Top News


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009                                   RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Offers New Non-Invasive Procedure for Patients with Acid Reflux Disease.

MIDDLEBURY--Dr. Carl Petri, a general surgeon at Porter Hospital, is now offering a new, less invasive surgical treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) using a recently acquired surgical device and innovative technique that does not require an incision. According to Dr. Petri, because the procedure does not require an incision, there is reduced pain for the patient, shorter recovery time and no visible scar.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as “acid reflux”, is often treated with medications which can relieve patients’ heartburn symptoms, but which do not solve the underlying anatomical problems that cause the discomfort, or prevent further disease progression. According to Dr. Petri, the new procedure creates a valve between the stomach and esophagus, which restores the natural physiological anatomy to prevent the reflux.

“GERD is a very common condition, and this new technique can significantly improve quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. Petri. “Many reflux patients are unable to drink carbonated or caffeinated beverages or eat rich foods or fruit without triggering reflux. They also sleep sitting up to reduce nighttime reflux. After this procedure, most patients should be able to eat and drink foods they avoided for many years.”

Additionally, Dr. Petri points to recent clinical studies showing that this procedure can reduce a patients’ dependency on medications, with 70% of patients remaining symptom free after two years. “My belief is that this new procedure will produce significant benefits for a persons quality of life, potentially eliminate the need for acid reflux medications and do so via a minimally invasion technique and without even a small incision”, he said.

Individuals who believe they could benefit from this new service should consult their primary care physician, or may contact Dr. Petri’s office at 388-9885.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Thursday, December 10, 2009                                                   RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Embracing Change to Improve Performance: Implementation of an Electronic Health Record System at Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing Center

A two-year journey, led by a multi-disciplinary team of clinical, technical and administrative staff, resulted in the successful implementation of a comprehensive new Electronic Health Record system at the Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Middlebury, Vermont.

Information related to this implementation effort, along with a summary of some of the key achievements in the areas of improving the quality of care, financial performance and overall operational efficiency were provided by key members of the HPHRC team at the annual conference of the American Health Care Association this summer. It was the first time in the history of Helen Porter that they had been invited to make an educational presentation at a national conference, and they were eager to share both their accomplishments and the challenges resulting from their significant transformation from manual to electronic systems.

According to a 2008 study by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the use of electronic information systems by nursing homes is “considerably higher than previous estimates and compares favorably to other health care settings.” The report indicates that approximately 43 percent of U.S. nursing homes maintained electronic health records compared to 25 percent of physician offices and 59 percent of hospitals according to a survey of their members.

In Vermont, however, only a handful of the State’s 40 nursing homes have fully integrated electronic health information systems at this time—and the experience and success of the Helen Porter implementation has generated a good deal of interest among colleagues throughout the region.

“At the very beginning of this process, we decided to go for the whole loaf and overhaul our clinical and financial systems concurrently,” said HPHRC administrator Neil Gruber. “We recognized that if we could implement a system that allowed our staff to enter resident information once for all clinical and financial applications, we could make significant strides toward improving resident care, maximizing appropriate reimbursement and doing so in the most efficient way possible.”

It was not easy. One of the slides used in the power point presentation to the AHCA attendees is entitled: “Implementation is Hard!”…and goes on to list specific steps that helped ease the transition including holding weekly meetings, having a specific agenda each time, be supportive of each other, keep pushing but be flexible with deadlines, and always seek input from those who will be expected to use the system. Gruber also emphasized the importance of frequent communication.

“We created a special newsletter, prepared special and frequent written updates for our physicians and staff, and spent a lot of time walking around and talking to staff about what we were doing and how they were feeling about the project”, he said.

In addition to all of the human elements that go into a successful implementation project, Gruber said that there are a number of other factors that need to be accomplished. “You need to choose the right software for your organization that fits your style and culture, have some depth in the implementation team and recognize that physician buy-in is key,” he said. The HPHRC implementation team including Gruber, along with the director of nursing services, rehabilitation director/admissions coordinator, assistant administrator, an administrative assistant and some “off site” IT consultants.

