National Doctors’ Day

Sent to local newspapers as a letter to the editor.
Thursday, March 30 is National Doctors’ Day. Springville has a long tradition of physicians who have served generations of local families. Despite our location in a rural area in Western New York, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital continues to attract doctors who choose to serve the people of our community.

With family practice and internal medicine practitioners in the BCH’s Primary Care Center team and specialists for cardiology, gynecology, gastroenterology and surgery, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital remains a hub for local healthcare.

We have recruited physicians and allied health professionals like nurse practitioners and physician assistants to BCH in recent years. Last summer, Dr. Jacqueline Shanahan joined our Primary Care Center. And last October, we added a board-certified general surgeon, Gavin Davison MD, to establish the BCH Surgical Center. This spring, we are welcoming a urology specialist, Michael I. Hanzly, Jr., DO, to practice in our facility.

For this national occasion, and on behalf of BCH and JBR, we thank our doctors – past, present and future – who are keeping healthcare local for our community. And for our neighbors who rely on our hospital and our providers for their medical needs, thank you for your support.

Gary Eppolito
President, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Board of Directors

Nils Gunnersen
CEO, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and Jennie B. Richmond Nursing Home

BCH Announces New Director of Patient Care Services


Jennifer Siragusa portrait

Jennifer Siragusa, RN

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital has announced that Jennifer Siragusa, RN of Gowanda has been named Director of Patient Care Services. She takes over the role from Darlene Schrantz, RN, who retired at the end of March after spending more than four decades with the hospital as a nurse, manager and administrator.

Siragusa will manage the clinical aspects of patient care throughout the hospital facility. As part of the leadership team, she supervises managers and nursing staff across many departments, including the emergency department, Primary Care Center, Heart Center, Surgical Center, and acute care.

Best wishes and a warm thanks to Darlene Schrantz for her incredible dedication to our facility, and congratulations to Jennifer Siragusa on her new role.

Department Spotlight: Heart Center

Visits to the Bertrand Chaffee Heart Center can begin with a simple statement: “I think something could be wrong with my heart.” That phrase is answered by our providers, nurses and staff with another simple phrase: “We can help you.”

Since opening in 2012, the Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Heart Center has been able to expand to meet the demands of our community. Services and capabilities include outpatient and inpatient consults, echocardiograms, all types of stress testing, pacemaker interrogation, and nuclear medicine. In 2016, the Heart Center enhanced its services by adding the Leg Pain and Vascular Center to complement its cardiac care. Leg vein ablation, an outpatient procedure for varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency, was added late last year.

Providers in our Heart Center see patients with cardiac and vascular conditions, and provide diagnosis, treatment options, and referrals for more intensive interventions, like surgery, if indicated.

“Our providers work with patients to manage their cardiac and vascular conditions and reduce the risks for serious cardiac events, like heart attacks and strokes,” said CEO Nils Gunnersen. “Access to cardiovascular care is essential for people in rural communities, particularly as they age.”

The Heart Center’s providers take care to answer patient and family questions with diligence and compassion. Cardiologists Thomas P. Smith, Jr., MD and Cyril Gunawardane, MD see patients in the Heart Center’s first floor location. Lauralee Sprague, NP, works closely with our cardiologists and specializes in heart health. They are supported by a team of nurses and patient service representatives who handle scheduling, appointments, diagnostic screenings, treatment plans and follow up care.

“Heart disease and stroke can have devastating effects, both for quality of life and length of life,” said Dr. Smith. “Our team works together with patients, their families, and their primary care providers to develop treatment plans that have the best possible outcome.” The Heart Center phone number is (716) 592-9644.

Heart Center team 2017
Photo from left: From left: Stacey Hatch, Lynn Miller, Kristine Miller, Judy Ott, Lauralee Sprague, NP, Tammi Kirsch, Thomas P. Smith, MD, Rachel Lis, Ashley Flanagan

A Familiar Face in Pharmacy at BCH

Lynn Hodson and Dr. Heather HodsonEvery family has traditions. And within the family of employees at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, the name “Hodson” represents a strong tradition in the past, present and future of the pharmacy department.

Pharmacist Lynn Hodson came to Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in 1977 after meeting then-BCH CEO Roger Ford in Buffalo – he was her neighbor there. Her career in pharmacy up to that point had been in a wide range of settings. She trained in one of the first PharmD programs in the nation, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Hodson started her Pharmacy Residency at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. She subsequently worked on the medical teaching unit there. Then, Buffalo General Community Mental Health Clinic recruited her to the Buffalo area to work in the new Lithium clinic. There, as she put it, she “built a pharmacy department starting with just four walls.” She moved on to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center as regional director of psychiatric pharmacy in the mid-1970s. Hodson belongs to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), which has rigorous accrediting criteria for members.

