Gifford 108th Annual Meeting Paints Strong Picture of Uniquely Successful Small Hospital

Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin

Joseph Woodin, Gifford’s administrator, speaks at Saturday’s Annual Meeting of the medical center’s corporators. Woodin outlined a year of success.

If there was any doubt that Randolph’s local hospital – Gifford – stands above when it comes to commitment to community and financial stability, it was wholly erased Saturday as the medical center held its 108th Annual Meeting of its corporators.

The evening gathering at Gifford featured an overview of the hospital’s successful past year, news of spectacular community outreach efforts, a video detailing employees’ commitment to caring for their neighbors and a ringing endorsement from Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board and the evening’s guest speaker.

Diane and William Brigham, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting

Diane and William Brigham, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.

For Gifford, 2013 brought a 14th consecutive year “making” budget and operating margin, new providers, expanded services including urology and wound care, expanded facilities in Sharon and Randolph, a designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center and all permits needed to move forward on the construction of a senior living community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.

The Randolph medical center also collected a ranking as the state’s most energy efficient hospital, an award for pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, national recognition for Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph and, noted Board Chairman Gus Meyer, continued national accolades for the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home.

Al Gobeille

Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, speaks at Gifford’s 108th annual corporators meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital.

“In the meantime, we’re faced with an ever-changing health care landscape,” said Meyer, listing accountable care organizations, payment reform initiatives and a burgeoning number of small hospitals forming relationships with the region’s two large tertiary care centers.

For some small hospitals, these shifts cause “angst.” “We like to think it brings us possibility,” said Meyer. “As both a Critical Access Hospital and now a Federally Qualified Health Center, Gifford is particularly well positioned to sustain our health as an organization and continue to fulfill our vital role in enhancing the health of the communities we serve.”

Joan Granter and Irene Schaefer

Joan Granter, left, and Irene Schaefer, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.

The FQHC designation brings an increased emphasis on preventative care and will allow Gifford to invest in needed dental and mental health care in the community, Administrator Joseph Woodin said.

Gifford is but one of only three hospitals in the country to now be both a Critical Access Hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center.

“Congratulations! You’re a visionary,” said Gobeille in addressing Gifford’s new FQHC status. “It’s a brilliant move. It’s a great way to do the right thing.”

And Gifford is doing the right thing.

Gobeille was clear in his praise for Gifford’s management team and its commitment to stable budgets, without layoffs or compromising patient care.

Community investment

Marjorie and Dick Drysdale

Marjorie and Dick Drysdale, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting.

Gifford’s commitment also extends to the community.

In a major announcement, Woodin shared that thanks to the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation, Gifford will grant a total of $25,000 to schools in 10 area towns to support exercise and healthy eating programs.

Gifford annually at this time of year also hands out a grant and scholarship. The 2014 Philip Levesque grant in the amount of $1,000 was awarded to the Orange County Parent Child Center. The 2014 Richard J. Barrett, M.D., scholarship was awarded to Genia Schumacher, a mother of seven and breast cancer survivor who is in her second year of the radiology program at Champlain College.

The continued use of “Gifford Gift Certificates,” encouraging local spending during the holiday, invested about $40,000 in the regional economy in December. “These small stores appreciate it. It really does make a difference,” noted Woodin, who also detailed Gifford’s buy local approach and many community outreach activities in 2013, including free health fairs and classes.

The community in turn has invested in Gifford. The medical center’s 120 volunteers gave 16,678 hours in 2013, or 2,085 eight-hour workdays. Thrift Shop volunteers gave another 6,489 hours, or 811 workdays. And the Auxiliary, which operates the popular Thrift Shop, has both invested in equipment for various Gifford departments and made a major contribution toward the planned senior living community that will begin construction in May.

Elections

David and Peggy Ainsworth

Outgoing Gifford board member David Ainsworth arrives with wife Peggy to Saturday’s 108th Annual Meeting of the Corporators.

The night also brought new members to the Gifford family.