In addition to selecting the right team and software, hardware components for the new system included a centralized server, secure local area network, a kiosk with both touch screen and keyboard capability, and wireless laptops on medication carts. The total cost for the hardware and software components of the system were under $250,000.

The final phase of this project centered around evaluation of results and the celebration of achievements. “We have been able to measure improvements in quality indicators such as fewer medication errors, fewer documentation omissions, and less time spent charting--and thus more time spent at the bedside with residents,” Gruber said. He cites other specific examples of success including a smaller than expected increase in overall operating expenses of just 1.2% from 2007 to 2008, reduced administrative staff time, and overall satisfaction from members of the HPHRC clinical staff. “These results, along with a steady increase in our case mix scores and commensurate increases in our Medicare reimbursement are clear evidence that this has been a worth-while effort and an important accomplishment for our team and our staff,” he said.

Looking ahead, Gruber is already anticipating the next steps of interfacing their system with Porter Hospital, as well as exploring other opportunities to use the new system for staff education and other applications. Or as he puts it, “Our technology journey continues….”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Thursday, October 8, 2009                                                   RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Hospital Adjusts Visiting Policy to Birthing Center during flu season

MIDDLEBURY--With the flu season upon, Porter Hospital has made some changes in the visiting policies on the Birthing Center, according to Kathy Hoxsie, Nurse Manager of the Unit.

“The number of visitors allowed to visit mom and baby will be limited to two, and it will be helpful if these visitors remained the same throughout the stay” Hoxsie said. “The father of the baby will be allowed in at all times but must wear a mask if any signs or symptoms of illness and visitors under the age of 18 will not be allowed onto the unit.”

According to Hoxsie, there will be special visiting hours for siblings – who must be symptom free of illness such as fever and or cough—between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. each day. No other children will be allowed onto the unit as visitors.

Visitors should expect to be greeted at the door to the Birthing Center by staff, who will be asking questions about illness. Any one with any signs of illness will not be allowed onto the Unit. “We also will ask that everyone use good hand washing at all times” Hoxsie added.

“We are asking our patients to please help us by informing family and friends of these new policies before you come into the hospital, as we are doing this to protect you and your new baby as well as the other families on the unit” Hoxsie said. “We do strongly encourage you to get your seasonal flu shot as well as the h3N1 vaccine. “

She said that this policy may change as the season progresses, and that the hospital will keep the patients and community updated.

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Special Event in October to Support Porter Hospital Diabetes Programs

The Vergennes Union High School and Champlain Valley Christian School Classes of 2010 have a initiated and will be participating in a Walk-a-thon for Diabetes in memory of a classmate the mornings of October 6,7,8. They will walk 20 miles to Porter Hospital raising funds for the Porter Hospital Diabetes Program that directly serves Addison County communities and beyond.

If you want to make a pledge or walk, please contact any VUHS senior…or call the Porter Hospital Development Office at 388-4738 at the hospital and Lisa Obrien at VUHS. Credit cards, checks or pledges are accepted

Thank you for your support of this very special and important effort by VUHS and CVCS students.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Monday, September 21, 2009                                  Contact: Ron Hallman 802-388-4744

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Porter Hospital Receives grant from the Walter Cerf Community Fund

MIDDLEBURY—Porter Hospital has received a grant of $3,000 from the Walter Cerf Community Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation to support the establishment of the new “Partners in Palliative Care” practice. The practice is staffed by Drs. Diana Barnard and Will Porter, as well as nurse practitioner Leslie Orleup and began operations this month.

According to Dr. Barnard, the new practice represents an innovative and patient-centered approach that focuses on the special needs of homebound patients with serious and chronic illness and their families.

