Topic: Uncategorized

Virtual event to focus on importance of healthcare decision-making

The greatest tool we can use in decision-making is information. That is why VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice will continue its commitment to educating the public this year as part of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Recognized 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 works in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It is meant to simplify understanding of healthcare decision-making, including advance care planning with a focus on conversation first.

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.

This year’s panel presentation will be held virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Events like what we’ve experienced since the emergence of the coronavirus only serve to heighten our awareness of the need for preparedness prior to and in the face of a medical crisis. It’s important that each person have an advanced directive so their wishes under a variety of medical circumstances are known, as are their wishes for personal matters and affairs.

During a virtual presentation Thursday, April 15 at 6 p.m., two presenters will share their expertise on healthcare decision-making and answer questions from those in attendance. Presenters include VNACHCH Director of Hospice Michelle Blanchette, who will discuss the palliative and hospice care decisions one might face, and Joan Reed Wilson of RWC, LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law, who will share important information regarding elder law and estate planning.

This presentation is one of several upcoming webinars VNACHCH is hosting to offer education and advice regarding the wellness journey to the public. Other topics include Memory Matters: Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Preventing Diabetes, Know Your Numbers: Understanding Heart Health, Compassion Fatigue: A Reality for Caregivers, and others.

For more information or to register for a webinar, click here.

Spring Into Wellness Virtual Fundraiser

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a need for social distancing, we have put much thought and effort into developing a virtual event in lieu of our usual annual breakfast, our largest fundraising event.

This year’s event, titled Spring Into Wellness, will benefit participants, raise awareness of our mission and help us to garner philanthropic support for our valuable programs and services.

This event offers the opportunity to take part in seven days of wellness support and education, from April 11-17, complete with daily tasks to help you live well.

Here is how the event will work:

• If you would like to participate, you’re asked to gather individual donations from your family and friends to “sponsor” your participation in this 7-day wellness journey.

• The minimum donation per sponsor is $2 per day of the event ($14 total) and each participant is asked to collect a minimum of $100 in donations from family and friends to take part.

• A Sponsorship Sheet linked here is available for your use. At the conclusion of the challenge, please return the sheet and all donation checks to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice.

• Our own staff will provide wellness education pieces that will be distributed to participants daily for seven days, ranging in topic from Movement and Mobility Tips to the Benefits of Meditation and What You Should Know About Joint Health.

• You will also receive daily tasks related to the event and social media share images that can be used to promote your wellness journey and the impact of our mission with your social media network.

• The week will conclude with a virtual raffle event.

• Prizes will be awarded to both the individual with the highest number of individual sponsors and the individual who raises the most money to support the agency and its mission.

• Each participant will receive a water bottle and a T-shirt to commemorate the event.

Please confirm your participation by Friday, March 12, 2021 by emailing Kassandra Hernandez in our Development Department at

Donations in lieu of participating in the Spring Into Wellness weeklong wellness journey are also welcome and can be made here.


Thank you to our Spring Into Wellness sponsors:







M.J. Petretto Foundation donates to VNACHCH


M.J. Petretto and Linda Remington present a $6,500 check to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is the grateful recipient of a donation from the M.J. Petretto Foundation for the tenth consecutive year.
Foundation representatives Linda Remington and M.J. Petretto recently visited the the Guilford headquarters of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – a nonprofit home healthcare agency serving Middlesex and New Haven Counties – to present a $6,500 check.

The Foundation is itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established a decade ago as part of Retirement Planning Group’s desire to give back to organizations that support education, health and quality of life in Connecticut communities. Each year the Foundation’s signature event, the M.J. Petretto Foundation Golf Classic proceeds are divided among multiple beneficiaries, including the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Parkinson’s program.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides twice-weekly Parkinson’s exercise classes which are currently being held in the virtual space as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monthly support groups for Parkinson’s family caregivers and those living with a Parkinson’s diagnosis are also held, currently via Zoom. The agency has a variety of resource materials available for Parkinson’s patients and their family members and seeks to foster an environment of camaraderie. These community offerings augment the agency’s expertise in providing therapy in the home for Parkinson’s patients.

Remington has a personal connection to the VNACHCH program as her father, Ray Pzygocki, lived with Parkinson’s and benefitted from its offerings. She understands the significant impacts this neurodegenerative disease has both on the individuals diagnosed and the people who love them.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay thanked Remington and Petretto for the Foundation’s ongoing support.

