Archive - April 2016

1
The Importance of Early Childhood
2
Move of the Month: The Bridge
3
Angels Among Us
4
Scott Johnson, Lamoille Family Center
5
Rorie Dunphey, Family Practice Associates – Cambridge
6
Nancy Wagner, Copley Hospital
7
Michele Whitmore, Johnson State College
8
Mary Collins, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice and The Manor
9
Lynda Marshall, Lamoille County Mental Health Services
10
Lisa Mugford, The North Central Vermont Recovery Center

The Importance of Early Childhood

By: Steve Ames

While running River Arts in 2007 – and in the middle of the renovation of the Lamoille Grange – now the River Arts Center – I had a chance to visit the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor. The jail has a maximum-security section and a section for inmates with mental health issues. It was a profound day – I wish we all had a chance to do that. Then a couple weeks later, I heard Howard Dean talk about working early childhood educationwith pregnant and mothering teens in Harlem. It was like a light bulb moment for me as I realized that early childhood is the time to make progress in so many issues in our communities. It was after these experiences that I began to move River Arts programming more towards young kids, and with Kati Furs, started Open Gym and My First Camp…

Since then it has only become more clear how critical the first few years of our lives are in determining our health and well being for the rest of our lives. In fact, in the first three years of our lives, 80% of our brain development takes place. 700 synapses are created every second in a two year old! WOW. And the most significant way to foster great brain development in babies is for them to have stable positive relationships with the adults in their lives.

So I’m delighted these days to be working with Building Bright Futures and working with early childhood issues in the Lamoille Valley area and across the State – even a little at the national level. And, I’m looking forward to sharing our work with our community on this blog.


As the Regional Coordinator for Building Bright Futures, Steve staffs The Lamoille Valley Building Bright Futures Regional Council, a volunteer committee focused on the well being of young children and their families. There is one such Council in each of twelve regions of the State. Steve also works with the Playroom in Morrisville. He writes about early childhood, families, community, play, and equity.

Move of the Month: The Bridge

Copley Hospital’s certified athletic trainer, Vin Faraci, demonstrates a great exercise to strengthen your glutes, thighs and abs. It is also great for your lower back and strengthening your core overall.

What are some of your favorite strengthening exercises?

Angels Among Us

By: Mary L. Collins

Angels Among Us

There’s nothing funny about thinking you may possibly be dying.

I am not a religious person, so don’t let the title of this blog fool you. I am, however, aware of things that may have special, even universal meaning; and so, let me tell you the story of waking up to an angel.

When I was 24, I was in a terrible car accident. Note to self: cute sports cars are no match for a massive SUV on icy roads. Let’s just say, if not for a seat belt, a more-than-healthy dose of luck, and a split second’s difference in where my head landed upon impact of one vehicle with another, I’d probably not be here. But my story isn’t about my accident; it’s about the relationship healthcare providers have with the person they care for after that person has suffered some kind of trauma.

Now, back to my story, my tangled car, and the gargantuan SUV that just hit me head on. Did you know that shock and trauma often catapult a person into another consciousness that is hard to explain unless you have also experienced it? I was completely unable to speak, and kind of, shall we say, “drifty”. I can recall being cold, bleeding, having trouble breathing (busted ribs) and knowing that my life was in someone else’s hands. Thankfully, I didn’t have to talk at all and was whisked off to my local hospital courtesy of the town’s volunteer EMT crew.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, I remember being surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians – you name the position, there was probably someone on the trauma team waiting to greet and care for me. However, shock really can do a number on a person. It particularly messes up one’s ability to communicate. I recall fading in and out of consciousness. I knew I was in the best possible hands. What was missing, however, was the one thing that surgery could not repair; and that was to help make a connection between my confused, semi-conscious self and someone who could tell me that I was going to be okay. All the while that doctors hovered over me assessing my external and possible internal injuries, no one talked with me. Admittedly, the ER staff had other, critical concerns to deal with. I wasn’t being ignored. Quite the contrary. There was a huge outpouring of expert medical care. Yet, during my few moments of clarity, I was desperately wondering if I was going to live or die. That level of panic made me feel strangely invisible to everyone. And, due to my traumatized state, I was not able to ask the question.

Soon thereafter, I was stabilized, wheeled out of the Emergency Room, onto an elevator, and in to surgery. “Was this it?” I thought. “Is this how life ends for me?” Dang! This wasn’t my plan at ALL!

Fast forward to the recovery room some hours later.

Groggily, I woke to soft beeping noises, low lights, a warm room and a comfortable bed. “So this is heaven?” I thought. Geez, is THIS a disappointment, or what?! You have to understand, the brain has a way of making sense of the most unbelievable things. I was sure I had died. And this was my reward: the deck of the Starship Enterprise.

And that’s when the angel appeared.

He arrived at my bedside, and whispered gently into my ear, “Mary, you are in recovery. You’re just waking up. You’re hooked to a few monitors, but you’ll be okay.”