“The work of the new Partners in Palliative and Home Care practice will emphasize quality of life and life-closure issues, managing disease processes so as to minimize suffering, and helping patients and their families adjust to the changes brought on by advanced illnesses. It will promote comfort and support for patients and their families while dealing with the unique challenges of a life-limiting illness” she said. “The overall goal is to allow the patient to live at home with as much space, dignity and personal control as possible.”

“We are very grateful to the trustees of the Walter Cerf Community Fund for this very generous grant that will support the start-up expenses for what promises to be a very important new community service”, said PMC President, James L. Daily.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Friday, August 7, 2009                                                RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Hospital to Establish new “Partners in Palliative and Home Care” Practice

On September 1, Porter Hospital will establish a new medical practice in Middlebury, staffed by Dr. Diana Barnard and Dr. Will Porter, that will focus exclusively on providing palliative care services for dying patients in their homes or, if necessary, in the hospital or nursing home. According to Dr. Barnard, the new practice, “Partners in Palliative and Home Care”, represents an innovative and patient-centered approach that focuses on the special needs of terminally ill patients and their families.

“The work of the new Partners in Palliative and Home Care practice will emphasize quality of life and life-closure issues, managing disease processes so as to minimize suffering, and helping patients and their families adjust to the changes brought on by advanced illnesses. It will promote comfort and support for patients and their families while dealing with the unique challenges of a life-threatening illness” she said. “The overall goal is to allow the patient to live with as much space, dignity and personal control as possible.”

In response to the recognition of the needs of patients who confront serious, life-threatening and terminal illnesses and their families, enhanced palliative care has been identified by Porter Hospital to be a key community need according to PMC President, James L. Daily. “Our goal is to establish a new medical practice that will be staffed by physicians who have a passion for this work and a goal of providing care that focuses on quality of life, control of pain and symptoms and attention to the psychosocial and spiritual experiences of adapting to advanced illness” he said.

Additionally, new pain management standards issued by JCAHO have also helped to raise awareness of the need for palliative care in the hospital setting. In addition, there is growing recognition among hospital and hospice leaders that patients and families are in need of a more integrated continuum of care from their local delivery system, and that community healthcare providers have a responsibility to assure that such a continuum is available.

“For the people of our community, expanded access to coordinated high-quality palliative care can help facilitate greater personal autonomy and control over their care and treatment choices and bring a degree of humanity and sensitivity to illness-related emotional, psychological and spiritual issues that otherwise might get lost in the delivery of traditional medical treatment” Barnard added.


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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Monday, August 3, 2009                                               RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Expands Local Cardiology Services with New Provider and Facilities

MIDDLEBURY--The Porter Hospital Cardiology practice will be significantly expanded both in terms of clinical hours and specific outpatient services with the arrival of Dr. Sanjay Bose in September.

In addition to his board certification in general cardiology, Dr. Bose is board eligible in Interventional Cardiology and has completed three years as a Cardiology Fellow with extensive experience covering the full spectrum of clinical cardiology.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Dr. Bose to our community, as well as grateful for the opportunity to offer a full-time/full-service cardiology program for our local patients and in support of the work of our primary care physicians,” said Porter cardiologist Dr. Andrea Fossati. “Dr. Bose will be seeing patients here in our Porter campus office four days each week, and also working one day each week up at Fletcher Allen in the cardiac catheterization lab with our patients.” According to Dr. Fossati, Dr. Bose will bring to Porter Hospital new expertise and the ability to perform both non-invasive and invasive cardiology services that our current Cardiology practice does not offer. “This will be tremendously convenient for our local patients,” she added.

Dr. Bose, a resident of Shelburne, Vermont, has completed cardiology fellowships at New York Methodist Hospital, Texas Tech University Health Systems and Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut (an affiliate of Yale University School of Medicine). Prior to coming to Vermont, Dr. Bose was the Director of Echocardiography, Exercise Stress & Holter Labs and the Sleep Lab at Hardin County General Hospital in Illinois.

