The VNA Story 45 Years and Counting
The VNA Story
During the past 45 years, the VNA of Indiana County has been committed to responsively growing our services based on identified needs of our community. We have been transformed by scientific, technological and social changes. Listed below by the year of accomplishment is a brief overview of our history.
The VNA was launched with a handful of part-time nurses. Their “ofﬁce” was a closet in Indiana Hospital’s laundry room. County government and civic leaders hoped that a visiting nurse agency would be the bridge from central medical facilities to rural communities up to one hour from Indiana.
Family Hospice became Medicare-certiﬁed. Through Hospice, individuals in the last months of life receive comfort, companionship, and pain relief in their own homes, with regular visits by nurses, social workers, and committed volunteers.
The demand for reliable, well-screened private duty nurses and aides led the VNA to establish a separate corporation. VNA Extended Home Care seeks to bring companionship and security to the aged, provide dignity and aid to the seriously ill, and give respite to family members and caregivers with home health patients - all on a private contractual basis rather than with insurance coverage.
The VNA became one of the ﬁ rst agencies in the region to offer Telehealth Monitoring. Starting with 25 monitoring units, patients were prompted to take and then send their vital signs to a central station at the VNA, enabling a few nurses to be in frequent daily contact with our most problematic cases.
Family Hospice of Punxsutawney opened to provide services to Punxsutawney and communities in southern Jefferson County.
VNA Extended Home Care was named a “Rising Star” as part of the “People Do Matter” recognition competition sponsored by the Pittsburgh Human Resources Council. The award honored Extended Home Care’s success in reducing its staff turnover rate from 53% to 11% in three years.
The VNA was selected from 223 home care agencies in Pennsylvania for the Reduction in Acute Care Hospitalization award from Medicare’s Quality Insights. Telehealth monitoring was one of the keys to decreasing the agency’s re-hospitalization rate by 17% over three years.
The VNA converted to point-of-care technology, synthesizing patient information and networking it among clinicians. The agency responded to the economic downturn by streamlining operations across all divisions, seeking more diversiﬁed resources, and focusing even more clearly on critical issues.
Nurse supervisors completed Chronic Care Certiﬁcation to meet the challenge of caring for patients with the four costliest and most common chronic conditions in the Commonwealth: diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart failure.
Family Hospice added Palliative Care services – specialized medical care for people facing serious and complex illnesses. The goal of Palliative Care is to relieve symptoms, rather than to cure illness, but it can make curative treatments more effective and tolerable. In its “Business of Caring” series, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (Philadelphia) lauded the VNA’s investment in the training and support of its home health aides. Direct care workers often receive little respect, low pay, and no beneﬁts and the VNA is committed to changing that culture.
The VNA incorporated two previously separate volunteer agencies. Hopeful Hearts provides grief support to children and adolescents and their families; and CareNet provides friendly visits to elderly and challenged adults. The agency piloted Transition Coaching, to prepare vulnerable patients for hospital discharge, then follow them at home for the critical weeks when unnecessary re-hospitalization can be averted.
The VNA received the Patient Satisfaction Award of Distinction two years in a row, placing it among the top 25% of home healthcare agencies in the country, as determined by national benchmarking surveys. In every one of the past ﬁve years, all divisions of the VNA have consistently excelled in nationally benchmarked standards.