Topic: News And Events

Guy Tommasi given Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home Innovation Award

During its annual conference earlier this month, the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home presented its Innovation Award to Guy Tommasi, the executive director of LIFETIME Care at Home.

A proven leader in the private home care industry, Tommasi created an outcome system that enables LIFETIME and its parent agency, VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice, to demonstrate the value LIFETIME brings to the healthcare system.

The CAHCH Innovation Award is given each year to an association member agency or individual who embraces change and consistently strives to use new methods and technologies to optimize home health, hospice or personal care delivery.

“Guy is recognized and respected as a statewide leader by creating the model of the future for the non-medical home care agencies,” said Deborah Hoyt, president and CEO of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home.

“His knowledge about leveraging data to improve business operations has elevated LIFETIME Care at Home’s value and opened doors to forward-thinking relationship-building with healthcare providers across the care continuum. Guy’s trailblazing efforts are improving the personal care industry as a whole and have carved out an important place for home-based services in future healthcare delivery models,” Hoyt added.

LIFETIME Care at Home is a private in-home, nonmedical care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through daily challenges of living more confidently. LIFETIME Care at Home is an important part of the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice continuum of care, integrated as part of a larger team to help address home care needs quicker and more completely than other alternatives.

LIFETIME Care at Home staff provide insight into care solutions and create more stable living situations for the clients the agency serves.

To learn more, visit

VNACHCH welcomes new board members

During it’s annual meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, the Board of Directors of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice said goodbye to two board members and welcomed two new members to its slate.

Susan Bailey and Don Offner were thanked for their years of service on the board as their tenures came to a close, while new members Bob Paolucci and Diane Vorio were welcomed aboard.

Outgoing Board Chair Dr. Gerard Kerins, who will remain a board member, passed the chairperson reigns to David Cowan.

Paolucci brings more than 20 years of wealth management experience to the board. He founded Principle Wealth Partners, prior to which he served as senior vice president at Essex Financial where he was a member of the investment committee and board of directors. He also has large investment firm experience serving in senior roles at Fidelity Investments and Bank of America Investments. He focuses on all areas of financial planning including investment management, taxes, wealth accumulation, cash flow generation, insurance and estate planning to generate comprehensive financial plans for clients.

As a fiduciary, Paolucci, said he has a passion for providing independent, unbiased advice and educating his clients on the importance of behavioral finance.

He resides in Killingworth with his wife and daughter.

A resident of Guilford, Vorio holds an MS in Management from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, The Hartford Graduate Center and an MSN in Nursing Management, Policy & Leadership from the Yale University School of Nursing. She earned her BS in Healthcare Management from St. Joseph’s College (now The University of Saint Joseph) and her diploma as a Registered Nurse from Grace New Haven School of Nursing.

She spent the last decade at Yale New Haven Hospital as vice president of patient services and associate Chief Nursing Officer. She specializes in developing and implementing system and organizational improvements to advance safety, quality and efficiency results, as well as controlling costs and finding success in accreditation and regulatory reviews.

“On behalf of myself and my staff, I’m excited to welcome our two new board members. We know their varied and impressive skills will help us continue to thrive in our mission to be beside patients at every turn,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice President & CEO Janine Fay. “I’d also like to extend our gratitude to our two outgoing board members for their dedicated service to our agency.”

VNACHCH releases annual report

This year, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice sought to paint a true picture of the value of its services with the agency’s annual report.

In partnership with the Florence Griswold Museum of Old Lyme, the home healthcare agency depicted patient and staff testimonials through works of art. Inspired by the quote, “A life well lived is the most exquisite work of art,” VNACHCH asked a few of its clients, caregivers and staff members to select artwork from the museum collection that spoke to them about living well – the very thing VNACHCH endeavors to make possible for all individuals it serves.

Ann Freeman, whose husband, Michael, was a VNACHCH Hospice patient in the last year, chose a painting of the Maine coastline that spoke to her about the years she and her husband spent visiting Maine and other oceanside locations together.

