An Organization is Born

In 1906, a small group of women in Burlington, VT, who were concerned about the health of the young and vulnerable of the community, decided it was time for action.

The Visiting Nurse Committee was formed, led by Miss Julia Smith. The committee convinced doctors of the value of being able to call upon a nurse to help them care for the sick in their homes. They traveled door to door, encouraging community members to support this organization.

In 1907, the first nurse was hired. Within the first month she made 85 visits, assisting local physicians with their care of the Burlington Community.

An Organization Grows

174 Pearl StreetIn 1911, a VNA nurse was assigned to the public and private schools in Burlington to assist the school physician, make home visits and educate older children on health and hygiene issues.

Ten years later, the Association took on new and important proportions. The City of Burlington contributed funds to the Burlington Visiting Nurse Association to increase the number of nurses from two to five to help combat the city’s increased mortality rate.

Throughout the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’, the VNA continued to grow steadily in order to meet the needs of the community and surrounding towns. They attracted new funds from the brand-new Community Chest (later to become United Way). And more insurance companies were paying the VNA to care for their homebound clients.

1962_1 NursesBy 1960, over 4,600 visits were made by the VNA in a six-month period. When Medicare services began in 1965, VNA’s home care services expanded to include rehabilitation services.

The 1970’s saw the expansion of the VNA’s services to all of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. A Child Health Services mobile unit started and the VNA began staffing the Champlain Islands Health Center.

During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the VNA continued to grow and introduce new programs including:

  • Homemaker services – 1978
  • Hospice volunteer program started – 1979-80
  • Adult Day Services began – 1981
  • Community Care Connection opened – 1985
  • Maternal and Child Health Services Family Room opens – 1988
  • VNA Hospice and Chittenden Volunteer Hospice merged to form Hospice of the Champlain Valley – 1989
  • Vermont Respite House became a VNA program – 1997
  • Anderson Parkway project, providing services for adults with mobility impairments, opened – 2001
  • Madison-Deane Initiative, a volunteer-led organization providing education and resources about end-of-life care, became a VNA program – 2002
  • Adult Day Program at Grand Way Commons, which opened in 2007, reopens as a dementia care program – 2011
  • VNA and Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice enter into affiliation — 2013

The Organization Today

Our founders in 1906 would be surprised at how big their dream has become more than 100 years later. Today, the VNA employs 600 people, serving all ages from birth through to death all over Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. Programs and services have been added in response to community needs. However, one thing remains the same. Julia’s goal to provide care to all who turn to us in their time of need still rings true for the VNA today.