Corporators elected two new of their own: Matt Considine of Randolph and Jody Richards of Bethel. Considine, the director of investments for the State of Vermont, was also elected to the Board of Trustees and Lincoln Clark of Royalton was re-elected.

Leaving the board after six years was Sharon Dimmick of Randolph Center, a past chairwoman, and David Ainsworth of South Royalton after nine years.

‘Recipe for Success’

“Recipe for Success” was the night’s theme and built around a fresh-off-the-press 2013 Annual Report sharing patient accounts of Gifford staff members going above and beyond. The report, now available on www.giffordmed.org, credits employees’ strong commitment to patient-care as helping the medical center succeed.

Taking the message one step further, Gifford unveiled a new video with staff members talking about the privilege of providing local care and the medical center’s diverse services, particularly its emphasis on primary care. The video is also on the hospital’s Web site.

David Ainsworth and Sharon Dimmick

Gus Meyer, chairman of Gifford’s board, honors retiring board members David Ainsworth and Sharon Dimmick.

Health care reform
Shifting resources to primary and preventative care is a key to health care reform initiatives, said a personable and humorous Gobeille, who emphasized affordability.

“We all want care. We just have to be able to afford care,” he said. “In the two-and-a-half years I’ve been on the board, I’ve grown an optimism that Vermont could do something profound.”

Gobeille described what he called “two Vermonts” – one where large companies providing their employees more affordable insurance and one where small businesses and individuals struggle to pay high costs. “The Affordable Care Act tries to fix that,” he said.

The role his board is playing in the initiatives in Vermont is one of a regulator over hospital budgets and the certificate of need process, one as innovator of pilot projects aimed at redefining how health care is delivered, and paid for, and as an evaluator of the success of these initiatives as well as the administration and legislators’ efforts to move toward a single-payer system.

Audience members asked questions about when a financing plan for a single-payer system would be forthcoming (after the election, Gobeille said), about how costs can be reduced without personal accountability from individuals for their health (personal accountability absolutely matters, he said) and how small hospitals can keep the doors open.

Gobeille pointed to Gifford’s record of financial success and working for the best interests of patients and communities as keys. “I don’t think Gifford’s future is in peril as long as you have a great management team, and you do,” Gobeille said.

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is March 2-8

National Severe Weather Preparedness WeekEach 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.

Gifford holding Heartsaver CPR certification course

Blueprint Community Health Team now certified to offer American Heart Association courses

Gifford Medical CenterRANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center’s Blueprint Community Health Team is offering a Heartsaver CPR certification course to the public for the first time.

The course will be held Oct. 15 from 6-8 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s conference center. Register by Oct. 4 by calling Keith Marino at 728-2499.

Participants will receive hands on training in CPR for infants, children and adults and rescue breathing. The course is designed to provide anyone with the basic skills needed to keep someone alive in the event that his or her breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

“Knowledge is a very important part of being a concerned citizen,” says Marino, a member of Gifford’s Blueprint team, a certified American Heart Association CPR instructor and an emergency medical technician. “If you come upon someone having a heart attack or with a blocked airway, knowing CPR will assist you in saving that person’s life.”

All are welcome to the course. However, space is limited to 12 participants.

Gifford is on Route 12, or 44 South Main Street in Randolph. From South Main Street take Maple Street to the patient parking area. The Conference Center is marked with a green awning or for handicapped accessibility use the main entrance and take the elevator to the first floor.

Learn more online at www.giffordmed.org. Like Gifford on Facebook to receive notifications of classes like these.

Gifford Offering Free Medicare Talk

stethoscope

© Jonoman1 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

RANDOLPH – For more than 40 million Americans, Medicare provides their health insurance. Across the nation and here in Vermont, more Americans become eligible each day, leaving big questions about the federal insurance program and just what it covers.

Gifford Medical Center is aiming to help answer some of those questions for its employees and the public in a free talk this April.

