Traditionally, during the last six weeks of the year, we pause to give thanks, share blessings and celebrate the holidays with festive joy. Who would have guessed that 2020 would be so full of surprises! The COVID-19 pandemic, economic and job turmoil, racial tensions and civil protests, devastating wildfires and hurricanes and rationing of household paper products. Once in a while, one of my colleagues who also lost a loved family member says she would like to wipe this year from her memory.
Still, at VNA, in the midst of all the challenges, I try to keep calm and count our opportunities and blessings.
I am thankful to the entire VNA family. I have been inspired daily by the selfless actions of staff and volunteers who serve our patients and the community.
During this time of COVID-19, VNA’s dedicated frontline caregivers, who we recognize as heroes, continue to show up at the homes of patients and at nursing homes with the backing of our support staff. They have provided much needed palliative care, which we call Advanced Illness Management (AIM), and comfort care (Hospice) when a loved one is dying.
Let me provide a few highlights from the countless blessings we have received this year:
In July, we bade farewell to VNA’s Hospice Medical Director of ten years Dr. Saira Asadullah, who decided to move to Las Vegas. We are thankful for her years of service. So strong was her dedication and attachment to VNA, Dr. Asadullah helped us in successfully recruiting her replacement Dr. Zinnat Meghjee, an experienced internist. The transition was seamless.
This September, we said our thanks and happy retirement to Dr. Robert Hill for stepping in to assist our growing AIM program for the past year.
In October, Dr. Michelle Schultz joined the AIM program. Dr. Schultz has an advanced education and extensive experience in Palliative and Hospice Medicine, Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine.
Our partnership with SelectCare Hospitals at their St. Charles and Town and Country locations for inpatient palliative care consultations at the Long-Term Acute Care Units (LTACs) remains strong.
Again, even with all the restrictions due to the pandemic, our frontline vaccination nurses, who we recognize as heroes, provided over 25,000 flu shots, school readiness and other vaccinations this year, doing their best to help keep our community healthy.
The Visit-A-Bit program continues to provide volunteers who keep in touch with seniors who are lonely in our community, especially during this pandemic.
VNA Care at Home, our private duty service, saw higher demand for these much-needed services.
VNA is very blessed to have frontline caregivers who provide AIM and Hospice services to the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled population. Our caregivers have become true specialists in taking care of the special needs of a very special population.
VNA is very grateful to all the individual donors, trusts and foundations who believe in our 109-year-old nonprofit mission and continue to support us.
I would be remiss if I did not recognize the outstanding engagement and support of VNA’s Board of Directors and Patient Care Services Committee members, who ensure that the mission and vision of VNA continue, allowing our patients and community to receive the best.
And finally, thank you to our community who continues to trust VNA and our services as it has done for the past 109 years.
Most of all, when I consider what I am grateful for in this challenging year, I can only think of the VNA. I get up excited every morning, truly grateful for all the blessings of the past, dealing with the present and keeping focus on the future with the hope of good things to come. As the leader of VNA, I pledge my unwavering commitment to ensure that the needs of our patients and clients always come first.
Nesa Joseph, MHA, Ed.D
President and CEO
Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis