Topic: News

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.

DO NOT TAKE THIS SHOT IF:
• YOU HAVE A SEVERE ALLERGY TO EGGS, THIMEROSAL (PRESERVATIVE) or LATEX
• YOU HAVE EVER HAD A SERIOUS REACTION TO A FLU SHOT.
• YOU HAVE A FEVER. (Delay the shot until the fever is gone.)

CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING THE SHOT IF:
• YOU HAVE EVER HAD GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME
• YOU ARE PREGNANT IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER OR NURSING.

QUESTIONS:
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.

REACTIONS:
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

MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS
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.

MEDICATIONS
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.

WELCOME HOME
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.

GET ORGANIZED
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: http://www.choosingwisely.org/patient-resources/treating-heartburn-and-gerd/

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: http://www.choosingwisely.org/

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 www.ConnecticutHomecare.org/Diabetes.

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 bkatz@vna-commh.org if you have thoughts that you think are worth sharing. We are always open to new ideas and insights.

VNA Community Healthcare Wins National Patient Satisfaction Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice was recently named a national best practice agency by Fazzi Associates because of their proven leadership and excellence in patient experience and satisfaction with services received. 2016-hhcahps-fazzi-seal

“This level of success is commendable and is deserving of recognition and we (Fazzi Associates) are pleased to present VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice with the Patient Satisfaction Award of Distinction, states Gina Mazza, Partner, Director of Regulatory and Compliance Services at Fazzi Associates. She added, “This is a significant accomplishment that VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s employees should be incredibly proud of.”

The Patient Satisfaction Award of Distinction was based on comparative analysis of other home healthcare agencies, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending survey questions place the nonprofit agency in the top 25% of Fazzi’s National Patient Satisfaction database.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, with offices in Guilford and Hamden, is a nonprofit, home healthcare agency that provides nursing; physical, occupational and speech therapies; mental health; and maternal child health in 35 towns throughout New Haven and Middlesex counties. In 2015, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s visiting staff helped 6,200 patients. They also offer free or low cost community wellness, health and family caregiver support programs. For more information call their toll free Helpline at 1.866.474.5230 or visit ConnecticutHomecare.org.

About Fazzi Associates
Fazzi Associates, parent company of Fazzi Healthcare Services, was founded in 1978. Its headquarters are in Northampton, Massachusetts. It is the largest outsourced ICD coding service provider in the US market. Fazzi’s mission is to make a real difference in healthcare by strengthening the quality, value and impact of home care, hospice and community based services.

 

Autumn 2016 Newsletter for Professionals

Opioids

Our recent newsletter for healthcare professionals focuses on Medication Reconciliation.  Download your copy here:

Professional Newsletter 2016 

Want to receive future newsletters?  Email us today! 

This newsletter also includes details on our upcoming education programs for healthcare professionals:

Difficult End of Life Discussions
Featuring Leslie Blatt, APRN, Director of Palliative Care
Yale New Haven Hospital
Tuesday, October 25, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
VNA Community Healthcare& Hospice, 753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford
Do you or your staff struggle with talking to patients and families about the end of life? Join us for a beneficial program to learn how to: Respect a patients wishes, deal with symptom management, work with families about how to start difficult conversations, and transition from care of the sick to hospice.
Please share with your team – this program will be beneficial to many.
To register, call our toll free Helpline: 1.866.474.5230 or email DCalvert@vna-commh.org.

Motivation, Adherence and Rehabilitation in Medical Care
Featuring Dr. Barbara Greenspan, PsyD, MHSA
Shoreline Neuropsychology & Behavioral Health
Wednesday, November 9, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
VNA Community Healthcare& Hospice, 2319 Whitney Ave., Hamden
Healthcare professionals often manage issues of poor adherence to treatment, which can have negative effects on patient health outcomes and healthcare cost. Learn about effective strategies, interventions and factors that are likely to influence treatment adherence to improve patient care, health and wellness.
To register, call our toll free Helpline: 1.866.474.5230 or email DCalvert@vna-commh.org.

Emotional Journey Through Dementia Caregiving
Presented by: Donna B. Fedus, M.A., Gerontologist & CEO, Borrow My Glasses
Two Chances to Attend!
Friday, October 14, 2016
VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice
753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford

Thursday, November 3, 2016
VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice
2319 Whitney Ave., 4th floor, Hamden

Registration fee of $79
Registration: 9:00 a.m.
Program: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
2 Continuing Education Credits are available for Social Workers from NASW-CT
Join us to:
Discuss why it’s important to gain clarity about the emotional experience of dementia caregiving
Map the emotional journey through dementia caregiving, and the wide range of feelings typically felt
Describe new models and norms to both provide dementia care and to support dementia caregivers

To register online, complete form at: www.borrowmyglasses.com/register.html
Mail check payable to: Borrow My Glasses, LLC to P.O. Box 1099, Madison, CT 06443.
Questions? Email: contact@borrowmyglasses.com or call 203.318.8100

 

Your Donations Provide Life Saving Telemonitors

“I feel so safe knowing the VNA (Community Healthcare & Hospice) is watching out for me”
A patient reflects on her telemonitor service

Lois K* is a spunky, kind hearted, retired realtor who has an overwhelming love for her family, which includes grandkids and great grandkids.

At 83, she struggles each day from pain and discomfort from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and Diabetes.  She requires constant oxygen and has extreme difficulty leaving her home, only doing so for medical appointments.

But Lois doesn’t let it get her down; “I’ve had a full life and I was able to spend 50 years married to the love of my life,” her husband sadly past away a few years ago.  She now lives with her son Carl and her delightfully peppy 4 year old Havanese dog named Jewel.

“This machine (Telemonitor) has been a great comfort… every day I check my oxygen levels and if they are off my nurse calls me to find out what’s going on.  They give me special tips on how to relax my breathing and then my oxygen levels always go up and we are both happy!”

By monitoring her heart health, the wireless telehealth gives both Lois and her nurse daily insight into any cardiac health changes and her nurse will notify her doctor about changes in her condition and work with him or her to change treatment plans.

In addition to checking Lois’ oxygen levels the telmonitor checks, her weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and day-to-day well-being.  The goal is to prevent a trip to the hospital.  And all is stable right now for Lois.

“I can’t imagine not having my daily check-ins (with the telemonitor)… I like to know that I’m doing ok, and if I don’t feel right this machine can tell my nurse exactly what is wrong…. I am so grateful to have it and would recommend it to anyone like me,” states Lois.

We thank you, our donors for enabling us to help Lois and 559 other patients like her. Telemonitoring is the future of home healthcare and it is not an inexpensive service at $360 per patient the cost in fiscal year 2015 was $200,000.  We could not do this without your support and generosity.

Telemonitors are NOT covered by Medicare or any insurance provider; your donations help VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provide this lifesaving service designed to help patients just like Lois.

If you would like to make a donation to support this vital, life saving service, please click here and donate what you can.