MedicareReady or Not … ” is being held on April 11 from 6-7 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center. The talk will feature a presentation from Acadia Benefits Inc. health insurance specialist Scott McKee on Medicare parts A through D, eligibility and resources. Continue reading

Gifford Shares Achievements, Plans

Gifford logo

Annual Corporators Meeting postponed

RANDOLPH – Each March Gifford Medical Center’s corporators gather to review the year past. This year, the 107th Annual Meeting of the Gifford Corporators has been postponed, but the hospital did not want to delay in sharing a few of 2012’s many successes and some plans for the future.

The meeting will be rescheduled, allowing for corporators to hold their annual business meeting, elect new board members and discuss health care reform.

Year in review

The end of the 2012 fiscal year marked another year “in the black” for Gifford. This is the 13thconsecutive year the medical center has achieved both its budget and operating margin – a feat unheard of at other Vermont hospitals.

The year also brought numerous awards and recognitions for the medical center. The Vermont House of Representatives honored Gifford with a legislative resolution of support and thanks. The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center, Gifford’s day care, once again earned five STARS from the Vermont STep Ahead Recognition System.

The Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home was named a 2012 Best Nursing Home and an Honor Roll nursing home by U.S. News and World Report – the latter naming it one of the best 39 nursing homes in the country. (Menig just last month earned a 2013 Best Nursing Home recognition once again). Menig also received the state’s Nursing Home Quality Recognition.

The March of Dimes recognized Gifford with a Leadership Legacy award for its commitment to prenatal, birth and newborn care. Long-time pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the first-ever “CDC Childhood Immunization Champion” for the state of Vermont. Gifford was awarded a Hospital of Choice Award from The American Alliance of Healthcare Providers for courtesy and compassion.

Continue reading

‘Aging Together’

Free Gifford evening out focuses on couples’ sexual health

Health experts from Gifford Medical Center are joining forces to offer couples an educational evening out.

Gifford in Randolph is hosting “Aging Together: A special presentation for couples on changing sexual health” on March 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Randolph hospital’s Conference Center.

“Our goal,” says organizer Rebecca O’Berry, Gifford’s vice president of surgery, “is to have people come in to a comfortable environment to talk about how normal physical changes can affect couples’ lives together.”

Dr. Richard Graham

Dr. Richard Graham

Speaking will be experienced urologist Dr. Richard Graham and veteran gynecologist and menopause expert Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara.

Urologists treat male reproductive health conditions, as well as urinary health in men and women, and gynecologists care for female reproductive health. Common conditions like erectile dysfunction, which millions of men in the United States experience, and menopause, typically beginning around age 51 for women, can affect a couple’s relationship – often when those couples are finally able to spend time together.

“This is an important time in your life,” says O’Berry. “Your kids are getting older. You get to be back to being a couple and you don’t want normal signs of aging or medical problems to hinder that time together.

“There are ways that we as medical professionals can help you. There are answers.”

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Drs. Graham and Russo-DeMara will review common problems and solutions and take questions from participants. Light refreshments will be served as the medical center strives to make the talk a fun “date night” out.

All are welcome to this free event. Those wanting to participate should register by calling Robin Palmer at (802) 728-2284 by March 21.

The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the hospital. Take the elevator from the main lobby and follow signs to the conference center or take the stairs under the green awning from the patient parking lot. The conference rooms are just inside. For directions and more information, visit www.giffordmed.org. Like Gifford on Facebook to receive notices of other upcoming free community talks.

Menig Once Again Ranked Among Nation’s Best!

Gifford Medical Center

From left, Menig Extended Care Facility licensed nursing assistants Loretta Cushing and Darlene Doyle and licensed practical nurse Anne Murphy gather around nursing home resident Della Allen, 99, on Wednesday. The nursing home at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph was recognized among the nation’s 2013 Best Nursing Homes.

RANDOLPH – For a third consecutive year, the Menig Extended Care Facility at Gifford Medical Center has been named among the nation’s very best nursing homes by U.S. News & World Report.

Looking at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data regarding health inspection, level of nursing staffing and quality of care for nearly 16,000 nursing homes nationwide, U.S. News & World created and released a “2013 Best Nursing Homes” list on Tuesday. Menig, along with seven other Vermont nursing homes, made the list for its “five-star” (the maximum available) rating.

