Beyond “Cookie-Cutter” Medicine: Keeping the Passion Alive

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

beyond cookie cutter medicine

Drs. Jonathan Bjork and Robert Rinaldi

When podiatrist Rob Rinaldi first visited Gifford in 2003, he was struck by the energy and passion he encountered as he talked with staff.

“Everyone shared two ideals—to serve their patients in the best way they possibly could, and to make the hospital grow in good ways. Everyone wanted to make a contribution.”

Rinaldi says this first impression hasn’t changed over the years. The hospital has grown: clinics, buildings, and additional staff have been added and new technology brought in. He helped to create a new Sports Medicine program in 2005. Today, athletes come from all over the Upper Valley to the Sharon Health Center, which now has a physical therapy gym space, physical therapy treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art gait analysis system.

“I’m amazed at how much has changed and happened, but the passion—the focus on the health and well-being of the people we serve—is still here,” he said. “We don’t treat patients with cookie-cutter medicine. People are not just numbers here.”

This focus on personalized care also brought Podiatrist Jonathan Bjork to Gifford last spring.

“I like to develop good, ongoing relationships with patients—not just performing surgery but also helping with rehabilitation, and treating patients in the clinics,” he said. “I saw I could do that here.”

Like Rinaldi years ago, Bjork was impressed by the open and supportive environment created by his colleagues.

“There’s no sense of hierarchy here,” he says. “People offer help and guidance, but it isn’t done with a critical eye.”

Rinaldi says that new providers at Gifford are nurtured by seasoned staff, many who have been at Gifford for years, and that this model transforms the traditional mentoring role.

“It’s unusual because the long-term providers all still have the passion they started with!” he says. “Now they are showing new providers—not how to be a better doctor necessarily, but about the rewards of personalized patient care and how this helps to keep the passion alive.”

Nurturing Connection: The Art Behind the Science

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

Drs. Ovleto Ciccarelli and Nicolas Benoit

Every surface was polished and shining and immaculately maintained: this is the detail that comes to mind when General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli thinks back to his first visit to Gifford.

This small detail reflected a sense of connection and ownership that still impresses him today: staff members feel connected to the organization and take pride in their work.

“The people who work here take care of what’s theirs,” says Podiatrist Dr. Nicolas Benoit, who took over as Director of Surgical Services when Dr. Ciccarelli stepped down from the role in December.

Building relationships—to employees, to patients, to the people we serve—is key to Gifford’s success. They form a connecting thread that keeps us in touch with community concerns and needs, and has sustained us through a changing healthcare landscape for more than 100 years. People feel they are an important part of the organization and they want to help make it the best it can be.

“Gifford is very well-managed and has a concern for its employees some find unusual in the 21st century,” said Dr. Ciccarelli. “Every employee is in the same boat. You see this in our quarterly staff meetings, in how people are treated, and even in how we’ve weathered financial ups and downs: there’s never been a layoff. Everyone’s expected to not panic, to ride with it, and to pull a little harder.”

Over the years significant expansion and growth has been driven not by a business strategy, but in direct response to specific community needs (improvements to ensure access to quality local care or to fill needs like sports medicine or senior needs).

Doctors Ciccarelli and Benoit have witnessed major changes in their area in the last 10 years: the addition of a third operating room; a new ancillary services wing and patient-friendly surgical services floor; a systematized approach to wound care; and a radiology department transformed by the most modern technology and the expertise of two full-time radiologists. They say that the sense of an “employee team” has contributed to the organization’s growth over the years, bringing a resiliency and nimbleness that has allowed quick and thoughtful responses to internal and external change.

“I’m always impressed by how fast we can band together to get something accomplished here,” said Dr. Benoit. “People are willing to give the extra effort—if something seems impossible, we break it down in smaller steps to build it faster.”

