

Joe Woodin and Rep. Patsy French

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin stands with Rep. Patsy French, D-Randolph, in the State House on March 13. The House recognized Gifford and its recent national honors with a formal resolution.

MONTPELIER – The Vermont House of Representatives passed a resolution last week recognizing “the outstanding health care services provided by Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.”

The resolution recognized Gifford for its more than 100 years of service to the Randolph area and for its recent achievements and accolades.

In December, Gifford was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation by The National Rural Health Association. The hospital’s nursing home, the Menig Extended Care Facility, just last month was named one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes by U.S. News and World Report, which recognized nursing homes achieving a solid year of five-star ratings on all Medicare benchmarks.

Gifford’s midwives were further recognized in 2011 as a “best practice” in the country by the American College of Nurse-Midwives for its positive results with vaginal births after cesareans and a “runner-up best practice” for having the fewest numbers of low birth weight infants and for its low use of vacuum or forceps.

The hospital’s day care, The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, earned the maximum five “STARS” from the state’s STep Ahead Recognition System, a voluntary quality program that is part of the Vermont Department for Children and Families’ Child Development Division. The program looks at compliance with state regulations, staff qualifications and training, daily activities with the children, improvement plans, and more.
Menig has also won many state awards for quality and national awards for resident satisfaction.

“Since before 2000, the Menig Extended Care Facility has allowed elderly Vermonters from the area to remain close to home, providing extremely qualified and compassionate patient care. My in-laws were able to use this facility in the last years of their life, making for an ideal connection for them and my family,” shared Rep. Larry Townsend, D-Randolph. “Randolph and the surrounding towns are blessed to have not only Menig, but Gifford as one of the treasures in our communities.”

Townsend initiated the Resolution and was among one of 12 legislators who brought forth the resolution, which was passed by the full House on March 13.

Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin and Director of Development and Public Relations Ashley Lincoln were present to receive the resolution.

“We have appreciated some incredibly welcome, yet unsolicited awards over the last year or so,” Woodin said. “This is another unexpected honor.”

“We’re fortunate to have the privilege of caring for the people of this region. We’re humbled to be recognized for that work in such a public way.”

The resolution also recognized the hospital’s 12 consecutive years of meeting its state-approved budget and operating margin, and the recognition of all of Gifford’s primary care practices as Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Finally, the resolution called Gifford “a hospital of choice for Central Vermonters seeking high-quality care and an employer of choice for some of the region’s and even the nation’s best health care professionals.”

A special ceremony with Gov. Peter Shumlin; Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living Commissioner Dr. Susan Wehry; Vermont Health Care Association Executive Director Laura Pelosi and others is planned for April 6 from 3-4 p.m. at Menig to recognize the nursing home’s most recent and largest-ever achievement – the top 39 national ranking. Menig was the only nursing home in Vermont to make the listing.

Gifford Holds 106th Annual Meeting

Joe Woodin and Sharon Dimmick

Newly elected Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sharon Dimmick smiles at hospital Administrator Joseph Woodin at Gifford’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting.

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center held its 106th Annual Corporators Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital, electing three new members to the Board of Trustees, sharing the successes of 2011, and welcoming Steve Kimbell, Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration commissioner, as the guest speaker.

Newly elected to the board were Leo Connolly, Fred Newhall, and Peter Nowlan following the retirements of long-time board members Barbara Harvey and Bruce MacDonald and the heavily-felt death of Dick Mallary. “We miss him terribly,” board member Bob Wright said.

MacDonald and Harvey offered a few parting words of thanks and encouragement.

MacDonald admitted to feeling reluctant when he was first asked to join the board in 2002. A decade later, his opinion had changed. “As a corporator I would encourage you to support the dedicated staff and management here,” he told the audience of about 90.

Barb Harvey, Bob Wright, Joe Woodin

Outgoing Gifford Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman Bob Wright, at the podium, and Administrator Joseph Woodin, left, thank Barbara Harvey of Rochester for her years of dedication to the Randolph hospital’s board.

Harvey, a member of the board since 2004, thanked the hospital for its quick response to get medications into isolated communities in the days following Tropical Storm Irene, especially in her town of Rochester.

Also recognized was Wright, who ended his two years as board chairman. Elected to his role was Sharon Dimmick. Gus Meyer was named vice chairman, Paul Kendall was chosen as secretary and Lincoln Clark was named treasurer.

Before stepping down, Wright delivered his final chairman’s report, recognizing his fellow board members and the hospital as a strong community asset that meets quality standards, changing regulations and community members’ expectations.

The hospital also “made budget” for a 12th consecutive year and is moving forward positively due to the medical center’s strategic planning efforts and commitment to service excellence through a program the hospital calls BEST.

