Archive - February 2017

Family Recovery
Osteoporosis and Our Aging Population
How to Stay Active During the Winter
Dr. Gannon Testifies Regarding Treatment for Mentally Ill in Crisis
Parkinson’s Disease Seminar: Feb. 14 at Copley Woodlands
What to Do About the Flu?
Free Upcoming Healthy Workshops

Family Recovery

By: Lisa Mugford


Recovery is a process. All of us in recovery are at different stages and in different places. We follow our own path with guidance from our peers, our family, and our communities.

Lamoille County is a community which supports recovery with many resources. The North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville supports all paths to recovery including writing, art, and music. That being said, I want to share a couple writings by my 23- year- old daughter, Emma. Emma is in recovery at this point in her life and I am so very grateful. Addiction in my family is prevalent, touching all of us. With many prayers and a lot of recovery work, I am proud to say my family now celebrates recovery.

Here are just a couple powerful writings my daughter Emma has created to express herself in her recovery. We hope they can help others who identify in some way.


The Moons Behind My Eyes

Look into my eyes and notice –
they are darker than a nightmare,
swimming with secrets and thoughts
that I can’t tell you because they would make you shiver,
because for some twisted but understandable reason
these negative forces feed into the part of me that wants to be punished
for who I am.

Nobody wants to feel this way unless it,
for some reason, becomes familiar and even safe
to feel this way
But even then…

To remember this, helps:
We all seek belonging
in a world where we are all connected
yet at times feel painfully alone
We are all born from the stars
My heart is made of angel wings
My skin is birch bark that peels in the summertime
and my lips – the petals of a white rose
What are you made of?

My eyes have turned black as the thoughts race through my veins,
ache in my stomach But behind my eyes are two full moons,
and the moon never ceases to appear,
glowing through the dark


You say I’m a warrior
But why do I feel like the war zone itself
Tangled up with ashes and blood
There goes a stream of dark tears
Watch it turn into a river I swear
It will

You say I’m a warrior
But I’ve been killed in my own war many times
The will to live resuscitating my body
Afraid to die, afraid
To live
Like this

You say I’m a warrior
I’m trying to believe
I am courage, light, spirit

Thank you for saying that I’m a warrior
Sometimes it takes another warrior
Who has also been through trials and immense suffering
To remind you that you’re one, too

You say I’m a warrior
Please look in the mirror
Let’s stand together
Our smoky eyes of war
Gleam with peace

Both poems by Emma Benard

Lisa Mugford volunteers and works part time at The North Central Vermont Recovery Center in Morrisville. The Recovery 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. She lives in Waterbury, VT and owns a business in Stowe.

Osteoporosis and Our Aging Population

By: Nella Wennberg, PA-C

Osteoporosis is a common diagnosis found in older patients. We are becoming more aware of the devastating consequences of fractures resulting from fragile bones. As the population continues to age, it is increasingly important for us to recognize the preventative measures and treatment options available to treat osteoporosis.

Over 40 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass. This often develops unnoticed and can lead to fractures from a simple slip and fall. Hip, spine and wrist fractures are the most common type of fragility fractures associated with osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis_Live Well LamoilleThese fractures can lead to hospitalization, need for surgery and long periods of recoveries. These injuries are also associated with increased mortality in the elderly population.

Osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bones”, is an age-related decrease in bone mass. The cells in our bones are constantly being reabsorbed and replaced as we age. For some people, the new bone is less dense, which results in weaker bone structure increasing one’s risk for fracture.

Risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing osteoporosis include smoking, female gender, post-menopausal status, small body frame, White or Asian ancestry,  low calcium intake, excessive alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, post-menopausal status and long-term use of certain drugs.

Most providers recommend Bone Density Testing (DEXA scan) in women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 70. This painless scan looks at the density of your bone and compares this to the bone density of the same gender and ethnicity, but at the age of peak bone density, typically when we are 20 to 25 years old. Blood work such as Calcium and Vitamin D levels may also be checked to help formulate a treatment plan.

