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Press Room

Check here for the latest VNA news and happenings around the community. For additional information or to arrange media interviews, please contact:
Ellen Kane
Vice President of Development and Community Relations
1110 Prim Road
Colchester, VT 05446
(802) 860-4434

KaneE@vnacares.org

Staff and Volunteers Honored at Annual Dinner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/28/14

Colchester, Vermont - Fifty-three employees representing a collective 590 years of dedicated service to the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties celebrated anniversaries at the VNA's Annual Staff and Volunteer Recognition Dinner on November 12. Over 200 staff, volunteers and friends of the VNA gathered to honor their colleagues and friends at the celebration, which was held at the Hampton Inn in Colchester.

staff

Pamela Kelly, RN, of Milton, and Deb Jones, RN, of Charlotte, were honored for their respective 40 and 30 years of service to the VNA. Kelly started at the VNA as a community health nurse in 1974, driving around Burlington to care for families when the average cost of gas was $.53 a gallon. She moved up to being a team leader and works today as a clinical coder and auditor.

Deb Jones also started out as a community health nurse and has held numerous positions in her 30 years at the VNA, which prepared her well for her current role as a liaison nurse for the VNAs of Vermont. In this position she is a key point of contact for the state's 10 nonprofit home health and hospice agencies, coordinating all referrals from the hospital when discharged patients need home health care.

Three of the four VNA employees who were honored for 25 years of service work in the VNA Family & Children Services division: Carol Bitter, of Milton, Sydney Mahnke, RN, of Burlington and Sarah Sinnott, of Burlington. Patty Hampton, of Burlington, a member of the VNA's Long Term Care Services division, was the fourth employee inducted into the VNA Quarter Century Club. This distinction honors our steadfast employees and volunteers who have contributed 25 years of service, or more, to the work of the VNA. 

jim

The VNA Richard H. Wadhams Award, the VNA's highest honor, was presented to Jim Madison, of Shelburne, immediate past chair of the VNA board of directors.  The Wadhams Award is given to individuals who generously provide outstanding support to VNA programs and participate in efforts to increase public awareness of home care and related services to our community. Madison served on the board for six years, ending his tenure in 2014. When he wasn't leading meetings to advance the organization's mission or attending VNA events, Madison could be found hosting children from the Family Room Parent Child Center for apple-picking excursions at his family orchard.

"No one is more committed to the VNA than Jim Madison," said current VNA Board Chair John Maitland, adding he and other members of the board will miss Madison's wise mentorship and "boundless energy."

About the VNA

Founded in 1906, the VNA is a non-profit home health agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 5,000 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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VNA Announces Statewide Hospice Study

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11/1/14

Colchester, Vermont - The vast majority of Vermonters say they would rather die at home than in a hospital or nursing facility. They express a desire to spend their final days in a familiar, comfortable setting, surrounded by family and friends.

So why then are only 30% of Vermonters receiving hospice care at the end of life? That question is the driving force behind a new statewide hospice study being commissioned by the VNA Madison-Deane Initiative (MDI), with support from the VNAs of Vermont. MDI is the education arm of VNA End-of-Life Care services and has a mission to transform end-of-life care through education, collaboration and inspiration.

"The VNA has been working hard in our communities to increase awareness of palliative care and hospice. We now need to deepen our understanding of the barriers to hospice specific to Vermont and identify opportunities for ensuring Vermonters can experience quality end-of-life care," said VNA President Judy Peterson.

Vermont has the third lowest hospice utilization rate in the nation; only New York and Alaska are lower, according to 2011 data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. This study will conduct research to identify barriers to hospice use and inform an agenda to increase hospice utilization and improve quality end-of-life care in Vermont. 

The study announcement coincides with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, which takes place every November and helps to create awareness of hospice and palliative care throughout the country. Hospice is a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the needs and wishes of a person with terminal illness. Support is provided to the patient's loved ones as well. In a proclamation announcing November 2014 as Vermont Home Care and Hospice Month, Governor Peter Shumlin acknowledged "home care and hospice services allow families to stay together and provide for greater health, dignity and comfort in their homes."

