Quality Improvement Initiatives

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Rebecca O'BerryBy Rebecca O’Berry, vice president of surgery and operations

In 2014 the Cancer Program has focused on improving our screening efforts for colorectal cancer, the one cancer that can be prevented. Our two quality improvement goals for 2014 were to improve the tracking process we use for hemoccult cards given to patients and to increase the number of people screened for colorectal cancer.

Historically, less than half of the hemoccult cards given to patients are returned to the physician’s office for testing. We implemented a follow-up plan to increase our return rate and modified the system we use to track these cards. Our efforts were successful, and we were encouraged to explore bringing in a different test that is easier for patients to perform at home. This new laboratory test will be part of our quality initiative for 2015.

Throughout the organization we worked to increase the number of patients who receive some kind of colorectal screening. In the target age group of 50-75, our screening numbers increased from 59 percent (in 2013) to 90 percent (in 2014). This is a significant improvement, and shows how effective a targeted educational effort on the benefits of some form of colorectal screening can be! Unfortunately a large number of our patients still refuse to undergo colorectal screening. In 2015 we will work to improve patient access to screening by increasing the variety of our testing methods.

In 2014 we also increased our social services support for patients undergoing cancer treatment. To ensure that everyone has the help they need while moving through treatment, our patients now have easy access to a social worker and our Blueprint team. We also created a binder to collect all the information needed by someone undergoing cancer treatment.

The MagView program implemented at the end of 2013 has helped our radiology department track screening mammography in a more systematic way. This program keeps all a patient’s information in one location, and allows a much faster turnaround time for notification of results. The time a patient must wait to receive a mammography result notification letter is now less than two days!

Our providers are excellent communicators and have put a lot of time and energy into community education about prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. We work closely with our local senior centers to provide education sessions that are open to the public. Topics covered in these community outreach efforts include: skin cancer screenings and education (in several locations); discussions on breast cancer, bladder and prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. We will continue to provide this education in the upcoming year.

In 2014, 53 new cancer cases were identified, with breast cancer continuing to be the most prominent followed by lung, colon, and prostate. A total of 41 of those 53 cases were discussed at Tumor Board meetings.

2014 Gifford cancer statistics

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Expertise, Personalized Care, and Comprehensive Support Close to Home

This article was published in our Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Brenda CaswellWhen someone is given a cancer diagnosis, their world is turned upside down. Suddenly there is a lot of information to absorb, many tests to take, and hard decisions that have to be made quickly—all when people are feeling most vulnerable.

Travelling to receive treatment and follow-up cancer care can be expensive, exhausting, and complicated to organize. At Gifford patients with cancer have treatment options that can relieve these stresses.

Most cancers—especially breast, colon, prostate, and bladder cancers—can be treated here in our community hospital with caregivers that patients know and trust, close to the family and friends who will support them during treatment.

“Our goal is to make sure people know that they can receive the same quality of care offered at larger hospitals close to home, with a support network they know,” said Rebecca O’Berry, vice-president of Surgery and Operations at Gifford. “Battling a cancer diagnosis is hard enough—I’m thankful that we can provide quality cancer care locally and decrease our patient’s travel time during treatment.”

First accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in 1965 (we received our most recent 3-year accreditation in December of 2014), our cancer program has been delivering quality cancer care to our community for nearly fifty years. Our oncology services include cancer care from an experienced oncologist, hospital specialists and surgeons, and specially certified oncology nurses; lab and diagnostic services; advanced diagnostic services, including stereotactic breast imaging; outpatient chemotherapy; preventive cancer screenings; and a strong palliative care program. Our multidisciplinary approach to each patient’s care includes identifying social service needs as well as appropriate medical expertise.

Experience, expertise, and compassionate care close to home

“With cancer, making the right diagnosis and getting the right treatment is key,” says Dr. Richard Graham, a Gifford urologist who treats prostate, bladder, and renal cancers. “Experience with specific cancers is also important. We have the expertise and technology to diagnose a lot of rare cancers, but we are small enough to see patients as individuals: You are not a number here.”

Graham notes that he saw an increase in patients whose small cancers were treated with cryosurgery and laparoscopic surgery in 2014.