With 60-hour weeks and odd hours in Buffalo, Lynn was drawn to the new challenge of establishing a pharmacy department at BCH. “The pharmacy at BCH started as a cabinet,” said Hodson. And so it began; Hodson has been a familiar name and friendly face at BCH since 1977.

After working full-time at BCH for 25 years, she took early retirement in 2002 and continued at area retail pharmacies as a consulting pharmacist for the next several years. Lynn returned in 2007 as interim director of pharmacy at then-CEO Mary Kwiatek’s request. She has remained as a consultant and pharmacist ever since.

That included stepping in during a 10-week period over the summer when BCH searched for a new pharmacy director. “We’ve had great luck having pharmacists stay here for years at a time,” said Darlene Schrantz, RN, BSN, director of patient care services. “In a rural hospital, recruiting pharmacists, providers and nursing staff takes a great deal of effort – but once they’re here, they tend to stay.”

During the search process, a familiar name rose to the top of the pile: Dr. Heather Hodson, the elder Hodson’s daughter. Her experience at BCH started when her mother brought her in as an infant while she worked. By the time Heather was in high school, she was volunteering at BCH and working as a pharmacy technician during the summer while she attended D’Youville College as a pre-med/biology major.

After graduating in 1999, Heather worked as a pharmacy tech in Williamsville and at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (WCHOB). A few years later, she moved cross country to San Francisco, where she continued as a pharmacy tech in the Castro District of San Francisco. A manager there encouraged her to apply to pharmacy school for further education.

That manager did not expect what happened next. Heather took her PCATS (similar to MCATS, for pharmacy school) and ended up enrolling at a school on the East Coast: the University at Buffalo.

“No one was more surprised at that than I was,” said the elder Hodson. Heather’s familiarity and family history in the pharmacy field was a great source of strength as she worked, again, at WCHOB, on pediatrics floors while earning her doctorate of pharmacy degree.

Heather stayed with WCHOB after graduation, working as a pharmacist for nine years. She then spent a year at Mercy Hospital in a more clinical capacity, rounding with physicians, making recommendations for drug therapy, and working in a more direct role with practitioners and patients. There she gained experience with adult patients facing cardiac and geriatric conditions.

The opening in fall 2016 at BCH came at just the right time for Heather. “I was on an intense schedule at Mercy,” she explained. “The thought of being the pharmacist for a hospital that I know so well – it feels like home to me.”

At BCH, the younger Dr. Hodson now handles the daily administration of a pharmacy department that supports the hospital’s 24-bed acute care floor and emergency department. Dr. Hodson is on-call for hospital needs and requests. She also advises policies on reducing medical errors and improving processes related to medications.

As she looked ahead in the pharmacy field, Heather realized that many pharmacists had little knowledge about the natural and homeopathic substances. “Patients are taking these treatments to manage or try to prevent medical conditions,” said Heather. “We have to pay attention to that as pharmacists.”

Acknowledging that need for more detailed information, Heather pursued a certificate in herbal medicine on her own over nine months to build her understanding the over-the-counter supplements, vitamins and herbs. Combined with her pharmacy experience and medical awareness, Heather can draw from two deep pools of knowledge when participating in patient care.

“There’s a team aspect to what we do as pharmacists,” said Lynn, a sentiment that her daughter echoed. “There’s the daily administrative aspect to our department,” said Heather. “But I’m part of a team here with providers and physicians, all focused on finding the right medications at the right doses at the right time for our patients.”

Department Spotlight: Registration

The Bertrand Chaffee Hospital lobby sees a cast of constantly changing characters. Family members sit with snacks from the coffee shop, employees pass through, and patients wait for their turn to check in with one of the most visible parts of hospital administration: the Registration Department.

The registration desk at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital is the first department many patients encounter when visiting our facility. From a steady stream of patients to constant phone calls, the BCH registration desk manages a flurry of activity from seven in the morning until seven at night.

Our mission is to investigate and solve medical script dilemmas for patients at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital. No patient will get past us without paperwork.
Periods of intensity – a full waiting room, phones ringing non-stop, and patients streaming in – are punctuated by an occasional lull. And each registration visit is completely different. On a busy day, the team might register 160 people – and there are many busy days. Countless more patients and community members come in with questions and information requests.  “There’s no such thing as a typical day here,” said Maryann Vanderkarr, registration department manager.Vanderkarr heads a 10-person team that registers patients for lab work, imaging tests, emergency care, inpatient stays and surgical procedures. She has been with BCH for about four years, two of them as a manager.
As the clerks work with patients and family members, they also coordinate with provider offices, medical records, billing and insurance companies to make sure the information is up-to-date.

It takes accuracy, a strong sense of customer service, and a willingness to be flexible to be a hospital registration clerk. “We do everything we can to make our patients’ time in registration as easy, quick and painless as possible,” Vanderkarr shared.