Posts By: Michelle Ferguson

LIFETIME Care at Home receives 2018 Best of Home Care® – Leader in Excellence Award

LIFETIME Care at Home recently announced that it received the distinguished Best of Home Care –Leader in Excellence Award from Home Care Pulse, the leading firm in quality assurance for home care. The Leader in Excellence Award is the highest recognition awarded by Home Care Pulse and is given to select home care businesses that consistently rank among the very highest in 15 or more quality metrics. As a Leader in Excellence, LIFETIME Care at Home is now ranked among the top 4-5% of home care providers participating in the Home Care Pulse Satisfaction Management Program.

This accomplishment demonstrates LIFETIME’s long-term dedication to excellent care and quality improvement. To qualify for this award, 10% of LIFETIME’s clients and caregivers were interviewed each month by Home Care Pulse. Over a 12-month period, LIFETIME received high client and caregiver satisfaction ratings in areas such as: caregiver training, compassion of caregivers, communication, scheduling, client/caregiver compatibility, etc. Using feedback from clients and employees, as well as quality benchmarks from Home Care Pulse, the LIFETIME management team set goals to reach the highest level of excellence possible.

“This recognition by Home Care Pulse is testimony to the hard work, commitment and dedication of both our support staff and caregivers. It shows that our clients and families trust us to provide compassionate, respectful, quality care as they remain safe and independent at home,” says Guy Tommasi, Jr. Executive Director, LIFETIME Care at Home.

LIFETIME Care at home is a proud affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice.  Since 1999 they have been providing advising and caregiving services throughout Connecticut. Their mission is to embody a spirit of compassion for those seeking and receiving in-home care. LIFETIME’s services include activity assistance, personal care, live in, and transportation.

The Best of Home Care – Leader in Excellence Award highlights the top-performing home care businesses in the nation. Home Care Pulse believes that by honoring these providers, families looking for in-home care for a loved one will be able to recognize and choose a trusted home care provider.

“Our goal at Home Care Pulse is to empower home care businesses to reach their goals and deliver the best home care possible,” says Aaron Marcum, CEO and founder of Home Care Pulse. “We are happy to recognize LIFETIME Care at Home as a Leader in Excellence. We’ve been impressed by their commitment to their clients and caregivers, as well as the quality of the overall care they provide. They really stand out in their market as a top home care provider.”

Click here to learn more about LIFETIME Care at Home’s commitment to excellence or call 203-458-5990.

LIFETIME Care at Home Director Published in National Healthcare Publication

Guy Tommasi, Jr., Executive Director of LIFETIME Care at Home, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice, had a feature article published in the Jan/Feb issue of The Remington Report.

The article entitled, The Value Proposition of Private Duty: What Stakeholders Across The Care Continuum Should Know, focuses on the value of private duty home care.  Specifically, how it improves the Triple Aim, patient engagement, readmissions, and patient outcomes.  He explains what stakeholders should know about private duty home care to leverage its value.

Click here to read the article.

Tommasi champions the industry in the article and states: “The time is now for post-acute providers to include home care as a supportive partner in helping reduce rehospitalization. Those providers that can present a system of care that addresses the concerns of CMS – improved care, patient and caregiver satisfaction, cost effectiveness, will be much more attractive to those organizations establishing payer networks. Home care’s value to the healthcare delivery system should be leveraged as a ‘value’ resource.”

LIFETIME Care at Home started in 1999 with a clear focus: to be a top private non-medical in-home care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through the daily challenges of living more confidently.

The Remington Report, the flagship publication of the Remington Group, a national strategy advisor on healthcare cross-continuum transformation, is read by 126,000 and is recognized as a leading source of strategy, business insights, cross-continuum innovations and future planning.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice to Host #GivingTuesday Fundraiser

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is holding a #Giving Tuesday Fundraiser on Tuesday, November 28 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford (5 Indian Neck Ave.).  The fundraiser, sponsored by Premier Auto Group, is $10 per person and will feature light bites provided by La Cuisine, cash bar with beer and wine, a raffle and silent auction, and live music by Jennifer Taylor.  The first 140 registered guests will receive a commemorative beer glass.

