Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” Celebrates New Nursing Home

Tom Wicker, journalist who appreciated Gifford care, is honored at naming event

Tom Wicker's widow

Pam Hill, widow of journalist Tom Wicker, receives a sign that will mark Tom Wicker Lane, the road that leads into the new Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center, Vermont.

More than 150 people gathered at the newly completed Menig Nursing Home in Randolph Center on May 20, 2015 to celebrate a milestone in Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” campaign.

The $5 million campaign has raised $3.5 million to support the construction of the new facility, and will now focus on the second phase of the project, the creation of private patient rooms in the vacated space on the hospital campus.

“We wanted these generous early donors to be able to see firsthand the significance of their support for our campaign,” said Gifford Development Director Ashley Lincoln. “This is the beauty of giving locally—you are able to really see the impact you make.”

Guests toured the new building in advance of the official ribbon cutting ceremony on June 9. The spacious hill-top facility, with breathtaking views of the Green and Braintree mountains, anchors a senior living community that will also include independent and assisted living units.

A highlight of the evening was the naming of Tom Wicker Lane, the road leading into the new Menig. An anonymous donor wished to honor a loved friend and asked that the entry lane be named for Wicker, an author and journalist whose writings chronicled some of the most important events of post-WW II America.

A journalist and political columnist for the New York Times, Wicker covered eight presidents and wrote during a tumultuous period that included the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Viet Nam war and the Watergate scandal. A Time to Die, one of the 20 books he wrote, explored the Attica Prison uprising and was later made into a movie starring Morgan Freeman.

After a writing career that spanned nearly 50 years, Wicker retired to Austin Hill Farm in Rochester, VT. He died at home in 2011, at the age of 85.

“In retirement, as his health began to slip, Tom came to know another of Vermont’s assets: that was Gifford,” Pam Hill, his wife of 37 years, wrote in remarks delivered by Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin. “He liked the excellent care, the easy comfort and beauty that assured him he was still in Vermont. He spent some of his last days at Gifford; for him it became a life-giving extension of his beloved Austin Hill Farm.”

Renovation of the old Menig wing of the hospital will start in June, with minimum disruption to patients. The 25 new private patient rooms are expected to be ready in approximately nine months.

“This is the largest campaign Gifford has undertaken in its 110 years. And we still have $1.5 million to go!” campaign Co-Chair Lincoln Clark said as he thanked the crowd for their early support. “Now, as we begin the public part of our campaign, we will need your help again in telling everyone you meet what an important project this is and what it will mean to our community.”

To donate to the “Vision for the Future” campaign contact Ashley Lincoln, 728-2380, or visit http://www.giffordmed.org/VisionfortheFuture.

Chiropractor Steven S. Mustoe Joins Gifford’s Sports Medicine Team

Dr. Steve Mustoe

Dr. Steve Mustoe

Steven S. Mustoe, D.C. has joined the Sports Medicine clinic at the Sharon Health Center. A board-certified chiropractor, he has practiced for the last 18 years in Brattleboro, VT and Charlottesville, VA.

Mustoe became a chiropractor because of his own experience with an injured back. “The only relief doctors could offer was through medication. When I went off drugs, the pain returned,” he said. “I eventually found a chiropractor who helped me heal. To be able to relieve someone’s pain like that is an amazing thing!”

Originally from London, England, he received a Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Life Chiropractic West in California after relocating to the States to be with his wife, Gail. The two met 25 years ago when Mustoe was a tour guide on a seven-week bus tour through Europe. They’ve been together ever since, and now have two children.

After years in private practice, Mustoe looks forward to collaborating with a multidisciplinary sports medicine team that includes podiatry, general sports medicine, and physical therapists. He is also excited about the equipment and technology at the Sharon center—a physical therapy gym space; x-ray technology and mounted flat screens for reviewing radiological exams; physical therapy treatment rooms; and a state-of- the-art gait analysis system.

His special interest is in helping people regain the ability to enjoy their life: as an athlete, an injured veteran, or someone unable to perform daily tasks.

“I tend to work gently, to listen to people and then help with function as well as pain,” he said. “You don’t have to be an athlete—maybe what’s important to you is to be able to play with the grandchildren in the back yard.”

Dr. Mustoe is now seeing patients at the Sharon Health Center. Call 763-8000 to schedule an appointment.

Christina DiNicola, MD, FAAP Joins Gifford Pediatrics

Dr. Christina DiNicola

Dr. Christina DiNicola

When Christina DiNicola, MD, FAAP started practicing in Gifford’s Pediatrics department this spring, she returned to work next to the mentor she had “job shadowed” before heading off to Stanford University in the fall of 1994. Today that mentor, Dr. Lou DiNicola, is not only her colleague but her father-in-law.