Personalized support for the cancer care each patient chooses

When a patient chooses cancer treatment that is not offered here, our providers make referrals and collaborate with outside oncologists so things go smoothly. Patients have the option to receive post-operative care and chemo treatments close to home.

Brenda Caswell, a Randolph mother of five, regularly comes to Gifford for medical care and annual mammogram screenings. She missed three years of annual visits because of her pregnancy and the birth of her youngest child, and when she resumed her check-in’s her provider insisted that she get a mammogram.

“My provider didn’t let me out of the office without scheduling a mammogram,” Caswell says. “She knew me, knew that my mom had had breast cancer, and knew that regular screening was especially important for me.”

A small tumor was detected, and after a biopsy and two consultations with Dr. Ciccarelli, she decided to have mastectomy and reconstructive breast surgery through a program offered at a larger hospital. Dr. Ciccarelli’s team made referrals and helped her arrange treatment. When her cancer was found to be more invasive than originally thought, she had to plan for chemotherapy after surgery. Then, when post-operative complications required a week of inpatient care right before the holidays, she knew she wanted to be close to home and with her family.

“I was able to be at Gifford, just down the street from my home,” Caswell said. “The doctors were wonderful—they collaborated with the oncologists who were treating me, sharing blood counts and test results. It was a very smooth process.”

Click here to read our full Cancer Program 2014 Annual Report.

Wiemann Lamphere Architects to Design Gifford Senior Living Project

Wiemann Lamphere Architects

(L to R) Gifford Retirement Community Executive Director Linda Minsinger, VP of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry, and Facilities Director Doug Pfohl

Gifford will work with Wiemann Lamphere Architects as they move into the second stage of building independent living apartments at the new Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community in Randolph Center, Vermont.

The Colchester, Vermont design firm will build on Gifford’s original design concept to create a vibrant neighborhood for the 25-acre campus, which includes the new Menig Nursing home and planned future assisted living.

“Wiemann Lamphere has worked on many housing projects and brings specific expertise in designing for seniors in independent living facilities,” said Gifford’s Vice President of Operations and Surgical Services Rebecca O’Berry. “They are an energetic and enthusiastic team who approached our project with creative ideas on how to encourage community interaction while incorporating nature and energy conservation into the design.”

The three-story, 49-apartment building will use internal common spaces (including a proposed dining room, library, fitness area, lounges, and sunroom) to encourage community interaction, and external gathering spots (a proposed campus green, orchard, gardens, and extensive nature trails) to strengthen the neighborhood feel of the campus.

Groundbreaking for the independent living apartments is anticipated in the spring of 2016, with an anticipated move-in date in late spring 2017.

“We are pleased to be working with Gifford to develop much needed senior housing opportunities in central Vermont and look forward to making the most of the wonderful views on the site,” said Weimann Lamphere President David P. Roy. “We have a passion for sustainability, and a drive to create healthy, invigorating spaces for people to live their lives to the fullest.”

To learn more about the Morgan Orchards Senior Living Community, visit www.giffordmed.org/IndependentLiving or call 802-728-2787.

ESGR Honors Gifford’s Rebecca O’Berry

Hospital VP receives ‘Patriot Award’ for support of citizen soldiers

ESGR

David Wheel, executive director of the Vermont Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presents Gifford Medical Center Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry with a Patriot Award. Joining in receiving the award are, from left, Gifford Surgery Nurse Manager Jamie Floyd, Gifford Surgical Services Office Manager Bethany Osha, Wheel, O’Berry, Guard specialist and Gifford health care assistant Marc Truedson, and former Guard member and Gifford registered nurse Caitlyn Bushey. Truedson nominated O’Berry for the award. (Provided: Robin Palmer)

Marc Truedson’s commitment to serve the country as a specialist in the Vermont National Guard means time away from work as a health care assistant at Gifford Medical Center. Truedson’s employer supports his time away, filling shifts so that he can serve.

Recently Truedson discovered a way to thank Gifford and his senior manager, Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry, for that support. He nominated O’Berry for a Patriot Award through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

The ESGR is a Department of Defense operational committee that, with the help of volunteers, promotes and enhances civilian employer support of citizen soldiers.

On Monday afternoon, Vermont ESGR Executive Director David Wheel delivered the award and many kind words to O’Berry and her team. Continue reading