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2011 Strategic Initiatives and Process for Public Participation

Strategic Planning
Grace Cottage Hospital has an annually updated five (5) year strategic plan that is developed with input from four (4) constituencies:

  1. Randomly-selected patients at Grace Cottage Hospital are surveyed throughout the year by Press Ganey. Grace Cottage Hospital contracts with this independent surveying company to send patients of Grace Cottage Hospital a confidential survey of their experience at the hospital after they have been discharged. Hospital patients have the opportunity to rate their satisfaction from 100 (excellent) to 0 (very poor). Press Ganey collates the responses and sends the results to Grace Cottage. The same company surveys patients of all Vermont’s hospitals.
  2. Every three (3) years, Grace Cottage conducts a survey of the general public. The latest survey was conducted in the late fall of 2009.  The 2012 survey is in process.
  3. The staff at Grace Cottage is surveyed through an annual employee survey and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Teams are formed to address the key issues identified.
  4. The Board, Medical Staff and Management Team annually spend a full day at a Strategic Planning Retreat in which all the people attending give input into a 5-year strategic plan with measurable goals.

Activities Open to Public Participation & Contact Information
Grace Cottage Hospital opened its doors in 1949 through the dedicated support of the surrounding community. Vermont’s smallest hospital, with 19 beds, Grace Cottage is literally a community hospital – volunteers provide a myriad of essential services, from grounds keeping to pastoral care, strategic planning to fundraising, plus many other activities. 
The point person for volunteers at Grace Cottage is a Human Resources Department employee who can be reached at 365-3738 or  

The following is a sampling of volunteer opportunities available at Grace Cottage Hospital:

  • Clerical Support
  • Courier Service
  • Ethics Committee
  • Flea Market Parking Donation Collection
  • Gardens & Grounds
  • Grace Cottage Hospital Auxiliary & Fair Day
  • Grace Cottage Foundation Board of Directors
  • Grace Cottage Hospital Board of Trustees
  • Grace Greeters
  • Pastoral Care
  • Special Events

Public Meeting Schedule:
Grace Cottage Hospital’s volunteer Board of Trustees meets once every two (2) months at the hospital; various committees of the Board also meet regularly; the Trustees also hold an all-day retreat for the purposes of education and planning. Members of the public are encouraged to personally contact a Trustee with any questions, comments or concerns they may have. 
The Trustees view themselves as community representatives responsible for the effective management of Grace Cottage Hospital, working to meet the healthcare needs of the people living in, working in and visiting the towns of southeastern Vermont.

The hospital’s strategic planning is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. Trustees seek the input of others in the community as they come into daily contact with people within the hospital’s geographic service area, as well as through the more formal means mentioned above. Various public meetings are held annually in a further effort to solicit public input into the hospital’s strategic planning process. Announcements for these meetings are published in the local press, via flyers posted in prominent locations, and on this website.

Contact Information:
The Board of Trustees selects and appoints an Administrator/Chief Executive Officer, who can be reached at  (802) 365-7357 or  or PO Box 216, Townshend VT 05353.

2011 Health Care Initiatives Developed from Grace Cottage Hospital Strategic Plan. 

1) Strategic Plan Goal: Community Needs Assessment

Clinical Quality in Patient Care Objective- Continually improve the quality of  patient care and safety by building on areas of excellence, identifying opportunities for improvement, and making changes that better benefit our patients.  In order to achieve the above objective starting in 2011 Grace Cottage Hospital in collaboration with two other area health care facilities have formed a Community Needs Assessment Steering Committee.  The purpose of this committee is to determine the health status of local residents, establish priorities for improving health, evaluate the impact of public health programs, and develop effective programs and interventions that may be needed in our service area.  The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) is in the public health accreditation process and has partnered with non-profit hospitals to complete the community needs assessment. VDH has given the committee guidance and a grant to assist in the project.  The Grace Cottage Hospital Quality Department staff has been actively involved with the steering committee.

In 2011 process planning began on the means for conducting the assessment.  Data resources, community leader forums, and the type of surveys needed to do the assessment were discussed and reviewed during several steering committee meeting.

The steering committee has now hosted one community leader forum in Brattleboro. The forum included 23 leaders from Windham county organizations, health care professionals, business people, and the public defender’s office. Participants answered four consistent questions concerning health care needs and programs for five segments of the population. The steering committee is now in the process of analyzing the data from the forum.  Grace Cottage and the other two non-profit hospitals have hired a consultant to help mine the data.  The data will be submitted to the VDH by August 31, 2012.