Treatment is multifaceted and should be discussed with your primary care provider. Common treatments include calcium and vitamin D supplements, medications that increase your bone density, and weight-bearing exercises that emphasize balance training.

Prevention of osteoporosis is incredibly important. This involves living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular weight-bearing exercise, smoking cessation, low alcohol consumption, and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. People under the age of 50 should consume at least 1000mg of calcium and 400-600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily. Those amounts increase to 1200mg of calcium and 800-1000 IUs of vitamin D daily in folks over the age of 50. There are exercise programs designed to increase your bone density such as Bone Builders at Sterling View Community Center.  You could also contact your local gym or senior center for other options in your community.

Osteoporosis is a preventable disease. If you are concerned about whether you are developing weaker bones that increase your risk of fractures, discuss this with your primary care provider. They will be able to do some simple tests and review your individual risk factors to help determine if you will benefit from treatment.

Nella Wennberg_Mansfield OrthopaedicsNella Wennberg is a certified orthopaedic Physician Assistant with Mansfield Orthopaedics. She sees patients with a variety of orthopaedic issues. Wennberg holds a Master of Health Professions from Northeastern University and holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Vermont. She has been with Mansfield Orthopaedics since 2001.

How to Stay Active During the Winter

By: Caleb Magoon

How to stay active in the winter - Live Well Lamoille

Winter in Vermont is a challenging time to get outside and keep up your physical activity. It’s often cold and snowy, yet sometimes it’s neither of those things. It often seems like only thing you can really count on is the weather not cooperating with what you want to do.

It’s still important to stay active and healthy, even when the weather isn’t ideal. Fresh air, vitamin D and a little exercise are all good for the body, mind and soul – especially during the winter. Here are a few activity suggestions and the gear you will need to help you stay active.

Walk and hike– Many new products have come out in recent years to help you keep



your traction on ice and snow. For walking, Yaktrax or Stabilicers can give you traction
on ice or snow. Katoolah makes “Nanospike,” perfect for running or walking, and “Microspikes,” the hot product for hiking and trekking. Katoolah also makes more aggressive crampons for Trekking. All of these products are great options for a snowless or minimal snow winter.

When it snows, snowshoes are very helpful, and plenty of options exist for any price and purpose.

Try Nordic skiing- You can’t beat the bang for your buck when it comes to Nordic, or cross-country, skiing. Once you have the gear, it’s easy to jump on a trail and go. Cross country skiing is low impact, fairly easy and a good mix of cardio and strength exercise. If you’re looking for a bit more of a workout, try Skate skiing. The Stowe Recreation path, the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, People’s Academy Trails and Cricket Hill Trails next to Lamoille Union High School are all great, free options. Check with your neighbor, too. Many locals groom their own trails. They’re everywhere!

Hop on a bike- You may have seen a bike with large tires floating around your town. These are fat bikes, made for ice or snow. While many of these bikes are higher end and made for enthusiasts, the prices have come down in recent years. There are now several models under $1000 and these bikes are a great way to get on the rail trail or a dirt road safely during the winter to get the legs spinning.

Fat Tire Bike - Live Well Lamoille

Ice skating- I know what you’re thinking: “You won’t catch me on those skinny blades!” Many towns maintain public ice rinks, and places like Smugglers’ Notch and Stowe Mountain Resort also have inexpensive or free skating. Plus, in a low snow year, plenty of ponds and lakes are accessible. (But make sure to be safe!) Skates have gotten much better in their performance and are now considerably warmer and more comfortable. Yes, I said comfortable! Finally, if you are leery about the stability of skating, bring something to help balance you. Use an upside-down trashcan, a walker or something similar to hold onto. Kids often use milk crates. This is a great way to maintain stability while getting your “skate legs.”