“Our Parkinson’s programs empower those living with Parkinson’s and their loved ones to have the best quality of life by easing symptoms, pain, rigidity and isolation that sometimes accompany this disease. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was important to all of us at VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice to continue offering our Parkinson’s programs as they are not only an important piece of our mission, but illustrative of the work we’re committed to doing every day for all patients and families,” Fay said.

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

Super Giving This #GivingTuesday

Your gifts this year will:

  • Help us help patients find total wellness at home
  • Help hospice patients to have the best quality of life
  • Ensure access for all to our exercise and disease prevention classes and clinics virtually for the duration of the pandemic

Register for our virtual Dec. 1 event here. If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation, you may do so here

Click here to view the program for the event: ProgramBook2020

The months that have passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us all the phenomenal capacity had by human beings to reach out and connect in times of great challenge.

From across the divide created by shut downs and the need for social distancing, we all found ways to share joy, compassion and hope despite the fact that we were physically apart. Because of that, we are more energized than ever for the annual day of giving, when the whole world comes together to make a difference.

We’ve seen the enormous impact that can be made when nonprofits like ours put out a call for support in times of crisis. Though the work of our staff was heroic in the face of COVID-19, the members of our team working in the field are heroic to our patients always. Just the same, though the immediate crisis has passed, our need for the support of our donors and friends remains.

The staff, board members and volunteers of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice want to help every person in the communities we serve 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.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and as a 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.

This year, we’re excited to bring our friends and supporters together virtually for some super giving and a super good time to support the superheroes in our VNACHCH family. Each $25 ticket to the event includes the option for curbside pickup hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail from The Guilford Mooring or a gift card to The Guilford Mooring that will be mailed to you to be used at your convenience. Grab your food and drink and join us on Zoom the evening of Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. for a raffle, some trivia with prizes and a 15-minute Q&A with local celebrity Teresa Dufour, the host of CT Style on WTNH. The first 150 registered guests will receive a VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice branded face mask.

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.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted so much for all of us. Although our usual day-to-day operations now include extensive PPE, COVID-19 screenings and sorely missed opportunities to gather in person, we remain heartened knowing this too shall pass and, until it does, we remain unwavering in our mission,” said Janine Fay, VNACHCH President & CEO. “We continue to strive to give people in the 35 towns we serve the best quality of life possible through our services now and always.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Click here to register for the event. If you can’t attend but would like to give click here or contact Kassandra Hernandez at 203.458.4246 or Please contact Abigail Storiale at for information about sponsorship opportunities.

Thank you to our sponsors below!

Presenting sponsor:

Corporate sponsors:


Supporting sponsors:


Print sponsor:

Media sponsor:

Agency offers virtual wellness classes

The need to keep your distance doesn’t mean you need to keep off your feet.

Although the COVID-19 numbers in Connecticut are now low and continue to trend in the right direction, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice knows how important it is to maintain social distancing and to continue to wear masks for the protection of everyone, in particular those who are most vulnerable to the serious complications of this novel coronavirus.

With that in mind, the nonprofit made the difficult decision to close its Guilford Wellness Center and Hamden program room for the remainder of the calendar year. Similarly, many senior centers and other public centers where VNACHCH typically holds classes remain closed at this time.

Despite that, the agency has developed a full lineup of virtual exercise classes to help keep its participants engaged and in touch through this challenging time.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is now registering participants for several live classes via Zoom, as well as pre-recorded classes, which will begin in September.

The fall lineup includes a live Fitness and Movement Basics class and a more advanced live Functional Cardio & Fitness class – both designed to help participants reduce their risk of falls by focusing on strength, agility, balance, range of motion and coordination. They agency is also offering live Tai Ji Quan classes via Zoom. These classes, both a beginner and advanced section, are focused on posture and awareness and mindful control of body positioning.

VNACHCH also continues to run its exercise class tailored toward individuals living with Parkinson’s disease in a live format via Zoom, and the agency’s popular Parkinson’s support groups for patients and caregivers, as well as the general caregiver support group, are also ongoing via Zoom.

Pre-recorded classes include Tai Chi for Arthritis, Zumba Gold, Senior Boot Camp, and Chair Yoga for Pain Free Living. These classes are accessed via the agency’s YouTube channel once a participant has registered.

All classes carry a small fee for a 12-week series.

“COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges, but we were determined to continue to support our clients and their families as much as possible,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Marketing & Development Abigail Storiale. “We know so many of our exercise class participants depend on us to stay moving, stay fit and stay healthy and so we hope they’ll take advantage of what we’ve made possible in the virtual space. We are always available to help any person in need of wellness support via our Helpline, and we look forward to seeing our clients in person again in the future.”

To register for a class and for more information, including the day of the week and time of live classes as well as cost details, visit the Calendar.

Think of mom and dad but think twice about visiting

This season can make it difficult to stick to social distancing measures – but now is the time to hold the line and resist the urge to relax restrictions.

Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away followed soon after by Father’s Day. These holidays, of course, are ones best celebrated in person with the people we love. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many states are at the very least in discussions to begin reopening, ending social distancing to see mom or dad is not in their best interest in the long run.

Even as businesses and public spaces open up again, it will still be important – particularly for the aging and chronically ill who are at high-risk for severe complications of COVID-19 – to remain at home as much as possible, to stay 6 feet away from others in public, to wear a mask in public and to avoid close contact with those who do not live with you in your home, including other family members.

There is potential for subsequent waves of this virus and until a vaccine is available there is a still a risk for infection, so the best gift you can give your parents right now is the gift of good health.

Here are some ideas for special ways to say “I love you” this spring:

Virtual performances can be a great way to lift the spirits of grandparents who are struggling with the need to stay distant from the young ones in their lives. Organize a Zoom hangout with all the grandchildren and have them learn a new song and perhaps some choreography that can be performed together for grandma or grandpa. This can be a fun bonding activity for siblings and cousins that is sure to brighten up their grandparent’s day.

Another fun activity for children that is sure to bring out smiles from the recipient is an outdoor display. One idea is to have the kids collect and paint small rocks with messages of love that can be set up in their grandparent’s garden or along a front walkway as a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day rock garden surprise.

Of course, special deliveries of cards, flowers, gift baskets or a meal are always appreciated at any time. Throughout this crisis, in particular, consider supporting local, small businesses when ordering these things for delivery. Make sure mom or dad remembers to sanitize anything coming into their home.

If you do want to see each other face to face, remember that masks are critical but also not a guarantee of full protection, so its best to see each other briefly through a closed, glass door.

We all look forward to the day when hugs and hand holding are no longer replaced with on-screen hangouts and hellos from afar, but for now it’s important to put thought into what will make your parents and grandparents feel well loved this season, but think twice about visiting.

COVID-19 Updates and Resources

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is committed to helping our staff and our communities respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in the best and safest way possible.

We know this is a time of uncertainty and stress for our patients and their loved ones, but we want to assure all those in our care that we continue to engage the strictest infection control practices and are practicing social distancing among our staff, as we encourage everyone in our communities to do in the interest of the health and safety of our most vulnerable.

Here are a few important things to note as a patient in our care:

  • We are doing a telephone screen for COVID symptoms of each patient prior to making a home visit.
  • All of our staff are supplied with protective equipment and understand proper usage.
  • We are tracking respiratory illness in our employees and patients.
  • We are following all communications from the Dept. of Public Health, CDC and local emergency management office.

All of our in-person Wellness and Exercise Classes have been cancelled until further notice. This includes classes and programs held in our wellness center in Guilford, our program room in Hamden and any classes held in the community. Visit our calendar to learn about our virtual classes that are now available. We will re-evaluate the situation as new information becomes available. For updates, please continue to visit or website or call our helpline at 866.474.5230. Messages will be updated on that line.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms: fever, coughing, shortness of breath, please contact your primary care physician right away 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.


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

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

Fall 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 is here for you.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we know wellness. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how we engage with our valued program participants, and we have worked hard to design a set of class and program offerings to help you stay fit, informed and well through this challenging time and always. Utilizing Zoom, we are able to host our exercise classes and other wellness programs as well as one-on-one nurse coaching sessions.

We are pleased to announce the release of our program book for the Fall of 2020 that offers the details of all our offerings, including our 2020 flu clinics.

Our next edition of the program book will be released in the late winter of 2021 containing programming information for spring and summer. To be added to the mailing list, please email Mary Higgins at or call our toll free helpline at 1.866.474.5230.

Click the following link to view the Program book Fall 2020 Web.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors of the Fall 2020 program book! To learn about our corporate sponsorship opportunities, email Sandy at