Posts By: Abigail Storiale

Stay focused, stay safe through the duration of the outbreak

 

The most important thing we can all continue to do is to minimize our risk of exposure to COVID-19.

It’s easy to become complacent, particularly now that a few week have gone by and we are all perhaps becoming settled into a new routine of social distancing. Keep any non-essential medical appointments on hold, but do have a plan for what you’ll do if you do become sick – with COVID-19 symptoms or otherwise.

Staying at home does not mean you cannot take steps to take care of yourself and the people for whom you provide care.

Research telemedicine

Look into whether or not your primary care physician or other health care providers are offering telemedicine. This is particularly important for those with chronic health conditions. If you’re starting to run low on medication and haven’t done so already, ask your doctor for a prescription for a few months worth so you have what you need as this time of social distancing continues.

Stay connected

Make sure you are staying in touch with friends and family through today’s technological offerings such as video chat using a smartphone or computer. Make sure you’re engaging in a hobby at home to keep your mind sharp and your hands active during this phase.

Also ensure you have an emergency contact in the event that you become ill, and if you serve as someone’s emergency contact, have a back-up plan in place in case you begin to show symptoms and cannot provide your usual level of care to your loved one.

Have enough food and essential items on hand for ideally two weeks at a time and continue to engage in proper hand washing and cleaning practices.

Have a plan

Discuss with your loved ones in advance the steps you will take if you do develop symptoms such as cough, fever or trouble breathing. If symptoms are not severe, you will likely be told to stay at home to recover. A test at a local drive-thru testing location may be prescribed by your physician to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis.

If you are told to go to the hospital, make sure to ask what steps you should take upon arrival and what to expect. Do not go to the hospital or emergency room without talking to your physician first as many hospitals are reaching capacity and, if your diagnosis has not been confirmed, you could be risking exposure to COVID-19 unnecessarily.

This is a challenging and often overwhelming time for many, but it will pass. It’s important to stay focused on your health and well-being and ask for help when its needed.

Support our team through COVID-19

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has a long history of serving members of the community in their homes to help them maintain independence and stay out of the hospital. This remains our focus in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As is true for all members of the medical community, this outbreak poses risks to our nurses and other staff members that are only exacerbated by a shortage of protective equipment as well as cleaning and sanitation supplies.

Our staff members are entering the homes of patients to care for complex medical needs, taking every precaution to protect the patient and themselves from COVID-19, which can be transmitted by even asymptomatic people. They are also caring for recovering COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from area hospitals into homecare to make space for those who are actively ill.

We are in need of the following items:

  • Lysol spray
  • Lysol wipes
  • Hand sanitizer

All items should be unopened. A donation box is located inside the front door of our building, the back building in Concept Park located at 753 Boston Post Road in Guilford..

We also welcome financial donations in support of our mission. To make a donation, click here.

 

Other ways to show your support:

If you want to show the community that you stand beside our healthcare providers who are serving those in need each day in the face of tremendous challenges, make a statement on social media.

Tag us in photos and posts so our staff, and all healthcare workers, know you appreciate the work that they do.

Be part of the #socialdistancing movement, both on social media and in practice, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and let us know with your posts who you are staying home for by using the #IStayHomeFor hashtag, a campaign launched by actor Kevin Bacon.

We’re proud to do this work and we are always grateful for your support.

How to support high-risk loved ones during the outbreak

 

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is committed to helping keep all members of the communities we serve safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the majority of our patients and wellness class participants are of the aging population, we take seriously our commitment to those who are most vulnerable.

We encourage everyone to engage in social distancing as recommended by the CDC. That means staying home unless absolutely necessary and avoiding close contact with anyone outside of your immediate family.

We know this is a time of uncertainty and stress for everyone, and can be particularly frightening for older people and their caregivers and other loved ones.

Here are a few suggestions for helping older relatives and friends through this time of necessary social distancing.

Set a daily Facetime date.

Social interaction is important. It helps us feel connected to those around us, which can lower stress and anxiety. Choose a time each day to speak on the phone with your elderly loved one. An even better option is to use your iPhone to Facetime or your desktop computer to Skype with the person so face-to-face discussions can be had.

Check on your elderly neighbors.

It’s important to make sure the people in our community are being taken care of during this tumultuous time. If you have an aging person in your neighborhood, stop by briefly to see if there is anything they need. Make sure to back up from the door after ringing the doorbell or knocking to allow a safe, 6-foot distance between you and them.

Leave a care package at their door.

