This article was published in our 2015 Annual Report.
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.”
Podiatrist/sports medicine advocate celebrated for His 12 years at Sharon Health Center
Gifford staff gathered on March 25 to celebrate podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi’s 12 years of service to an expanding community of athletes, and to wish him well as he transitions to new roles in the organization.
The party featured a cake shaped like a foot, lots of foot jokes, and heartfelt stories about Rinaldi’s many contributions and roles at Gifford: as generous mentor, sports medicine advocate, surgeon, and the force behind the very successful Sharon Health Center and sports medicine clinic.
“I flunked the first time I retired!” Rinaldi quipped, explaining that he missed seeing patients when he left a thriving Connecticut practice and retired to his farm in Chelsea in 2000. So when Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin approached him about expanding sports medicine at Gifford, he was receptive: “I didn’t want to sound too anxious, so I said yes!”
Rinaldi helped design the first phase of the Sharon Health Center, which opened in 2005. By 2008 a 2,200 square foot expansion was added to accommodate the thriving sports medicine clinic, and a final planned 2,600 square foot expansion was added in 2014.
Today, athletes come from all over the Upper Valley to the center, which includes 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. The sports medicine team includes: Michael Chamberland, DC (chiropractic/sports medicine); Paul Smith, DPM (podiatry/sports medicine); Nat Harlow, DO; and Peter Loescher, MD (sports medicine); and a team of physical therapists.
“Rob brought years of business experience to the creation of Sharon Health Center,” Woodin said. “But he also brought his pride in what he does, and his entrepreneurial spirit to Gifford.”
The stories Rinaldi’s colleagues told described a generous and compassionate mentor: “Rob was the voice of wisdom, the one people came to when facing some sort of challenge,” said Vice President of Surgery Rebecca O’Berry.
Although he will no longer be seeing patients, Rinaldi will continue to serve on administrative committees at Gifford, and will work with residents at the new Menig Nursing Home when it opens this spring in Randolph Center.
This article was published in Gifford’s Fall 2014 Update Community Newsletter.
In his 50-year career, Sharon Health Center podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi was always pretty certain that his gait analysis skills were spot on.
In his early years in private practice in Connecticut, he analyzed an athlete’s gait through observation. Next came a high-speed Nikon camera. Dr. Rinaldi would take pictures, develop the images, and study them for what the industry calls foot strike and toe off.
A video camera followed, and then most recently the Sharon Health Center had a treadmill, video camera, and monitor set-up. “I really thought we were cutting-edge,” says Dr. Rinaldi.
That is, until the clinic purchased a Noraxon MyoPressure Lab – a state-of-the-art gait and movement performance system – as part of its recent renovations and expansion.
Now providers at the Sharon clinic are using the new technology to diagnose problems, come up with treatment plans, and improve patient outcomes.
The new system includes a treadmill with a force plate that can analyze pressure, show that on a monitor, and immediately print out those results, showing where someone is putting pressure on his or her feet both walking and running, and with and without shoes.
It has two video cameras that can show live images on a computer monitor or be recorded. The health center is also using its original camera, meaning three video cameras are really at work monitoring gaits. And it has a surface EMG to measure muscle activation patterns throughout the body.
Gifford is the only hospital in Vermont with the technology. In fact, one would have to drive to Boston’s Children’s Hospital in Waltham, Mass., or to White Plains, N.Y., to find the closest other such systems.
Dr. Rinaldi is using the new technology for every sports analysis and for individuals at risk of falling. The health center’s other providers – including podiatrists, chiropractors, and sports medicine physicians – are using it as well to look at muscles, joint angles, alignment, and to train athletes.
The results of the Noraxon analysis lead to treatment plans, including sharing information with in-house physical therapists.
“We’ve always felt our success was based on a team approach. Now we’re able to quantify and graphically share information (among the team),” Dr. Rinaldi says.
“What I have found is my outcomes seem to be better,” he says. In some instances, he’s also offering more conservative treatments to surgery.
The Sharon Health Center is a renowned, multi-discipline sports medicine practice located off Route 14 in Sharon. Call the center at 763-8000.
Dr. Nathaniel “Nat” Harlow grew up in Vermont, in Underhill, so when it came time to put his newly earned sports medicine fellowship to work, he looked to the Green Mountains of his childhood.
Dr. Harlow has joined Gifford Medical Center’s renowned sports medicine practice in Sharon.
A graduate of Brown University in Providence, R.I., he went on to medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Biddeford, Maine.
Interested in rural medicine, he completed a family medicine residency at St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction, Colo., and went on to work at a Critical Access Hospital in Del Norte, Colo., as an emergency department physician and director of emergency medicine for three years.
An avid climber, skier and mountain biker, Dr. Harlow had considered a sports medicine fellowship out of residency, but the program wasn’t yet developed.
Through his emergency physician role and through work with ski area clinics, he saw many skiing traumas and acute orthopedic injuries. The interest was sparked once more, and by now the fellowship program was developed.
He completed a primary care sports medicine fellowship at Rocky Mountain Orthopedics through St. Mary’s Family Medicine Residency in Grand Junction, Colo.
Already board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, he went on to earn an additional Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine from the same board.
“I believe strongly in providing health care in rural, underserved areas,” says Dr. Harlow, and “I really wanted to come back to Vermont.”
He found just what he was looking for – rural medicine with a sports medicine focus at the Sharon Health Center.
“I’m very excited to be part of the practice. It’s such a strong team environment. It’s a unique practice setting for sports medicine,” he says.
In Sharon, Dr. Harlow is working alongside podiatrists, chiropractors, another sports medicine doctor, an athletic trainer and physical therapists.
Dr. Harlow practices full-spectrum primary care sports medicine including non-operative orthopedics care, as well as the medical aspects of sports medicine, such as care of concussions, sports pre-screenings for heart health, people with asthma and diabetics. He has strong interests in combining sports and wilderness medicine to care for the mountain athlete, using exercise as medicine for non-athletes to help treat and prevent chronic conditions, and osteopathic manipulation.
Friendly and approachable, Dr. Harlow listens to his patients and works with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them reach or return to fitness goals.
Dr. Harlow is a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians and the Wilderness Medical Society.
Now living in Brookfield with his wife and fellow Gifford health care provider, family nurse practitioner Christina Harlow, and their 1-year-old daughter, Juliana, Dr. Harlow enjoys fly fishing and playing guitar in addition to mountain sports. He is also an avid volunteer, both at home and internationally. In fact, he hopes to reach out to area high schools and colleges to provide expertise in concussion management, for example.
To schedule an appointment or learn more, call him at the Sharon Health Center at 763-8000.
Surrounded by Sharon Health Center staff, podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi cuts a ribbon on the sports medicine clinic’s expansion. Dr. Rinaldi has been with the center since it opened in 2005. This is the second expansion.
When podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi retired to Vermont, he didn’t envision continuing to practice medicine and certainly not for a hospital.
But Dr. Rinaldi found a cause worthy of coming out of a retirement. Working with Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, he helped create not only the vision – but the heart – behind the abundantly successful Sharon Health Center sports medicine clinic.
He has been such a positive influence that on Thursday at a ribbon cutting for an expansion to the health center, Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin unveiled a new sign recognizing Dr. Rinaldi and his Italian heritage. “Casa Rinaldi” reads the sign positioned beside the clinic’s front door.
It brought a surprised Dr. Rinaldi to laughter and tears.
Originally built in 2005, the Sharon Health Center got its start as both a primary care and sports medicine clinic, but quickly the sports medicine practice bloomed. In 2008, a 2,200-square-foot addition was added to the original 2,700-square-foot building.
In October, a third and final planned expansion got under way to better meet patient demand. It was that recently completed expansion, this time 2,600 square feet, that clinic staff and hospital administrators celebrated with a ribbon cutting.
On hand were staff, members of the public, and those involved in the project.
Podiatrist Dr. Rob Rinaldi, right front, reacts to Gifford Administrator Joe Woodin’s, left, announcement that a new sign names the building “Casa Rinaldi.”
Woodin praised the now retired Theron Manning, Gifford’s former director of facilities, as well as the project architect, Joseph Architects of Waterbury, and builder Connor Contracting, Inc.
All three phases of the building have had the same architect and contractor. “The fact that we have a consistent architect and builder, it looks like it has always been there,” Woodin said of the expansion.
“You stand back and look at this building and you can’t tell new from old,” agreed John Connor of Connor Contracting.
And Woodin praised Dr. Rinaldi and the complete Sharon Health Center sports medicine team.
“Thank you,” said Woodin. “You care for patients so well. The stories that come out of here. You save people (from debilitating injuries).”
“This started with a vision,” Dr. Rinaldi explained, noting that since many people have contributed to the health center, but the vision has remained.
That vision focuses on athletes, which Dr. Rinaldi described as “anyone who is doing a consistent exercise to reach a goal.” Sure, he said, the clinic attracts world class athletes on a regular basis. But if someone is walking a dog every day and feeling pain, the clinic is there for that athlete as well.
Overall the goal is to get athletes of all abilities back to the activities they love.
Dr. Rinaldi has been joined in his love of caring for athletes over the years by physical therapists, chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass, sports medicine physician Dr. Peter Loescher, certified athletic trainer Heidi McClellan, a second podiatrist, Dr. Paul Smith, and, the latest addition to the team, a second chiropractor, Dr. Michael Chamberland. A second sports medicine physician is expected to join the practice in September.