VNACHCH nurse Patty Tsou chose a painting that reminded her of Ireland and evoked the feeling of a “hopeful start to a new day” for her, stirring in her a feeling of connection to her mother, who also was a nurse.

Images of those who provided testimonials posing among the museum’s artwork fill the pages of the annual report, which also tells the story of an agency holding steady in winds of fiscal struggle prompted by state budget cuts and a changing healthcare landscape. The report outlines the agency goals for the future, it’s focus on excellence in patient care, and the many ways donor support is needed and appreciated.

“We are proud of our continued commitment to our mission to help patients live their best lives, and would like to express sincere gratitude to the Florence Griswold Museum and its staff for their willingness to share the beauty of art with us so we can share the beauty of our own stories with the community,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay.

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR2018_WEB.

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

VNACHCH strengthens presence in Hamden

HAMDEN – There is a common thread that all caregivers share, and VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is committed to strengthening the fibers of that thread as it invests in the community.

After a decade in North Haven, the nonprofit healthcare agency decided earlier this summer to consolidate its successful efforts to foster health and wellness in its Hamden location. The North Haven Family Caregiver Resource Center was moved to One Hamden Center, located on Whitney Avenue, which offered a strengthening of the agency’s Hamden presence and growth of its already robust resource center for this region of the 35 towns it serves.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice also operates out of its main office on Boston Post Road in Guilford, as well as Family Caregiver Resource Centers in Old Saybrook and West Haven.

The agency serves as the official Visiting Nurse Association for the towns of Hamden and North Haven and works closely with Elderly Services in both towns, though its offerings are far more vast than nursing alone. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit organization with a rich tradition of offering exceptional home healthcare services and extensive community care resources, including a variety of wellness and caregiver programs, a Helpline and an award-winning fall risk reduction program.

The vitality of the area’s services in the Hamden area was further strengthened by the introduction of a new Manager of Therapy Services, Donna Casablanca, and a new Branch Clinical Manager, LouAnna Wilkinson.
Wilkinson has years of experience with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice under her belt, but with her recent move to Hamden she has found renewed passion for her job.

“It is extremely rewarding to help folks stay in their home while caring for them and teaching them to care for themselves,” Wilkinson said. “We offer so much to the community in services from skilled nursing and therapy to private care through LIFETIME Care at Home, to our caregiver support groups. I feel very lucky to work for an agency that can help people and families in so many different areas.”
Casablanca worked in acute care and outpatient orthopedic settings before settling into home healthcare and is finding she enjoys the community presence VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice works to maintain. She noted the Ask the Nurse Clinics, physical therapy clinics, community exercise classes and range of services the agency provides.

She is proud to have helped the agency implement the New Beginnings program in assisted living facilities to asses a person’s mobility so they can safely transition into new surroundings and navigate their new environment.
Casablanca hopes that as VNACHCH strengthens its presence, the community will respond.

“Hopefully we become familiar, comforting and trusted faces to people when they are in the middle of an unsettling time facing a healthcare challenge,” she said.

When it comes to working with caregivers, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Family Caregiver Support Network Coordinator Jo Ann Begley is committed to helping individuals in need.

“Our Resource Center is a place where caregivers and individuals can come for information and referrals to whatever resources might support their situation,” Begley explained. “We welcome our patients and their families, former patients, wellness class participants and any resident of Hamden or North Haven seeking guidance. It doesn’t matter if you have an established relationship with our agency or the length of time you’ve worked with us previously. We’re here to help.”

Begley noted that individuals are being discharged from medical settings more quickly and with greater needs than they ever have been before, so family members and patients are often unprepared or underprepared for what is expected of them.

“Our intention is to help give people the tools that they need to be well so we can prevent hospital readmissions and keep people safe at home, where they want to be,” she said.

All visits to the Hamden Resource Center must be scheduled in advance and consults can be done on the phone or in person. Call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Helpline at 866-474-5230 to make an appointment.

The agency also offers a caregiver support group the last Tuesday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Miller Senior Center. The support group will soon include visits from guest speakers and is led by a facilitator who happens to specialize in geriatric care management, though Begley stressed caregivers of all ages and walks of life are welcome and will find the help they need.

She is grateful to have spent many years working with caregivers and seeing firsthand the impact VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice support groups have on participants.

“There is this synergy you can just see among these people who didn’t know each other at first. It’s beautiful to watch them support each other and give each other suggestions and ideas. This one’s loved one may have chronic heart disease, this one Alzheimer’s and this one COPD, but they are all there to help each other cope with whatever their situation is,” Begley said.

“Anybody who is struggling with the ins and outs of day-to-day life and navigating caregiving for a loved one will benefit from involvement in this group,” Begley added. “Whether you’re a parent, a spouse or a child or sibling, we have the resources you need. There is a common thread that all caregivers share, regardless of what the relationship to the person is or the diagnosis.”

Upcoming Program helps people Dodge Diabetes

GUILFORD – Prevention is a critical piece of the puzzle of health and wellness.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, a local nonprofit devoted to helping its home healthcare patients and all members of the 35 communities it serves to achieve their best quality of life, believes in the importance of prevention and healthcare education.

That is why it will once again host its yearlong program, Dodge Diabetes, beginning Thursday, Sept. 27.

One in three American adults has prediabetes. Those with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as many with prediabetes do within five years if they do not lose weight or increase their physical activity level. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.

People are most likely to have prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they are 45 years of age or older, are overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are physically active fewer than three times per week or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

The best, controllable way to prevent diabetes is to lose weight through exercise and smart eating habits. Dodge Diabetes focuses on education in these areas to help individuals cut their risk of developing diabetes in half. 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 Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Wellness Center of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Guilford office. For the first four months, the class meets every Thursday, then every other week, and then once a month during the last half of the year.

“We are thrilled to be offering for the second year a life-changing, year-long Diabetes prevention program,” said Kathleen Eagle, RN, Health Promotion Supervisor at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “It can be difficult to incorporate changes into your lifestyle, but we are here to provide the tools people need to avoid this potentially devastating chronic illness. This supportive environment will help participants to see they are not alone in their quest to achieve the best possible quality of life. We look forward to providing this forum for participants to learn from one another and from our expert staff.”

The first class of Dodge Diabetes will meet at VNA Community Healthcare, 753 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, Thursday, Sept. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m..; cost is $195 for the full 12 month program. Contact Kathleen for details: 866.474.5230 or

Sunday FUND-DAY to benefit VNACHCH affiliate

MADISON – Strong House Adult Day Center, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, will host its second annual Sunday FUND-DAY to benefit Strong House Adult Day Center, Sunday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 3 p.m., 546 Durham Road, Madison. The event will include food, gelato, a wine tasting, raffle, live music and yard games. Park at the Exit 61 Commuter Lot and the Strong House van will drive you to the party.

This gathering of current and past Strong House family and friends serves as an opportunity to support all the great work done at Strong House. Admission is $25 per person or a suggested donation of $10 for children.

To register, click here:

Can’t attend but want to help support Strong House? Click here:

Thank you to our sponsors:

Presenting sponsor:

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Comfort in Motion bereavement support group begins


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 eight weeks beginning Thursday, Sept. 27 and ending Thursday, Nov. 15. Sessions are held from 9:30 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.

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. Meet at the main entrance of Evergreen Woods, 88 Notch Hill Rd., North Branford.

Casual socializing takes place after the walk in the “Club Room” at Evergreen Woods.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s Family Caregiver Support Network Coordinator Jo Ann 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 among these people who didn’t know each other at first,” she said. “It’s beautiful to watch them support each other.”

To learn more call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Second Opinion: VNACHCH responds to recent federal report

Below are thoughts from the President and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, Janine Fay.