#GivingTuesday is the international day of giving and the nonprofit home healthcare agency is reaching out to the local community to raise awareness of this charitable day and to engage residents to support their cause.

All donations raised will be used to bring hope, comfort, and wellness to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice patients and their families. Through home healthcare services, community wellness programs, and their Family Caregiver Support Network, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helps thousands of families throughout New Haven and Middlesex Counties.

Shore Publishing is the official Media Sponsor for this event.  Other sponsorship opportunities are available until November 10thClick here to register, or contact Traci Knapp: 203.458.4246 or

Fall Free Living Highlighted in Journal of Gerontology

The success of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s award winning Fall Free Living program was recently highlighted in a report published in the Journal of Gerontology.  The report, Intervention to Prevent Falls: Community-Based Clinics, written by:  Yale University’s Dorothy I. Baker, Linda Leo-Summers, and Terrence E. Murphy; plus VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Barbara Katz and Beth A. Capobianco focuses on the impact fall prevention clinics, like our Fall Free Living program, have on rates of self-reported falls and fall-related use of health services.

For the past 6 years Fall Free Living has been funded by a grant from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention at Yale University School of Medicine through the Connecticut State Department on Aging.  The program offers group and individual in-home fall risk screenings and personal recommendations to reduce fall risk. Many Tai Chi and chair exercise classes designed to help participants build and maintain strength and balance.


Fall Prevention Publication

Time to Fight the Flu!

The flu is more than just a few sniffles and a fever.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from flu every year.  Older adults, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at the highest risks for serious flu complications.  The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated every year.

“We have an adequate supply of flu vaccines this year and have many clinics scheduled throughout New Haven County,” reports Beth Capobianco, RN, Flu Clinic Coordinator at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice.  The flu virus usually reaches peak levels in January to February, so it is advised that people get vaccinated in the fall to give the vaccine enough time to work when they need it most.

Click here to view our complete Flu Clinic Schedule: Flu schedule 2017

Here is some information about the flu and this year’s vaccine. 

What is the Flu (Influenza)?

Influenza (flu) is a serious lung disease caused by a virus, which spreads from person to person. Influenza can cause:
• Fever • Chills
• Cough • Headache
• Muscle aches • Sore throat

It can also lead to pneumonia and death. Influenza can make people of any age ill. Although most people are ill for only a few days, some have a more serious illness and need to be hospitalized. Thousands die each year from influenza-related illnesses. Most deaths from influenza are in people over the age of 50.

Who Should Get the Vaccine?
• All persons aged 6 months and older
• Adults and children with chronic medical conditions
• Anyone taking long-term steroids, receiving cancer treatment or with HIV infection
• Children and teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy.
• Household members (including children) and caregivers of all at-risk persons
• Health care workers
• Residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• Students and others in institutional settings
• Pregnant women
• Anyone who wants to decrease the chance of getting the flu
• Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age
(these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Will the Vaccine Keep Me from Getting the Flu?
• The vaccination will protect most people from most strains of influenza. Since the virus changes frequently, the vaccine is updated yearly.
• The vaccine will begin to provide its protective effect after one or two weeks and will last several months.
• Flu shots will not protect all persons who get them against influenza, but should at least decrease the severity of the illness.
• Flu shots will not protect you against other illnesses, which may resemble the flu.

Components of the 2017-2018 Vaccine
The influenza vaccine protects you against strains of influenza expected to be most prevalent each year. For the 2017-2018 season (Northern Hemisphere winter), trivalent vaccines are recommended to contain: A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus (B/Victoria lineage). Four-component vaccines, Quadrivalent, will include the same viruses plus an additional flu B virus called B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).

Possible Side Effects
Most people have no side effects from the flu shot. The most common reaction is soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site for a day or two. Occasionally, persons may experience a fever or achiness for one or two days. As with any drug or vaccine, there is a slight possibility that an allergic reaction, or even death, could occur. THE VACCINE CANNOT CAUSE INFLUENZA. REPIRATORY ILLNESS AFTER VACCINATION IS COINCIDENTAL AND UNRELATED TO THE VACCINATION.

• YOU HAVE A FEVER. (Delay the shot until the fever is gone.)