“I always knew I wanted to practice medicine, but that long-ago summer with Lou confirmed that I wanted to work in Pediatrics,” she said. “Last fall, I was about to sign into a partnership that would mean committing to living in Philadelphia when the Gifford position opened up, but we knew this was the right move for our family. I felt like I was coming home!”

DiNicola has worked in a range of communities (including suburban New Jersey, inner city Philadelphia, rural Appalachia, and on a Navajo reservation in Arizona), and with several national organizations including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Families USA. She was director of the Integrative Pediatrics program at the Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia, and founder and medical coordinator of the Reach Out and Read Program at South Philadelphia Pediatrics.

After that summer internship in Randolph, she attended Stanford University and graduated with a BA in human biology (concentration in Children, Family & Public Policy). She received a certificate of completion in the Children & Society Curriculum from the Stanford Center on Adolescence, and earned her medical doctorate degree at the University of Medicine and Dentistry-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Her residency training in pediatrics was at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she is board certified in pediatrics.

DiNicola says she brings a personalized, yet evidence-based approach to her practice, and stresses building healthy habits early on to prevent disease and mental health issues later in life. She especially enjoys helping families understand the direct connection between mental and physical wellbeing, and to use self-relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, or other mind/body techniques that can help with anxiety, depression, or sleep issues. She prefers using a team oriented approach in partnership with families to create the best health outcomes for her patients.

When the DiNicola family’s moving van arrived in Randolph on April 1, 2015, the “meant-to-be” nature of her new position was highlighted by the fact that the chance encounter that connected her to Gifford and her subsequent career in Pediatrics had occurred on April 1st exactly 21 years ago.

Christina DiNicola was visiting a friend when she met Damian DiNicola on April Fool’s Day in the Randolph High School parking lot in 1994. She returned home to New Jersey with a prom date, and the two have been together ever since.

15 Years Financially Stable

Working together to achieve not only a healthy community, but a healthy company

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Gifford budget

Gifford staff pose with VP of Finance Jeff Hebert (center left) and Administrator Joe Woodin (center right) to celebrate achieving budget.

In a feat not replicated by any other hospital in Vermont, Gifford achieved its state-approved operating margin for the 15th straight year, closing the 2014 fiscal year books with a three percent margin.

As a fiscally stable medical center, community organization, and employer, Gifford has been able to consistently provide care and services without facing cuts and uncertainty.

This achievement is especially remarkable this year, given the many healthcare changes and an equally challenging economic climate.

“By managing our expenses and the budget process, we’ve once again met our state-approved operating margin goals,” said Jeff Hebert, vice president of finance.
“Consistently maintaining a steady operating margin — the money the medical center makes above expenses — is an indicator of an organization’s fiscal health and allows us to continue to invest in new clinical programs, equipment, staff, and facilities.”

Gifford Offers ‘Home Alone and Safe’ Course for Kids May 23

home alone courseWellness educator Jude Powers will offer “Home Alone and Safe,” a course for children ages 8-11 on Saturday, May 23, from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Gifford’s Family Center (next to Ob/Gyn and Midwifery).

Designed by chapters of the American Red Cross to meet the needs of children who spend time without adult supervision, this course will help them understand rules and responsibilities, and to anticipate and resolve potential problems.

Participants will learn how to safely respond to a variety of home alone situations, including:

• Internet safety
• Family communications
• Telephone safety
• Sibling care
• Personal safety
• Gun safety
• Basic emergency care

The morning class will include role play, brainstorming, and watching a video on the topic. Each child will take home a workbook and handouts, and earn a certificate upon completion.

“Home Alone and Safe” will be held at Gifford‘s Family Center space at the hospital on Route 12 (South Main Street) in Randolph. The Family Center is beside Gifford Ob/Gyn and Midwifery. Please register with instructor Jude Powers at (802) 649-1841. The cost is $15.

A Message from the Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

Medical Staff President Dr. Ellamarie Russo-DeMara

As president of the Medical Staff I have witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication not only of our medical team, but of all those behind the scenes who make Gifford a place where patients are a priority.

With economic and healthcare issues front and center in our daily news, it’s reassuring to work for an organization that is fiscally stable without sacrificing quality of care. I know I speak for the entire health care team when I say how fortunate we are to have our new FQHC designation, which will allow us to provide much needed dental and mental health services to our community.

Gifford continues to lead the way in its vision for the future of providing quality care for our community. At the forefront of that vision is the creation of a new Senior Living Community, where our seniors can be cared for in a home-like setting.

As part of this process we are fortunate to be able to “rejuvenate” our existing space into private, more comfortable rooms that will allow us to improve the efficiency and quality of the care we offer our patients.

