August & September 2023

Head or Heart?

Timidity in the face of adversity is no virtue, but prudence is preferred to recklessness.

By David Brody, MD

In aviation, as in life, and notably as in medicine too, there are circumstances in which we are faced with uncertainty – changing weather, a patient’s confusing presentation, a friend’s inscrutable moods – but action is required and we are forced to make a decision with incomplete knowledge. Perhaps this is even the rule. And in all such situations we are then faced with two competing positions that may not always align – what is most probable, and what we might prefer. How we navigate between these two poles can make all the difference.

I recently faced a dramatic and nearly catastrophic instance of the need for sound decision making as I was flying home from Laconia, New Hampshire. The weather on departure was essentially “blue skies” with occasional clouds, but as I headed north, it became apparent there was a front moving in. From Laconia I will usually fly the direct line route over the White Mountains and across Franconia Notch, but as I got on course I could see a cloud cover settling over the mountains, so I decided to head west towards Lebanon with a plan to dogleg it up the Connecticut valley, following I-91 and the river at a lower altitude, and then on up to the airport in Lyndonville.

There was adequate clearance as I started heading up the valley at 3000 feet, but I could see the oncoming front to the west darkening and thickening, and soon realized that it was going to be a matter of timing – which would make it to the airport first, the plane or the weather. My GPS is able to give me not only the distance to my destination but also the time and I warily kept an eye on the diminishing gap: 40 miles, 25 minutes; 15 miles, 10 minutes; then, with Saint Johnsbury off my wing, 10 miles and 6 minutes. Surely I can find a way across only 6 minutes I assured myself. However, conditions were rapidly deteriorating, with blackening skies and diminishing visibility announcing the arrival of the front. And then: a sudden hammering jolt of turbulence, a pelting rain opened up, the visibility went from bad to poor, and I hit a stomach-turning downdraft which slammed me against my seatbelt and plunged me 200 feet. This was trouble. No more time for thoughts of Maybe I should divert it was now or never. 

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2023 Golden Gala Raises More Than $76,000 for CAP!  

Many thanks to all of the staff, volunteers, Corporators and Trustees who supported this year’s Gala…our first since COVID! 

On Friday, August 25, more than 210 people gathered on the hospital green (despite the drizzly weather) to celebrate NVRH’s first 50 years and the beginning of our next 50.

 More than $76,000 was raised to help support our new Career Advancement Program, which is helping us grow our own nursing workforce. The event featured posters of some of the first CAP class members, and our own Holly Charland, Maintenance Tech, spoke about her desire to become a nurse and how community support for the CAP program is helping her achieve that goal. 

"I knew I liked having direct patient care and wanted to do more. When I heard about the CAP program and the opportunity to become a Medical Assistant, it seemed like a great fit for me to move my career forward." Steve Stowell, LNA; Diagnostic Imaging Medical Secretary

The Vermont Humanities Council Series, Literature and Medicine

This book discussion group, which is facilitated by Suzanne Brown, a retired Dartmouth professor and leader of the Vermont Humanities Council’s book discussions for over 30 years, is for NVRH employees and medical staff. The group meets six times a year with the first meeting THIS Wednesday, September 20, from 5 – 7 p.m. in conf. room 126. The first book is the Vermont Humanities’ Vermont Reads 2022: The Most Costly Journey. For more info about this book, click here.  

If you are interested in joining the Literature and Medicine book discussions, email Mary Maurer at [email protected], call ext. 7501, or drop by the Community Health Resource Center (previously known as the NVRH Medical Library).

Can’t make this week’s discussion? Our other two books for the Fall meetings: are Sarah DiGregorio’s “Taking Care” (Wed., Oct 18) and book of poetry by Helen Dunmore called “Inside the Wave” (Wed., Nov. 8). These will also take place in NVRH Conference Room 126 from 5 – 7 p.m. and participants can grab dinner from the Courtyard Café at 5 p.m.

Currently on Display in the Gray Gallery

On display until Oct. 25: “Fostering Creativity and Skill” by the Danville Art Group.