Menig was also recognized in 2011 and 2012 and was named among the top 39 nursing homes in the nation last year.

“I am so proud of the Menig staff. We work in a place that is clean, well maintained, has great food and a dedicated pool of volunteers who love the elderly. Varied activities keep the residents’ quality of life high. This teamwork and our nursing staff’s commitment to care are what make Menig such a high-quality home,” said Cindy Richardson, Menig director of nursing. “This honor is wonderful recognition of the work we do on behalf of our residents every day.”

The U.S. News list is created to help consumers find quality nursing home care. Homes are given between one and five stars in the rankings.

“Fewer than one out of every five nursing homes got an overall rating of five stars,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News health rankings editor. “All seniors deserve the best nursing care available, and these are homes that merit their consideration by demonstrating such high quality.”

Menig is a 30-bed nursing home attached to Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. The medical center is currently amid the permitting process to move the nursing to Randolph Center where it would become the anchor of a senior living community. The new community would include independent and assisted living as well, helping to meet a significant community need for more senior care and living options. The move would also free up space at Gifford to create industry-standard single inpatient rooms (rather than shared two-person rooms) for patient safety and privacy.

Learn more about the nursing home rankings here. Also, you can learn more about Menig online at www.giffordmed.org.

 

South Royalton Family Welcomes First Baby of New Year at Gifford

Gifford Medical Center

Mom Sara Bowen, big sister Cassidy Sedor and dad Shawn Sedor, all of South Royalton, cuddle their newest family member – Kaydence Sedor, born on Jan. 2 at Gifford Medical Center and the Randolph hospital’s first baby of the new year.

RANDOLPH – Sara Bowen and fiancé Shawn Sedor of South Royalton were the first to welcome a baby in the new year at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph.

Bowen gave birth to daughter, Kaydence Sedor, on Jan. 2 at 10:29 p.m. A gorgeous and healthy Kaydence weighed in at 7 pounds 12 ounces and is 20 ½ inches long.

She is the couple’s second child. Two-year-old Cassidy Sedor was also born at Gifford.

The family was excited to have the first baby of the new year. “It’s really cool, actually,” said Bowen, but they were more excited with the newest member of their family, regardless of her birthdate.

“I’m lost for words. I love my kids. They’re amazing. (There’s) nothing better than to have kids,” said Bowen, who was originally due to give birth on Dec. 28.

Gifford Medica Center“We’ve got another little one to add to the family. (Kaydence) has someone to look up to and (Cassidy) has someone to take care of,” added Shawn. “I’m just glad that she’s healthy. We are lucky to have this blessing in our life.”

‘Start The Conversation’

All ages invited to join local experts in talking about end-of-life care options, to improve quality of life now.

Start the ConversationRANDOLPH – Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, the Vermont Ethics Network and Gifford Medical Center’s Advanced Illness Care Team are joining to create a community discussion around end-of-life care planning.

Called “Start The Conversation,” the talk will be held on Nov. 29 from 5-6:30 p.m. in Gifford’s Conference Center at the main medical center in Randolph.

“Start The Conversation” is a public education initiative of Vermont’s Visiting Nurse and home health and hospice agencies in partnership with the Vermont Ethics Network. Collaborating with medical providers like Gifford, the talk is offered around the state. A Web site, starttheconversationvt.org, also focuses on the issue of end-of-life planning.

“In life we prepare for everything: college, marriage, children and retirement. Despite the conversations we have for these important milestones, rarely do we have conversations about how we want to be cared for at the end of our lives,” explains the site.

“Talking is the single most important thing that you can do to prepare for the death of someone you love. While difficult, the end of life can be amazingly rich. Talking about this time makes a rich ending more likely. Often such conversations are avoided out of an understandable desire to spare each other’s feelings. They need not be.”

An Advance Directive is one way to get the conversation started and experts leading this Nov. 29 talk in Randolph will talk about end-of-life options, medical decision making and how to put ones wishes in writing through an Advance Directive.