MDI's decision to conduct a statewide hospice study in Vermont comes in the midst of renewed national focus on end-of-life care. In September, the Institute of Medicine released the report "Dying in America." In this report a national panel called for sweeping changes in the country's system for handling end-of-life care, which currently incentivizes invasive curative treatments that can cause unwarranted suffering for people who are very sick and their families when, in many cases, an approach emphasizing pain management and comfort would improve quality of life and be more in line with patients' wishes.

Kevin Veller, who the VNA hired to be the hospice study's project manager, said she looks forward to hearing directly from Vermonters about their experiences and desires around end-of-life care.

"All of us will be in the position of making end-of-life care decisions someday. The information collected during this study will shed light on how Vermonters are dying today and how they envision an ideal end-of-life experience for themselves or for their loved ones," said Veller.

Veller, a lifelong Vermonter, gained an insider's view of healthcare policy issues as an aide to former Sen. Jim Jeffords and, more recently, as the director of outreach and enrollment for healthcare reform at the Department of Vermont Health Access. For 10 years, she served on the board of Vermont Ethics Network, which does a great deal of public education around advance directives and end-of-life healthcare decision-making.

As project manager, Veller will work closely with a Study Advisory Committee representing a broad range of perspectives including physicians, hospice agencies, faith communities, policymakers, consumers and business leaders. Veller is currently conducting preliminary interviews with stakeholders and experts to help shape the scope of the study. The next step will be selecting a research firm.

"During the research phase, we'll be reaching out to people in the community and looking for their participation in this study. What we hear will not only be helpful for healthcare consumers but it will also inform providers by offering deeper insight into the healthcare goals of Vermonters," Veller said.

The VNA anticipates study findings will be released by late spring of 2015.

About the VNA

The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health and hospice agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 5,000 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  The VNA is proud to be a funded agency of the United Way of Chittenden County. For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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VNA Welcomes New Members to Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/13/14

Colchester, Vermont - The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties announced the appointment of three new members and elected new officers to the VNA Board of Directors at their Fall Annual Board Retreat.

Evan Goldsmith

Evan Goldsmith, of Burlington, is the founder of Hope For Women, a Fair Trade company whose mission is to create opportunities for economically disadvantaged women artisans. Evan previously was the Associate Director at Smart Growth Vermont. He served on the board of the Intervale Community Farm for 6 years and was a King Street Youth Center big brother for 3 years. Evan is a Four Winds Science volunteer in his son's classrooms, as well as a Burlington Youth Soccer coach.

Joe Hameline

Joe Hameline III, of Shelburne, is Senior Vice President of Hameline Wealth Management - UBS Financial Services, Inc. in Burlington, VT. Joe has more than 20 years' experience in areas of Financial Planning and Human Resources Benefits counseling. His past non-profit experience includes the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont, Champlain Valley Crime Stoppers, Leadership Champlain and the United Way of King County.

 

Beverly Colston

Beverly Colston, of Winooski, is Director of the ALANA Student Center (ASC) at the University of Vermont. The ASC supports ALANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, and Native American) and Bi/Multiracial students to attain their goals for academic achievement, personal growth, identity formation, and cultural development. Beverly also serves on the Rokeby Museum Board.

The VNA has appointed former VNA president and CEO J. Churchill Hindes to the Honorary Board. Church is the Vice President for Accountable Care at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

John Maitland of Downs Rachlin Martin was elected as the new Chair of the VNA Board of Directors. Other Board officers include: Frank Harris, Keurig Green Mountain, Vice Chair; Sandy McDowell, Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL), Treasurer; and Barbara Martin, Community College of Vermont (CCV), Secretary.

The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care. The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay. The VNA serves nearly 5,000 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year. For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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VNA Announces 2014 Public Flu Clinic Schedule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/24/14

Colchester, Vermont - The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) has announced its 2014 series of seasonal flu vaccination clinics. VNA flu clinics are offered for adults ages 18 and older and will be held at convenient locations in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. VNA flu shots are administered by a licensed nurse. This year, the VNA will administer the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which protects against four different strains of the flu; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. To learn more about the quadrivalent vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/flu.

VNA Community Flu Clinics are scheduled September through early November. The first clinics take place Sept. 25 in Richmond at the Town Office on Bridge Street from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Sept. 29 in South Hero at the Congregational Church from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and Oct. 2 in Burlington at the Heineberg Senior Center from 9 to 11 a.m.