Many older people are currently afraid to enter grocery stores or pharmacies to purchase essentials and food for fear of coming into contact with the virus. If you have items at home to spare or are young and healthy and able to pick up a few extra things during your own, necessary trip to the store, consider purchasing groceries for your loved one or neighbor or even just a few items to make them smile. Drop them off at their door with a note so no contact is needed.

Send them links to verified information.

Information – and therefore misinformation – is everywhere right now. Social media is a particular hotbed for articles concerning the pandemic, much of which contains facts that are not verified. Turn to sources like the CDC and share verified information from credible sources with the people you love so they can stay informed but also avoid panic.

Reach out for help.

If you are a caregiver struggling with the challenges of helping a newly homebound elderly loved one, call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Helpline at 866.474.5230 to connect with our Caregiver Support Network for advice. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough or shortness of breath, contact your primary care physician immediately or call the Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 call center at 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644.)

Healthcare Decisions Day 2020

 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this event has unfortunately been cancelled. 

 

In an effort to educate and empower people to learn about and engage in advance healthcare decision-making, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has planned a full day of outreach culminating in a panel presentation from three local experts as part of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Recognized on Thursday, April 16, National Healthcare Decisions day is a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations aimed at ensuring information, opportunity and access is available for all to document important healthcare decisions.

It is an initiative of The Conversation Project, which is aimed at helping people begin end of life conversations with loved ones and which works in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Without an advance care plan, a person’s loved one can be left making difficult decisions during a grief-stricken time with no guidance as to what their friend or family member would choose for themselves if they could. That is why it is so important to not only put thought into what you would want in a variety of medical situations, but also to learn how to choose a healthcare proxy, and how to have the conversation about your wishes with the people you care about most.

As part of this movement, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is providing information and tools for the public to talk about their wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers. The nonprofit agency will also have information available on how to execute written advance directives, such as healthcare power of attorney and living wills in accordance with Connecticut state laws.

On April 16, trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice volunteers will be available at local senior centers to provide information and education, and the day will culminate in a panel that evening at the Guilford Free Library. An informal social hour with hors d’oeuvres and the opportunity to review informational materials will begin at 5 p.m. with the panel presentation scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Panelists include Donna Cricenzo, concierge physician and the medical director of the VNACHCH hospice program, who will discuss the chronic illness journey and ultimate palliative and hospice care decisions one might face. Joan Reed Wilson of RWC, LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law will sit on the panel to share important information regarding elder law and estate planning. Finally, Guy Tommasi, the executive director of VNACHCH affiliate LIFETIME Care at Home will share his perspective on the need for non-medical in-home care and the decisions associated with that phase of the healthcare journey.

Healthcare Decisions Day events:

Meet with a VNACHCH representative April 16:

Hamden Senior Center
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
No registration required

North Haven Senior Center
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No registration required

Guilford Senior Center
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No registration required

Madison Senior Center
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No registration required

Advance Care Planning panel April 16:

Guilford Free Library
67 Park St. Guilford
5 p.m. hors d’oeuvres
6 p.m. panel discussion

Register at 866.474.5230

 

Healthcare Decisions Day resources:

Below is a link to a summary of Connecticut State law pertaining to an individual’s right to make health care decisions, directions for completing the consolidated health care instructions and advance directives document and the documents themselves including Appointment of A Health Care Representative, Living Will and Health Care Instructions, Appointment of a Conservator and Organ Donation in one form.

https://www.ct.gov/agingservices/lib/agingservices/pdf/advancedirectivesenglish.pdf

 

Below are links to useful documents when it comes to starting the advance care planning conversation with family members and healthcare providers.

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-ConvoStarterKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ConversationProject-ProxyKit-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-StarterKit-Alzheimers-English.pdf

http://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-TalkToYourDr-English.pdf

For more information and for these documents available in other languages, visit theconversationproject.org.

Spring 2020 Program Book Released

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers many opportunities to help you improve your health, prevent illnesses and keep you independent. From group classes, personalized blood pressure checks and nurse health coaching, to clinics and cholesterol screening, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice‘s team of professional nurses will help you design a personalized wellness program.

We are pleased to announce the release of our program book for Spring of 2020. Programs include a full line up of exercise classes and several wellness programs in towns throughout our territory.

Our next edition of the program book will be released in the late summer of 2020 containing programming information for fall and winter. To be added to the mailing list, please email Mary Higgins at mhiggins@vna-commh.org or call our toll free helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Click the following link to view the Spring 2020 Program Book.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors of the Spring 2020 program book! To learn about our corporate sponsorship opportunities, email Sandy at KHernandez@vna-commh.org.

