SVHC Names Outstanding Volunteer of the Year

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BENNINGTON, Vt. — Southwestern Vermont Health Care has announced the 2019 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year is Everley St. Peter of Shaftsbury.

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.

St. Peter has volunteered providing reiki to patients, visitors, and staff since 2005. Reiki is a form of integrative therapy that uses touch to promote healing. She discovered reiki after the events of September 11, 2001, when she shared, "I felt compelled to find something I could do to help my fellow man."

After a level one course, she found many willing to allow her to practice on them and soon had a loyal following, one of whom recommended she provide reiki at the hospital.

"That planted the seed for me to gather up the courage to find out if it was even possible," St. Peter remembers.

"We are so grateful that Everley was inspired to bring her skills and compassion to us," said Jennifer Civello, SVHC's director of volunteer services and community outreach. "She and fellow reiki practitioner volunteer Phyllis Michaelson bring so much comfort to those they touch."

Thomas A. Dee, SVHC's president and CEO, presented the award at the Volunteer Appreciation Lunch at the Mount Anthony Country Club in June.

Other nominees included Mary Ann Carlson of Arlington, Phyllis Michaelson of North Pownal, Ron Myers of Bennington, Cecil Potter of Bennington and Peggy Taber of Hoosick Falls. The event recognized each nominee and nearly 30 volunteers who had reached milestones from 100 to 11,500 hours.

For information about becoming a volunteer at SVHC, visit the website or call 802-440-4024.


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Regulators Give Centers for Living and Rehabilitation High Marks for Infection Prevention

BENNINGTON, Vt. — The Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, has earned deficiency-free status, the highest given, on a survey meant to determine ability to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infections to those living, recovering, and working within long-term care facilities.

"CLR has always taken pride in its infection-prevention measures," said Suzanne Anair, the facility’s administrator. "When COVID-19 broke on the scene, our staff was ready to do what it took to protect patients, residents, and themselves. They have done a tremendous job."

On March 20, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, healthcare’s largest payer and most rigorous regulating body, declared that they would postpone normal survey activities in order to complete targeted infection-control surveys. According to the announcement, the purpose of the new surveys was to ensure "providers are implementing actions to protect the health and safety of individuals to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic." CLR's infection-focused survey was on April 9, 2020.

Infection-control measures are particularly important within long-term care settings, where shared living spaces among the vulnerable elderly population have led to high rates of infection and death. 

CLR has cared for COVID patients and non-COVID patients throughout the pandemic. Leaders are proud to report that not a single known transmission of the virus has occurred at the facility.

"Considering that this is a contagious virus and our patients and residents are among the most vulnerable, we are grateful that we started to protect our building early by following CDC guidelines," said Dr. Jim Poole, CLR's medical director. "It is working."

One measure was restricting visitors to those providing medical care only.

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