It has been an exciting year of planning and creating new ways to provide access to the high-quality care we offer through all stages of life—from newborn through to nursing home resident.

A Vision for the Future: Meeting Tomorrow’s Health Care Needs

A message from Development Director Ashley Lincoln

Ashley Lincoln

Above: Ashley Lincoln, Development Director, and Vision for the Future Campaign Committee members Dr. Lou DiNicola (Co-chair), Linda Chugkowski, and Lincoln Clark (Co-chair) at the site of Gifford’s new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community.

Since outreach began, a little over 18 months ago, many generous donors have stepped up to pledge $3 million for Gifford’s “Vision for the Future” campaign.

This $5 million capital campaign will support patient room upgrades and a new senior living community, improvements that will help us continue to provide the best possible community health care for years to come.

This impressive early support—from members of the business community, Gifford’s volunteer board of Trustees and Directors, former trustees, medical staff, employees, the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary—is already having an impact.

The beautiful new Menig building that you’ve watched growing in Randolph Center will open in May as an anchor for the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community. Soon after, renovation of the vacated hospital wing begins, creating 25 new single-patient rooms that will improve patient privacy, allow state-of-the-art technology to be brought to the bedside, and create an environment that promotes and speeds the healing process.

Humbled and energized by this wonderful start, I can now officially announce that our “silent phase” ended on Saturday, March 7, with the public launch of our “Vision for the Future” campaign at the medical center’s 109th Annual Meeting of Corporators.

Over the years our community has generously supported Gifford through many evolutions. Moving forward we will need everyone’s help to raise the remaining $2 million by the end of 2015. Our goal of $5 million may seem lofty, but this campaign will help us address unprecedented challenges and opportunities in health care.

Providing quality medical care in the hospital and our nine community health centers is central to our mission. We care for patients locally, eliminating the need to travel—sometimes over mountains, often in treacherous winter conditions. Over the years we have invested in state-of-the-art technology, retained high quality staff, and adopted a hospitalist model that helps us care for sicker patients. Modernizing our patient rooms is a next step in improving patient comfort and providing the best care.

A real community concern is a lack of living and care options for our seniors. As our friends and neighbors age and are looking to downsize, we want them to stay where they have grown up, worked, raised their family, and built relationships. Each individual is a piece of our community quilt: when one leaves, it starts to fray.

Your support for this project will help us sustain our community’s health—and protect our “community quilt”—with the very best care, from birth through old age, for another 110 years.

Space that Speeds the Healing Process

One patient per hospital room is good medicine. Here’s why…

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

individual hospital rooms

Semi-private rooms offer little privacy or space for patients, their families and
hospital staff. Private patient rooms will alleviate the overcrowding that is typical of shared rooms.

The reality of a shared hospital room is that you don’t get to choose your roommate.

“We do our best to match up personalities and scenarios and illnesses and infection issues,” says Alison White, vice president of the hospital division, “but there are things like having a roommate who is a night owl and you like to be in bed by 7:30. If we need a bed and your room happens to be that one empty bed, you get who you get.”

The new reality at Gifford is that every hospital patient will soon have a room of their own as part of a construction project that received its final okay in October 2013. In spring 2015, when 30-bed Menig Extended Care moves to Randolph Center, the hospital will begin converting the vacated wing. The number of rooms for hospital patients will double while the number of hospital beds—25—remains the same, a ratio that guarantees maximum comfort and safety. The renovations are also an opportunity to open up ceilings, replace old systems, and improve energy efficiency.

“When patients are recovering from surgery or from illness, they want what they want,” says Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of operations and the surgical division.

“Sharing a room with somebody else just doesn’t work for most patients. From the surgeon’s point of view, if I’ve just replaced your total hip, the last thing I want is for you to be in a room with someone who might be brewing an infection.”

White names several other factors, besides the risk of infection, that have helped make private rooms the standard in hospitals today. Among them:

Faster healing: Studies show that patients who are in private rooms need less pain medication because they’re in a more soothing environment. If your roommate has IV pumps that are going off, or the nurse has to check your neighbor every one or two hours—which is very common—the lights go on, the blood pressure machine goes off, the nurse has to speak with the person in the bed next to you. With private rooms, all that is removed.

Ease of movement: Our rooms were built before the current technology existed. IV poles didn’t exist. We now have people with two or three pumps. With today’s technology there’s no room to move around. When you have two of everything—two chairs, two overbed tables, two wastebaskets—it creates an obstacle course.

Better doctor-patient communication: As professionals, we don’t always get the whole story because the patient doesn’t want to be overheard by his neighbor.

Patient satisfaction: Larger rooms, each with a bathroom, will give patients additional privacy and enhance the patient experience. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Gifford Staff Raise Money for March of Dimes

Blue Jeans for Babies fundraiser

Roger Clapp and JoEllen Calderara from March of Dimes in Vermont, receive check from Ellen Fox, RN, and Kim Summers, Birthing Center assistant nurse manager. The check was for $505 in employee donations to Blue Jeans for Babies day, and Gifford’s sponsorship of the CVT March for Babies in May.

More than 100 Gifford Medical Center employees raised $505 for the March of Dimes by wearing “Blue Jeans for Babies” to work on Friday, March 20, 2015.

Each March the Randolph medical center and its outlying health clinics participate in the fund-raiser, which allows employees who donate $5 to the March of Dimes to wear jeans to work for the day. The March of Dimes is the nation’s leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. It raises funds through a variety of events to help prevent birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality.

Roger Clapp, executive director of the March of Dimes in Vermont, thanked hospital employees for their participation in the fund-raiser and – as a medical center with a renowned Birthing Center – for their work toward healthy births.

“The March of Dimes recognizes the care and commitment to excellence among the Gifford team that contributes to Vermont’s national lead in preventing premature birth. We’re particularly thankful to be able to reinvest the staff’s fund-raising proceeds to give every baby in Vermont a healthier start,” Clapp said.

Gifford Birthing Center Assistant Nurse Manager Karen Summers and RN Ellen Fox presented the check to Clapp and Jo Ellen Calderara of March of Dimes in Vermont.

Gifford is also a sponsor of the Central Vermont March for Babies walk on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at Montpelier High School. Sign-up online at www.marchforbabies.org or by calling 802-560-3239.

Going Digital

The following article appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.

converting to electronic medical recordsFlashback to March 2014. Gifford’s switch to electronic medical records, the industry standard, has been in the works for a couple of years. The challenge: To complete the transition before spring 2015, when government penalties are due to kick in. For the shift to occur, providers—doctors and other medical professionals—will have to learn to use the system. This learning will be put to the test in front of patients. A prevailing sentiment: “I was really hoping I’d retire before we got around to doing this.”

“EMR came out of the Affordable Care Act as a sort of a mandate for us,” says Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin. “We had some electronic files and file management in the past, as many hospitals do, but now there’s a clear mandate of completing that loop, and the government has given us economic incentives to do it, as well as economic penalties if we don’t. So like every other hospital in the country, we’ve been passionately working on this for a couple of years.”

When we think of doctors, we think of clipboards and script pads and cheap ballpoint pens. We think of scrawly handwriting. With the shift to EMR, doctors who were used to scribbling notes on charts and sending them to medical transcriptionists were being asked to give up those tools and plug in the data electronically. VP of Finance Jeff Hebert likens the task to mastering Excel when you’ve been doing spreadsheets by hand for years.

“To add more complexity,” says Hebert, “the product was a brand-new one for our hospital vendor; they redesigned it and we were the first to be going live with it. So in addition to my Excel analogy going on with our providers, CPSI was introducing us to a product that they weren’t that familiar with because they had just created it.” Across the health-care system, a piecemeal electronic infrastructure that lacks standardization—unlike, say, the banking system—did nothing to make the task easier.

By March, pediatrics was trained and ready to go. The first wave of physicians began walking into exam rooms hugging their new laptops. Office visits slowed.

Gifford's electronic medical records

“A lot of organizations have found that transitioning to EMR affects their productivity and some of their morale,” says Woodin. “It asks a lot of the providers and the patients. The challenge would be equivalent to going metric or if you were asked to speak a different language.”

Over the summer, primary care joined the campaign. Neurology, surgery, and other specialists stepped up in the fall.

Meanwhile, providers and patients were starting to experience the benefits of the new system.

“Electronic medical records will allow our organization to be fully integrated across the continuum of care, from inpatient to outpatient to pharmacy—the whole thing. And it’s going to allow us to better care for you. If you walk into the ER and you’re a patient in our Bethel clinic, the ER can pull up your record from this morning—it’s already there,” says Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of operations and the surgical division.

“So if you’re a poor historian—meaning, for instance, that you can’t remember what pills you take or whether you’ve had your gall bladder out—or you just know that you saw somebody today and you still don’t feel well, they can pull it up, whereas before we had nothing. If it’s seven o’clock at night, you can’t call Bethel and say, ‘Hey, I need you to pull this record and read to me what happened.’ There’s no delay, no lag time waiting for dictation. For somebody who has had care and needs more care within the next day or two of their last visit, everything’s there, and that’s the beauty of it.”

By the end of the year, providers were settling into their new routine and at least some of the kinks had been worked out of the new system.

“We’ve done a good job,” said Woodin. “We’re working through it. There are always improvements to be made.”