A Seamless Web of Community Support
Last summer and fall General Surgeon Dr. Ovleto Ciccarelli held a series of free skin cancer clinics in our Bethel, Berlin, Chelsea, Rochester, Randolph, and White River Junction primary care clinics. Concerned about an increase in patients with basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and malignant melanomas, Dr. Ciccarelli wanted to help people better understand the warning signs of melanoma.
“If caught early melanoma is curable, and other skin cancers are more treatable if caught early. But warning signs can appear on hard-to-see areas of the body, or in areas that might be difficult to find for the elderly or people living alone,” he said. “Skin screenings are relatively fast and easy—a trained eye can spot unusual or suspicious moles or spots on the skin before they even become skin cancer.”
One hundred seventy nine people received a private, full-body screening, and forty patients received follow-up consultations after their screening. Dr. Ciccarelli saw an average of 20 to 30 patients on each clinic day, and has been invited back for another series of clinics in 2018.
Supporting health outside a provider’s office
Free screening clinics are just one example of our community role as a resource for improving and maintaining health. We work to address people’s health needs—both in and out of the medical setting.
This year Gifford staff and providers have given health-education talks and visited senior centers to present on topics ranging from nutrition, skin care, and foot health to wound care, incontinence issues, and joint replacement. They’ve staffed booths at the Vermont Farm Show and Tunbridge Fair, bringing people information on safe backpack tips for kids, breast health, urogynecology services, substance abuse resources, and senior living options.
We’ve partnered with the RUHS Athletics Department, bringing physical therapists and sports medicine providers to train coaches on winter sports ankle taping and prepared a weekly “tips and tricks” publication for the athletes. Providers have held parent information sessions on HPV vaccinations, and given safe sex talks for high school health classes.
A seamless web of support: renewed support for community partnerships
In 2017 Gifford strengthened our Community Health Program, which coordinates health education events and works to build community partnerships. Bethany Silloway, our new coordinator, works with state and local organizations to create a seamless web of support to help address shared community health issues. A significant part of her work this year has been focused on raising awareness of drug and alcohol abuse, which was identified as a major area of concern on Gifford’s Community Health Needs Assessment report.
Silloway worked with the Regional Prevention Partnership (RPP) to raise awareness on drug and alcohol by promoting national recovery awareness month and overdose awareness day events. Working with RPP and the state, Gifford installed a drug take-back kiosk off the main lobby, and planned a six-week Opioid Community Forum series for 2018.
Other new efforts included providing first aid bags to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department cruisers and Randolph Recreation youth sports program; distributing Art Bus activity bags to pediatric patients in the Emergency Department; hosting free community lunches in Bethel, Chelsea, Northfield, and South Royalton; and organizing Gifford’s Giving Tuesday Employee Food Drive (donating 1,198 pounds of food and a matching $1,198 check from Chimney Savers to the Randolph Area Food Shelf).
Medical Kits for Orange County Sheriff Department Cruisers
Last summer Sheriff Bill Bohnyak was barbecuing at one of Gifford’s free summer concerts to raise funds for his department. He struck up a conversation with Community Health Program Coordinator Bethany Silloway about her community outreach projects.“I asked her tongue-in-cheek if she ever thought about helping a sheriff’s department,” Bohnyak said. “One week later she came back and asked for a list of what supplies were needed.”
Now all 15 of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department cruisers have medical kits filled with basic supplies (bandages, tourniquets, warming blanket, etc.) that allow officers to provide basic care while waiting for Emergency Technicians.
“It would have put a big dent in my department budget if I had tried to do this myself,” he said. “It’s great to have this collaboration between Gifford and the Sheriff’s department—I’d like to see it continue to grow.”