“Whether you’re drawn to the precise lines of drawing, the fluidity of watercolors, the versatility of acrylics, or the depth of oil painting, we offer comprehensive instruction in all these mediums,” Edward Kadunc, artist, instructor, and head of the studio says. “No matter your age or experience, we welcome artists at every stage of their creative journey. Our inclusive environment fosters growth and exploration.”

Part of the studio’s commitment to nurturing artists, is providing opportunities for members to showcase their work through exhibitions and events. Artists in the Gray Gallery’s exhibit include Lee Casagrande, Mary Q. Bell, Roseanne Drew, Leslie Fredette, Lyn Graham, Ed Kadunc, Lewis Kirshner, Cheryl Lacaillade, Martine Lussier, Nick Marandola, Josiah Marceau, Marilyn McEnery, Cam O'Brien, Catherine Roy, Linda Sherrill, Peter Sinclair, Cathy Smith, Candace Thomas and Bob Swartz.

Read More | Virtual Tour | More Info

The Community Health Fund Application is Open!

The goal of the Community Health Fund is to support community-building approaches that improve the health and quality of life for people in the NEK. If your organization has a project in mind and is interested in applying, click here. Apps due by Oct. 20.

It's That Time of Year - Time to Get Your Flu Shot!

This year, NVRH Flu Clinics will be held at the individual primary care practices. This means that patients at Corner Medical, Kingdom Internal Medicine, and St. Johnsbury Pediatrics will schedule their appointments directly with their primary care provider's office.

Flu Clinic for Corner Medical patients: Mon., Sept. 18 – Fri., Sept. 22.

Flu Clinic for Kingdom Internal Medicine: Tues., Oct. 3 (afternoon); Wed., Oct. 4 (morning); Thurs., Oct. 12 (all day); Fri., Oct. 13 (all day); Wed., Oct. 18 ( all day); Thurs., Oct 19 (all day).

Flu Clinic for St. Johnsbury Pediatrics: Starts on Tues., Oct. 3. Call more for info!

Dr. Zaidi Joins NVRH Podiatry

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Zaidi join our team,” VP of Operations and Medical Practices Laura Newell said. “She has a wide breadth of knowledge and skill, and we know that patients are going to enjoy working with her.”

Dr. Zaidi is interested in a variety of podiatric conditions such as bunions, wounds, and foot and ankle fractures. 

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Opening Celebration: The Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Suite

NVRH’s New Mental Health Support Area in the Emergency Department

More than 100 people gathered on July 25 to celebrate the completion of Phase 1 of the West Wing Project—the addition of 4 patient rooms and related spaces to better serve those experiencing a mental health crisis.

At the event, Shawn Tester recognized the Leahys and made the following announcement: In honor of Sen. Leahy’s sponsorship of the grant that made this new space possible, as well as his life-long public service to the state of Vermont, which we know was possible due to the unwavering support of his wife Marcelle, we are pleased to formally announce that this new mental health area of our Emergency Department has been named The Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Suite. Sen. Leahy spoke briefly and congratulated NVRH on its commitment to helping those in our community experiencing mental health challenges. 

Public Announcement of Fundraising Campaign & Key Namings 

At this event we also launched the public phase of the West Wing Project campaign and announced NVRH has raised $4.5 million toward its $5.5 million fundraising goal. Many thanks to all our staff, volunteers, Corporators and Trustees who have already made gifts in support of this project! As part of these early gift commitments, Shawn made two additional naming announcements: The Emergency Department will be named The Dr. David Toll Emergency Department, in honor of beloved Dr. Toll’s legacy of a life spent providing pediatric care to this community. Thanks to the generosity of Barbara and Chick Allen, the Laboratory will be named The John L. Norris, Jr. Laboratory, in honor of Barbara’s father.

The Dr. David Toll Emergency Department.

The John L. Norris, Jr. Laboratory

Dr. Mario Castro visits NVRH Pulmonology

On Aug. 10, Dr. Castro (left), who is on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the American Lung Association, shared his wealth of knowledge on pulmonology with Dr. Brittany Duchene (center) and Sara Allison McCabe, PA-C (right). Specifically, Dr. Castro focused on type 2 inflammation in asthma.

According to the Allergy and Asthma Network, “As many as 50-70 percent of asthma patients have Type 2 inflammation. Type 2 inflammation is a systemic allergic response that involves the activation of immune cells, including eosinophils, mast cells and T-cells.”

