CEO Message to the Community – June 2024

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A Fond Farewell

My last day at Grace Cottage will be June 28, and this is bittersweet, to say the least. The last six+ years working at Grace Cottage has allowed me to make a lasting impact on the organization by hiring additional providers, increasing access for patients needing care, overseeing major improvements in building and equipment infrastructure, and building a leadership team that has wonderful experience and great ambition. I even had the good fortune of recruitng Olivia Sweetnam to join my team, and she has been tapped by the board to be the next CEO of Grace Cottage.

When I announced to the Board of Trustees in December that I was planning to retire, I told them that I’d saved the best place to work for last. During my 40-year career in healthcare, I have worked at quite a few different hospitals throughout the Northeast, but none comes close to Grace Cottage. This organization is unique in so very many ways, and has worked hard against tremendous odds to survive over the past 75 years. Grace Cottage stands out because of our spirit of compassion, deep tenacity, employees working together for the common purpose of always putting the patient first, and truly and wholeheartedly caring for our community (here, they are so often our neighbors, relatives, and friends). I know that all of these attributes are so ingrained in Grace Cottage’s culture that it will continue to thrive.

As my wife and I relocate to Carver, Massachusetts, to be closer to family (and beaches!), we will think of Grace Cottage with great fondness, feeling blessed that our life’s journey brought us here. So many of you in the community have been incredibly supportive and communicative (especially when I see you in the grocery store or at the post office!), and I know that this will continue long after I’ve retired. I will always look back on my time in Townshend with great fondness and wonderful memories.

Grace Cottage Hires New CEO

 Olivia Sweetnam, CEOThe following message was sent out via e-mail on June 5, but it’s well worth repeating in case you missed it: The Board of Trustees of Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital has offered Olivia Sweetnam the position of Chief Executive Officer and she has accepted, effective July 1, 2024. Sweetnam is replacing Doug DiVello, who announced his plans last December to retire when a replacement was hired.

A graduate of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Sweetnam received her Master of Nursing Science and Master of Public Health from Yale University in Connecticut. The Chief Nursing Officer at Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital since February, Sweetnam was the Vice President of Hospice Quality and Clinical Practice at Amedisys (2021-2023), and held multiple leadership roles in quality, operations, and medical staff management at Ochsner Health in Louisiana from 2013-2021.

An extensive CEO search was conducted with the help of the national executive search firm, WittKieffer, and Sweetnam was selected after an extensive review of many candidates and interviews with seven finalists.

“Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital is a rare gem in the world of healthcare,” said Sweetnam. “It is a shining example of personal and compassionate care, and I am very proud to lead this wonderful organization into the future.”

Sweetnam lives with her family in Brattleboro. She serves on the board of trustees for River Gallery School, and is a member of the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee.

Best of Brattleboro Reader’s Choice Poll

Best of Brattleboro 2024Every year, The Brattleboro Reformer conducts a “Best of Brattleboro’s Readers’ Choice Poll.” Last year, for the seventh year in a row (thanks to votes we receive from patients, employees, and our community) Grace Cottage Family Health & Hospital won:

  • Best Hospital
  • Best Emergency Care
  • Best Physical Therapy
  • Best Place To Work
  • Best Pediatricians (Cynthia Howes & Dr. Elizabeth Linder)
  • Best Physicians (Dr. Timothy Shafer & Dr, Moss Linder)
  • Best Pharmacy (Messenger Valley Pharmacy)

We hope you’ll be willing to take a minute or two to vote for whatever your favorites in any category are, here or elsewhere. This past year has underscored the fact that Grace Cottage is the best in so very many ways, and the more people who know this, the better!

You can complete one online and one print ballot per person by July 5. Feel free to pass this e-mail and/or link along to friends, family and neighbors!

Vote Now

Tee It Up for Health, Saturday, June 8

Tee It Up for Health 2024Our 15th annual golf tournament, Tee It Up for Health, was a great success, thanks to our generous sponsors, golfers, and volunteers. The event grossed $67,675 and, after golf expenses, netted $53,539 to be put towards the new primary care clinic project. It was a chilly (60 degrees), windy, and cloudy day, but the golf course at Haystack was in excellent condition and a lot of laughter was heard throughout the tournament. Congratulations to the winning team: JJ Conlon, Patrick Mulcahy, Frank Rucker, and Keith Lyman; as well as second place winners: Mary Ann Levins, Jim Levins, Keely Culligan, and John Culligan; Bill Daley won the Air Cannon Contest with a very exciting hole-in-one! (Unfortunately, nobody got a hole-in-one on Hole #7, where the 2024 Crosstrek donated by Brattleboro Subaru patiently awaited a winner).

We’d like to give a special thanks to all of our sponsors. If they are a business, please thank them by making a purchase at their establishment; if they’re an individual, please thank them when you see them!

Tee It Up For Health 2024 Sponsors

Hospital Fair Day, Saturday, August 3

Fair Day BagpipesIt’s hard to believe that the 74th annual Hospital Fair Day is only 7 weeks away! Volunteers are always needed and appreciated between now and Fair Day, to help sort books and White Elephant items.  E-mail to donate your time (and/or items to sell, whether art, jewelry, furniture, collectibles, baked goods, pies, etc.). Connie and Helen Holt ( are the Fair Day Co-Chairs this year, and Brian Tebo of Heart Felt Antiques will be returning as the auctioneer. Lumimous Crush, The Buzzards, and Ralph Sherman and Friends will all be donating their time and musical talent to entertain Fairgoers throughout the day, and the Taconic Bagpipers will be returning to escort the Stork around the Common for the Baby Parade. Please plan to join us at the Fair on the Townshend Common from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Admission and parking are free, and the All-Day Auction, Bingo, Hole-in-One (prize $1,000), and 22 bargain booths are all very popular, while the fish pond, face painting, and afternoon pony rides are always a hit with the kids.

Connie and Helen Holt will be selling Hospital Fair Day Raffle tickets at the Wardsboro 4th of July Parade, so if you get to the Parade, please keep an eye out for their booth, where they will be displaying the spectacular quilt made by Deb Record, a teddy bear donated by Mary Meyer, and collecting for a 50/50 raffle that will be continued at Hospital Fair Day on August 3rd.

Townshend Gazebo

 Townshend GazeboA new gazebo on the Townshend Common was completed last week, and it looks beautiful! After the original gazebo had to be torn down due to safety concerns last summer, the Townshend Selectboard created a Gazebo Committee, consisting of Townshend residents John Evans, Jim Crozier, Allie Evans, Laura Richardson, Liza Martin, Jeff Russ, Katie Morrow, and Connie Holt. The Town Road Crew created the site upon which the new gazebo sits on the Common. Additional landscaping around the Gazebo will take place after Fair Day.

CEO Doug DiVello

Summer has arrived in Vermont, in more ways than one! Please stay cool and remember to hydrate during the next few very hot days.

Wishing you all the best,
Doug DiVello, President & CEO