News From Grace Cottage

Caring for Your Heart

| Graceful Health

By Dr. Maurice Geurts, Grace Cottage Family Health
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, February 24, 2017

February is the month of Valentine’s Day, when we focus on emotions of the heart. February is also American Heart Month, a time when we are encouraged to consider the mechanics of this important organ.

Fortunately, most of the time, our hearts do their work silently and reliably, without any effort on our part. We shouldn’t take them for granted, though. Our hearts do need our attention, as certain lifestyle behaviors do often lead to malfunction.

The most common disease of the heart is the one over which we have the most control. Read more

Chiropractor Doucette Joins Grace Cottage

| Featured, News

Chiropractor Michele Doucette now offers appointments at Grace Cottage on Tuesday mornings.

Dr. Doucette also practices chiropractic medicine at her office in Wilmington three days a week. By adding appointments in Townshend, her goal is to provide easier access for some people.

“I see patients from all over southern Vermont, and some of them travel quite far for the combination of services I offer. I’m happy for this opportunity to offer a new location to existing patients and to see new patients as well,” she said. “I really appreciate Grace Cottage for their openness to provide patients with alternatives in complementary medicine and integrative care.”

Dr. Doucette received her training at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, earning her doctorate in 1989 with summa cum laude distinction. Her continuing education has included courses in nutrition, pediatrics, neurology, craniosacral therapy, and zero balancing, among others. She is also a Zero Balancing instructor and teaches classes to health care professionals internationally.

She has been certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the Vermont Board of Chiropractic since 1989 and has maintained a private practice in Wilmington for over 27 years.

“We are very excited to offer this new service in the Grace Cottage Rehabilitation Center,” said Crystal Mansfield, Director of Rehabilitation, Community Wellness, and Community Initiatives. “This allows our patients a greater range of health care choices.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Doucette at Grace Cottage, call 802-365-3637.

Grace Cottage’s Louise McDevitt Publishes Book

| Featured, News

Grace Cottage Hospital Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Louise McDevitt is the author of a new book for clinical practitioners.

Orthopedic Physical Assessment, published by Fitzgerald Health Education Associates and co-authored by McDevitt and FNP Monica Tombasco, is a reference guide to help medical students and seasoned clinicians alike with orthopedic diagnosis and treatment.
The guide is a spiral-bound book in cue-card format, making it easy to find information quickly. It provides a comprehensive compendium, with diagrams, glossary, and references for further information.

Read more

Challenge Yourself: Get Ready for the 5K

| Graceful Health

By Jorda Daigneault, Grace Cottage Family Health Nurse Practitioner
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer, March 10, 2017.

Think you can’t run a 5K? You’re not alone. And yet, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Take, for example, this story from the home page of the “Couch to 5K” website:

“With the help of the Couch to 5K program, in less than seven months, I went from a 47-year-old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy, to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra-marathons including three over 100km.”

Maybe you think this is all hype, some marketer’s made-up story to sell the program. I know otherwise—because I’m a success story too.

A decade ago, friends were signing up to run the Reach the Beach Relay race and asked me if I wanted to run it with them. Being up for any challenge, and naïve about the race, I said yes!

Reach the Beach (RTB) starts at Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH, and ends at Hampton Beach, some 200 miles away. The race takes place at the beginning of foliage season in the beautiful New Hampshire landscape—through the White Mountains, small NH towns, along lake fronts and streams, for about 24 hours. There are 12 team members, and each team member runs 3 legs of the 36-leg course. Some legs are short—3 miles, other legs are over 9 miles long; you get whatever leg is assigned to your runner number, no swapping for shorter runs. I ran over 22 miles total in the race.

I am not a natural runner, so I started preparing several months in advance by using the Couch to 5K plan. My favorite time to run is with a gentle rain in the middle of the night because it’s dark and quiet. The race was not easy, but I did participate, I did pretty well, and later I participated in 3 other RTB races! The first year we placed 354 out of 355 teams—we were excited we weren’t last. The last year I participated, my team finished 200 out of 388 teams. Not too shabby!

Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital is hosting a 5K in Townshend, VT, on Saturday, May 13. Want to run it with me? I will be leading a C25K preparation/support group for eight weeks in March and April to help us all get ready.

The C25K program helps the potential runner get in shape without a great deal of pain. The participant starts by walking 5 minutes, then running for 30 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, and repeating this for 20 minutes, then walking for 5 minutes to cool down. It is recommended to do this three times a week. Each week the running time is increased while the walking time is decreased. By the end of the 8 weeks the participant should be able to run a 5K.

Our C25K group will meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Grace Cottage cafeteria, March 22 through May 10. The group is offered free of charge. Bring your get-up-and-go, your running gear, and a positive attitude. We’ll train together once a week, and you can train on your own two more days each week.

You can find lots of C25K information at the website All of the website resources are free. The website organizer is the person whose story is told above. He was so energized by his success that he decided to collect all of the information he could find in one place, making it easier to access. There are running logs, podcasts, inspirational stories, discussion forums, and more on this site.

