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.