Mind you, all this time I was convinced I had died. And so, my first thought was, “Seriously, THIS is heaven?” And this voice I was hearing, is the intake coordinator. Then he spoke again in that hushed, reassuring tone, “My name is Steve. You’ve been in an accident. I’ll be taking care of you.”

That’s it. Three sentences that sounded like a prayer. And an angel named “Steve”.

And then I realized, I hadn’t died at all. Steve was a nurse and I was in the post-operative recovery suite. That was my miracle. I had been alerted to where I was. It felt like a second chance at life – even though I was never in jeopardy of going anywhere. I was forever grateful.

What’s the lesson?

It’s this: When a person is injured or has fallen ill and is in need of medical care, it is not only important to care for the body, but to recognize that the mind and spirit of the person is very likely active and present. How you engage with that person can make all the difference in their recovery. Anyone can do this. No medical training is necessary. To say, “I’m right here by your side,” to a loved one who is in the emergency room; or, “You’ve got the very best care. Everything will be okay,” while a person you know is waiting for a prognosis, can make a huge difference in their sense of wellbeing – no matter what the outcome.

At the time of my accident I had never experienced real trauma. Afterward, I’ve made it a point to always be, whenever possible, the reassuring voice for someone at a time of need. Whether or not that person can communicate, in words, back to me or you, doesn’t matter. Just imagine what it is they NEED to hear and speak to it. “You’ll be okay.” “I’m right here with you.” “My name is Steve….I’ll be taking care of you.”

This is what our staff at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice does every day. Whether it is a nurse, a therapist, a personal care attendant or a homemaker; we let our patients know, “I’m right here with you. You’ll be okay.”

Words of an angel, indeed.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Scott Johnson, Lamoille Family Center

Scott JohnsonScott Johnson is Executive Director of the Lamoille Family Center and has worked in Lamoille Valley in human services and education for nearly his entire career. The Family Center has served our community by encouraging, educating and celebrating children, youth and families for forty years.

Scott writes about early care and education, adolescent development and strengthening families that improve conditions of well-being.

Rorie Dunphey, Family Practice Associates – Cambridge

Rorie DunpheyRorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

Nancy Wagner, Copley Hospital

Nancy WagnerNancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital. She provides health and wellness to Copley employees through screenings, education and fun activities; educates patients regarding their nutrition and diabetes needs; and works with community members providing education to schools and businesses. Nancy enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases.

Through this blog, she hopes to help readers understand some of the science behind nutrition and how it relates to well being, happiness, and long term health.

Michele Whitmore, Johnson State College

Michele WhitmoreMichele Whitmore is the Associate Dean of Students at Johnson State College. She works closely with Student Service Departments within the College to provide purposeful events to students that will strengthen their professional leadership, personal growth, life skills development and social engagement. Thus far this year, the College has provided educational programs that cover LGBTQ issues, alcohol and drug use, sexual assault prevention, socio-economic struggles, and healthy choices related to eating well and being fit, to name a few.

Michele writes about the outreach and program opportunities that enhance the wellness of a campus community.

Mary Collins, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice and The Manor

Mary CollinsMary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice and The Manor.

A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont.

Recognized as a 2013 Silver Award Recipient from the American Health Care Association, a 2011 Bronze Award Recipient from the AHCA, and as a Quality Nursing Home by the State of Vermont, The Manor provides residential and long-term care, short-term rehabilitation care, hospice, and respite care in Morrisville, VT.

In addition to her work in health care marketing, Mary serves on the Board of the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce, is founder of Lakota Tiny House Nation – an advocacy program for the Youth of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota – and operates Shine Communications. A 6th generation Vermonter, she is the mother of 1 son and lives with her partner, Dr. Donald Tobey, in Elmore, VT.

Lynda Marshall, Lamoille County Mental Health Services

Lynda MarshallLynda is the Human Resources Director & Compliance Officer at Lamoille County Mental Health Services in Morrisville. She manages human resources, acts as risk management, oversees employee wellness, and edits a community newsletter. On a more personal note, she is a recovering attorney (but please don’t hold that against her) and transplanted Southerner (don’t hold that against her, either).

LCMHS is celebrating 50 years as the designated mental health and development disabilities services agency for Lamoille County. LCMHS serves children, adolescents, families, and adults, including individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Its programs help individuals gain independence and enhance the quality of their lives.

Lisa Mugford, The North Central Vermont Recovery Center

Lisa MugfordLisa Mugford volunteers and works part time at The North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville. The Center provides a supportive, welcoming, safe, and substance-free environment for individuals and families on their paths to lasting recovery from drugs and alcohol. Lisa writes for the Recovery Center, which means her blog posts are inspirational, real, and sometimes heart breaking.

Lisa has been in recovery from alcohol addiction for eight years. Recovery is the most important thing in her life, because it has changed her life! She lives in Waterbury, VT and owns a business in Stowe.