It’s easy to read about all of this and to dream, but if you truly are ready for a self-transformation, why not join my group, and we’ll all do it together? Just show up at the Grace Cottage Hospital cafeteria on Wednesday, March 22 at 5 p.m. I’ll be happy to have you join us!

You can register for the Grace Cottage “Spring into Health” 5K at For more information on the C25K group or 5K itself, call 802-365-9109.

Bio: Jorda Daigneault received a diploma from the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital School of Nursing, a BSN from the University of the State of New York, her Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s degree from the University of Vermont, and an MS in Disaster Medicine and Management from Philadelphia University. She worked at Dartmouth-Hitchcock for 27 years and joined the staff of Grace Cottage in 2015.

Train for ‘Spring Into Health 5K’

| News

Want to get started running, but not sure how to do it safely? The Grace Cottage “Couch to 5K” group is designed for you!

Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital is hosting the “Spring Into Health 5K” in Townshend, VT, on Saturday, May 13. Grace Cottage Nurse Practitioner Jorda Daigneault will be leading a “Couch to 5K” (C25K) preparation-support group for eight weeks in March, April, and May.

The C25K group will meet Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Grace Cottage cafeteria, March 22 through May 10. Participation is free. The group will train together once a week, and they’ll be encouraged to train on their own time two more days each week.

The C25K program follows a prescribed schedule to help potential runners get in shape, using an alternating pattern of walking and running. Each week the amount of time spent running increases, while the walking times decreases. Daigneault will teach the method and will answer questions in a supportive environment.

By the end of the eight weeks, participants should be able to run a 5K, but walking during the “Spring Into Health 5K” is also perfectly acceptable. Proceeds from the 5K benefit Grace Cottage.

Online registration for the 5K is now open! For more information on the C25K group or the 5K itself, read an article Jorda recently wrote on the subject or call 802-365-9109.

“Spring into Health” 5K is set for May 13th

| News

Enjoy a morning of good, healthy fun in the great outdoors at the 8th Annual Grace Cottage “Spring into Health” 5K this Mother’s Day Weekend, on Saturday, May 13th. The family-friendly 5K starts at 8:30 am on the Townshend Common. The race will be timed for competitors, but is open to all, whether you run, walk, roll, or stroll.  The course is 3.1 miles of mainly flat, paved road along Grafton Road (Route 35).

After the race, there will be awards, raffles, and general merriment. There is also a free Fun Run for kids 8 and under on the Common at 9:15. The event, held rain or shine, wraps up around 10:30.

Register online for an early bird rate of $12/adults, $5/kids at or by calling (802) 365-9109. Online registration closes at noon on Wednesday, May 10th. The first 100 to register will receive a free performance t-shirt. You can register at the race for $20/adults, $10/kids, but no guarantees on getting a t-shirt!

This event, sponsored by People’s United Bank, raises funds for our non-profit hospital. For more information,  see the event page or call (802) 365-9109.

Careers in Nursing

| Graceful Health
Lisa May

By Lisa May, RN, Grace Cottage Clinical Nurse Educator
as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, February 10, 2017

Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team, and this is a career with many opportunities, both in terms of jobs available, and of the many specialties within the field.

As the population ages, our need for nurses is growing, but surprisingly, enrollment in nursing schools is down. I want to encourage those considering this field by providing helpful information and by sharing some of my own story.

Career opportunities for nurses exist in hospitals, clinics, schools, long-term care facilities, and in community health. Emergency, trauma, cardiac, pediatrics, mental health, and oncology—these are just a few of the healthcare areas that need nurses. Additionally, there are over 60 special certifications for nurses, including wound care, forensics, infection control, informatics (data collection and reporting), management, and education.

Many people begin their healthcare careers as Licensed Nursing Assistants (LNAs). An LNA’s responsibilities include taking vital signs, obtaining specimens, and assisting patients with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing. LNA training varies by state, generally lasting several weeks to several months.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) complete a non-degreed 10-12-month program which combines both classroom and clinical training. LPN’s provide direct medical care like starting IVs and giving medications, working under the direction of Registered Nurses and/or Physicians.

Registered Nurses (RNs) plan, coordinate, oversee, and administer patient care. They offer advice, education and emotional support to patients and their families, and they instruct students and less experienced nurses, both in the classroom and at the bedside. The minimum education required for an RN is a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Some RNs complete a Bachelor’s of Nursing, preparing them for more supervisory roles.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, those with a Master’s degree, include Certified Nurse Anesthetists, Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. In Vermont, some Advanced Practice Nurses can diagnose and treat patients independently from an M.D. or D.O., depending on their level of education and experience.

As an RN, I’ve had experiences no other career could have provided. Most of my career has been in Emergency Nursing.

