Topic: News And Events

Fight the Flu – Importance of flu vaccine remains high

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will once again offer flu clinics this year, some that remain drive-thru.

First introduced last year as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit agency will continue drive-thru method of clinics this year to ensure everyone is able to get their important annual flu vaccine. Some locations have decided to bring clinics inside with COVID protocols in place. Although life continues to return to normalcy, the flu will remain a risk for all and vaccines should not be forgotten.

Influenza is a serious lung disease caused by a virus which spreads from person to person. Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache and sore throat. Although many are only sick for a few days, many die each year. The virus can make anyone ill – most deaths are in people over the age of 50 and the flu is particularly dangerous for young children.

Although the flu vaccine does not prevent the flu in all cases, it significantly lessens the impact the virus has on the body and reduces the severity of symptoms a person experiences.

“The flu vaccine remains a critical, safe and effective way to reduce your risk of getting the flu, to help you recover more quickly if you do get sick, and to protect vulnerable people around you,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions RN Stephanie Moscato. “High dose vaccines will be available on a limited basis. These vaccines are intended for individuals over 65 years of age, but we cannot guarantee the availability of these doses.”

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will also be providing adult quadrivalent vaccines for anyone over the age of 18. It is particularly important for those with a chronic condition and caregivers of those at high-risk to be vaccinated.

The vaccine is developed yearly based on the strains expected to be most prevalent and it takes one to two weeks to take effect, but will protect you for several months.

The vaccine can cause some side effects – including temporary fever or aches – though most people have no reaction at all.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is holding public flu clinics in Guilford, Madison, North Haven, Hamden, Woodbridge and Wallingford. Pre-registration is required for all clinics.

For more information and to pre-register, click here.

Agency offers Veteran-centric care

 

Pictured: Patient Ted Wojack receives his certificate recognizing his Veteran status from his volunteer, Bryon. Ted passed away shortly after receiving this special recognition.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice achieved Level One Partnership status this fall with We Honor Veterans, a national program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. The progression to this level demonstrates a high level of commitment to Veteran-centric care in the communities the Agency services. VNACHCH became a We Honor Veterans partner in the fall of 2019.

As a partner, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides specialized care to Veterans who are facing a serious illness. This includes identifying and serving the unique needs of Veterans, utilizing acquired knowledge to assist Veterans in navigating VA benefits, and honoring Veterans with special recognition through certificates and pinning ceremonies.

Throughout the month of November, the hospice team and members of the We Honor Veterans Volunteer Committee presented each Veteran in the Agency’s care with a special framed certificate specific to their brand of service and a flag pin.

NHPCO and the Department of Veterans Affairs launched We Honor Veterans a decade ago to address the growing need for Veteran-centered care, especially as Veterans from different eras are aging and need access to palliative and hospice care that meets their unique needs. Learn more at www.wehonorveterans.org.

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. 

#GivingTuesday event Dec. 3

Click here to register for our event.  Click here to make a donation!

Help us warm up the giving season

What if the whole world came together one day a year to make a difference? What would you want to make possible?

The staff, board members and volunteers of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice want to help every person in the communities we serve to stay out of the hospital and at home, where they want to be, while facing a healthcare crisis. Whether someone is recovering from illness or surgery, living with a chronic condition, or facing the end of their life, we want to be beside them each step of the way. We want to be beside their loved ones and caregivers to offer support and resources. We want to provide wellness opportunities, education and advice to members of the community through clinics and classes.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are the face of home healthcare and this #GivingTuesday we are asking for your help.

Now entering its eighth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and local nonprofit VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is excited to be part of the movement.

Celebrated nationwide on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday has become known as the day that launches the giving season.

Tickets are now available for VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s #GivingTuesday event, set for Dec. 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, located at 5 Indian Neck Ave.

Each $20 ticket to the event includes food catered by La Cuisine, a beer ticket, entertainment, a raffle and silent auction and the opportunity to network with fellow community members. The first 150 registered guests will receive a commemorative seasonal gift.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a nonprofit devoted to being beside home healthcare patients, their families and the community at every turn. Each year, the agency helps thousands of people remain at home through all stages of their healthcare journey, from beginning to end.

“All donations raised at the #GivingTuesday event will allow us to take this journey with the people we serve throughout New Haven and Middlesex Counties, and help them live life to the fullest,” said Janine Fay, President & CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Help us warm up the giving season by giving to our effort to keep as many people as possible home for the holidays.”

