Topic: News And Events

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:

Culinary sponsors:


Tent sponsor: 

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.

LIFETIME Care at Home Director Published in National Healthcare Publication

Guy Tommasi, Jr., Executive Director of LIFETIME Care at Home, an affiliate of VNA Community Healthcare and Hospice, had a feature article published in the Jan/Feb issue of The Remington Report.

The article entitled, The Value Proposition of Private Duty: What Stakeholders Across The Care Continuum Should Know, focuses on the value of private duty home care.  Specifically, how it improves the Triple Aim, patient engagement, readmissions, and patient outcomes.  He explains what stakeholders should know about private duty home care to leverage its value.

Click here to read the article.

Tommasi champions the industry in the article and states: “The time is now for post-acute providers to include home care as a supportive partner in helping reduce rehospitalization. Those providers that can present a system of care that addresses the concerns of CMS – improved care, patient and caregiver satisfaction, cost effectiveness, will be much more attractive to those organizations establishing payer networks. Home care’s value to the healthcare delivery system should be leveraged as a ‘value’ resource.”

LIFETIME Care at Home started in 1999 with a clear focus: to be a top private non-medical in-home care provider for those who need a trusted resource beside them to help get through the daily challenges of living more confidently.

The Remington Report, the flagship publication of the Remington Group, a national strategy advisor on healthcare cross-continuum transformation, is read by 126,000 and is recognized as a leading source of strategy, business insights, cross-continuum innovations and future planning.

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

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

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.