Read more about Dr. Castro here.

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National Association of Community Health

Workers Conference

By Debbie Locke-Rousseau

The very first thing I learned was that the heat in Texas is just not for me. It was an oven even in the depths of every shadow and the still of the night, with hardly a hint of any breeze (“feels like”103-110 degrees Fahrenheit!). Heat like that calls for air conditioning, so much so that I found myself buying a sweater in Texas during their heat wave! I love Vermont… Now you wanted to hear about the conference though.

The session I would like to highlight was about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I). The first speaker was a social anthropologist of sorts – I missed his intro as I actually left a training that was not of interest and joined in this talk a bit late. He was so excited about how the work he did, examination of cultures, was happening live, person by person, community by community within the CHW world that he made the decision to divert from his path towards a PhD and now works within CHW communities.

He spoke of how we all have biases, making us and each culture within our communities unique. He suggested we map ourselves and our identifiers - I am a mother, sister, wife, crafter, motorcycle rider – and find what we have in common. “See no stranger.” He spoke of equity as having the appropriate amount of resources for the needs, your community needs, an individual’s needs. Another presenter spoke of the “oops/ouch/whoa” approach to inclusion. The first mistake in language or meaning, in identifying a culture or person is an “oops,” a gentle correction. The second is an “ouch,” you are not learning, and that is hurtful. The third is a “whoa,” you really need to look within yourself to see why you are not learning. I am going to leave you with a resource given that may be new, may be a reminder: The Harvard Implicit Association Tests (IAT). You can take these on your own at any time. You must select “I agree” to continue to the tests, there are 15 tests. Click here.

Thank You,

Debbie Locke-Rousseau

CHT Lead for NVRH and supervisor of the CHWs out of Community Connections of NVRH.

Community Health Workers Highlight | Community Connections

  • Erica Beer attended a prevention conference in Texas with our Prevention Department.
  • Debbie Locke-Rousseau attended the National Community Health Worker Conference, also in Texas – Scholarship provided by The Vermont State Office of Rural Health thanks to our Community Health Worker Coordinator out of the VT Department of Health, Andrea Nicoletta.
  • All of us attended the Community Health Worker Alliance Meeting, Aug. 24, a meeting of Vermont Community Health Workers uniting to create an alliance with the goal of promoting and supporting the Community Health Worker professional role in VT.
  • Crystal and Erica attended the Vermont Health Connect Conference on Sept. 1.

And don't forget...

The panel for Dying to Talk About It: A Forum on Death and Dying Well includes Medical Director for Northern Counties Home Health & Hospice Dr. Mary Ready, Interfaith Chaplain for Home Health & Hospice Rev. Ann Hockridge, Elder Law attorney Jay Abramson, Sayle’s Funeral Home Funeral Director Steve Robinson and Advanced Care Planner – who is creating a “green” cemetery in Vermont – Michelle Acciavatti.

There is no registration. Free, ADA accessible, and open to the public. For more info, contact the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum at 748-8291.

A Message from Infection Prevention: Tracking Mosquitoes

I just returned from an early fall trip to Northeastern Canada, not expecting to encounter mosquitoes this late in the season. Unfortunately the warm, wet weather seems to be keeping them around longer than we would like. They are annoying in multiple ways, from that low pitched buzz when you are trying to sleep, to their itchy bite. More importantly, they can carry diseases including West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.

To keep track of this, the Vermont Department of Health does weekly Mosquito Surveillance. Click here to see the report. 

The surveillance indicates that in the first weeks of September there has been an uptick in mosquitos identified as carrying both West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). 

While the VDH reports that most people infected with either WNV or EEE do not develop symptoms, mild symptoms may include headaches, body aches, fever, and chills. In rare cases the infection can cause an inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. There is no specific treatment for either of these viral infections, but symptoms can be managed.  

Prevention is the best protection. The Vermont Department of Health has an excellent website with ideas on how to prevent mosquito bites. 

This site also includes an interactive link to find an appropriate insect repellant.

Enjoy the last days of summer. And avoid the mosquitoes! 

Patricia Launer ([email protected]

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