The phrase may be that one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, but one bad apple – or even a few – doesn’t illustrate the integrity of the rest of the apples on the tree.

On Tuesday, July 31, NPR was the first to cover a federal report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human services Office of the Inspector General regarding the Medicare Hospice Program. NPR’s broadcast and article were headlined “Fraud and Neglect Are Problems In Hospice Industry, Federal Report Finds” and detailed the findings culled from patient and Medicare payment data over the past 13 years.

The federal report states that there are hospices that do not always provide needed services to beneficiaries and sometimes provide poor quality care. It also states that there have been instances in which hospices overbill or, in extreme cases, commit fraud by enrolling beneficiaries who are not eligible for hospice care or by billing for services never rendered, thereby costing Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is troubling to the general population, but perhaps even more so for dedicated nonprofit hospice providers like VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice that do not want their reputation at risk when the criticisms of hospice were not, in their case, earned.

These findings are critical to shed light on hospices lacking in quality of care or seeking to defraud the system, but the release of this information paints hospices with a broad brush and can be damaging to the hospice industry and the many providers who seek to serve the best interests of patients and their families above all else.

Hospice focuses on quality of life and provides physical, emotional and spiritual support to those faced with a life-limiting illness. The majority of hospice services nationwide is provided in the home and includes bereavement care for family members for more than a year after a loved one has passed away.

The fact that the OIG report found many hospices target beneficiaries who will have longest length of stay thus equating to a larger payout, or that it found many hospices provide insufficient care, is tragic.

However there is an important distinction between flaws in an industry and an industry that is inherently flawed.

What the NPR article fails to explain is that Medicare-certified hospices may be for-profit, nonprofit or government-owned, and the differences of motive can presumably be vast.

Hospice providers such as VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offer hospice services as part of a larger picture of a commitment to health and wellness for the whole person, for their whole life. With more than a century of service in home healthcare behind us, our staff added hospice care just a year ago because we saw it as the bright light it can be in the lives of our patients, not as the dark cloud in the Medicare system that the OIG report seems to find it to be.

Already known as an expert agency when it comes to care for individuals with any healthcare need, we wanted to be sure we could continue relationships with our patients and their families through their entire life’s journey.

We are dedicated to being a nonprofit that serves the community and its needs from first to final days, and consider the quality of patient care to be of highest importance.

There is no doubt that it is time to shake the tree, but let us not forget that the tree of hospice care is also capable of bearing beautiful fruit.

VNACHCH Named Top Agency

GUILFORD — VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice today announced that it has been named a Top Agency of the 2017 HomeCare Elite®, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. For 12 years, HomeCare Elite 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 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 team at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has demonstrated an impressive ability to deliver great patient care,” said Christine Lang, senior director for ABILITY Network. “This is due to the skill and dedication of their clinical professionals, as well as the proficiency and efforts of their quality team tracking, measuring and interpreting the data that supports the delivery of care. Together, they have earned this recognition as one of the top home care agencies in the country.”

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 providing our core in-home services of nursing and therapy, or reaching out to the community through our Flu Clinics, Ask a Nurse Clinics, our award-winning Fall Free Living program or our Caregiver Support Network, we are devoted to the patients we serve and their families,” Fay said.

“Congratulations to those leading agencies that earned a spot on HomeCare Elite,” said Marci Heydt, senior content manager for DecisionHealth. “VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice and its peers have worked hard to improve quality outcomes while maintaining solid profit margins, which is increasingly difficult as home health agencies faced increased regulatory burdens each year.”

HomeCare Elite agencies are determined by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, best practices implementation, patient experience (HHCAHPS), quality improvement and consistency, and financial health. In order to be considered, an agency must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least three outcomes in Home Health Compare. Out of 9,064 agencies considered, 2,268 are recognized on the 2017 HomeCare Elite winners list overall.

The entire list of 2017 HomeCare Elite agencies can be downloaded by visiting the ABILITY Network website at

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.