The Art Behind the Science

Across the organization people are encouraged to collaborate and to help bring new colleagues up to speed when needed. As a surgeon in a small community hospital, Dr. Ciccarelli says peer support is especially important.

“The biggest challenge for a surgeon in rural health care is isolation,” he said. “Electronic media has made it easier to stay current, but most of surgery is an art, not a science: knowing what to do when is important, but how you do it and how much to do—this is where having peers becomes important.”

For Dr. Ciccarelli, nurturing relationships is especially important for recruiting a new generation of community health care providers—so many students are now encouraged to specialize or to take positions in larger hospitals, primarily because of student loan obligations. Both Leslie Osterman and Rebecca Savidge completed rotations with him as students, and both are now practicing at Gifford.

“Direct patient care is an honor and a privilege. Believe me, nothing beats being at a bedside with a patient!” he says. “We need to show young people how rewarding caring for patients can be.”

Gifford Begins Construction on Independent Living Apartments

Randolph Center community offers range of support for seniors aging locally

independent living apartments

L to R: Gifford VP of Finance Jeff Hebert, Neagley & Chase CEO Andrew Martin, Wiemann Lamphere VP Steven Roy, Gifford VP of Operations Rebecca O’Berry, Wiemann Lamphere Architect Heidi Davis, Gifford Facilities Director Doug Pfohl, Gifford Director of Marketing and Development Ashley Lincoln, Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger, Neagley& Chase, Project Manager Rob Higgins, Northfield Savings Bank VP Megan Cicio, Neagley& Chase Project Superintendent Peter Nelson

Community members, early depositors, and Gifford staff and board members gathered on July 12 to celebrate groundbreaking for 49 independent living apartments at the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center. Planning for the multi-phased project, the largest building project in Gifford’s history, began in 2010. The apartments are scheduled to open in late July/early August, 2017.

The 30-acre senior community includes the new Menig Nursing Home (opened May, 2015), the independent living units, and a planned assisted living facility—all on a 30-acre campus surrounded by orchards, berry patches, landscaped gardens, and trails for walking, biking, and snowshoeing. The independent living building includes 49 apartments (studio, one bedroom, one bedroom and den, two bedrooms) and community space for fitness, a woodworking shop, and artist and crafts areas.

Several depositors brought their own tools to toss the ceremonial shovel full of dirt onto meadowland that will soon surround their home. Gifford Facilities Director Doug Pfohl gave special thanks to the creative design team at Wiemann Lamphere Architects: David Roy, Heidi Davis, Michael Minadeo; and the Neagley Chase Construction Management Team, led by Andrew Martin, Rob Higgins, and Peter Nelson.

Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger thanked the early depositors for their sustaining support through a lengthy permitting process. “Thank you for being an early supporter, and for having faith in our project,” she said. “It takes courage to embark on a vision that you cannot see.”

Al Wilker and Vance Smith, among the earliest depositors, shared some thoughts about the project. Wilker said that the diversity of the local community, which includes teachers, professionals, business people, artists, and farmers, would ensure that people from all walks of life would be living there, and keeping things fun and interesting. “It’s growing, not growing old!” he said. “I look forward to learning something new every day.”

Smith encouraged the group to imagine a life free from the burdens of homeownership (mowing lawns, maintaining gardens, household repairs), and to think of new possibilities. She noted that each apartment plan is different, reflecting the design styles of early depositors. Even the breathtaking views surrounding the site offer variety: sunsets over the mountains to the west, and on the east views of a permaculture project blending wildlife, perennial, and vegetable gardens into a synergistic system that’s more than the sum of its parts. “We have the opportunity to build on and further the vision, to make this place what we want it to be,” she said. “That’s what this adventure is going to be, all of us making a greater whole!”

Gifford began offering health care specifically for seniors in 1993, when the state asked it to take over the Tranquility Nursing home in Randolph. Over the years it became clear that additional support was needed for seniors who wanted to remain in the community as they aged. Gifford has received many awards for the high-quality care offered at the hospital-run nursing home, and has expanded support for other senior needs: adult day care programs in Barre and Bethel, and the senior living community offering a continuum of senior care all on one campus in Randolph Center.