For complete clinic hours, locations and information, please call the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org/flu.  Individuals may also call the VNA to arrange a flu shot at our Prim Road location in Colchester.

Eligible individuals should present their Medicare B, Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield or MVP insurance cards when registering. Documentation for reimbursement from other third party insurers will be provided. For all others, a $41 fee will apply. Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted at public clinics.

Peg Slagle, RN, VNA Infection Control Officer explained, "It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop an immune response. Get vaccinated now so you will be protected all season long." She added that recent news reports indicate there may be an increase in cases this flu season. "Everyone should reduce the risk of becoming ill by receiving an early flu shot to protect both themselves and their family," said Peg.   

A flu shot is especially important for people with high risk of having serious flu-related complications including:

  The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care. The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay. The VNA serves nearly 5,000 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year. For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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Noted Author Stephen Kiernan to Bring National End-of-Life Care Conversation to Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/23/14

Colchester, Vermont - Award-winning journalist and best-selling author Stephen Kiernan has been researching end-of-life care in America for more than a decade. On Wednesday, October 15, Kiernan will share his deep knowledge on this topic during a free community presentation entitled: "Now More than Ever: The Imperative to Provide Hospice to More Vermonters."  The event will take place at the Hampton Inn in Colchester from 7-8:30 p.m. His presentation is part of the VNA Madison-Deane Initiative's (MDI) Knowledge is Power event series. MDI provides education, collaboration and inspiration to support quality end-of-life care.  

This event is free and open to the public, but due to space limitations we ask for RSVPs from anyone planning on attending. For more information or to RSVP, please visit www.vnacares.org/mdi or call 860-4435.

Just last week, a national panel called for sweeping changes in the country's system for handling end-of-life care, which currently incentivizes invasive curative treatments that can cause unwarranted suffering for people who are very sick and their families when, in many cases, an approach emphasizing pain management and comfort would improve quality of life and be more in line with patient's wishes. The national spotlight on end-of-life care is particularly relevant for Vermonters since Vermont has the 49th lowest hospice utilization in the country.

"The time is now for Vermonters to join the conversation about end-of-life care in America. We need to understand the barriers to accessing hospice care in our state in order to address our low national ranking for hospice use. This is about improving quality of life for Vermonters with serious illness and their families," said Kiernan. On October 15th, Kiernan will present a clear call-to-action to improve access to hospice in Vermont and to engage Vermonters in conversation about the meaning of quality end-of-life care.

Kiernan is the author of "Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System," for which he interviewed terminally ill patients and their families from all walks of life as well as hundreds of physicians. The 2006 book foreshadowed many of the findings and recommendations put forth in the "Dying in America" report released last week (Sept.17) by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

People are dying much differently today than they were only a generation ago when death came suddenly in the form of heart attacks, strokes or accidents. Today dying is a process with leading causes such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease giving patients and their families months rather than moments to make meaningful final connections. The health care system has not adapted to this new reality, according to Keirnan's research and the IOM report.

Public education and engagement is a key focus of the IOM report and Kiernan's presentation will bring together Vermonters from various sectors including civic leaders, health care providers, policymakers, community organizations, faith-based groups and others to focus on end-of-life care in Vermont.

"Vermont leads the way in other areas of health care access and it's time to make that a reality for end-of-life care as well," said Kiernan.

Kiernan served on the Vermont Legislative Committee on Pain and Palliative Care. His expertise on this issue is augmented by his personal experience and what his family learned after the deaths of his own parents - one died in a hospital, exhausted by futile medical interventions that focused on curing rather than providing comfort and the other died at home under hospice care focusing on comfort and pain management.

Kiernan has received numerous awards, including the Brechner Institute's Freedom of Information Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for financial journalism, and the George Polk Award. In addition to speaking to audiences about topics like end-of-life care, Stephen has also taught at Middlebury College and the New England Young Writers Conference and worked at the Breadloaf School of English.

In addition to the Madison-Deane Initiative, the VNA offers a comprehensive array of end-of-life services including hospice and palliative care, Camp Knock Knock, Vermont Respite House, the Noyana Singers and pediatric supportive care. The VNAs of Vermont, in partnership with Vermont Ethics Network, are also spearheading a statewide public education initiative called Start the Conversation which aims to help increase the understanding of end-of-life care options and to help families talk about this sensitive subject. Learn more at www.starttheconversationvt.org.

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Vermont Assembly of Home Health and Hospice Agencies (VAHHA) Announces New Name and Look

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 7/2/14

Colchester, Vermont - Vermont Assembly of Home Health and Hospice Agencies (VAHHA) has released this letter about it's new name and look. VNAs of Vermont (formerly VAHHA) is a professional association of home health and hospice agencies and visiting nurse associations in Vermont.

To Our Community and Partners,
The Vermont Assembly of Home Health and Hospice Agencies (VAHHA) is excited to announce a new name and look to represent our statewide reach, depth of experience, and long commitment to community-based health care. As seen here on our new letterhead, VNAs of Vermont was chosen by our member agency Board as the new name for the collective of Vermont's eleven nonprofit home health and hospice agencies.
Developing a new identity enables us to highlight our statewide presence, support collaboration among the member agencies, and better serve our shared customers through easier access to home health care and hospice services in our communities.
Newly organized Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have requested statewide solutions and a consistent experience. Hospitals want an easier way to refer patients to the appropriate agency upon discharge. The new identity is a first step toward addressing these needs.

Additionally, we are improving our infrastructure to make it easier for our shared customers to access local community-based non-profit home health care. For example, a new toll-free number with live customer support is in the testing phase and will be used primarily by discharge planners at Vermont hospitals. You will receive notice of our new toll-free number once it is launched.
It is important for our partners and all Vermonters to know that wherever they or their loved ones live in the state, there is a network of local non-profit home health care agencies that will continue to provide the excellent care and service they and their families have known for generations. Individual agencies will continue to maintain their existing identities and may add the logo on their materials to begin building awareness of the statewide home health and hospice services we can offer as a member of the VNAs of Vermont.


Peter Cobb, Director, VNAs of Vermont
Kathy Demars, Board Chair, VNAs of Vermont and CEO, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice

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VNA Announces New V.P. of Clinical Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/24/14

Colchester, Vermont - The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties is excited to announce the appointment of James Budis, RN, MSN, MPH as Vice President of Clinical Services of Vermont's oldest and largest home health and hospice agency. Budis will succeed Patricia Donehower, MSN, RN, who steps down at the end of June.

Jim Budis

Budis spent five years as clinical director for the Home Care division at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in New York City before moving to Vermont with his family two years ago. He is currently the clinical director of Addison County Home Health & Hospice, a member agency of the VNAs of Vermont and a sister agency of the VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties.

As the new V.P. of Clinical Services, Budis will oversee all of the VNA's clinical services, which offer programs across the lifespan in homes and community settings - from prenatal care and services for vulnerable families to home health services for adults and end-of-life care.  Budis will be charged with leading the VNA's vision of providing the best possible care for patients, clients, families and communities.

"I'm honored to join a progressive agency that has so many different programs and such a longstanding commitment to meeting the needs of the community," said Budis, who started out his career as a home care nurse and worked as a nurse practitioner in nursing homes and hospice before returning to the home health field as a clinical director.

Budis described home health care as "a place where healthcare workers can really shine" because they are able to go into homes and see the full context of a person's life. "You can have one-on-one interactions with patients and families that I don't think you can get anywhere else in the health care system and those interactions are incredible opportunities to impact people's lives in a very positive way."   

VNA President and CEO Judy Peterson, RN, said the agency is thrilled to have Budis coming on board.

"Jim's blend of direct service and leadership experience as well as his work in a variety of health care settings gives him wonderful insight into what we do," Peterson said. "I look forward to Jim joining our leadership team and helping the VNA advance our vision to be the leading home and community-based provider in an integrated health care system."

Budis received his BS and MS in nursing from Binghamton University and Hunter College of the City University of New York/ Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, respectively. He earned his Executive Master of Public Health from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. Budis lives in Charlotte with his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 6. The family enjoys hiking at Mount Philo and exploring local swimming holes.