The hospital is in its fourth three-year strategic plan. The plan guides the medical center in its efforts to remain vital and meet patient needs. “We’ve tried very hard over the years to make sure we’re doing a good job and you’re choosing us,” Administrator Joseph Woodin said, touching on the medical center’s commitment to reviewing quality indicators at each board meeting, a slate of new providers who joined the hospital in 2011, technology improvements, and some unexpected awards the hospital received.

Those awards include a recognition for Gifford as a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the nation, a listing by U.S. News and World Report last month naming the hospital’s Menig Extended Care Facility as one of the nation’s top 39 nursing homes, and a national “best practice” award for Gifford’s midwives.

Woodin also praised volunteers’ efforts and briefly reviewed plans for a senior living community on 25.6 “Hillside” acres Gifford owns in Randolph Center.

The immediate goal, said Woodin, is to reconstruct the 30-bed Menig Extended Care Facility on the property and create industry-standard private patient rooms in the vacated space once Menig has moved out. The next phase would include 40 independent living units. The long-range plan includes assisted living units and opportunities to build more independent living. The hospital is currently going through the permitting process and hopes to break ground on the new nursing home before next winter.

Woodin called 2011 financially difficult. Employees went without wage increases and some cut back on hours. “Last year was a very tough year,” he said. But, “compared to other hospitals, we do quite well. We’re very stable and it does allow us to make these necessary investments.”

Vermont Blueprint for Health

A main focus for 2011, and consequently the focus of the hospital’s newly released 2011 Annual Report, was Gifford’s role as a medical home. All five of Gifford’s primary care practices were recognized as Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

The designation is part of Vermont Blueprint for Health efforts to improve care for the chronically ill through advanced primary care. Gifford is working diligently on Blueprint goals, including bringing together a diverse Community Health Team and employing an outpatient care coordinator whose job is to help patients with socioeconomic needs and connect them to community resources.

“We’re offering them an opportunity for better health,” Vice President of Medicine Teresa Voci said of patients who are now receiving help navigating various systems and reducing barriers to care.

The results, said Voci, are healthier patients who are better able to manage their chronic conditions and reduced health care costs.

Commissioner Kimbell

Commissioner Steve Kimbell

Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISCHA) Commissioner Steve Kimbell leads a talk on health care reform at Gifford Medical Center’s 106th Annual Corporators Meeting Saturday at the Randolph hospital.

Kimbell spoke on health care reform, explaining the various state boards and agencies involved in the ambitious effort to create a single-payer health care system in Vermont and a federally-required health benefits exchange.

According to Kimbell, some think the task the state has undertaken under Act 48 is “crazy,” but the law is necessary to try to rein in health care spending to better match annual inflation rate increases.

And the state has had past success on payment reform, Kimbell noted, holding up the Vermont Blueprint for Health and the Catamount health plan as examples of the state’s record of successful reform.

“A lot of groundwork has been done to set the stage for health care reform,” said Kimbell, calling Catamount “up and running,” “successful” and “a model of where we’re trying to go.”

But, he acknowledged, if citizens don’t change their health habits, reform efforts will fail.

Audience members asked questions about dental access and incentives for preventative care. MacDonald questioned how savings could be found. “It’s hard to visualize for us in this organization … how you can recover that much cost just knowing on a monthly and annual basis how hard it is to run this organization,” the former Gifford board member and accountant by trade said.

A lot of economy will be found in Vermont hospitals functioning as a system, but also still keeping their community identity, Kimball said.

He also spoke of provider retention. “What’s the impact on the provider community?” he asked. “How they get paid is going to be something we’ll be sticking our fingers in very deeply. I believe there is plenty of money in the system that everyone can settle somewhere.”

Hospitals will not close under the plan, Kimbell ensured, which broadly speaking will pay hospitals and providers to keep people healthy rather than per visit or procedure.

Awards

Two awards were also given out Saturday evening. The $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award was awarded to the Quin-Town Center for Senior Citizens.

Formed in 1972, the Quin-Town Center provides meals, including Meals on Wheels; educational programming; and socialization opportunities for seniors in Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Pittsfield and Stockbridge. In 2011, the center provided 5,950 meals to 350 seniors in these communities. The grant will help pay for a commercial refrigerator, replacing smaller models from the 1980s.

Receiving the $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship was Sarah Davis of Northfield. A member of Gifford’s inpatient team, Davis is a full-time licensed practical nurse, a mother of three and a full-time student at Norwich University, where she is seeking a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Davis has been working in health care since the age of 12, when she when she became a junior volunteer at a nursing home. By age 14, she was a personal aide at Level III home for the elderly and at age 16, she completed her licensed nursing assistant course. She’s worked at Gifford as an LPN since 2007.

She is also the first member of her family to go to college.

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.