For more information about independent living at the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community, visit http://www.giffordmed.org/IndependentLiving or call 802-728-7888.

The OR Team: Bringing compassion and respect to patient care

This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.

Gifford OR team

Members of the OR Team (l to r): Ella Armstrong, Josh Redden, Morgan Nichols, Jeanelle Achee, Andrea Scott, Tammy Schellong, Jamie Floyd, Rebecca Johnson, Caitlyn Welch, Jason Lewis, Victoria Pulie, Kelsey Mancini.

“Patients feel very vulnerable when they are in the hospital for surgery,” said Surgery Nurse Manager Jamie Floyd. “We provide our patients with high quality surgical procedures, and our strong team approach allows us to give safe and compassionate care.”

Gifford Opens Remodeled New Birthing Center

Experienced providers, compassionate staff,
many options for personalized birth

Soon after opening on June 23, Gifford’s Birthing Center staff welcomed three new babies and their families into a beautiful new remodeled space at the hospital.

New features include a large tub room with spa-like comforts for those choosing hydrotherapy or water births, and a fully-equipped modern nursery for infants needing extra care. Families like that they can remain in a single room during their stay and are not moved after their child’s birth.

Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh

Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh

Twins Arlo Jackson Wonder and Wren Ila Wonder actually arrived on June 21, but stayed with parents Willow Wonder and Eric Clifford and big sister Shyloh in a spacious new room after they were born—one by caesarean section. Small details like dimmable lights, quilts, a rocker, and additional sleeping space right in the room made their first days together as a family more relaxed and special.

Willow Wonder’s first child was born at home and she did not want a hospital birth for her twins. She and her husband Eric Clifford came to Gifford when it became clear that she would need to induce labor. As the birth progressed, the birthing center nurses helped her with a series of unplanned choices: an epidural provided relief from the exhaustion of a long labor, and when only one of the twins could be delivered vaginally, she had an emergency C-section for the second birth. Pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola immediately cared for the stressed infant.

“At the last minute I realized Dr DiNicola had been my own pediatrician!” said proud father Eric Clifford, of Barre Town. “We were so well taken care of. We had not planned on a hospital birth, to induce labor, to have an epidural or a C-section—we really got the hospital at its A-game.”

Makayla Carol Peyton with her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton

Makayla Carol Peyton with her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton

Makayla Carol Peyton was the first baby born in the new space, arriving on June 26. Her parents Melissa Clements and Jeremy Peyton of Barre said they stayed closely connected with their midwife and loved that the atmosphere was so supportive and personal.

Gifford was the first hospital in Vermont to support individual preferences and childbirth outside of the traditional delivery room. Today women have the best of both worlds at Gifford: our certified nurse midwives and experienced Birthing Center nurses provide compassionate support for low-intervention births. But since each mother’s experience is different, other options are available as birth unfolds, including epidurals and the 24/7 back-up support of three ob/gyn physicians.

For more information about Gifford’s Birthing Center, call 802-728-2257 or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/BirthingCenter.

Gifford Campaign Celebrates a Vision Made Real

New nursing home, private inpatient rooms, updated Birthing Center now open

Campaign CommitteeMore than 125 supporters and friends gathered at the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph on June 28 to celebrate the closing of Vision for the Future, the largest capital campaign in Gifford’s 113-year history.

“In planning our campaign we believed that every gift was important, large or modest, and that the willingness to give to support others in the community was significant,” campaign co-chair Lincoln Clark told the crowd. “We have raised $4,685,548. Our largest gift of one million dollars came from the Gifford Medical Auxiliary, which laid the foundation for a successful campaign and the hundreds of gifts that followed.”