“Planning for end-of-life care before it becomes a worry is as important as all the other life plans you make. Having a plan in place makes it easier for you, your doctor and your loved ones if you are unable to tell them your health care choices because of an injury or serious illness,” explains Jared King, business development manager for Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire.

“Every moment is precious – especially at the end-of-life. Starting the conversation early can ensure that your choices are heard. It also means that when time becomes short, it can be spent doing what you most enjoy and not making last-minute decisions.”

As a psychologist and member of Gifford’s inpatient care management team, Cory Gould spends much of her day talking to patients about Advance Directives. “We spend a lot of the day holding discussions with family members about how to talk about death,” Gould says. “The beauty of bringing this discussion to the forefront is to improve the quality of all of our lives.”

If end-of-life wishes are known there is more opportunity to enjoy the present and erase the worry, Gould explains. Discussing how one wants to celebrate the end can also increase understanding about what matters most to that individual in life. “Thinking about death is a way of celebrating life,” Gould says.

For Gifford and its Advanced Illness Care Team, the talk will be the first in a series on death and dying. Titled “A ‘Good’ Death,” the series will look at what is a “good” death, family dynamics when death approaches, what happens when someone dies, grief and more. The series begins with “Start The Conversation.”

“Start The Conversation” is free and open to people of all ages. Registration is not required. The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the medical center and marked by a green awning from the patient parking area. For handicap access, take the elevator from the main lobby to the first floor and follow signs to the Conference Center.

To learn more about this talk or the upcoming series, call Gould at (802) 728-2608 .

 

South Royalton Band Headlining First Free Concert in Gifford Park

South Royalton Town BandRANDOLPH – The South Royalton Band, often called the South Royalton Town Band, will headline a free community concert at Gifford Medical Center on Wednesday, July 11. The concert is the first public event in Gifford’s new park space since it was completed earlier this year.

Conducted by Dick Ellis, the South Royalton Band plays a mixture of marches, songs from Broadway, novelties, Dixieland music, patriotic numbers and features some soloists.

Marches include the work of American conductor John Philip Sousa, the “March king.” Melodies from such musicals as “The Music Man” and “The Sound of Music” will be heard.

“We try to have enough variety that everyone hears something that they enjoy,” said Ellis, who is in his 68th year of conducting the band and is known as this area’s “music man.”

Comprised of about 30 musicians from around central Vermont, the South Royalton Band is among the few surviving town bands in the region. Ellis credits word of mouth with attracting talent to the band and hard work with keeping it alive.

Ellis has dedicated his life to creating music in central Vermont as the band’s conductor; as the founder of high school bands in Randolph, Bethel, Rochester and his native South Royalton; and through the family business, Ellis Music Co., which supplies about 4,000 instruments to students in 350 Vermont and New Hampshire schools.

“My ambition was to give every youngster in Vermont the opportunity to play an instrument,” Ellis said.

Seven of Ellis’ former high school students still play in the band along with his own son and daughter. The band plays Thursdays on the South Royalton green and around central Vermont.

“I like to promote the arts as much as I can and Randolph for many years has been a place without a park,” he said.

When Gifford Administrator Joseph Woodin started talking about including a park at the hospital, Ellis was immediately interested. It was an opportunity, he said, to support two of his favorite things – the hospital and the arts.

“I was very glad to see something like that happening,” said Ellis, who helped fund the park construction, which was built entirely with donations.

Now Ellis’ band kicks off what the hospital hopes are other community events in the park with a free concert.

“We hope many community members come out to enjoy this new space and the familiar favorite that is the South Royalton Town Band,” said Ashley Lincoln, director of development and public relations at Gifford.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. and is expected to last until 8:30 p.m. Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket, and even a picnic supper. The rain date is Wednesday, July 18. If the weather is questionable, visit www.giffordmed.org on the afternoon of July 11 for an update.

The Gifford park is located between the hospital and the Thrift Shop on South Main Street (Route 12) south of Randolph village. Ample parking is available onsite.