In anticipation of Dr. Bose’s arrival at Porter in mid-September, the hospital is in the midst of completing a renovation project to expand and improve its entire rehabilitation department, including new space for cardiac testing.

Information about these new services and appointments can be made by calling Cardiology at 382-3443.

 

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Vermont community hospitals form shared network
Three facilities join together

FREE PRESS STAFF REPORT • JULY 20, 2009

Three community hospitals have formed the not-for-profit Vermont Hospital Shared Service Network. The presidents and boards of trustees of Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Gifford Medical Center in Randolph and Porter Medical Center in Middlebury created VEHSSN to enhance collaboration and the development of shared services among the three not-for-profit, rural Community Access Hospitals as permitted by law.

James Daily, president of Porter Medical Center, Melvyn Patashnick, president of Copley Hospital and Joseph Woodin, president of Gifford Medical Center, began talking late last year about establishing a nonprofit entity that would enable the hospitals to legally work collaboratively. In February, they engaged Helms & Co., Inc., followed by Downs Rachlin & Martin PLLC in March, to formulate an organizational structure for the new collaborative.

The hospitals funded the startup effort with an equal contribution of capital. The network's purpose is to add value for the three hospitals through reduced expenses and improved quality. Any incremental costs related to the network are to be offset or exceeded by demonstrated cost savings, quality improvements and service enhancements.

Among the areas of collaboration the group is exploring: the joint negotiation and purchase of medical insurance; shared service opportunities with information technology, cooperative recruitment and staffing of physicians and allied health professionals; and identifying other opportunities to enhance service, quality and/or productivity.

The network recently received a grant from the Vermont Rural Hospital Flexibility Program. The organization will work this summer to create implementation plans for collaboration and conduct evaluations as appropriate.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Monday, July 13, 2009                                                   RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing Center To Receive National Award In Recognition Of Continuous Quality Improvement

MIDDLEBURY—Helen Porter Rehabilitation & Nursing Center has been recognized as one of the 2009 recipients of the Step I National Quality Award presented by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). This year 664 nursing and assisted living facilities from across the nation applied for the quality award at this level. Awards will be presented during AHCA/NCAL’s 60th Annual Convention and Exposition, October 4-7, 2009 in Chicago.

“We applaud Helen Porter for having passed this first step that demonstrates their intention to begin a rigorous quality improvement program, and look forward to their moving forward to pursue the requirements for the Steps II and III awards in the coming years,” stated Bernie Dana, Chair, AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Board of Overseers, one of the nine members that oversee the program.

Applicants for the Step I level award have a clear vision and mission for their facility and acknowledge key challenges that are embodied in the organizational profile section of the Malcolm Baldrige criteria. The Step I award recognizes providers that have developed a foundation to begin a journey of continuous quality improvement, and that they have taken the first step in corresponding with any public measures of performance.

AHCA/NCAL is a trade organization with approximately 11,000 members. Since 1996 AHCA/NCAL has used the concepts of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award as the basis for its three step program for the long term care profession. At the Step I level,applications are reviewed by Examiners who have received special training to qualify as judges for the award program.

“This recognition of the quality of care provided to our residents by a national organization is extremely gratifying,” said HPHRC administrator Neil Gruber. “It is a real testament to the dedication of our staff to provide outstanding care to our residents, strive to continuously improve our services, and work collaboratively in a very challenging environment.” Gruber points to the implementation of a new electronic medical record system as the most recent tangible achievement related to their ongoing efforts to continually improve quality, safety and efficiency.

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Radiology Goes Cutting Edge

(Reprinted from the Addison Independent, 6/25/09, article by Kathryn Flagg)

Nearly 14 years after its creation, Porter Medical Center’s radiology department—squirreled away in the basement of the hospital—is once again at the cutting edge of its field.

Radiologists at Porter are heralding the hospital’s new digital mammographic unit as the best in Vermont—and as the capstone of a several-year project to upgrade the department’s equipment.