The Auxiliary gift was especially impressive since the funds were raised primarily through small-dollar sales of “re-purposed” items at their volunteer-run Thrift Shop. The campaign’s success reflects a tremendous outpouring of community support for Gifford: more than half of the donors gave gifts under $250.

Silently launched in 2013, the campaign went public in the spring of 2014 to raise funds for an ambitious three-phased project:

  • Building a new Menig Nursing Home to anchor the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center
  • Renovating the vacated Menig space at the hospital into industry-standard private patient rooms
  • Creating a new updated and centrally located Birthing Center, with upgrades, spacious rooms, and a calming décor

Strategic planning had identified these areas as facility improvements that would ensure that Gifford could continue to provide the best possible healthcare— from newborns through old age—locally for generations to come. Each phase was carefully planned and met a specific budget and timeline: the new Menig opened in May of 2015, 25 private patient rooms opened in December 2015, and the new Birthing Center opened on June 22, 2016.

“When it was clear that the Birthing Center renovation—the final phase of the project — would open in mid-June, our campaign committee decided to celebrate the end of our campaign at the same time,” said Ashley Lincoln, Director of Development. “Our festive event celebrated the close of an especially rewarding year. As each phase was completed, campaign contributors could see firsthand the impact their gifts have had on the lives of their neighbors and friends”.

She noted that the campaign could not have succeeded without the hard work and unfailing commitment of the Campaign Steering Committee, who volunteered their time and energy: Lincoln Clark and Dr. Lou DiNicola (campaign co-chairs),Carol Bushey, Linda Chugkowski, Lyndell Davis, Paul Kendall, Karen Korrow, Sandy Levesque, Barbara Rochat, and Sue Systma.

For more information about Gifford’s Vision for the Future campaign, call Ashley Lincoln at 728-2380, or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Cardiopulmonary Services Help Rebuild Strength, Improve Quality of Life

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Gifford cardiopulmonary servicesAfter Richard Polarek had a heart valve replacement at the VA hospital in Boston last summer, his doctor coordinated with Gifford for his follow-up care so he could be closer to his home in Randolph Center.

For nearly two months he left his treatment sessions at Gifford’s Cardiopulmonary Services Department feeling discouraged. “Even though I challenged myself a little more each time, I didn’t feel any change,” he said. “Then, in the last month, I began to experience the benefits—not huffing, being able to walk longer and faster, but most of all not making excuses for not doing something. Now I’m hooked!”

During his multiple weekly visits he became friends with Bob Perry Sr., a pulmonary rehab patient who exercised on the bio stair machine and bicycle to treat his COPD. “I love this!” said Perry.” I can walk further and I don’t breathe as hard. When I come in now I can walk up the entrance ramp.”

Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients build strength and endurance after a heart attack, heart surgery, and other heart illness. The program includes exercise with specially-trained nurses, education, and nutrition advice. The goal is to return patients to good physical, mental, and social health and to help people better understand and adapt to their disease.

The Pulmonary rehabilitation program combines monitored exercise and education to help people with lung disease, such as COPD, to decrease symptoms and hospitalizations, increase exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life. To learn more about these programs and testing, call the Cardiopulmonary Department at Gifford at 728-2222 or ask your health care provider for a referral.

2016 Summer Concert Series Seeks Farmers Market Vendors

Sign up now for free vendor space at popular summer community concerts

farmer's marketFree space is being offered to vendors who sign up to sell or promote products at the community market held during the 2016 Summer Concert Series in Gifford Park.

The summer concerts, now in their 5th year, are a partnership between Gifford Medical Center and the White River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Starting on Tuesday, July 5th, and continuing for the next seven Tuesdays, there will be a different family-friendly concert in Gifford’s park (front lawn) on Route 12 in Randolph. Families bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets for an evening of fun, food, and music starting at 6 p.m. and ending around 7:30 p.m. This year there will again be weekly food offerings prepared by a different nonprofit agency during each performance.