The first addition added physical therapy gym space and X-ray technology. This latest expansion adds more gym space, a third physical therapy treatment room, four new exam rooms, a start-of-the-art gait analysis system and wall mounted flat screens for viewing ultrasounds.
Visit the Sharon Health Center, a.k.a. Casa Rinaldi, at 12 Shippee Lane, just off Route 14, in Sharon. Call 763-8000.
This article was featured in our Spring 2014 Update Community Newsletter.
Sports medicine provider Dr. Peter Loescher calls the newly expanded Sharon Health Center the “Taj Mahal of sports medicine.”
Nestled along Route 14, the Sharon Health Center got its start in 2005, was added on to in 2008 and this winter received its second and final planned addition of 2,600 square feet.
The new addition means expanded physical therapy gym space, a third physical therapy treatment room and four new exam rooms for a total of 12. There are also a transition to all digital radiology and other impressive new technologies.
“We have a state of the art gait analysis system, which will allow us to quantify gait imbalances, muscular imbalances and accurately create rehab programs to get injured athletes back to their sport and keep them moving and healthy,” Dr. Loescher said.
The new system, a Noraxon, includes a treadmill with a force plate and two cameras for recording and reviewing gaits.
A second important technology upgrade is wall-mounted flat screens in two treatment rooms utilizing ultrasound.
“Our rooms are spacious, and we now can view our ultrasound procedures and diagnostics on large, high definition flat screen view boxes, which enhances our accuracy and quality of patient care,” said Dr. Loescher, who on the day we visited used the ultrasound machine and new screen to look inside patient Alden Smith’s swollen right knee, which he injured playing basketball.
X-rays at Sharon have also been upgraded to be entirely digital, meaning no more cassette tapes that have to be read and slow down radiology technologists. The new system consequently is faster, requires slightly less radiation and creates a crisper, or better quality, image.
A final addition to the Sharon Health Center that has patients and providers alike pleased is new chiropractor Dr. Michael Chamberland. “He has saved the day,” said veteran Sharon chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass, who is appreciating the help, especially coming from a fellow sports medicine enthusiast. “It’s very difficult to find a sports medicine chiropractor,” Dr. Glass noted. “He’s already made a tremendous impact.”
As the lone Sharon chiropractor Dr. Glass was having to schedule patients too far out, meaning he might want to see a patient back in two weeks for needed follow-up care but his schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. Now patients are getting in and Dr. Glass is relieved. “I’m happy now because I’m doing a better job. I’m being a better doctor.”
Dr. Glass adds that Dr. Chamberland “fits right in.” “It’s like he’s been here forever.”
Chiropractor Dr. Michael Chamberland has joined Gifford’s Sharon Health Center, fulfilling a dream to work at a multidisciplinary sports medicine practice.
Originally from Bellows Falls, Dr. Chamberland attended the University of Vermont, studying pre-medicine and nutritional sciences. He went on to Western States Chiropractor College in Portland, Ore., earning his doctor of chiropractic degree.
He credits a back injury with steering him toward chiropractic.
He got hurt playing hockey. Months went by without relief until he visited a chiropractor for the first time in his life. “It was a chiropractic miracle, so to speak,” he says, remembering recovering his full range of motion after his first adjustment and being symptom-free within two weeks. “For me, I just couldn’t believe it. I realized that it was the perfect profession for me.”
After a chiropractic internship at Western States Chiropractic Clinics in Oregon, Dr. Chamberland returned to Vermont. He opened a private practice, Catamount Chiropractic, in Colchester as well as working at Jerome Family Chiropractic in Montpelier and Temple Chiropractic in Bellows Falls.
He maintains his private practice part-time, which shares space with a physical therapy facility, but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work at the Sharon Health Center. “That was the ideal,” he says of the Sharon sports medicine team that includes podiatry, general sports medicine, physical therapists and an athletic trainer, and fellow chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass. “It (a multidisciplinary sports medicine team) doesn’t exist in Burlington. It generally doesn’t exist on the East Coast.”
The Sharon Health Center is part of Gifford Medical Center. Gifford’s family atmosphere and collaborative, team approach were also attractive, he notes.
Dr. Chamberland is board certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. His clinical interests include prevention and treatment of sports injuries, sports nutrition, posture assessment, injury risk assessment and advanced imaging.
A resident of Essex, Dr. Chamberland is an athlete in his free time, including playing hockey, kiteboarding, alpine skiing, golf, tennis, cycling, hiking, water skiing and wakeboarding. He worked as an alpine race coach in Vail, Colo., as well as Smugglers’ Notch, for a time. He was even part of a race crew for the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail.
Now he is putting his athletic and chiropractic experience to work in Sharon. Call him Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Sharon Health Center at (802) 763-8000.