How to stay warm outside- It’s hard to have fun if you’re cold all the time. Invest in clothing and layers that are not cotton. Natural fibers like wool work best. Polyester is also better than cotton – these fibers help keep you dry and warm. Windstopper is a technology that can help keep you warmer in windy weather and Gortex helps to keep you dry. Lastly, if your face typically gets cold, buy a set of inexpensive goggles. Make sure they have a clear, not tinted lens. For just a few bucks, they help keep your face warm! You can also consult a ski or winter gear shop – they have lots of secrets on staying warm.

Whatever you do, don’t let winter weather keep you inside. Use it as a reason to get out! Try a few different activities to discover what you like best, and invest in the gear you need to stay warm and keep at it. Your physical and mental health will thank you during our long winters.

Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

Dr. Gannon Testifies Regarding Treatment for Mentally Ill in Crisis

Dr. Liam Gannon - Copley Hospital Emergency ServicesLiam Gannon, MD is the Medical Director of Copley Hospital’s Emergency Services. On February  7, 2017, he testified at the Statehouse to members of the House Health Care and Senate Health and Welfare committees. He spoke about challenges patients and hospital staff faced regarding treatment of the mentally ill in hospital emergency rooms throughout the state. His testimony, in full, follows:

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak on the challenges we continue to face regarding the treatment of the severely mentally ill in Vermont. My name is Liam Gannon and I am the Emergency Room Medical Director and a practicing physician at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vermont. Copley Hospital is what is termed a critical access hospital. These hospitals are in areas which are geographically critical and also resource limited. We are your local, small, community hospital.

I would like you to indulge me for a moment and consider the following: you’re visiting Hardwick, Vermont with your family and are out having a nice meal. You suddenly experience crushing chest pain are quickly transported to Copley Emergency Room by Hardwick Rescue.

We rapidly diagnose a heart attack and give you the appropriate immediate medical treatments. We then arrange for your rapid and immediate transport to the University of Vermont where a cardiac team is waiting and a stent is placed in your coronary artery opening the blood flow back to your heart, after which you achieve a full recovery.

Now, imagine you are at the Mountain at Stowe enjoying a family ski vacation. Your son, daughter, wife, or husband catches an edge in the snow and goes off trail, hitting a piece of machinery parked on the side. Again, you are treated by an elaborate and well-designed system of care. The ski patrol get you off the hill. Emergency Medical Services transports you safely to the local community hospital. Again, you arrive, or your family member arrives at our emergency room for stabilization. You’re provided with diagnostic x-rays, intravenous fluids, blood products if needed, and the all-important pain relief that you need. Due to the severity of your injuries, you’re quickly helicoptered to the University of Vermont where a trauma team is awaiting your arrival. Your local community ER physician will have had a detailed discussion with the trauma team outlining your situation and the next needed steps. Although your recovery is long, due to the rapid evaluation and hierarchical system of care, you achieve a full recovery.

Critical access hospitals like mine are designed to diagnose, stabilize, recognize our resource limitations, and quickly involve the specialty centers where appropriate. Of course we admit and operate on patients that are within our scope of practice, and do so quite well.

I want you to take a moment now to imagine that you or your family member begins to have a psychotic break. They begin hearing voices, experience paranoia, and extreme fear that results in violence. Or, perhaps they’re experiencing such a profound depression that suicide becomes preferable to living, despite their close family support. Our current system again lands you in the closest facility, at Copley Hospital’s Emergency Room. You have a potentially life threatening condition, the expertise is not available to you or your loved one, you sit and wait and wait and wait. The hospital is compassionate and tries their best but the bare room, lack of therapeutic environment, and specialty care actually cause worsening of this medical situation.

Prior to the 1950s little, if any, treatments for the severely mentally ill were available. However, we have come a long way in both diagnostic and treatment options since then. Yet, although we publicly acknowledge that mental illness is an organic, medical problem (just as medical as diabetes, heart disease or trauma), we continue to treat it often as a social or legal problem. Treatment of acute, severe mentally ill patients deserves the same prioritization as heart attack, stroke, or trauma.