                   

Trust Your Heart

Trust Your Heart to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice

If you were having a heart attack, would you know it?

That may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but don’t be so sure. Between the fact that women often experience symptoms other than the recognizable chest pain, and that many men and women alike don’t realize their risk factors for heart disease, a cardiac event could be more likely than you think and could potentially go ignored until it’s too late.

During American Heart Month 2020 and all year long, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is working to help educate residents in its 35-town service area about the risks of heart disease and how to protect themselves.

Heart disease is a term for any condition that affects the heart’s structure and function. Annually, about 630,000 Americans die from heart diseases, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Women often aren’t diagnosed with heart disease until about 10 years later in life than men, yet it remains the #1 killer of women.

Coronary heart disease – which is commonly understood as clogged arteries – is the most common type of heart disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, a smoking habit, being overweight or obese, having diabetes or prediabetes, being physically inactive, eating an unhealthy diet, a family history of heart disease, preeclampsia during pregnancy and, for women, being over age 55.

Women who have gone through early menopause are twice as likely to develop heart disease.

Having just a single risk factor greatly increases the chances of developing heart disease, and the more risk factors a person has, the more serious concern should be. In Connecticut alone, 155,000 people have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, according to the NHLBI.

The good news is that simple steps can be taken to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease or to keep the disease from progressing and nearly 80 percent of cardiac events are preventable.

Know your numbers

Having your blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, fasting glucose and cholesterol checked and discuss with your health provider what these numbers mean in terms of your risk for heart disease. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers Ask the Nurse clinics in Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Killingworth, Madison, North Haven and Woodbridge, at which a registered nurse can check these numbers for you and work with you to set health goals and determine what questions you should ask your doctor. There is no cost for this service and appointments are not required. Click here to see our full list of dates, locations and times.

Cholesterol and A1c cannot be checked during these clinics, but VNACHCH offers cholesterol lipid profile and blood sugar screenings with immediate results and nurse counseling for $35 in ou Guilford and Hamden offices. These appointed can be scheduled by calling our Helpline, 866.474.5230.

Get social support

Sticking to a regular exercise plan that includes at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week is critical to heart health, as is incorporating a healthy eating plan into your daily routine.  Diets high in trans and saturated fats, added sugars and sodium all increase the risk factors of heart disease. Social support can make a big difference in maintaining a commitment to lifestyle changes. Exercise classes you can attend with friends and a supportive instructor can be helpful. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers numerous exercise classes for all fitness levels to help you make quick work of working out.

Get educated

Community heart health education courses offer resources, tips and information and can help increase your ability to take control of your heart health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends people take a class, such as VNACHCH’s Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle – offered this February 19 at 1 p.m. in the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Wellness Center, 753 Boston Post Road, Guilford. These classes also teach how to spot the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, including lesser recognized symptoms like pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, as well as cold sweats, nausea and light-headedness.

“More than 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease, but by taking proactive steps everyone can reduce their risk,” said VNACHCH Health Promotion Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “As a nonprofit home healthcare agency committed to bettering the health and wellness of members of the communities we serve, we are here to help you learn about your personal risk factors and to make the changes needed to avoid a heart disease diagnosis.”

Dodge Diabetes

 

One in three American adults has prediabetes. Do you know if you’re one of them?

Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet for the person to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, if left untreated, this condition can progress to type 2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, and the loss of toes, feet or legs.

Prediabetes also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that prediabetes can be reversed through lifestyle changes including healthy eating choices and physical activity. These changes and the resulting weight loss can cut your risk of getting type 2 diabetes in half.

If you don’t know whether or not you are one of the 86 million American adults living with prediabetes, you aren’t alone. Nine out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it.

Take this test to find out if you’re at risk:

https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/Prediabetes-Risk-Test-Final.pdf

If you are indeed at risk, consider joining VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice for our yearlong program, Dodge Diabetes, which will begin Tuesday, March 3. The cost for the program is $79 for the year.

Dodge Diabetes focuses on education and lifestyle changes to help reduce the chances of developing diabetes. Participants will learn how to make healthy food choices, add physical activity into their day, cope with stress, handle obstacles and overcome barriers to stay on track or get back on track when needed, track progress, stay motivated and set goals.