Materials clerk Tina Brady uses a new handheld scanning device to quickly inventory supplies on one of many carts located throughout the medical center. The device is a gift from the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary and greatly improves the department’s efficiency.
The Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary is turning Thrift Shop earnings into major support for the community’s local hospital.
The Auxiliary has funded more than $19,000 worth of “wish list” equipment requests spanning multiple departments at the hospital and greatly benefiting patient care.
Lending library books for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Multiple pieces of equipment, from IV poles to portable oxygen saturation monitors to cardiac chairs for the inpatient hospital units
A handheld scanning device for the medical center’s Materials Management Department
Pulse oximeters for primary care offices
Play equipment and furniture for The Robin’s Nest Child Enrichment Center
Lead shield aprons for the Sharon Health Center
A changing table and digital scale for the Twin River Health Center
The Auxiliary historically has awarded “wish list” items to the hospital, meaning departments put their wishes in the form of funding requests to the Auxiliary. Auxiliary board members review the list and award what they can. This round the board fully funded the “wish list.”
Materials Management was granted a “wish list” item for the first time in memory. The scanning device is used to inventory supplies around the medical center, explained department supervisor James Shodunke Jr. It replaces a 15-year-old unit that didn’t meet the department’s needs, so staff had been taking notes with pen and paper.
As a staff member counts supplies around the medical center with the new device, which the department had been trialing, prints a report back in the materials holding area showing supply needs, meaning other staff members can immediately begin filling that supply order. The change in the busy department means a task that previously could have taken an hour and 15 minutes now takes less than 30 minutes.
“It greatly improves our efficiency and expedites the restocking process, which reduces interruptions in patient care,” Shodunke said.
Gifford’s inpatient unit received the bulk – $11,500 – of this round’s funding.
“The staff and nursing leadership of Howell Pavilion (Gifford’s inpatient unit) are very thankful for the extremely generous grants given by the Auxiliary. Many patients will benefit from the numerous requests, such as sturdier chairs for patient rooms, electronic vital sign monitoring system and alternative treatments for pain. The gifts will be a big help for both patients and staff. We would like to thank the Auxiliary for all of their hard work and support by granting our many requests,” said Alison White, vice president of patient care services.
Auxiliary board members Ruth Lutz, treasurer, and Nancy Gray, historian, walked around the medical center on Wednesday making in-person announcements to department staff that they had been funded.
Lutz was excited by the response from the departments. “They were so pleased,” she said.
Gray found the experience rewarding because of the inside look she got at the medical center and its many, diverse services.
But Lutz and Gray were quick to point out that it wasn’t they who were making the gift to the medical center, but rather the full Auxiliary and all who shop at the Thrift Shop. “We’re so fortunate to be able to do this because of what the Thrift Shop brings in,” Gray said.
RANDOLPH – Chiropractor Dr. Andrea Kannas has joined the Sharon Health Center’s sports medicine team part-time.
Dr. Kannas, who is also in private practice in Woodstock, is a Rutland native and Middlebury College graduate who went on to Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minn., for her doctor of chiropractic (D.C.) degree.
She completed her internship at Bloom Chiropractic, Bloomington Natural Care Center and University Health Services, part of Northwestern Health Sciences University, all in Minnesota.
She previously worked at Lakes Region Chiropractic in Bristol, N.H., before opening her own practice, The Chiropractic & Wellness Studio, last year.
It was through volunteer work with the Woodstock Union High School track team that Dr. Kannas connected with Sharon Health Center chiropractor Dr. Hank Glass. The health center, renowned for its sports medicine practice, was in need of more chiropractic help.
Dr. Kannas excitedly joined the team, which includes Dr. Glass, two podiatrists, a sports medicine physician, a nurse practitioner, an athletic trainer and physical therapists, this month. “I’m really excited to work with the other doctors and staff and, most importantly, the patients. I really love what I do.”
Chiropractic adjustments, said Dr. Kannas, are part of a healthy lifestyle, helping people perform at an optimal level. They support wellness and balance, and can benefit both acute and chronic injuries.
Dr. Kannas is board certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.
Her clinical interests include sports medicine and women’s health and wellness. “I also love working with kids,” says Dr. Kannas, who lives in Quechee with her husband, John, and their 1-year-old daughter, Addison.
In her free time, Dr. Kannas enjoys spending time with her family, the outdoors and athletics, including skiing and cycling. In high school and college, she participated in soccer, track and ski racing.
Like Sharon’s other health care providers, who are also athletes, Dr. Kannas’ experience with sports has left her committed to working to achieve athletes’ goals and to being compassionate to their needs, she says.
Dr. Kannas is at the Sharon Health Center on Mondays and Wednesdays. Call her in Sharon at (802) 763-8000. The Sharon Health Center is part of Gifford Medical Center.