The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health and hospice agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 4,900 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  The VNA is proud to be a funded agency of the United Way of Chittenden County. For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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VNA Announces VNA Cares for Children Award at Spring Blooms! Fashion Show

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/25/14

Colchester, VermontThe VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) welcomed spring’s arrival on April 10, when more than 300 guests and volunteers descended on the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center for the Spring Blooms! Fashion Show and Luncheon, celebrating the Janet S. Munt Family Room. Thanks to the generosity of event sponsors, raffle prize donors and our guests, this year's event brought in more than $46,000 for the Family Room, VNA's Parent-Child Center which provides essential services and programs that support our community's most vulnerable families.

Guests enjoyed a luncheon as VNA staff, board members and community friends modeled fashions from SportStyle, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Jess and Stella Mae. Models included the Honorable Madeleine Kunin, Fletcher Allen CEO John Brumsted, of Shelburne, Al and Kim Gobeille, of Shelburne, VNA President and CEO Judy Peterson, Jeanelle Achee (Miss Vermont) and WCAX anchor Darren Perron.

 Cares for Children award

The 2014 VNA Cares for Children award was given to VNA Board Chair and supporter of the Family Room Jim Madison, a Shelburne resident. The VNA Cares for Children Award was created to recognize individuals, organizations or groups who demonstrate a passionate commitment to better the lives of our community’s children. Madison, a previous Fashion Show model, was presented with a beautiful hand-made apple basket in recognition his annual tradition of hosting a field trip at his family orchard for children who attend the Family Room.

“It’s truly wonderful to see the smiling faces of kids as they run around the property picking apples.  This is the same property I grew up on, and the same fields I ran around on as a kid.  I thank my parents for providing such a great place to grow up, and for giving me such a supportive family,” Madison said in his acceptance speech. “It’s very fitting that I’m able to share our family home with the Family Room, because The Family Room supports our community in the same way my family supported me.”

Fashion Show guests had the chance to see some of those smiling faces for themselves in a video produced by WCAX in which children, parents, volunteers and staff talk about what makes them “happy” about the Family Room (complete with spontaneous dance parties). A link to the video is on our website at www.vnacares.org/familyroom.

The VNA Family Room is a no-cost resource for at-risk families and their children from birth to age 6.   Programs include parent support groups, a licensed preschool, and classes such as English as a Second Language, computer, cooking, and sewing.

Family Room Program Manager Samantha Stevens told Fashion Show guests a story about mothers who participated in the Family Room’s parent education and support group called Strong Families. In this group, mothers feel welcome and safe to share their wonderment, worries and wisdom. Mothers in the group form a community, taking on each other’s tangible as well as emotional needs; one mother found support from a Strong Families friend who offered to watch her daughter so she could take English classes.

“The relationships that we are helping to build every day between families and across great social, economic, educational, and cultural divides will sustain these parents and children beyond the time that they share at the Family Room, and become the foundation of stable, connected communities,” Stevens said.

The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health and hospice agency caring for people of all ages – from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 4,900 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  The VNA is proud to be a funded agency of the United Way of Chittenden County. For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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VNA Program Director Selected as Vermont Nurse Leadership Fellow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/14/14

Colchester, Vermont - The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) is pleased to announce that Angel Means, MS, RN, director of VNA End-of-Life Services, is one of 25 health care leaders from around the state who were selected by the Vermont Action Coalition as Vermont Nurse Leadership Fellows.

Angel Means 

The Vermont Nurse Leadership Fellows program, made possible by a Future of Nursing State Implementation Program (SIP) grant, is a $4.5 million initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that helps states prepare the nursing profession to address our nation's most pressing health care challenges - access, quality, and cost. More than 50 Vermont nurses were nominated for the program and only 25 were selected.

"This program will prepare the nurse fellows to lead and inform health care decision-making by leveraging their frontline perspective and providing additional insight into the business and financing of health care," said Mary Val Palumbo, DNP, APRN, associate professor of nursing, University of Vermont and co-leader of the Vermont Action Coalition.

In her role overseeing VNA End-of-Life Services, Angel Means, of Burlington, directs the largest and most comprehensive hospice and palliative care program in the state. She is President of the Hospice and Palliative Care Council of Vermont with includes representatives from across the state and she often testifies before the Legislature as an advocate for quality end-of-life care. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for the UVM College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

"Nurses bring practical solutions to complex issues. But when it comes to major changes and identifying new strategies, such as with health care reform today, we are often not at the table," Means said. "I am honored to be joining other nurse colleagues in a program that will strengthen our ability to inform and guide improvement in health care for our state and nation."  

