The strength and dedication of its employees will ensure Gifford Health Care’s future success, President and CEO Dan Bennett told several dozen community members gathered for the organization’s 113th Annual Meeting on Saturday, March 9, at Gifford Medical Center.
“We have an incredibly compassionate, knowledgeable and skilled team of providers and staff who care deeply about this community,” said Bennett in his annual address, his second at Gifford. “The strength of our people will see Gifford through as we rise to meet the challenges faced by small, rural hospitals and practices like ours.”
Bennett shared several successes achieved by Gifford employees in the past year, from the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine team being named Vermont’s 2018 “HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion”—one of only 32 award recipients nationally—to Menig Nursing Home earning a Five-Star rating and a deficiency-free survey from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Also in 2018, the Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities presented Gifford with a Spirit of the ADA Award; General Surgery providers conducted free skin cancer screenings for 52 community members during a series of fall clinics; and Gifford’s Kingwood Health Center became the first Orange County distribution site for free naloxone, also known by brand name Narcan. Additional highlights from 2018 are outlined in Gifford’s Annual Report, titled “Healthier Together.”
Community outreach and partnerships underscored Gifford’s many wins in 2018 and play an important role in Bennett’s strategy to overcome challenges, which include ending the fiscal year with an operating loss.
“Together we’ve focused on three areas to overcome our financial challenges and ensure Gifford is here to serve central Vermont for many generations to come,” he said. “We are addressing provider vacancies and working toward returning to the historical levels of services we are able to provide Gifford patients, reducing costs where possible, and increasing community outreach initiatives to best meet the health-care needs of the communities we serve.”
Bennett emphasized the importance of “partnering with individuals and organizations to achieve our shared health-care goals.” He cited new and continuing partnerships, such as an athletic training program launched in 2018 with Randolph Union High School.
To address provider vacancies, Gifford actively recruited and welcomed new team members in 2018, including in Primary Care and General Surgery. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua White introduced several new providers during the Annual Meeting.
“Gifford’s strength is our intimate relationship with the community,” said White. “Our providers are your neighbors. Our nurses serve in parent-teacher organizations. Our medical assistants volunteer at the food shelf. Because this is our community too, we are personally invested in its well-being.”
“You cannot walk the halls of Gifford and not notice the staff photos indicating 20, 30, 40 years of service. We have longtime providers like Dr. Ken Borie, who currently cares for five generations of the same family. We are deeply rooted here. Our strong commitment to community provides the foundation for our hospital and clinics. Subsequently, then, we invest a great deal of effort to find providers who also want to take part in this community, to put down roots here.”
At the same time Gifford is investing in provider recruitment and community outreach, staff and department leaders are cutting costs. They achieved reductions totaling $1.6 million over the first four months of fiscal year 2019. The facilities team, for example, partnered with Efficiency Vermont to optimize energy savings and achieved annual savings of nearly $53,000 according to a Nov. 30 report.
“All of these efforts have put us on a path of improvement,” Bennett said.
Community scholarships and awards presented
Gifford awarded Keith Standish the Dr. Richard J. Barrett Scholarship, a $1,000 award for a Gifford employee or an employee’s child pursuing education in health care. A successful graduate of Gifford’s first Medical Assistant program in 2016, Standish has been a leader at Gifford Primary Care. He is now pursuing a nursing degree, taking classes at Community College of Vermont, and plans to attend Vermont Technical College in the fall.
VerShare, a nonprofit community service organization in Vershire, received the $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Memorial Community Award, given annually in memory of Levesque’s personal commitment to the White River Valley. The grant will support VerShare’s efforts to install a fully accessible entrance for the Church-Orr House, a community gathering spot.
Board elected and service recognized
Gifford Board of Directors and Trustees Chair Matt Considine recognized retiring members Sue Sherman and Joan Goldstein.
Brad Atwood of Sharon, Sheila Jacobs of Randolph, Peter Reed of Braintree, Clay Westbrook of Randolph, and Carol Bushey of Randolph were re-elected to the Board of Directors and Trustees.
Rick Hauser of Randolph and Vic Ribaudo of Rochester were newly elected to the Board of Trustees.
For more information about Gifford’s Annual Meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-728-2380. For more information about the 2018 Annual Report, visit giffordhealthcare.org/annual-report-2018.
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