Health Briefs

Holiday grief support gathering

BRATTLEBORO >> The Brattleboro Area Hospice, at 191 Canal St. will host a special time to gather with others who are grieving to talk about challenges of and strategies for grieving during the holiday season.

BAH Bereavement Counselors Connie Baxter and Cheryl Richards will provide the hospitality and gentle guidance for the conversation. Give yourself the gift of support for this potentially difficult season. There is no charge for this event. It is not necessary to register, but if you have questions, call 802-257-0775, ext. 104, for more information.

Brattleboro Area Hospice to host Death Café

PUTNEY >> On Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Brattleboro Area Hospice will host a Death Café at Katy's Restaurant, 118 Main St. This free event is part of an international movement begun in Europe ( ), and is dedicated to taking death out of the closet in order to discuss it publicly.

Previous events that have taken place throughout Windham County have been met with tremendous praise. People have reported them as comfortable, supporting a full range of emotions — from tears to raucous laughter, easier than anticipated, energy charged, inspirational and fun.

A Death Café is not a support group, a counseling session, or even a workshop. It is a simple gathering of people sharing respectful, thought provoking, life affirming conversation about living and dying in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere while enjoying warm beverages and delectable treats.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend, but space is limited to 30 people. RSVP's are required. People are asked to arrive promptly, as doors to the event will close at 4:10 p.m..

For more information or to RSVP for the Death Cafe, contact Cheryl Richards at Brattleboro Area Hospice at 802-257-0775, ext. 108, or

"Giving Tuesday" at Grace Cottage

TOWNSHEND >> What comes immediately after Black Friday and Cyber Monday? It's "Giving Tuesday," a global trend in holiday giving. Grace Cottage Hospital asks its friends and neighbors to participate in its "Giving Tuesday" campaign on Dec. 1 and help fund two specific items for patient care.

The campaign goal of $2,467 will allow for the purchase of a new high-grade microscope for its lab and a new Automatic External Defibrillator for Grace Cottage Family Health. The updated microscope will be used to identify cells and casts in urine, aiding in the diagnosis of kidney disorders, hematuria, urinary tract infections, and more. $1,112 is necessary for the purchase. Once this goal is reached, donations will go towards the AED unit, to be used to help save a life in the event that a Grace Cottage Family Health patient suffers a heart attack on premises. The total cost for the AED is $1,355. Any donations received on Giving Tuesday after the combined goal is reached will be put towards the Patient Care Fund.

Last year, generous supporters funded an AmbuaScope for the ER and, when the goal was reached by noon on Giving Tuesday, additional funds were used to purchase an ER suture kit.

To make a donation of any size by credit card, go to and click on 'Donate Now' after 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 or call 802-365-9109 between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Checks may be made out to Grace Cottage with 'Giving Tuesday' on the memo line, and sent to PO Box 1, Townshend, VT 05353. # # #

Locals set to mark World AIDS Day

BRATTLEBORO >> Local organizers of the Dec. 1 World AIDS Day observation are facing a challenge in promoting this year's event: Many residents mistakenly believe the disease is already cured.

"Younger people are still one of the highest risk populations, but they don't have the same insight about AIDS as when we first learned about it in the 1980s," said Karen Peterson, executive director of the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont.

Vermont's AIDS service organizations see things differently. They're trying to balance steady caseloads — about 600 people statewide are living with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes the disease — as the federal government shifts its financial assistance from smaller towns to bigger cities.

That's why the Brattleboro-based AIDS Project — serving more than 80 clients in Bennington and Windham counties — is aiming to raise public awareness at a Dec. 1 noontime program at downtown Brattleboro's River Garden.

The commemoration of those affected by the virus and those working to combat it will feature a sidewalk candlelight vigil followed by music from members of the Brattleboro Women's Chorus and speakers including AIDS Project case manager Marguerite Monet and a local resident living with the virus.

The AIDS Project of Southern Vermont is one of three AIDS service organizations in the state. Vermont CARES serves Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orleans, Rutland and Washington counties and the HIV/HCV Resource Center works in Orange and Windsor counties.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 40 million people have died of AIDS — and now an equal number are living with HIV.

That latter figure is both good and bad news. At least a dozen or more Vermonters, 50,000 Americans and 2 million people worldwide are newly diagnosed annually. But an infection that older generations once feared is now often dismissed as just another sexually transmitted disease.

Local observers of World AIDS Day hope to change that. They're embracing the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS' theme of "On the Fast Track to End AIDS."

"By providing people with information on how HIV is transmitted and encouraging them to get tested, we hope they will have the skills, knowledge and capability to protect themselves from HIV," Peterson says. "There are medications that help you live longer, but if you can avoid getting the disease, it's so much better."

More local information is available by calling 802-254-4444 or by logging onto the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont's website,

BAYADA Hospice helps Grant final wish

BRATTLEBORO >> Andy and Kathy Leclaire knew exactly what they wanted to do for their 39th — and final — wedding anniversary in October. They hoped to visit Yankee Candle Village. Located in Deerfield, Mass., about 30 miles south of their home in Brattleboro, the trip may have been simple a few years ago, but would now require a team effort.

In February of 2014, Andy received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Since then, he and his wife Kathy have focused on enjoying the time they have left together, and making new memories. In March of 2015, as his ALS progressed, the family called BAYADA Hospice to address his quality of life and help ease his pain and symptoms.

When the Leclaires decided to venture out to Yankee Candle Village, Andy's sister-in-law Pam offered to drive her vehicle with a trailer to transport the couple and Andy's electric wheelchair. Pam's son Greg and his friend John followed in a car behind the trailer for reassurance. Andy knew that due to increased choking episodes from his ALS, he would only consider traveling if his BAYADA Hospice Nurse Kathy Krasnow would go along for the ride. Kathy immediately agreed.

Yankee Candle Village, a flagship store of Yankee Candle, celebrates Christmas throughout the year with a multitude of experiences. Once there, Andy and Kathy enjoyed a room where it snows every four minutes and then visited a shop where Andy chose a special ornament for Kathy so she could "always remember" him. The couple enjoyed a meaningful lunch where they split a milkshake and then visited Santa where Andy asked for "peace and love."

When Andy started to become fatigued, the group headed back home. As his BAYADA Nurse Kathy looked in the back seat observing the two of them one final time, Andy had tears in his eyes and he mouthed the words, "Thank you."

With the help of some caring individuals, Andy and his wife Kathy experienced a magical, wish-fulfilling day that they will always cherish.

For more information about BAYADA Hospice services available in Vermont and parts of New Hampshire, call 802-526-2380.


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