Health briefs

United Way hosts adult dental care day

BRATTLEBORO >> United Way of Windham County's sixth annual Adult Dental Care Day takes place on Saturday, May 7, at 7:30 a.m. Registration is at the Elks Lodge on Putney Road. Windham County residents in need of dental care they could not otherwise afford will receive dental care from local participating dental offices and their staff who donate their time and expertise. There is a suggested donation of $20 per person.

Dental procedures provided include saving damaged teeth, extractions, fillings as well as x-rays. Individuals will also learn how to improve their eating habits, the effects of sugar on their dental health and about smoking cessation.

"Dental Care Day happens thanks to the collaboration of the local dental community working closely with United Way of Windham County to provide this vital service," said Carmen Derby, Executive Director of United Way of Windham County. "This is an excellent example of meeting our community goals of improving access to healthcare."

The 2016 Adult Dental Care Day partners include the Brattleboro Elks Lodge, Vermont 2-1-1 and Rescue, Inc. Other financial and in-kind supporters include Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, Deerfield Valley Rotary Club, C & S Wholesale Grocers, Patterson Dental, Northeast Delta Dental, Gouger's Market and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

For more information, contact Vermont 2-1-1, a program of United Ways of Vermont, contact the United Way at 802-257-4011 or visit

Child care in Vermont

BRATTLEBORO >> When it comes to supporting the health and prosperity of Vermont's communities and economy now and in the future, high-quality child care is the linchpin.

More than 70 percent of Vermont's infants and toddlers have all of their parents in the labor force. That equates to thousands of children, working parents and employers who depend on child care. And yet a shocking number of Vermont's infants and toddlers who need child care don't have access to high-quality programs.

On May 25, there will be an exclusive event during which Let's Grow Kids and other partners will present brand new data about the current supply of child care in Vermont — county-by-county and statewide. This information was developed in partnership with Vermont Birth to Five, the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children, Building Bright Futures, the Vermont Department for Children and Families Child Development Division, and the Vermont Department of Health's Maternal and Child Health Division.

Registration and breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m. and the program runs from 9 to 11 a.m.

The Marlboro College Graduate Center is located at 28 Vernon St.

HCRS receives Small and Inspiring grant

SPRINGFIELD >> The Vermont Community Foundation has awarded HCRS' Shared Living Providers program a $2,500 award from its Small and Inspiring grant program, proving once again that smaller dollar amounts can really make a big difference in our Vermont communities.

The Shared Living Providers program provides homes for HCRS clients who have developmental disabilities that make it hard — if not impossible — for them to live on their own and who generally don't have families able to support them. The heroes of this program are the home providers, who are embedded within the communities HCRS serves and open their homes to welcome such clients.

Included within the grant's scope is funding for essential monthly support groups for home providers themselves, offering opportunities to compare their experiences and to share other valuable learnings. The grant will also provide access to educational speakers and other resources for these providers.

BMH receives maternity care distinction

BRATTLEBORO >> In an effort to help prospective parents find hospitals that deliver quality maternity care, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont announced that Brattleboro Memorial Hospital is one of the first hospitals to receive the Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care designation, a new designation under the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program.

Nearly four million babies are born in the U.S. annually, making childbirth the most common cause of hospitalization. This new Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. Compared with babies born 39 weeks or later, early term infants face higher risks of infant death and respiratory ailments such as respiratory distress syndrome, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. These babies also have a higher rate of admission to Neonatal Intensive Care Units.

Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care, an expansion of the national Blue Distinction Specialty Care program, recognizes hospitals for delivering quality specialty care safely and effectively, based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community.

"At Brattleboro Memorial Hospital we aim to provide our community with comprehensive and integrated maternity care of the highest level and quality, with compassion and respect for individuals and families," said Erinna Cooper, RN, Director of Birthing Center.

"We are pleased to be one of the first hospitals in our region to receive this prestigious designation," said Mary Urquhart, Vice President of Patient Care Services. "BMH is committed to providing outstanding maternity care and the Blue Distinction assures our patients they are receiving the highest quality care possible."

"We are pleased to recognize Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH) for earning designation as a Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care," said Dr. Robert Wheeler, Vice President and Chief Medical Office for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont. "BMH's dedication to excellent clinical care and effectively connecting with community resources helps improve health outcomes." Wheeler also noted the rigorous standards that BMH had to meet in order to receive this recognition. "Designation as a Blue Distinction Center requires meeting or exceeding national quality standards over a significant number of cases. Evidence-based measures include minimizing early elective deliveries and achieving high patient satisfaction, for example. This award is based on BMH's consistent, objectively measured excellence in Maternity Care, with a track record of delivering better results than many peer facilities across the country."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the nation recognized more than 280 hospitals as Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care. The program assesses hospitals using a combination of publicly available quality information and cost measures derived from BCBS companies' medical claims.