If you have any questions about influenza or the influenza vaccination ask now or call your physician or local Department of Health before requesting this vaccine.

If you become ill and visit the doctor, hospital or clinic in the four weeks after today’s shot, please report this to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice.

Medicaid Cut Will Jeopardize Care Locally

As CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, a nonprofit home healthcare agency which provides Medicaid home healthcare services to over 1000 individuals each year throughout New Haven and Middlesex counties, 825 of whom live between East Haven and Essex, in your home towns, I am very concerned about an item in the Governor’s Executive Order. It eliminates something called an “add-on” that VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice and several other Medicaid home healthcare providers apply for, and receive, each year. These agencies combined serve almost 10,000 Medicaid patients.

The “add-on” supports added expenses, such as, security escort visits, extended hours visits, and high complexity care. The elimination of the add-on will cause serious access issues.

There is no cost-effective back-up plan to manage the care needs of Connecticut’s most vulnerable and our rapidly-aging population. If home healthcare providers such as my agency are forced to further reduce their financial losses by limiting access to Medicaid patients, thousands of at-risk residents will default to hospital emergency rooms and nursing homes to receive care – at a significantly-increased cost to CT taxpayers and the State budget. This is a penny-wise, pound foolish approach.

The State Legislature must recognize that shortsighted budget cuts will have a negative and costly long-term impact on all of us living in Connecticut.

Janine Fay, BSN, MPH
President & CEO
VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice

person helping patient

Be Prepared to Go Home from the Hospital

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 7% of the overall population and 15% of people over age 65 had an overnight hospital stay in 2015.  It can be an overwhelming time for families and especially taxing on adults over age 75.

VNA Community Healthcare& Hospice, in conjunction with the Health Neighborhood developed a list of things you can do to get ready to return home from the hospital or a facility.  Make sure you speak with your discharge planner before you leave the hospital to ask questions and see what services will be covered by your insurance after discharge.  Download a helpful checklist here: Hospital_home

Schedule a follow-up appointment with your primary physician and specialist. Determine how you will get to the office. Make sure you bring all your current medications with you, so that your doctor can review them.

Managing your medications is crucial to your recovery and well-being. Talk to your doctor about any new medications given to you at discharge and those you have at home. He/she will determine which medications are right for you. Make sure you use one pharmacy so that it is easy for you to pick them up or have them delivered. Ask for an easy open package, if you need one, and speak up if you are unable to pay for your medications.

Returning home from a hospital stay could require some changes to your house. You may have to change where you sleep to avoid stairs or to be near a bathroom. If you need a device, such as a cane or walker, make sure you know how to use it properly or ask for help. You may not be feeling well enough to shop, cook or clean for yourself, you may need to make plans with your family or hire a service.

Determine who will be able to help you and be sure to have their contact information. Decide how you are going to get medical supplies or equipment. Be sure to write things down and prioritize what is most important to you.

For further information, call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s help line at 866-474-5230 or email.

Click here to read Jean Cherni’s New Haven Register article If you are elderly, hospitals may be bad for your health to learn more about this problem and solutions to help.  

Avoid Heartburn at Your Summer BBQ

Ease heartburn without drugs

Now that we’ve entered BBQ season, we thought it would be a good time to share some tips on how to avoid heartburn.  Here’s some advice from our partners at Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely program.

Many people who have heartburn don’t need drugs at all. They can feel better by making changes in their diet and lifestyle. Try these things before you try drugs:

Watch what you eat. Try to figure out which foods and beverages give you heartburn. Then try to avoid them. Foods and drinks that may cause heartburn include:

  • Alcohol
  • Fried foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Garlic and onions
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Chocolate and peppermint
  • Coffee and other drinks with caffeine, such as Coke
  • Foods with a lot of tomatoes, such as pizza, salsa, and red pasta sauce

Eat smaller meals and do not go to bed right after you eat. Do not overload your stomach. And avoid lying down for two hours after you eat.

Stop smoking. If you need a reason to stop smoking, heartburn may be it. Research shows that smoking raises your risk for heartburn and GERD.

Lose extra weight. It has been proven that losing just a few extra pounds can help lessen the effects of heartburn and GERD.