Shore Publishing and Zip06 is proud to be the official Media Sponsor for this event. Other sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit bit.ly/VNAGivingSeason to register for the event, bit.ly/VNAGiveTues if you can’t attend but would like to give, or contact Abigail Storiale at 203.458.4277 or astoriale@vna-commh.org for sponsorship opportunities.

 

A huge thank you to the sponsors that have come on board!

Presenting sponsor:

 

 

Food generously donated by:

 

Gold sponsors:

           

 

                        

 

 

Supporting sponsors:

                           

 

                                        

 

                 

 

Printing sponsor:

 

Media sponsor:

Shore Publishing

Walking Tall

National Safety Month tips for staying confident on your feet

Anyone can have a slip.

Literally, staying on your feet is not always an easy thing, which is why during the month of June – recognized as National Safety Month – the National Safety Council is promoting education on the prevention of slips, trips and falls.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of accidental injury for people age 55 and older, despite the fact that they are a preventable health problem. Individuals who have had changes in balance or a decline in physical mobility, those with a chronic illness or visual impairments, hearing deficits or foot problems, and those taking more than four prescription medications are at increased risk.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers Steady Steps, an award-winning fall risk reduction program, to help reduce the incidence and negative impacts of falls. Of our participants, 85 percent lower their risk of falls, improve balance and learn how to prevent falls from occurring.

The program, which is funded by a grant from and based on research by the experts from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention and the Yale School of Medicine through the Department of Aging, is led by a team of nurses, physical therapists and certified instructors.

It includes screenings in the home or community setting, assessment of risks for falls and development of a personalized plan, assessment of home safety hazards, a balance assessment and blood pressure evaluation along with a medication review, and the teaching of simple balance exercises.

When it comes to avoiding falls, there are some simple steps everyone can take.

Dress for success

Cute shoes may be calling, but one of the most important things to do to prevent a fall is to wear the right footwear for your environment. Make sure to consider the conditions of where you’re headed and how much walking you’ll be doing when selecting shoes. Slip-resistant shoes can be helpful, but at a minimum make sure your shoes are broken in to reduce the slippery nature of the soles. You can do this by scuffing the soles on concrete before wearing them. Even around the house, make sure the soles of slippers are rough and don’t walk around on wood or tile floors in socks.

Hit the lights

Make sure when you are working or navigating a new environment that the lighting is appropriate, and take care when getting out of bed at night for a trip to the bathroom or kitchen. Adequate lighting helps you to see objects in your path and to avoid missteps that can lead to slips and falls.

Know your surroundings and announce yourself

We’ve all tried at some point to be a master of maneuvering – to sidestep through that tight space carrying something in our hands – but the best way to be safe is to be sure you have plenty of visibility and a path to move through while walking. It can also be helpful to announce yourself when in a shared or public space. Open doors slowly and tell others when you’re moving around them but are outside their line of sight, for example walking behind them.

Focus on fitness

Staying flexible and agile can help you to avoid falls, or minimize the impact if a fall takes place. As part of its Steady Steps program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers programs tailored to participant’s fitness and ability level including sitercize, Exercise for Better Balance and Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®, all of which can help reduce the risk for falls.

For more information on dates and times of Steady Steps programming, visit vnacommunityhealthcare.org/calendar.

Local nurse receives Nightingale Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Nurse Patty Tsou was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

 

Perhaps Patty Tsou was just destined to be a nurse.

Her mother was a registered nurse, as are her siblings. Despite the strong family ties, Tsou resisted the calling at first.

“I went to school to be a teacher, but I called my mom two years in and said I wanted to switch to nursing. She cried and said, ‘You were the one I always knew would be a nurse,’” Tsou recalled.

Now, more than three decades later, the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice RN continues what became a true love affair with her profession. As a result, she was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

For the ceremony, she wore her Ona M. Wilcox College of Nursing pin alongside her mother’s St. Raphael School of Nursing Pin, just as she does every year on National Nurses Day.

“Every day I get to teach, just not kids,” Tsou said with a laugh, referencing her once potential field and the many skills she later found home health nursing requires. Not only do nurses provide clinical care, they also work to educate patients and their caregivers on self-care to manage chronic conditions and to otherwise help them recover from surgeries and illness.

“I see people in their environment. I’ve been to squalor and I’ve been to mansions, but at the end of the day [our patients] are all just people who need help,” she said.

During her career, Tsou has always been willing to go the extra mile. When she was assigned to Spanish-speaking patients, she learned the language on the job by carrying with her a pocket Spanish dictionary and eventually becoming fluent in what she termed “medical Spanish.”