In the 1990’s I became a travel nurse. Travel nurses take short-time assignments in hospitals with temporary staffing needs. Most assignments are for three months. Traveling allowed me to experience Emergency Nursing in small rural hospitals as well as large inner-city trauma centers. I was able to see the country while still earning an income. In Charlotte, NC, I was part of a Special Events team that provided medical care to NASCAR teams and the Carolina Panthers.

Later, I took a break from ER nursing, choosing to work with an Organ Recovery and Transplant team in Charlotte. Calls in the middle of the night were welcomed because it usually meant there was a match for a patient on our transplant list. Flying out with the surgical team to assist with the preservation and recovery of organs was always exciting, knowing a life could be saved because of our efforts.

Eventually, where I chose to practice became a quality of life decision. I returned to the area where I was born and raised to be closer to family.

Grace Cottage Hospital is unlike any other hospital I’ve worked in. The care provided here is personal. My co-workers are like family. It is very rare for a CEO of any hospital to know every employee’s name. Roger Allbee, Grace Cottage’s CEO, addresses everyone by first name. Most mornings he stops at the nurses’ station to say hello and ask, “How are things going?” The community is supportive and loyal. It’s a very warm and caring environment.

As the Clinical Nurse Educator at Grace Cottage, I get to share my 28 years of nursing experience with less tenured nurses, guiding and improving their practice. This way, I get to encourage the next generation of nurses, while reinforcing and advancing the skills of those who’ve been in the field for a while.

Nursing is one of the fastest growing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are currently 2,751,000 nursing positions in the United States. By the year 2024, it is estimated that number will rise to 3,190,300. Approximately 700,000 nurses are expected to retire over the next seven years.

Currently, supply is not meeting the demand. Therefore, healthcare facilities are getting creative in efforts to fill open positions. Large sign-on bonuses are offered, relocation fees are paid, and some hospitals have resorted to hiring nurses from other countries.

Grace Cottage Family Health and Hospital has recently added a student loan reimbursement program to its recruitment incentives. We are offering up to $5,000 a year for a maximum of 10 years for full-time nurses who are paying off loans directly related to their education. We are committed to assisting nurses with their loans in an effort to make sure that we have a strong staff in appropriate numbers. In this way, we can continue to promise the high quality, personalized care that Grace Cottage is known for.

Bio: Lisa May received an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Castleton University in 1989, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of North Carolina in 2009. She has been working in the Emergency Department at Grace Cottage since 2015 and recently transferred into the Clinical Nurse Educator role.

Annual Online Auction is ON Feb. 1 – 28

| News

Need a massage? A trip to Mexico or South Africa? An evening at the theater, or some new artwork for your walls?

From Wednesday, February 1, until Tuesday, February 28, 8:00 pm, you can bid on these items and many more through the Grace Cottage’s annual Cabin Fever Auction.

An awesome array of more than 70 items has been donated by generous businesses and individuals, with all proceeds benefitting the Grace Cottage Patient Care Fund.

There’s something for every taste and budget, including treasures you can’t buy anywhere else. Auction items range in value from $20 to $6,000, including gift certificates to favorite local restaurants, practical items like an oil change for your car, ski passes, rounds of golf, sailing, your name in Archer Mayor’s next book, and plenty more!

Bid low and get notified when someone outbids you, or “Buy Now” and make it yours today! Either way, you can feel good supporting this annual fund-raiser, which helps to provide free care to those lacking adequate resources. Check it out at

Fall Prevention Program Offered

| Featured, News

It’s true that advancing age increases one’s risk of falling, but falling does not have to be a normal part of aging. If you or someone you know has fallen or had an “almost” fall, then Grace Cottage’s Fall Prevention Program may be beneficial.

The Fall Prevention Program begins with an initial assessment to determine one’s risk factors, the issues that are most likely to lead to a fall. Licensed professionals, including a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a pharmacist, gather information about any previous falls, any changes in medication, and potential hazards in the home.

The assessment also involves taking a pertinent medical history, evaluating mobility, sensation, and cognitive ability, and conducting a series of simple movements to test balance, muscle strength, and gait. This initial assessment takes about 2 ½ hours, and if any needs are identified, a treatment plan will be developed.

Participants need a referral from a primary care provider or other physician. The risk assessment summary and any treatment plans that are developed will be sent to the referring provider so that he or she will be fully informed and involved. Most insurance carriers will cover fall risk assessments and fall prevention therapeutic visits.

To learn more about the Grace Cottage Fall Prevention Program, or to make an appointment, call 802-365-3637.

Secret Life of the Clinical Lab

| Graceful Health

By Erin Lamson, Grace Cottage Lab Technician as originally appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer’s Graceful Health series, December 2, 2016

Have you ever visited a lab for blood tests and wondered what happens to your specimen? If you have, you’re not alone. Lab testing happens behind closed doors for obvious safety reasons, leaving the clinical laboratory nearly invisible to the public eye. As a result, clinical lab professionals have one of the least understood roles in health care, even though a recent estimate suggests there are roughly 300,000 laboratory professionals in the United States.

Read more