Gifford Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Woodin speaks at the Randolph hospital s 103rd Annual Meeting of its corporators Friday at Chandler. Gifford Healthcare,Gifford Medical Center celebrated a ninth consecutive year of financial success and announced the winners of health grants and scholarships at the 103rd Annual Meeting of the Randolph hospital s corporators Friday evening at Chandler.Gifford, with health centers throughout central Vermont, met its state-set operating margin of 2.2 percent in fiscal year 2008 and saw its revenues continue to climb as the medical center grew to include about a dozen new health care providers as well as expanded clinic space, hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Woodin said.Among those joining the hospital in 2008 were pain management specialist Dr. Lan Nguyen-Knoff, sports medicine provider Dr. Peter Loescher, family nurse practitioner Sheri Mayo, family physician Dr. Brian Sargent, pediatrician Dr. Lisa Jewett, pulmonologist Marda Donner and a host of providers working at Gifford through their private practices or by contract. Oncologist Dr. John Valentine, plastic surgeon Dr. Guy Rochman, pediatric cardiologist Dr.Niels Giddins, radiologist Dr. Erin Tsai and allergist Dr. Randy Stoloff are all providing specialty services at the hospital by contract or private practice.The hospital has already added a handful of new providers in 2009, including pediatrician Dr. William Gaidys, who started at the Gifford Health Center at Berlin this week, Woodin said.Expanded in 2008 was also the Sharon Health Center, which nearly doubled in size, to accommodate in a significant growth in patients. When the Sharon Health Center first opened in October 2005 it had just 162 patients that first month. In January of 2009, the number of patients for the month topped 1,000 in great part due to the popularity of the sports medicine practice there. We have quite a following out of New Hampshire who come there, Woodin noted.The Kingwood Health Center on Route 66 in Randolph was also renovated in 2008 to update the aging building and make space for the medical center s outpatient physical therapy department.In 2009, the Chelsea Health Center is slated to be rebuilt, Woodin announced. Hopefully by the end of this summer, we ll have a new facility in Chelsea, he said. The new building, to be constructed behind the existing building, will look much like the Sharon Health Center. Source: Gifford Medical Center The hospital also added several new pieces of technology in 2008, including a digital mammography system, medication verification system and new cataract surgery equipment. Through private practice ophthalmologists Dr. Jack Singer and Dr. Chris Soares, the hospital does a large number of cataract surgeries.The new medication verification system for inpatients involves scanning patients wristband and their medications at the bedside to ensure the patient is getting the right medication at the right time. We bar code you, perhaps like a piece of fruit in the grocery store, Woodin said, rousing a laugh for the record audience of 150.Other achievements in 2008 included the Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary Thrift Shop s annual sales, which topped $200,000 for the first time in 2008, and the Last Mile Ride, which raised $23,000 for end-of-life care services at the hospital.Despite all of the success, Woodin was cautious, however, in his predictions for 2009.Audience and hospital Board of Trustees member David Ainsworth asked Woodin how the hospital would handle decreased reimbursements in 2009.Woodin said he honestly didn t fully know how bad the economic picture would get. Certainly, the hospital is facing state cuts and, like so many, has lost money in investments. We assume we re going to be in good company with all the other hospitals, Woodin said.But in many ways, Gifford, with its record of stability, is uniquely positioned to handle an economic downturn. The hospital staff, he said, has already been working together to reduce expenses by keeping a tight rein on staffing and overtime. I think we re actually somewhat prepared for that. It s going to be tough, though, he said.Woodin concluded his talk to an audience member s request for a big round of applause for Joe Woodin for his dedication and leadership to our hospital.Also thanked was the hospital s Board of Trustees for its time and dedication. Re-elected to second terms on the board were Barb Harvey, Gus Meyer and Bob Wright. Re-elected to third terms were Randy Garner and Dick Mallary.Gifford s many volunteers and health care providers who volunteer in the community, which was the night s theme, were also recognized.The hospital gave back to the community through the announcement of several awards.Pediatric nurse Sadie Lyford was awarded the $1,000 Dr. Richard J. Barrett Health Professions Scholarship. Lyford has worked at Gifford for 10 years and is pursuing a pediatric nurse practitioner degree.The $1,000 Philip D. Levesque Community Award, created 15 years ago in memory of the hospital s late president, went to the Food Shelf serving Granville, Hancock and Rochester. This came at a very wonderful time, and we re honored to have been picked, said Emma Patterson in accepting the award on the Food Shelf s behalf.William and Mary Markle Community FoundationA final round of grants went to a list of organizations and was awarded under a new name. The hospital s community health grant program has been renamed for the late Bill Markle and his wife Mary, announced Woodin and Ashley Lincoln, Gifford director of development, marketing and public relations.Bill Markle was a former board member and long-time supporter of the hospital as well as other community organizations. He passed away in Gifford s Garden Room in December. Bill was such a great and devoted individual, Woodin said. He was just a very special person.Markle was chairman of the board when donors generously created the community health grant program, which each year gives out about $25,000 to community organizations. The hospital renamed the program the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation in recognition of the Markle s and their commitment to not just Gifford but the whole community. Bill means the world to me, and I feel really happy that we have this to carry his legacy, Lincoln said, fighting tears.Receiving the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation grants in 2009 were the Chelsea Public School s elementary basketball program, Gifford s new CenteringPregnancy program to benefit expecting mothers, Randolph Rotary Lifeline, Girls on the Run scholarships for area participating girls, The Newton School s sustainability project, the Rochester area Food Shelf, Safeline, Gifford s Eating Healthy Cooking Classes for the community, the Stockbridge After School Program for nutritional snacks, the West Hartford Library Teen Center for health-related books and materials, Gifford s Robin s Nest childcare center for equipment and the Woodstock Union High School track and field team.Acute and advanced illness careThe evening concluded with a presentation by Gifford hospitalist Dr. Martin Johns and family and palliative care provider Dr. Jonna Goulding on the hospital s acute and advanced illness care programs.Johns described the growth in the hospitalist program that allows sicker patients to stay at Gifford, thus receiving care close to home rather than being transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center or Fletcher Allen Health Care. Gifford is also increasingly establishing relationships with these tertiary care centers as well as with District 8 Emergency Medical Services. The hospital has also instituted rounds, which involve daily multidisciplinary discussions of hospitalized patients, and have put processes in place to ensure a smoother transition from the Emergency Department to the inpatient unit, Howell Pavilion, Johns said.In an emotional showing of pictures of end-of-life care patients and their loved ones in Gifford s Garden Room, Goulding defined palliative care as meaning symptom control, but said it has really come to mean hospice care an old concept that at Gifford at least has made huge comeback. We ve gotten really good a curing things, Goulding said.What is sacrificed, however, is comfort, said Goulding. More people are dying in ICUs. We have fallen in love with technology.At Gifford, however, there is a culture of palliative care.Some doctors and nurses are specially certified in palliative care, the hospital has instituted a consult service for end-of-life and advanced illness patients, the Last Mile Ride raises money for extra services for these patients, a new grief program is being instituted for people to drop-in twice a month for counseling following a loss and, said Goulding, The work is good, because we truly make a difference.She encouraged others to make a difference too. Fill out an Advance Directive so your loved ones know your health care wishes, she suggested, and volunteer at the hospital or at the Last Mile Ride.