“People appreciate the effort,” she said. “As a nurse, they’re always happy to see you, but even on my worst days, I still know they’ve made a difference.”

Tsou has been an employee of VNACHCH for 10 years.

According to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Nursing Karen Naccarato, Tsou has been described by her patients as a wonderful representation of VNACHCH who is “helpful, accommodating and a real comfort.”

Naccarato said Tsou goes above and beyond for her work, whether it’s serving as a preceptor to new employees, participating in new projects or allowing students to shadow her for the day.

“She truly exemplifies the qualities of excellence for the Florence Nightingale Award,” Naccarato said. “Patty brings forth much home care experience, professionalism, compassion and kindness when caring for her patients.”

The Nightingale Awards program was developed in 2001 to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. The program honors nurses from all health care settings and all Registered Nurses and LPNs involved in clinical practice, leadership or education may be considered.

Nurses can only be nominated once in their lifetime for the award. Nominations are made by the health care organization with which the nurse is affiliated. Award winners are selected based on criteria that examines what set the sets the nurse apart from others, how they impacted patient care and the profession, how they’ve shown commitment to the community and whether or not they’ve achieved a life-long legacy in a particular arena.

It’s Not All In Your Head

Dispelling myths about mental wellness during National Mental Health Month

Many understand the importance of mental wellness and the concept of self-care to prevent mental or emotional struggles, but far fewer may realized the far-reaching impacts mental health problems have in the life of every individual. Although we may think of mental health as something that does not affect us if we do not suffer personally or currently, the issue of mental health is a prevalent one today.

One in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue – some of the most common including anxiety and depression – but perhaps surprisingly to some, one in 25 Americans has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to mentalhealth.gov, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 41,000 lives lost annually.

This May, recognized as National Mental Health Month, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice wants to dispel some myths of mental illness and treatment.

Myth: Recovery is not possible

The idea of recovery seems insurmountable to many when it comes to mental illness, but when looked at as the journey of yourself or a loved one reaching a point where a normal life – including the ability to work and be an active member of the community – is the goal, then recovery is indeed possible.

Through its Behavioral Home Health program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s registered nurses collaborate with patients, family member’s and a client’s entire treatment team to help each individual discern small, achievable goals to have success reaching their best potential quality of life.

VNACHCH staff is available for visits seven days a week, plus 24-hour phone coverage to help with things like medication administration, facilitating copying skills, offering coaching on preventing physical impacts of treatment and addressing side effects should they arise.

Individuals on medication for mental illness are prone to conditions such as diabetes due to rising blood sugar or cardiac complications, and the VNACHCH staff is trained in assessing and managing these side effects in coordination with a patient’s other health providers.

Myth: People can “get over” mental illness on their own

Mental illness is not a sign of a weak mind. Some individuals have a mental illness as a result of genetics or brain chemistry, while others have an illness triggered by physical conditions or injuries that impact the body. Traumatic life experiences also serve to bring on mental illness.

To reach a point of mental wellness, people require a variety of treatment, including medication and therapy as well as the support of loved ones.

The most helpful family caregivers are those who commit to serving as advocates to connect a loved one with needed services and those who understand their family member is not defined by their mental illness. Helping to remove the stigma of mental illness is a critical part of the process.

Myth: It’s not safe to be around someone with mental illness

Most people with a mental illness are not violent, though media coverage of isolated incidents can make it appear mentally ill people are always unpredictable and irrational. Many people with mental health problems are able to go about every-day lives with little to no outward indicators of their illness.

To learn more about our Behavioral Home Health program visit https://vnacommunityhealthcare.org/our-care-programs/behavioral-home-health/.

Take the stress out of preparing to see your healthcare provider

Preparing for a medical visit can be a stressful experience.

Time frames for appointments are limited, and many often leave the doctor’s office and quickly think of questions they forgot to ask or realize they have follow-up concerns regarding the treatment or medications prescribed during their time in the exam room.

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. Show your provider your appreciation by becoming an active partner in your medical care and learning how to make time with your physician as production possible.

In addition to offering screenings of things such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice nurses are available at regular Ask the Nurse clinics throughout the community to help patients set healthy lifestyle goals and prepare for upcoming physician’s visits.

“Preparing for a visit to the doctor can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “Our nurses are available to help you navigate whatever questions and concerns you might be having about your health and make an action plan so you feel confident going into your appointment.”

Basic advice

When getting ready to visit the doctor, it’s important to write down all your symptoms and a sequence of events that occurred leading to your health concerns. Be concise with your information. Also make sure to bring your current insurance card and co-pay to the visit, as well as an up-to-date medication list to share with your provider. If you want to ask something specific, ask in a pleasantly assertive way. Don’t wait until the doctor is leaving the room to discuss the real reason you came.