Grace Cottage Hospital has also posted a confidential Community Needs Assessment survey on its webpage. Internally, employees can also complete the survey on the hospital’s intranet.  At a recent 5K race held in Townshend the Quality Department staff asked community members to complete the survey.  Blank paper surveys have been distributed at Messenger Valley Pharmacy, the waiting room in the hospital Emergency Department and in the Grace Cottage Family Health for community members to complete.  Grace Cottage will mail a survey to anyone who requests one. The deadline for survey completion is August 1, 2012.

Members of the hospital Medical staff were also given a questionnaire to complete regarding services they believe their patients need, could promote well being or if patients have requested specific services.

Grace Cottage Hospital’s CEO and Board of Trustees approved adding Clinical Quality in Patient Care to the hospital’s strategic plan.  The Community Needs Assessment helps address this strategic focus and will help us achieve our stated mission and vision and state and federal mandated regulations.            

2) Strategic Plan Goal:  Electronic Health Record

Planning, analysis, developing and preparation of strategic goals for the implementation of an Electronic Health Record that will enable Grace Cottage Hospital and Grace Cottage Family Health to provide the best patient care and meet meaningful use criteria under the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.

What is an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system?  In an EHR system, all of your health information, including your medical charts, treatment notes, medication list and prescription orders, are managed on a single electronic health record housed on a secure computer-based software application.

On June 4, 2012 Grace Cottage Hospital will be bringing the benefits of leading-edge health technology by the implementation of an EHR system, called Millennium, which connects electronically every key function in the organization.  The consistent use of an EHR will result in improved clinical outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and improve patient safety.

The EHR will support all clinical tasks throughout the patient’s cycle of care- such as clinical decision making, problem and allergy lists, ePrescribing, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), legibility, automated drug utilization review, vital sign charting and tracking, lab and radiology test results reporting, automatic generation of clinic summaries, and clinical care reminders, boost patient safety, manage chronic illnesses, and continuity of care. The EHR will also enable Grace Cottage to check insurance eligibility, submit efficient and timely state and federally mandated reports, track and monitor authorized access to health information.

3) Strategic Plan Goal: Increase volunteer opportunities at Grace Cottage Hospital.

Volunteers are a crucial bridge to the community. With a large number of professional business people retiring to this area and looking for ways to remain involved and occupied, their time and talent are a big help to Grace Cottage Hospital. The greatest need is for greeters and transporters in and between the physicians’ Rural Health Clinic and Grace Cottage Hospital. A part-time Volunteer Coordinator was hired and started work in July 2010. The new volunteer program of greeters/transporters, called Grace Greeters, started with training of volunteers in June 2010. Thirty-five (35) Grace Greeters began three-hour shifts of 9:00am – noon and 1:00pm – 4:00pm Monday through Friday. Since the implementation of the Grace Greeters program, no sick and elderly patients in the physicians’ rural health clinic, who are sent to Grace Cottage Hospital’s Lab or Radiology Departments, have become disoriented along the route while a Grace Greeter was on duty. Grace Cottage staff no longer needs to leave a work station to accompany disoriented patients, and in addition, they can hand inter-departmental objects to Grace Greeters for delivery.

In September 2011, one of Grace Cottage Hospital’s Grace Greeter volunteers won a “Successful Aging” Award from Senior Solutions, formerly known as the Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont. Grace Cottage’s Volunteer Coordinator nominated the Grace Greeter for the award, noting that he showed up for his regular Grace Greeter volunteer shift just a few days after he and his wife (also a Grace Greeter), lost their house in a fire in July. Then, when Tropical Storm Irene made the driveway where they were staying impassible in August, he asked a neighbor to help him fill in a gully so that he wouldn’t miss his volunteer shift at Grace Cottage

2011 Public Meeting
The 2011 public meeting to solicit feedback on the Hospital Report Card was held in the Community Dining Room at Grace Cottage Hospital on September 29, 2011. The meeting was announced in the Brattleboro Reformer, the Deerfield Valley News, The Commons and on the hospital’s website. No members of the public attended the meeting.

Members of the public can obtain copies of the following information by contacting
Grace Cottage Foundation,
PO Box 1, Townshend VT 05353

1. Strategic Plan
2. One (1) & four (4) Year Capital Expenditure Plan
3. Depreciation Schedule
4. Annual Report