The full-field digital mammographic unit, which the hospital began using in May, could help Porter radiologists better detect early signs of breast cancer in women. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer. Early detection is key to increasing survival rates in women with breast cancer.

“Mammography has been proven time and time again at diagnosing breast cancer at a very early stage where it is treatable. (It) makes a huge difference in survival, and especially disease-free survival,” said Dr. Stephen Koller, the chief of Porter’s radiology department. “You can catch the cancer when it’s curable.”

Porter radiologists had already been performing mammographies for some time, but the old equipment captured images on film. Those images, particularly when they were taken of younger women’s more dense breasts, didn’t always offer the ideal amount of detail. The lower quality of those images made searching for signs of potential cancer difficult.

That’s where the hospital’s new technology comes into play. The new mammographic unit takes digital, high-resolution images of women’s breasts. Now, Koller said, the digital image provides doctors with a much higher degree of detail—especially when it comes to examining younger patients.

According to Koller, it’s especially important that equipment used for screening tests—that is, precautionary tests performed on an otherwise healthy population—be topnotch. Otherwise, he said, radiologists end up chasing a lot of red herrings, which means more unnecessary procedures.

Also, radiology equipment exposes patients to a small dose of radiation. Avoiding the so-called red herrings, Koller said, means that doctors can sometimes avoid needlessly exposing patients to radiation.

In the dark room where radiologists examine the results for these screenings, Koller bent over the keyboard, pulling up a file on the large computer screens. On one half of the screen was a digitized copy of an old film. The image showed an X-ray of a woman’s breast, but the edges were blurred, the tissue inside at best indistinct.

“This was the best we could do for a long time,” Koller said. On the other side of the screen, Koller pointed out a much more distinct, detailed image of the same woman’s breast that was captured with the new machine.

These new digital images can also be processed with a computer program that helps radiologists better identify potentially troublesome areas on an image.

In addition to providing better images, the new machine has another major plus: “tungsten tube” technology that reduces the amount of radiation to which a woman is exposed by 30 percent. The tungsten tube technology is brand new, Koller explained, and the Porter radiology department is the only one in the state with this equipment.

The new machine—as well as improvements to the room where the machine is housed and the waiting room where women gather before their exams—cost the hospital almost $500,000. As a part of this project, the radiology department also expanded the women’s changing room where patients wait for their mammographies to be performed.

“This is a hospital, but these women getting these screening tests are outpatients,” Koller said. “We don’t want them to feel like they’re in a hospital when they’re here. We want them to feel like they’re in a comfortable environment.”

Because all women should have a yearly mammography once they turn 40, Koller said, the hospital sees a lot of traffic. Typically, around 340 women per month come to Porter for mammographies, and the hospital sees between 3,000 and 4,000 patients a year for the procedure.

And Koller and other members of the radiology department hope that those numbers will go up. Women who may have left the county for more advanced screenings at larger hospitals now have the option of staying closer to home, and still having access to the best mammographic equipment in the state.

Porter radiologists also hope that the new equipment will make exams quicker and more efficient for doctors and patients alike. The mammographic machine upgrade is just one of many changes in the radiology department over the last few years. Two summers ago, the department went digital. Any tests that were still developed on film were then scanned into a computer archiving system, and radiologists began examining tests on computers instead of the light boards where they’d once attached x-rays.

The hospital also added a 64-slice CT scanner to its roster, as well as what Koller said is the most advanced bone density machine. The bone density machine, like the mammographic unit, is commonly used to address women’s health issues.

“Now, after this wave of improvements, we are right back up on the cutting edge,” Koller said. That was possible, he added, with the help of a supportive hospital board that focuses on putting patients first. That’s the same approach Koller has taken to upgrading the department.

“I always view this from the perspective of, ‘What would I want for my own family?’” Koller said. “That’s what I want for all of my patients.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tuesday, June 23, 2009                                            RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Dr. Amy Gregory, an Ophthalmologist, joins Eye Care Associates

Dr. Amy Gregory, an Ophthalmologist, has joined Eye Care Associates in Middlebury. She will be seeing patients in the Exchange Street Office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Fridays, Dr. Gregory will split her time between the office in Rutland and the office in Ticonderoga, New York.

Dr. Gregory is a graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and earned her medical degree at the New York University School of Medicine in 1995. She went on to her post-graduate training as an Ophthalmology Resident at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center from 1995 to 1999. She was in a full-time general Ophthalmology private practice in Shawnee, Oklahoma from 1999 to 2009. She was also an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center from 2001 to 2009.

Dr. Gregory is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and practices comprehensive ophthalmology including medical and surgical eye care for patients of all ages. She has special interests in oculoplastic surgery for the correction of eyelid abnormalities and in new technology cataract surgery to reduce dependence on glasses.

Dr. Gregory is accepting new patients at this time. For more information or to schedule an appointment call, 388-6565.

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Porter’s Transition to Electronic Patient Records
[Reprinted with permission by the Addison Independent - posted 6/3/2009]

Porter is moving forward with an expensive but potentially life-saving plan to transition to electronic medical records.

Once in place, hospital officials hope, electronic medical records could smooth transitions for patients being transferred between hospitals, save time and money at doctors’ offices, and improve patient care.

But the full transition, once Porter chooses a company to oversee the switch, could take as long as two and a half or three years, and ball-park estimates place the cost of creating an electronic records system between $3 million and $5 million.

Assuming that Porter selects a suitable contractor in May or June, said Porter Vice President for Finance Duncan Brines, the switch to electronic records likely won’t begin to kick in until at least late next winter or early spring. Once that switch happens, said Ron Hallman, the medical center’s Vice President for Development and Community Relations, Porter might qualify for reimbursement through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

For the medical center’ patients, the transition will largely occur behind the scenes. That doesn’t mean it won’t improve patient care, Brines said, offering the example of a trauma patient who might need to be transferred to Fletcher Allen in Burlington. That patient would head north with an electronic medical record rather than a paper file, a difference that could expedite the transfer. The electronic file would include the patient’s medical history, as well as photographs and notes especially tailored to the doctors on the receiving end.

On a day-to-day basis, he said, electronic records will likely save both patients’ and doctors’ time, cut back on mistakes, and protect files from potential destruction.

For now, Brines said, Porter is focusing on selecting the right company and technology to do the job. They’ve narrowed their choice down to two vendors who will each be visiting the hospital next month to run demonstrations of their products.

In addition to considering the cost of a new electronic medical records system, Brines said, Porter is also eager to find a system that will be compatible with other Vermont health care providers, is easy for Porter employees to use, and that won’t become out-of-date quickly.

Protecting patient privacy, Brines said, is another key concern for the hospital. “The security issues are something we have to deal with every day,” he said. “We have security systems now. They’re always changing. The number of potential viruses and ways of accessing confidential data are just enormous. We are just continuously updating whatever systems we have.”

In a perfect world, he said, the system would integrate clinical applications, financial and billing services and administrative functions.

Right now, employees from all of those departments are weighing in on the proposed systems.

It’s not three people in an office around a computer,” Brines said. “It’s really nurses, doctors, lab techs, billers, medical records people. It’s any number of people involved in the review.” He admitted that any electronic system will eventually become outdated, but said that now seems like the right time for Porter to move forward with the transition. “Should you wait or not?” Brines asked. “If you keep waiting, you wait forever.”

What’s more, he said, the transition to this technology has been on Porter’s radar screen for six or seven years. Now, Brines went on, the first wave of hospitals have already implemented medical records, and Porter is in a position to learn from their successes and failures.

“As a small rural hospital we don’t want to take chances on technology that may or may not be cutting edge,” Brines said. “We’d like somebody else to work out some of the bugs. (Now) we think we’re in a reasonably good spot.”

Porter won’t be alone as they move toward an electronic medical records system. The recovery bill signed by President Barack Obama in February commits $19 billion in grants and incentives for companies and practices to buy health information technology, and Brines said that Vermont is also making a big push for sharing data, and creating compatible records that can be shared between facilities.

“We’re all going through a process,” Brines said. “Over the next two to three years you’re going to see a major investment in information technology.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Friday, April 3, 2009                                            RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

Porter Hospital Signs “Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge”

MIDDLEBURY--On Monday, March 30, Laura Brace, Director of Food Services at Porter Hospital, signed the Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, a voluntary commitment by hospitals nation-wide to identify, adopt and implement local, nutritious and sustainable food in healthcare. The pledge acknowledges that healthy food is defined not only by food that is nutritious, but also equally by a food system that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and supportive of human dignity and justice.

“This is a huge opportunity to build upon our current efforts and improve what we are doing here at Porter for our patients, families and staff,” says Laura. “This is a chance to not only be more aware of existing possibilities but also be proactive to learn about the many new resources available to us”, she said.

In keeping with the philosophy of this program, Porter’s food service operation is currently involved in several initiatives that ensure that fresh, local fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products are served routinely to patients and staff.

Additionally, Laura Brace has become a Certified Master Gardener with the UVM Extension Service and an active participant in the hospital’s Recycling Committee in an effort to increase her knowledge and involvement in programs that promote the environment and support the local economy.

Other less visible steps that Porter has taken to be more environmentally friendly in our dietary department include replacing the dish-room sprayer with a low flow valve to save water and replacing plate heaters with a combination heaters to reduce electric costs.

According to Brace, Porter has always worked with local farms and food vendors to purchase fresh products, such as turkeys from a poultry farm in Orwell, milk, cottage cheese, sour cream from Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge, eggs/maple syrup from Maple Meadow Farms in Salisbury, beef from Greg’s Meat Market in Middlebury and apples from Champlain Orchards.

Brace also has a long list of new ideas to investigate including possibilities of introducing composting, even more local purchasing, serving only fair trade coffee, exploring more recycling opportunities, introducing reusable water bottles and mugs for staff and a starting a community/organization garden. She says that her department has some specific short-term goals, such as revising patient menus to be trans fat free, as well as some long- term goals such as a vegetable swap during the summer months.

Porter Hospital joins the more than 200 hospitals across the country that have signed the Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge including Hackensack University Medical Center, the fourth largest healthcare facility in the country, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Catholic Healthcare West health system, the largest US Catholic healthcare system. Here in Vermont, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Northeastern Vermont Regional also have signed the pledge.

Vermont Fresh Network’s Vermont Coordinator for the “Healthy Food in Health Care” Initiative, Alyssa Nathanson said “Porter is demonstrating leadership not only for our community, but for the country. We are fortunate to have a facility like this take a leadership role in Vermont. We hope that more hospitals across the state will follow suit.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tuesday, January 6, 2009                         RON HALLMAN, 388-4744

2009 Porter Annual Meeting

MIDDLEBURY--The 2009 Annual Meeting of Porter Medical Center will be held on Friday evening, January 23rd at 7:00 p.m. in room 216 of the John M. McCardell, Jr. Bicentennial Hall on the campus of Middlebury College. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The guest speaker for Porter’s annual meeting will be Congressman Peter Welch, who will be making his first trip back to Vermont following the Inauguration in Washington, D.C. “We are looking forward to having Congressman Welch as our speaker and hearing his insights concerning new or emerging health care and economic policy initiatives on the federal level,” said PMC board chairman Joe Sutton. “There is a very acute interest among the public in the widely anticipated economic stimulus package now being developed by Congress and the incoming Administration, and we hope that this interest will contribute to a very interesting annual meeting” he added.

In addition to the remarks by Congressman Welch, brief reports will be provided by Sutton and PMC President, James L. Daily, regarding the work of Porter Medical Center during the past year, and related topics of importance to our organization and community.

For more information call the Porter Medical Center public relations office at 388-4738.

 

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