A dedicated team of health pros follows a simple mission — providing the highest quality care to all people, regardless of their ability to pay.
The blizzard of 2016 was starting to fall and as Maureen Murphy, of the Visiting Nurses Association, headed to her car, she saw nurses bringing their suitcases to the in-patient unit at the Falls Center, preparing to stay overnight to care for their patients.
After the storm was over, those nurses then began driving to the homes of their homecare patients, road conditions be damned.
Sometimes you overlook the feel good stories in your own neighborhood until they affect you personally.
We’d never heard of the Visiting Nurses Association until Sandy, our friend’s mom, was transferred there to live out her few remaining days in hospice.
What we remember most was the kindness and easygoing nature of the nurses and counselors. They were never too busy or preoccupied.
They kept their distance but always seemed to appear at the moment we needed something. More like hosts in that regard than healthcare pros.
Which is by design, according to Bonnie Koletas, Director of Marketing:
“When most people think hospice they think death. We see it as hosting a guest and what do you do when you host a guest? You let them make choices, treat them with dignity, provide comfort.”
And the nurses go to great lengths to provide that comfort, for patients and loved ones alike.
In our case, they allowed our dog Ducky to accompany us to the room. She was a favorite of Sandy’s and they encouraged us to bring the dog to raise her spirits.
And ours as well, as it turned out. As the days passed, Ducky’s presence gave us something to talk about, and was a welcome source of distraction, as the obvious approached.
When Sandy passed away not long after, we heard from our friend that the VNA had called her several times during the year that followed to check in on her, offer assistance with insurance paperwork or grief counseling services. All free of charge.
It’s all part of the VNA’s mission to provide home health and hospice care to all, regardless of ability to pay.
Started over 125 years ago in Philly, the VNA was a pioneer in public-health nursing, and their”multi-disciplinary” approach to healthcare continues today.
Their team of over 200 professionals includes nurses, chaplains, social workers, home health aides, and lots of different therapists (massage, physical, music, occupational, speech). And don’t forget the therapy dogs!
And how do they pay for all those services?
Grants, donations, and community outreach mostly. (They partner with local businesses too — most recently Franklin’s, for a “Rock for Free Care” fundraiser.)
But they also pay for it themselves — staff contribute every week from their own paychecks to a Patient and Caregiver Assistance Fund.
The money pays for items not covered by insurance, such as shower grab bars and chairs, and goes toward food baskets the staff delivers during the holidays (which they shop for themselves).
Did we mention these people are dedicated?
Bonnie and a team of her co-workers even arranged a wedding in the hospice unit between a dying patient and his sweetheart of 25 years.
They worked to get the marriage license framed, a camera for pics, a pink bouquet, boutonnière, AND a wedding cake. One of the nurses even volunteered to sing at the service.
The groom passed away the next day, but because Bonnie had arranged to have his family stay at the hospice, they were all together when he passed.
To help the cause, consider volunteering some time (or donating to) the VNA. It’s a chance to do some good in the neighborhood.
Visiting Nurses Assoc.
3300 Henry Avenue
Get Involved! Volunteering at VNA Hospice of Philadelphia takes as little as 1-2 hours once per week but makes such a difference to the patients and their families. Opportunities include office support, Inpatient Unit visits, home visits, and special events. Call 215-581-2360 with questions or to start the application process (includes Background Check, Child Abuse History Clearance, TB testing, and comprehensive training which VNA pays for.)