Since 2006, the Blue Distinction Specialty Care program has helped patients find quality providers for their specialty care needs in the areas of bariatric surgery, cardiac care, complex and rare cancers, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery and transplants. Research shows that, compared to other facilities, those designated as Blue Distinction Centers demonstrate better quality and improved outcomes for patients.

For more information about the program, visit

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the State's only Vermont-based, not-for-profit health plan, providing coverage for about 250,000 Vermonters. It employs about 400 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin, a branch office in South Burlington and its Information and Wellness Center in South Burlington's Blue Mall. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.

Holistic Health Expo

BRATTLEBORO >> Tri State Holistic Health is sponsoring a Holistic Health Expo at The River Garden on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Area practitioners will demonstrate their respective modalities with breakout sessions on Zero Balancing and Herbal Medicine. Food will be available provided by Dosa Kitchen. For more information, contact Justin Garner at 802-257-9910 or

BMH lab receives accreditation

BRATTLEBORO >> The Accreditation Committee of the College of American Pathologists has awarded accreditation to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital based on results of a recent on-site inspection as part of the CAP's Accreditation Programs.

"Brattleboro Memorial Hospital is proud of our recent accreditation by CAP. Our staff worked very hard, and we are proud to be a part of such a great team. Our patients continue to be assured that they have access to the highest standards of laboratory services," said Christopher Appleton, DO, Medical Director of Laboratory and Pathology Services at BMH.

The laboratory's director, Imogene Drakes, recognized the laboratory staff: "Our staff's hard work, professionalism and commitment make this a great place to work and this could not have been achieved without them."

The U.S. federal government recognizes the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program, begun in the early 1960s, as being equal-to or more-stringent-than the government's own inspection program.

During the CAP accreditation process, designed to ensure the highest standard of care for all laboratory patients, inspectors examine the laboratory's records and quality control of procedures for the preceding two years. CAP inspectors also examine laboratory staff qualifications, equipment, facilities, safety program and record, and overall management.

BAH offers grief support group

BRATTLEBORO >> A new Seven Week Bereavement Support Group for adults begins on May 3 and will meet each Tuesday from 5 to 6:30 p.m., ending June 14.

The group is free of charge and open to anyone in the community grieving the death loss of a loved one, no matter when or where the loss occurred. Bereavement Support Groups offer a safe, mutually supportive environment for sharing experiences through discussion, readings, simple activities, and suggestions for moving through grief.

This group is sponsored by Brattleboro Area Hospice and will meet at the hospice office at 191 Canal St. No prior connection with hospice is necessary in order to participate. Connie Baxter will be the facilitator. The group size is limited to eight people. Call 802-257-0775, ext. 104 by April 29 for a pre-group appointment if you're interested in joining.

HCRS urges Senate to approve rate increase

SPRINGFIELD >> Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, Vermont's second-largest community mental-health agency, called on the Vermont Senate to pass a budget that includes a 2-percent Medicaid rate increase for designated mental-health and developmental-disability agencies.

HCRS also applauded the House of Representatives for its recent decision to pass the increase. Without such funding, services to Vermonters with developmental disabilities and mental-health and substance-use disorders have been and would continue to be significantly jeopardized.

Vermont's designated agencies have received just one 3-percent rate increase over the past five years. This severe under-funding has, among other consequences, limited HCRS' ability to provide adequate cost-of-living increases to its staff. Salary differentials between agency health-care professionals and public employees have widened, often reaching a financial gap of $13,000 to $16,000 per year — and in some cases, more. This disparity has resulted in system-wide annual turnover rates of 27.5 percent. HCRS' turnover rate currently stands at 24 percent.

"HCRS services represent an essential part of the fabric of social services and health care in our communities, but the quality of treatment and even the access to such care are undeniably compromised by rapid staff turnover and vacancies," said George Karabakakis, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, HCRS. "While the proposal now before our Senate would increase our Medicaid rates by just two percent, that amount would still help to offset increasing health-care and operating costs. It would be a step towards adequately funding community mental-health services, providing competitive staff salaries, and preserving the therapeutic relationships that are vital to any successful, community-based care system."

A recent independent review of a designated agency budget by the Green Mountain Care Board found that "despite responsible budgeting practices, as presently funded, the agency struggles mightily to recruit and retain the staff it needs so it can meet its programmatic and statutory mission." Unlike other health-care providers, designated agencies cannot shift funds from one formally approved program to another, so they depend on the State to pay adequate rates for the services they provide 360 days each year.