Loosen up. Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts that press on your middle. The extra pressure can make heartburn worse.

Sleep with your head raised. Raise your upper body with pillows. Or raise the head of your bed about six to eight inches. Try putting wooden blocks under the top legs of the bed.

Learn more here:

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a proud partner of Consumer Report’s Choosing Wisely Program, part of the ABIM Foundation. We are committed to providing patient and family caregivers helpful and timely health information. If you have any questions or would like additional information about Choosing Wisely visit:

Dodge Diabetes

No one wants diabetes, but according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health it affects more than 330,000 adult residents and more than 83,000 adults are living with diabetes and don not know it.

Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.  The best, controllable way to prevent this dreaded chronic illness is to lose weight by moving more and eating smarter.  VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is launching a new program to help you succeed in doing just that.

“We are thrilled to be offering a life changing year-long diabetes prevention program, based on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevent T2 successful, evidence based program,” comments Kathleen Eagle, RN, Health Promotion Supervisor at VNA Community Healthcare& Hospice.

The program, called Dodge Diabetes will focus on healthy eating and increasing activity to help you lose weight and cut your risk of developing diabetes in half.

According to Eagle, “participants will give and get support from others struggling with the same weight loss issues.”  She added, “creating lasting health changes is not easy, but we are here to coach you through your journey to wellness.”

Participants will learn how to: make healthy food choices, add physical activity into your day, cope with stress, handle obstacles and overcome barriers, get back on track when you stray, track your progress to stay motivated and set goals.

First class of Dodge Diabetes meets at VNA Community Healthcare& Hospice, 753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, Thursday, April 20, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., cost is $85 for the full 12 month program.  For the first 4 months, the class meets every Thursday, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.  Call Kathleen for details: 866.474.5230 or visit

Staying True to Ourselves in a Time of Change

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has been providing healthcare for 107 years – long enough to have survived the two World Wars, the flu epidemic of 1918, the Great Depression, the start of Medicare and the ripple effect of healthcare reform. We have learned some lessons that have served us well and will again as we face a healthcare system “reset” and potentially dramatic changes:

Stay focused on the mission – This is why we exist, it is the glue that holds us together. From the beginning, our goal was to support patients from birth, through the ups and downs of health, and into the end of life. New clinical and payment models may come and go, but being there when people need support and home based care, even when things get messy and complicated, is why we exist.

Our product is our staff – Healthcare is very personal. Success or failure depends on human interactions. The best business plan in the world can’t outweigh caring and compassion. Investing in recruiting, training and nurturing people pays off in the long run.
Keep an eye on the outside world, but be thoughtful about adopting the trendy – New is exciting, but we try to give innovations a test drive before we buy them. Learning about technologies like home telemonitoring, testing them small scale, collecting data and then fully implementing them has worked for us.

Collaboration makes you stronger – When stress is high, you may be tempted to hunker down. We have found the opposite works better – having strong, wide and deep professional and community relationships provides new ideas, more business and a colleague to call when things don’t go right.

Moving forward is not a straight line– Like everyone else, we have moments of panic and calls for “all hands on deck” to deal with the most current regulatory or market crisis, but we have learned to trust ourselves and stay calm. The trick is to rapidly analyze expected change, evaluate the impact on operations, and thoughtfully integrate the new into our long-standing “tried and tested” work methods.

Apply the best business thinking for nonprofit success – VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice belongs to the community. We have an obligation to support good patient care, provide community wellness activities, and support patients who can’t pay. We do this through fundraising, good leadership, sound financial stewardship, and continuous improvement of our work processes.

Wellness and prevention will always be important –  like other healthcare organizations we get paid for treating illnesses, but wellness is a vital part of our agency. (Photo below) In 1924 our nurses educated the youngest in our community about proper nutrition by dressing up children for the Guilford Fair. Today we are investigating new ways to launch wellness programs to the new level. Wellness helps prevent health crises and is the ultimate solution to managing healthcare costs.

Are these magic answers? No.  Are they durable solutions to a changing environment? Yes. Maybe you can dig deep into your organization’s past and find some lessons for the future.

Please give us a call 203.458.4232 or email if you have thoughts that you think are worth sharing. We are always open to new ideas and insights.