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Visiting Nurse Service of New York benefit celebrates 120 years of caring

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 11/21/2013, 1:38 p.m.
It’s been over a century since public health pioneer Lillian Wald first provided charitable care for a mother and her ...
L to R: Mary Ann Christopher, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), and VNSNY Lillian D. Wald Award honorees Frank J. Branchini, chairman and CEO at Emblem-Health Inc; Claire M. Fagin, registered nurse and member of the board of VNSNY; and actor Joel Grey

It’s been over a century since public health pioneer Lillian Wald first provided charitable care for a mother and her baby on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The organization that she founded, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), will once again celebrate Wald’s work and the work of the thousands of nurses and other dedicated VNSNY workers who have followed in her caring footsteps through today.

Proceeds from the recently held benefit support VNSNY’s children and family services programs, which each year provide direct care and specialized support services to almost 10,000 children and their families, making VNSNY one of the largest and most innovative providers of home- and community-based services to children and families in the New York metropolitan area and in the United States. Every donation helps to provide home health care for children from infancy to 18 years of age, as well as vital support for first-time, low-income mothers, fathers and their babies, new initiatives in pediatric diabetes and pediatric palliative care.

VNSNY supports a wide range of maternal and pediatric programs. VNSNY’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program, in partnership with the New York City Department of Health, is an evidence-based community health program that pairs a specially trained nurse with a high-risk, first-time mother from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday. Nurses work with new mothers to help them overcome incredible obstacles, including poverty, instability, mental illness and abuse while teaching them to become loving, competent parents. The evidence-based program model has been shown to create better parents and raise healthy babies by reducing childhood injuries and unintended pregnancies, increasing father involvement and women’s employment and increasing children’s readiness for school. VNSNY NFP, in partnership with the City of New York Department of Health, has made the NFP a mainstay in its effort to reduce health disparities, improve maternal and infant health outcomes and improve socio-economic outcomes.

The Pediatric Diabetes Care Management Program provides care management services to children with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Targeting the Bronx and Manhattan, the program focuses on diabetes education, self-management and behavior modification. The program uses an interdisciplinary approach to care, providing home visits by a nurse, nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and social worker to the child and family living with diabetes. The program’s goal is to reduce hospitalizations, reduce high blood-sugar levels and improve on targeted psycho-social indicators and overall health.

The Pediatric Palliative Care Program focuses on children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses. VNSNY’s program, currently operating in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, emulates evidence-based best practices to deliver a comprehensive palliative care service, including pain and symptom management; reduction of hospitalizations/ER utilization; holistic care to the patient’s family; and patient and family empowerment around sensitive medical and social issues centered on the child’s illness.

Service components include nursing expertise, medical care, social work, rehabilitation services, child life specialists, spiritual and bereavement counseling, in addition to case management and care coordination. The key goal is to manage a child’s pain and symptoms and provide support to family members while allowing the patient to pursue curative treatments.

The Early Steps Family Center operates an Early Head Start Program located in Rockaway, Queens. The program serves 75 children, 0-3 years of age, including pregnant and parenting teens, and their children. Services include parent and child development, and prenatal and postpartum classes. Doulas are also available.

In addition, VSNY offers an on-site GED program and the Father’s First Initiative. In July 2013, VSNY obtained approval to operate a Head Start program that expands its early childhood education program to children up to age 5. VSNY will render services to 110 additional children. The two programs operate from a newly leased building in Rockaway, allowing VSNY to serve 175 children and their families.