"This provider network is ready and willing to continue the good work done every day," said Julie Tessler, Executive Director of the Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services, "but we must see action on a three-percent Medicaid rate increase to ensure this well-established system of mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services continues to provide support to Vermont's communities."

BAH welcomes new care coordinator

BRATTLEBORO >> Brattleboro Area Hospice is pleased to announce the appointment of Kathy Leo to the position of Hospice Care Coordinator in the Greater Falls Region. The Hospice Care Program offers trained volunteers and staff who offer practical and emotional support to people at the end of their lives and their families.

In 2003, as an extension of volunteer work for Brattleboro Area Hospice, Leo founded the Hallowell Singers. The Hallowell Singers are a local group that offers songs for healing and comfort at the bedsides of the ill or dying. Hallowell continues to be a strong presence in the community as well as a model for hundreds of other hospice choirs formed after them. Leo teaches workshops in the practice of bedside singing and has recently completed a manuscript she hopes to publish as a guide through stories.

Brattleboro Area Hospice is locally funded and provides all services free of charge. Its main office is located at 191 Canal St. in Brattleboro. Programs and services are also delivered locally in the Bellows Falls community. For more information about Brattleboro Area Hospice, visit or call 802-257-0775 or local to Bellows Falls at 802-460-1142.

Help available for those who have lost their spouse

TOWNSHEND >> The loss of a loved one can bring on a wide variety of uncomfortable and confusing emotions. Grace Cottage's new Bereavement Group offers help for those coping with the loss of a spouse or life partner.

The group will begin May 16, meeting from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Grace Cottage Community Wellness Center (Heins Building) conference room. This is a six-week program. There is no charge to participate. Registration is requested by May 6.

The ever-changing emotions associated with grief can catch us off guard, causing us to act out of character. It can help to have a support system as we move through the grief journey. Grief support groups offer companionship and understanding from others who have experienced a similar loss and are dealing with similar challenges brought on by living with grief.

This group is specific to adults dealing with the loss of their spouse or life partner. Feel free to call to inquire about similar groups for those dealing with the loss of a child or companion. The group will be led by Caroline Chase, M.S., Behavioral Health Specialist with the Grace Cottage Community Health Team. Contact her at 802-365-3715, ext. 6, with any questions and to register.

HCRS to host screening of 'Healing Voices'

BRATTLEBORO >> Health Care and Rehabilitation Services will join more than 125 community organizations around the world on Friday, April 29, to host a premier screening of "Healing Voices."

The new documentary places a spotlight on mental health — or what society refers to as "mental illness." The HCRS-sponsored screening will take place in Brattleboro at the Hooker-Dunham Theater, 139 Main Street, No. 407. A reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the screening starting promptly at 7. A panel discussion will follow the conclusion of the film.

"Healing Voices," written and directed by P.J. Moynihan of Digital Eyes Film, explores the experience commonly labeled as "psychosis" through the stories of real-life individuals and asks the question, "What are we talking about when we talk about mental illness?"

The documentary is ideal for individuals with lived experience in the mental-health system, educators, peer counselors, advocates, researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, healthcare workers, first responders, family members, and anyone who has been touched by mental-health issues in their lives.

For more information about the film, visit

BMH hires new director of human resources

BRATTLEBORO >> Steven R. Gordon, President and CEO of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, recently announced that Bill Norwood has been hired as BMH's new Director of Human Resources. Norwood was previously employed as a Senior Human Resources Business Partner at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass., where he focused on employee relations, labor relations, recruitment and retention, compensation, and benefits. A graduate of Greenfield Community College, with a degree in Business Management, Norwood has a professional background in both the insurance and manufacturing industries.

"We're delighted to welcome Bill to the Brattleboro community and to BMH," said Robin Heald, BMH's Vice President of Human Resources. "His impressive skill sets and management experience in all areas of human resources will be great assets to the hospital."

Norwood, who began his new role on April 18th, says "The opportunity to join an independent, highly respected community hospital in a very attractive setting was what initially drew me to BMH. During my visits over the past few weeks I was able see firsthand the quality of the employees that work at BMH, and got a really good feeling for the culture that exists within the organization."

A Franklin County native, Norwood lives in Greenfield, Mass., with Novalee, his wife of 29 years, and their three children. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, hiking, and following his favorite New England Sport teams.

"I see an opportunity for BMH to be a highly desired employer, drawing talent from up and down the I-91 corridor," said Norwood "We can offer opportunities for continued education, a competitive benefits program, and employee wellness initiatives in a safe, and respectful environment. I'm looking forward to joining an HR department dedicated to extending the highest level of support to all levels of the BMH team."


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