The program is based on the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s Prevent T2, a successful, evidence-based lifestyle change program. Prevent T2 is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

A total of 26 classes will be held throughout the next year on Tuesdays 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Wellness Center of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Guilford office. For the first four months, the class meets every week, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.

Contact Kathleen Eagle at 203.458.4284. or email to learn more.

More information you can use:
CDC information on Prediabetes

CDC information on Diabetes

Agency receives Patient and Family Satisfaction Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice recently received Fazzi’s 2019 Patient and Family Satisfaction Award of Distinction.

The awards are determined in the home healthcare and hospice fields by the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) – a set of surveys that asks patients to report on their experiences.

VNACHCH received an overall rating of hospice care of 96 percent, higher than the national average of 85 percent and the state average of 88 percent. The agency saw high responses in all survey categories, including communication, timeliness of care and information continuity. Of those surveyed, 96 percent responded that family members were always treated with dignity and respect, and 93 percent said they were never confused by information provided by the hospice team.

With respect to symptom management, 85 percent of respondents said their loved one got as much help with pain as needed and zero clients responded that they did not feel the received adequate help with pain management. In terms of emotional support, 93 percent of families said the emotional support during the hospice experience was what they needed, and 89 percent said the same of their emotional support after their loved one died.

The HHCAHPS and Hospice CAHPS Top 25 award is presented annually to organizations that subscribe to Fazzi’s Patient and Family Satisfaction Services and have demonstrated superior performance in overall satisfaction results, according to information from Fazzi, which is a national consulting, education, revenue cycle and best practice research firm that specializes in the home health and hospice industry.

VHA Community Healthcare & Hospice was recognized among the top 25 percent nationally of best practice agencies in Fazzi’s database, based on a comparative analysis of overall satisfaction.

“They are proven leaders that have excelled in one of the most important measures of an agency’s quality program – patient and family satisfaction,” the Fazzi announcement of top agencies reads. “We are incredibly proud of these agencies’ significant accomplishments and pleased to be their partner in one of the most important quality initiatives.”

VNACHCH named Top 500 agency

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has been named a Top 500 Agency nationally in the 2019 HomeCare Elite®, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. For 14 years, HomeCare Elite, a market-leading review, has annually identified the top 25 percent of Medicare-certified agencies and highlighted the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, which is based in Guilford with an office in Hamden, was named a top agency for the sixth time and a top 500 agency for the first time with this most recent recognition.

The ranking is developed by ABILITY® Network, a leading information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare; and sponsored by DecisionHealth, publisher of Home Health Line and the Complete Home Health ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Coding Manual.

The rating is based on performance measures, including quality of care, quality improvement, patient experience, best practices implementation and financial management – all data taken from publicly available information.

Janine Fay, president and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, credits the staff and a commitment to high-quality care and the betterment of health and wellness in the community with the agency’s ability to achieve recognition as one of the HomeCare Elite.

“For more than a century, our agency has been dedicated to providing healthcare at home. Whether we are caring directly for our patients, supporting families through our Caregiver Support Network, or reaching out to the community through our various health and wellness programs, we are devoted to our mission to be beside individuals at every turn on their healthcare journey,” Fay said.

In order to be considered, HomeCare Elite agencies must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least three outcomes in Home Health Compare.

Annual Report 2019

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are the face of home healthcare.

In an effort to share the stories of who we are, what we do, and why we remain committed to our mission, VNACHCH shares testimonials from staff members, caregivers, volunteers and patients in our latest annual report – complete with statistics about the care we provide and number of individuals we help on a yearly basis.

Caregivers Denise Brouillard and Patty McGuire share thoughts on the hospice care their loved ones received and the way their lives were impacted through this service. Our staff – ranging from members of our intake staff and community health staff to our field workers in nursing and therapy – share their perspective on their daily operations and the unique touch they bring to time with patients.

Within this report, as always, we thank our many donors who support our nonprofit efforts to help individuals facing a healthcare crisis remain at home, and to improve the health and wellness of the community at large.

We also celebrate the work of our affiliates, including Strong House Adult Day Center, which celebrated 25 years in 2019.

Our focus in the year ahead is to not only continue to provide compassion and care of the highest quality to our home healthcare patients, but also to grow our wellness offerings in the community and to increase our ability to grant the wishes of hospice patients.

“When you have healthcare challenges, we can help you face them,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay. “We are members of your community who you can trust to help you stay the course when life takes an unexpected turn. We are devoted to our work and always grateful for the support we receive.”

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR19

To learn more about ways to give to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, click here.