There is space for 10-15 vendors per show, so sign up now and reserve a spot to sell produce, flowers, baked treats, crafts, and other farmer’s market items at these popular community gatherings. Contact Emma Schumann, 728-2339; eschumann@giffordmed.org.

The 2016 concert schedule:

JULY 5: South Royalton Band; food offered by Randolph Center Fire Department
JULY 12: Jennings & McComber (Green Mt Indie Folk); food offered by Gifford’s Last Mile Ride
JULY 19: IHS Kava Express (Funk Rock); food offered by White River Valley Chamber of Commerce
JULY 26: Tim Brick (Country); food offered by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department D.A.R.E. prgram
AUG 2: John Lacard Band (Blues and Classic Rock); food offered by Randolph Rotary Club
AUG 9: Dave Keller Band (Smooth New Jazz); food offered by Stagecoach Transportation and Sunrise Rotary Club of Randolph
AUG 16: Swing Noir (Gypsy Jazz and Hot Swing); food offered by TBD

The 2016 Summer Concert Series on Gifford Park is brought to you by the Frankenburg Agency and the Chandler Center for the Arts.

Work by Randolph Center Artist Paul Calter at Gifford Gallery

“The View from Braintree Hill,” by artist Paul Calter

“The View from Braintree Hill,” by artist Paul Calter

“Close to Home,” an exhibit of sketchbook pages by Randolph Center artist Paul Calter, is on display through June 29, 2016, in the Gifford Medical Center Art Gallery.

The 39 landscapes were created in locations within ten miles of Randolph during a period spanning nearly 50 years. Each scene is numbered and keyed to a map of the area hung near the exhibit.

“There’s no need to travel to an exotic location to find something to please the eye,” Calter writes in his artist’s note. “Sometimes I would set up an easel, but more often I’d just find a rock to sit on, with my pad in my lap, or sketch standing with a small pad in one hand and a brush in the other.”

In 1968 Calter left an engineering job in New York City to teach mathematics in Vermont, where he also began to draw, paint, and sculpt. He earned a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in sculpture from the Vermont College of Norwich University (now the Vermont College of Fine Arts) in 1993.

Calter’s paintings and sculptures have been commissioned and exhibited around the region. He has permanent pieces featured at Vermont Technical College, Castleton State College, and Gifford. His pieces at the hospital include a fountain in the Courtyard Garden (donated in 2009) and a marble carving of a nurse located near the inpatient unit, (donated 2012).

This exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be displayed through June 29, 2016. 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 for more information.

E. Berton Whitaker Named Interim CEO of Gifford Health Care

Bert Whitaker

Interim CEO Bert Whitaker

E. Berton (Bert) Whitaker has been named interim CEO of Gifford Health Care in Randolph. He will be working with Gifford’s board of directors and Sr. Leadership team until a permanent chief executive is in place.

A national search to replace former CEO Joseph Woodin, who left after 17 years at Gifford, is anticipated to take six to eight months.

“Bert is a great fit for Gifford and our community in this period of transition,” said Peter Nowlan, board vice-chair and head of the search committee. “He prides himself on effective communication, financial stability, and quality performance.”

Whitaker, who is from Chattanooga, TN., was selected from a pool of eight applicants. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and is a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.

He has been in health care administration for 35-years and has held both CEO and interim-CEO positions in a variety of hospital settings, large and small healthcare organizations, acute and long-term care facilities, and multiple physician group practices. This is his fourth interim position since retiring as CEO and President at Baptist Health in Madisonville, Kentucky in 2013. Most recently he served as interim CEO of Calais Regional Hospital in Maine.

“Gifford has a clear vision, a solid and engaged board, and great staff. This organization is well positioned to go through this transition,” he said. “My role during this period is to respond to issues as they come up, and to balance a celebration of the good things at Gifford with gathering information so I can flag any issues or problems that may need to be resolved.”