VNA President and CEO Judy Peterson describes Means as a leader with a unique perspective on health and wellness who has been a passionate advocate for end-of-life care. She cited Means' ability to initiate important public dialogue, as evidenced by her role in implementing a statewide Start the Conversation program, which is a public education initiative that informs people of their end-of-life care options and of the importance of making those wishes known to their loved ones before a health crisis occurs.

"Angel Means is an independent thinker who keeps patients and families' needs at the forefront of her work. She is not a person who continues working within a system ‘because it has always been done this way.' She is able to think critically and imagine solutions to improve care, relationships and procedures," Peterson said.

The Vermont Action Coalition's grant for the Vermont Nurse Leadership Fellows program is aimed specifically at making more Vermont nurses available to serve on committees and boards, including state and local government boards and commissions, elected offices, and hospital and community boards.  Vermont Nurse Leadership Fellows will be prepared to seek board positions under the leadership of Betty Rambur, PhD, RN, professor of nursing and health policy, University of Vermont. They will learn leadership skills, strategies for career development, and how health policy is developed and implemented.

About the VNA
The VNA is a 108-year-old non-profit home health and hospice agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 4,900 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit http://www.vnacares.org/.

About the Vermont Action Coalition

The Vermont Action Coalition is part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a nationwide movement to improve health and health care through nursing. An initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Campaign includes Action Coalitions in 50 states and the District of Columbia working to implement the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing recommendations. Learn more at www.campaignforaction.org. Follow the Campaign for Action on Twitter at @Campaign4Action and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CampaignForAction.

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VNA Receives Pay it Forward Diversity Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 3/11/14

Colchester, Vermont - The VNA Family Room, a Parent-Child Center that serves primarily immigrant and low-income families in Burlington's Old North End neighborhood, has been recognized for its ongoing efforts to foster a diverse and inclusive community. The Family Room is honored to be a 2014 recipient of the Pay it Forward Diversity Award, a unique initiative created by Champlain College's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Awardees are selected by having previous recipients nominate community partners whom they admire as fellow leaders in promoting diversity. The Family Room was nominated by AALV, an organization that works to foster hope, dignity and independence for New Americans.

"The VNA Family Room is excited and honored to receive this recognition from Champlain College," said Family Room Program Manager Samantha Stevens. "The Family Room takes a broad definition of diversity and inclusion to heart as we plan for and direct our efforts to address the changing needs of our community - a longstanding commitment we share with AALV. We very much appreciate our friends at AALV for extending the nomination and look forward to the opportunity to Pay It Forward."

The Family Room has been working to create welcoming and inclusive programs that strengthen families and support a vibrant, diverse community for more than 25 years; 30 percent of families who attend the program hail from countries other than the United States, including Germany, Bosnia, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Egypt, and Somalia.

In its award nomination, AALV wrote that they commended the Family Room "for programs like The Fathers and Children Together (F.A.C.T.) program which offers parent education, dad-to-dad peer support and weekly parent-child activities to foster strong relationships."

The 2014 Pay it Forward awardees will be honored at a recognition dinner in April. Previous winners have included the King Street Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, United Way of Chittenden County and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. Other 2014 recipients include: Voices for Vermont's Children's Parents for Change, the Sara Holbrook Center, the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) and the Community Justice Center. More information about the award is available on the Champlain College website here: http://www.champlain.edu/about-champlain/diversity-and-inclusion/pay-it-forward-diversity-awards.

About the VNA Family Room

The VNA Family Room provides services to parents and their children from birth through five years including preschool, play groups, and parent education and support programs. The Family Room is located at 20 Allen Street (St. Joseph's School) in Burlington. Most of the families that participate in programs live in Burlington's Old North End. All services are offered at no cost to participants.

About the VNA

The VNA is a 107-year-old non-profit home health agency caring for people of all ages - from critically ill children to vulnerable families to adults who need rehabilitation, care for chronic illness, adult day services or end-of-life care.  The VNA provides medically-necessary home and community-based care to individuals and families regardless of their ability to pay.  The VNA serves over 4,800 individuals and families in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties each year.  For more information on VNA services and programs, please contact the VNA at (802) 658-1900 or visit www.vnacares.org.

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