Facilitating proper care will take resources, commitment, and possibly courage.

I sit before you as a physician, a husband, and father. I sit before you as one of your constituents. If we approach this situation with the same passion and urgency that we would advocate for our own family member, we will not go astray. We must always ask ourselves: What is the best care for this patient? Many of us, including myself, stand before you tonight ready to assist with revolutionizing our current system of psychiatric care for the acute, severe, mentally ill in the State of Vermont. We are here to advocate for change but we are also here to assist in that endeavor. Thank you for your time.

– Liam Gannon M.D.

Parkinson’s Disease Seminar: Feb. 14 at Copley Woodlands

By: Leah Hollenberger

Copley Woodlands - Parkinson's Disease Lecture

Clinical care improvements and current research about Parkinson’s Disease is the focus of a February 14 seminar at Copley Woodlands in Stowe. Charlotte Gowen, Program Coordinator for the Binter Center for Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders at UVM Medical Center, will discuss clinical care, educational opportunities, research and community programs available in Vermont for people living with Parkinson’s.

“Parkinson’s Disease: What’s New?” starts at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at Copley Woodlands in Stowe. The seminar is free and open to the public. Please R.S.V.P. to 802-253-7200. Copley Woodlands, a retirement community in the heart of Stowe village,  is located at 125 Thomas Lane in Stowe.

Copley Woodlands is a partnership between Copley Health Systems and University of Vermont Medical Center. Learn more at

What to Do About the Flu?

By: Valerie Valcour

Live Well Lamoille - flu shot

Sometimes I wait until the last minute to get things done. I hate to admit it but I was late getting my flu shot this year, but thankfully not too late! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical flu activity, or influenza season, peaks between December and March. It would have been best if I got my vaccine before the end of December, but one can still get the vaccine throughout the influenza season, while supplies last of course. It is best, however, for individuals who have a compromised immune system, older adults, or children to get the vaccine as soon as it is available. To learn more about the flu vaccine and other vaccinations, check out the Health Department’s immunization website.

What else can I do to prevent the flu? Washing my hands frequently with mild soap and warm water is the best defense. Using an antibacterial hand sanitizer is helpful, in a pinch. It’s important to keep my hands moisturized to prevent cracks and dry skin is also helpful. Keeping surfaces clean and avoiding touching my eyes, nose and mouth, are all ways to try and limit my exposure to the influenza or cold virus. The CDC has a tip sheet on Everyday Ways to Prevent the Flu. Here you can learn how to prevent the spread of flu and cold viruses at home and at work, and there are tips specific for kids too.

Fortunately, I have not had a cold or the flu (yet) and I hope not to get the flu! I will do my best to drink plenty of water, get my servings of fruits and vegetables every day and try to get in my 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Now if I do get sick, I will plan to stay home and away from public places to prevent further spreading of the influenza virus.

The Vermont Department of Health has several posters and fact sheets to help you understand more about the flu and cold. Check them out!

For more information, you can always call your doctor or the Vermont Department of Health at 802-888-7447. Stay healthy!

Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Free Upcoming Healthy Workshops

There are some terrific FREE opportunities coming up to help you make healthy choices. Check these out:


Living with Diabetes: If you or a loved one is living with diabetes, there’s a diabetes support group that meets monthly at Copley Hospital’s Wellness Center. Call Nancy Wagner at 888-8369 for details.

Chronic Pain Management: February 6th at Stowe Family Practice at 1:00-3:30 p.m. Learn ways to reduce pain, deal with related issues like having trouble sleeping, and more.

Quitting Smoking: February 22nd, Morrisville SASH, 5-6 p.m. When you’re ready to quit smoking, the Vermont Quit Partners are ready with free workshops to help you set up a plan and succeed in being tobacco-free. There are Quit Partners all across Vermont available to provide support and motivation to help you through the quitting process. Call Erica Coats at 253-9171 to sign up.