Many patients don’t think to take notes during a visit, but it can be quite helpful, particularly if new medications or courses of treatment are discussed. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor politely if you feel rushed in conversation. It’s important to recognize the busy schedule physicians must keep while also advocating for the care that you need.

Know what to ask

Much of the responsibility for one’s health lies with the individual. Medical providers can make recommendations, offer treatment options and order tests, but it is critical patients take an active role in their own health. Part of this means being prepared to ask the right questions when you see your doctor.

Ask why the doctor’s recommendations are important, what symptoms you should watch for to report to your provider’s office, and be sure you understand the instructions you’ve been given to follow until you next see your physician.

Know your family history

Family medical histories are important, particularly when it comes to knowing one’s risk for a variety of conditions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, family history might be one of the strongest influences on a person’s risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. The more you know about your risk factors, the more help you can be to your physician as they work to recommend the best course of your care.

Information in your family history might suggest to your doctor that you require certain screening tests or more frequents routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Family history of things such as Alzheimer’s and dementia also helps you to know what signs and symptoms to be on the look out for so you can discuss your changing health conditions with your doctor as soon as possible.

Bring an appointment companion

While it’s important that everyone see their doctor annually, many individuals – in particular senior citizens – may find their visits to be much more frequent.

This schedule can be helpful, but also makes it easier for information to blur from one visit to the next, or for patients to take for granted they’ll be seeing their doctor again soon and lose focus, leading to a misunderstanding of instructions or missed details.

Spouses, children or even friends can be helpful when brought along on a visit. An extra set of ears, someone to take notes for you and someone to help you remember the details of your medical history can be invaluable. In addition, bringing a companion or caregiver along often means you have an advocate with you to help clarify questions or ask questions you may be unsure of asking yourself.

Janine Fay named Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home chairman of the board

Janine Fay, a Clinton resident and the President and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – headquartered in Guilford – recently took up the post of chairman of the board of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

Her two-year term was effective Jan. 1 and she hit the ground running, leading a full-day CAHCH board retreat earlier this month to chart a course to lead the industry through significant challenges and consolidation.

Fay has decades of experience in the home healthcare industry, including 20 years with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. She has led the organization as CEO since 2011.

Fay has been an active member of the CAHCH board and its committees over the years, most recently serving as Government Relations Committee Chair.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my work with CAHCH, an association whose mission I am passionate about, and taking on this new role leading its board. This is a challenging time for the home health and hospice industry as reimbursement rates continue to decline yet we see significant increases in the needs of patient’s being discharged from medical settings,” Fay said. “CAHCH does excellent work helping to bring home health and hospice providers together for advocacy and education. Its efforts are patient-centered and aimed at ensuring home health and hospice care that is cost effective and of the highest quality is available to all in need.”

As CAHCH board chairman, Fay succeeds Susan Adams, Vice President of Alliance Integration at Masonicare, who is now the immediate past chair and chairman of the CAHCH Government Relations committee.

For a full list of executive committee and board members, visit www.cthealthcareathome.org/page/Board.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.ConnecticutHomecare.org or call 203-458-4200.

Keenan Funeral Home to sponsor Comfort in Motion

A warm and welcoming 8-week session of bereavement support will be offered at Evergreen Woods in North Branford

Great comfort can be found in simply taking a walk with a friend.

That is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will once again hold its Comfort in Motion bereavement support group. The upcoming series will take place for nine weeks beginning April 11 and ending June 6. Sessions are held from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

This unique bereavement support group – the only one of its kind in the state – is facilitated by a trained VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Bereavement volunteer and sponsored by Keenan Funeral Home, located in North Branford.

Those grieving the loss of a loved one are invited to gather with others to walk and talk in a supportive setting while getting some exercise.

“This support group is an important part of the bereavement program for the loved ones of hospice patients we’ve served, but participation is not limited to the families of those we’ve worked with in the past,” explained Jo Ann Begley of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Any person who has lost a loved one can benefit from the support of others walking a similar journey of grief.”

The group will meet weekly at the main entrance of Evergreen Woods, 88 Notch Hill Rd., North Branford.

The facilitator will offer suggestions to help guide conversation during and after the walk. After the walk, those who choose will gather in the library at Evergreen Woods.

Begley believes in the impact she has seen this group have on those who have lost someone close to them.

“There is this synergy you can just see,” she said of the participants.

This program is free. To register call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Thank you to our sponsor: