News and announcements from Southwestern Vermont Health Care


Free cancer screening Sept. 17

Lixia Ellis, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, will perform free full-body skin checks from 8 a.m. to noon on Sept. 17. Cases of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, are more prevalent in this area, which is why people should take advantage of a free screening in September.

While open to everyone, the screenings are targeted at people with no insurance or with high deductibles, and an appointment is required. To make an appointment, call 802-447-5544. The screenings will be done at SVMC Dermatology, 140 Hospital Drive, Suite 205, in Bennington.

Linda White, medical assistant for Dr. Ellis, said in the past at least one melanoma is diagnosed at each screening.

"Twenty people were diagnosed locally with melanoma in the past year, and Ellis diagnoses between 25 and 30 new non-melanoma skin cancers each week," said White.

According to the American Association of Dermatologists, 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. One melanoma patient in the US dies every hour.

"While melanoma is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer, if detected and treated early, the survival rate is 98 percent." said Ellis. "If it metastasizes, however, it gets into the lymph nodes and the odds of survival become slim."

The two most common types of non-melanoma cancers she diagnoses are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Both are often easily treated and cured.

Ellis also shared she sees more skin cancer cases here in Bennington than in other places and the numbers are higher than the national average.

"In Bennington and the northeast in general, people go for many months without much sun exposure. When summer comes they're eager to get outside and enjoy the sunshine," Ellis said. "But since their skin is not used to it and they are not in the habit of protecting themselves, they get sunburns. Burns are what lead to skin cancers."

She advises people to be mindful of using sunscreen, wearing hats, protective clothing, and sun glasses; seeking shade; and avoiding tanning beds.

SVMC recognizes medical staff

Each year, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center recognizes medical staff for their contributions to the health system's success. Special acknowledgements are made to two providers who exhibit the qualities of teamwork and clinical excellence, and to those celebrating career milestones.

Bridget Bromirski, PNP, was the 2016 recipient of the Professional Teamwork Award. Bromirski works with infants and their families in the hospital's Women's and Children's Services Department. She attended Pace University and Russell Sage College before completing her post-graduate education at Stony Brook University School of Nursing, all in New York.

Scott Rogge, MD, FACC, was awarded the 2016 Clinical Excellence Award. Rogge has been a cardiologist with Southwestern Vermont Health Care since 1994 and is currently medical director of Cardiology. He received his undergraduate education at McGill University in Montreal and his medical degree at St. Georges School of Medicine in Grenada. Dr. Rogge completed his residency at the Hospital of St. Raphael in Connecticut and a fellowship at Albany Medical College in New York. In addition, he is a past governor of Vermont for the American College of Cardiology.

In addition, several providers were recognized for their years of service. Among them, Michael Brady, DDS, was celebrated for 40 years of service.

Cancer Center Community Crusaders raise nearly $40K for local cancer patients

The Cancer Center Community Crusaders, known as the 4Cs, hosted their 3rd Annual Community Remembrance Day on Saturday, June 4 at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Campus in Bennington. Nine crews and more than 300 participants at the event contributed to the group's nearly $40,000 fundraising total for the year.

Remembrance Day activities included inflatable bounce houses, face painting, cupcake tastings, entertainment, a dunk booth, and food provided by the Mt. Anthony Fighting Patriot Booster Club. The program also included inspirational speeches and awards for fundraising crews.

This year's event included the first Freedom 5K Run/Walk, a revolutionary-themed course through historic Old Bennington. Local organizations, including the Bennington Fire Department and Mt. Anthony Fighting Patriot Booster Club, supported the event with their participation and donations.

The following day, June 5, the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center providers and staff celebrated life with survivors at their annual National Cancer Survivors Day celebration. The event hosted a gathering of over 250 participants and included lunch, music, raffle, and socializing for former patients, family members, and caregivers.

The Cancer Center Community Crusaders provide financial, physical, and emotional support to members of the community and their families as they strive to obtain the best cancer care and treatment possible. All funds raised by the Cancer Center Community Crusaders stay in the communities of Bennington and Windham counties in Vermont and nearby New York and Massachusetts. Patients need not receive treatment at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center to be eligible for funds.

For information about the Cancer Center Community Crusaders and how to participate, please call Carson Thurber at 802-447-5488 or e-mail

SVHC grants 2016 nursing awards

Each year, Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) honors a nurse whose accomplishments in the areas of leadership, service and scholarship are worthy of the health system's highest recognition. This award is called the Search for Excellence, and the 2016 honoree is Karen Hewson, MSN, RN, CEN, of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. She was celebrated at the SVHC's 2016 Nurses Week Celebration in May.

Hewson received her associate's in Nursing, Sisters of St. Joseph; a bachelor's in Nursing, Southern Vermont College; and a master's in Nursing, University of Phoenix, and holds additional certifications in emergency nursing, critical care nursing, and post-anesthesia care. She has worked as a nurse for 44 years.

Most recently, Hewson helped develop Southwester Vermont Medical Center's Transitional Care Program for high-risk patients. The program provides a nurse to accompany patients through the medical system and during home visits with the aim of reducing inpatient admissions.

"I worked in the Emergency Department for 20 years. I had some speculation about what patients were up against in their home environments. Now I get to really see it and help them get over those barriers," Hewson explained. "And I am afforded more time with the patient, which is exactly what they need."

Honorees are known for excellence in nursing practice, professionalism and development of other health care providers, sensitivity and compassion in their professional relationships. Active in shared governance, committee involvement. In addition, two non-nurse staff were also awarded for their contributions to excellence in nursing: Hospitalist Elizabeth A. Whateley, MD, is the 2016 Magnet Provider, and Gary Strubel, knowledge and instructional analyst, is the Spirit of Magnet honoree.

Outstanding volunteer of 2016

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is pleased to announce the 2016 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, Mary Johnson of Bennington, VT. The Outstanding Volunteer Award is given to the volunteer who shows dedication to patients and staff, provides excellent customer service, quality in all work that they do, and empathy and respect in all interactions with patients, staff, visitors, and fellow volunteers.

Johnson is a volunteer for the lobby information desk and has served the health system for 17 years. She is a role model volunteer and shows great commitment and support for everyone she encounters. She gives a tremendous amount of her time providing effective and committed service to patients.

Thomas A. Dee, FACHE, SVHC President and CEO, presented the award at the Volunteer Appreciation Lunch this spring at the Mt. Anthony Country Club.

Other nominees included George (Chip) Lincourt, Annette Morse, Norma Myers, Beverly Petrelis, Rita McWilliams, all of Bennington, and Maureen Searby of Petersburg, N.Y., and Terry Kubisiak of Pownal.

Thuermer earns doctor of nursing practice

Jennifer Thuermer, DNP, ACNP-BC, AACC, a specialist in cardiovascular disease at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), recently earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Regis College in Weston, Mass.

Thuermer's focus was in education with research looking at older adult experiences with adhering to a sodium-restricted diet with symptomatic heart failure. As part of her program, the study findings were integrated into an education program specifically designed for nurses caring for the heart failure population.

Thuermer has been invited by the Organization of Nurse Leaders to provide a poster presentation on her research in Boston in September. In October she was invited by Linda Barnard, DNP to serve on a panel at an interdisciplinary conference in Connecticut, focused on Geriatrics in the long term setting regarding the challenges faced by older adults with heart failure. In addition, she is now educated to serve as a professor of nursing up to the doctoral level.

Thuermer joined SVMC in 2000 after receiving her Master of Science and Post-Master Certificate as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) from Sage Graduate School. She completed her bachelor's degree in nursing at Colby-Sawyer College. She is also an Associate of the American College of Cardiology (AACC).

2016 Vision Award honorees announced

Every September, Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) presents the Vision Awards at the Harvest Ball, an event sponsored by the SVHC Foundation. The ball will take place on Saturday, September 10 at the 1768 Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park.

This year, SVHC will honor two individuals, a physician and a community member, for their efforts to advance the health system's vision of healthier communities. The honoree for SVHC's 2016 Health Care Leadership Award is William Ketterer, MD. Brian Knight is the recipient of SVHC's 2016 Distinguished Community Service Award.

"We are truly grateful for the contributions Dr. Ketterer and Mr. Knight have made to SVHC," said Thomas A. Dee, FACHE, president and CEO of SVHC. "Over many years, both men have exemplified SVHC's values to guide this organization and this community toward healthier future."

William Ketterer, MD is the 2016 Health Care Leadership Honoree. Throughout his more than 30 years of service to patients of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Dr. Ketterer practiced as an orthopaedic surgeon. He was chief of surgery 1990 – 1995.

Brian Knight is the 2016 Vision Award honoree for Distinguished Community Service. Brian Knight is president and CEO of Country Business, Inc. The company is New England and Atlantic Canada's leading business brokerage. He served as a Board member of the Southwestern Vermont Health Care Corporation 2002 – 2009 and as board chair in 2006 – 2007. He is president of the Village of Manchester Board of Trustees.

"Dr. Ketterer and Mr. Knight are truly deserving of these prestigious awards," said David Meiselman, chair of the SVHC Board of Trustees. "We hope others will look to them as examples of the types of people that make SVHC the values-driven organization that it is."

Both Ketterer and Knight will be honored at the Seventh Annual Harvest Ball on Saturday, September 10 at the 1768 Hubbell Homestead at Colgate Park. All proceeds will benefit the health system. For tickets or more information, contact the foundation office at (802) 447-5017.


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