Porter seeking public opinion on its future

MIDDLEBURY — Porter Medical Center’s board has launched a community conversation including community forums and an online questionnaire as part of their strategic planning process regarding the future of Porter and health care delivery in our community.
According to Porter spokesperson Ron Hallman, the medical center is strongly encouraging members of the community to be a part of the forward-looking strategic planning process now underway to ensure the community continues to have access to high quality health care services for years to come.
“We want to hear from all interested individuals both within our organization and throughout our community as our board explores various options and strategies to strengthen Porter Medical Center and enhance health care for our patients and residents” he said.
Maureen McLaughlin, chair of the board of Porter Medical Center, said the hospital, nursing home and affiliated physicians practices are looking forward.
“This is an exciting and important time for Porter Medical Center as we consider what the future of our community hospital should look like in the years ahead,” she said. “We are eager to hear the community’s thoughts as we work to place Porter on sound financial footing, while maintaining the level of care and service the community needs to thrive.”
As part of this exploration, Porter has organized a Physicians Advisory Committee and a Community Advisory Committee to help hospital leaders evaluate options and analyze public feedback.
“This community discussion is an important part of our strategic exploration of future options and opportunities,” McLaughlin added. “It’s so important that folks come out and learn what our strategic issues are, and make their voices heard as we consider how best to shape Porter’s future.”
As part of the community engagement process, Porter is hosting summer forums as well as offering an online questionnaire for those who cannot attend or wish to have their feedback remain anonymous. According to Hallman, Porter is considering all options including maintaining its existing independent structure, as well as affiliation with another larger organization.
“This is a vitally important decision and community conversation, we hope people will actively participate and share their thoughts, ideas, concerns and comments,” he said.
The first community forum was held last week in Middlebury. Members of the public are invited to forums in Vergennes this week and in Bristol next week.
Those community forums are scheduled for:
• Bixby Library, 258 Main St., Vergennes, July 20, 4–5:30 p.m.
• Holley Hall, 1 South St., Bristol, July 26, 4–5:30 p.m.
For those who wish to take the online confidential survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/PorterMedical.
The public outreach comes as the Porter board welcomes four new members, who will join the board this summer. Two of the new members fill vacant board positions prescribed by the Porter bylaws.
Anne Collins, by virtue of her election as president of the Porter Medical Center Auxiliary Board of Directors, will be joining the parent board to replace Jan Bark, who is the outgoing Auxiliary Board President. Collins has undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, and has a professional background in engineering and medical research. She is an active volunteer with Porter, the Addison County Parent/Child Center, Town Hall Theater and the Middlebury Garden Club, and has recently published a cookbook. She will also be working part-time in the office of her husband, Dr. Brian Collins, who is opening a new pediatric dental practice in Middlebury.
Cheryl Mullins will serve as one of three appointments from Middlebury College as outlined in the Porter bylaws and will replace Patrick Norton, who has accepted a new position at Tulane University. Mullins is the director of Human Resources at the college and leads the Human Resources staff in serving the employees of Middlebury College to ensure an environment of collaboration and partnership among all members of the Middlebury community. She also is responsible for policy development, strategic planning, legal compliance, staffing management, HR forecasting and program development for the Middlebury College, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and related schools and programs.
Two additional members have been appointed to their roles by the current Porter Medical Center Board to fill vacancies until formal elections are held at the next Porter annual meeting next spring. These two new members are Sherry Greifzu, RN, MSN, AOCN, executive director of Addison County Home Health and Hospice, and Bob Thorn, Ph.D., executive director of the Counseling Service of Addison County. Greifzu joined ACHHH as its leader in May of 2015 and Thorn has served as the CEO of the Counseling Service since 1994. In addition to representing two of the largest health and human service agencies in Addison County, both Thorn and Greifzu have extensive experience in health care leadership and strategic planning and Greifzu is a registered nurse.
“The process of identifying new potential board members starts with an evaluation of board needs and the strengths and experience of existing members. Consideration is given to educational and professional experience, financial and strategic planning background, leadership skills, geographic diversity within our service area, and gender and age diversity,” said PMC board Governance Committee chairman Peter DeGraff. “The specific attributes we put on the top of our list this year included a strong financial and business background, strategic planning skills and familiarity with Vermont’s healthcare landscape.
“Representation from other area health and human service organizations as well as someone with a nursing background were seen as important as we move toward a more integrated health care delivery system in Vermont,” he added.
“We are very pleased with the diversity of talent and perspective these new members will bring to our board at this critical time in Porter’s history,” said PMC Board Chairperson Maureen McLaughlin.
All potential candidates are initially vetted by the PMC Governance Committee and then approached individually to gauge their interest.
The Porter Board is currently comprised of 20 members who serve as volunteers to set the strategic direction of the organization and provide governance oversight to all areas of operations for Porter Hospital and Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
For more information about Porter Medical Center, visit www.portermedical.org or call the public relations office at 388-4744.

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