Tuesday, July 5, 2022 Jul 5, 2022
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HEALTH CARE ON CALL FOR 50 YEARS

By Mark Leach |

The days are long gone when doctors could be persuaded to make house calls, but that isn’t the case for nurses. In fact, one Dallas organization has been sending nurses and other health-care professionals to the homes of the sick for 50 years.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Dallas (VNA), which is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, is planning to use the occasion to make Dal-lasites more aware of its in-home health-care services, according to Mary Suther, VNA’s chief executive officer.

The VNA began the year’s festivities with a birthday ball at Union Station sponsored by the Dallas Bankers’ Wives. But even among these 300 enthusiastic supporters, there were some partygoers who were unaware of what the VNA does for Dallas.

The organization was founded in 1934, primarily as a service for individuals who were particularly hard hit by the Depression. The VNA sent nurses into the homes of local citizens who couldn’t afford a hospital stay; the organization asked only that patients pay what they could. The VNA’s purpose, as stated a half century ago, is still the same: “To give skilled nursing care in the homes of the poor and those of moderate means, and to teach proper care of the sick and the prevention of disease.”

Today’s VNA is an extensive corporate institution that operates on the strength of several hundred health-care professionals, several thousand trained volunteers and an annual budget of $15 million. But the VNA doesn’t operate strictly as a business. Allowances must be made, since the majority of the organization’s patients are over 65 and have incomes of less than $10,000 a year.

For example, the VNA distributes about 1,250 hot meals per day through its “Meals on Wheels” program to sick and elderly shut-ins in the Dallas area. Each meal only costs about $3, but since this is still more than many patients can afford, some are charged less, and others are charged nothing at all.

Most of VNA’s programs are designed to provide technical, in-home assistance (that is, professional medical care for patients recovering from surgery or an accident or suffering from an illness). These services are intended to provide not only professional and volunteer workers, but also medicine, equipment and other supplies.

One of the most well-known of these home-care programs is the hospice program, in which terminally ill patients live at home, aided by a support team of health-care specialists and trained volunteers. Its goal is to increase the length and quality of a patient’s life.

Although many of the VNA’s patients have limited funds, the organization’s officials stress that the state of a patient’s finances is not a consideration in qualifying for care. This is an important point for many people, since the increasing costs of hospital care are pushing quality medical assistance above the reach of even average-income persons. With this in mind, it’s good to know that the city’s largest home healthcare organization plans to be here for many years to come.

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