RVNAhealth Introduces a New Wellness Class, “Balance & Beyond”

RVNAhealth is excited to announce the introduction of its new public fitness class, “Balance & Beyond.” An ongoing twice-weekly drop-in class (come for one or come for all!) that focuses on building muscle, restoring balance, and improving your walk or jog, all while giving your brain a great workout!

Balance can be a life essential to preventing falls and keeping daily activities of life within our control. The old adage of “use it or lose it’ doesn’t ring truer when it comes to strength. This is why Andrea deLange, RVNAhealth Physical Therapist, is so passionate about bringing balance and strength classes to the public.

“This program is beneficial for so many people — whether you are looking to improve your strength or balance for quality of life, or you are looking for a customized fitness program to assist with medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, arthritis, or autoimmune disorders,” says deLange. “This circuit training class will have you moving through a series of stations including boxing, agility training, and functional mobility conditioning – all customized to meet your fitness levels and goals. And there is plenty of time for questions and personalized instruction and feedback!”

Andrea deLange is an experienced Physical Therapist and certified LSVT BIG practitioner with a long history of working with the outpatient orthopedic and neurological population. She possesses a strong background in the treatment of spine, extremity injuries and pain, as well as neurological impairment, with a focus on people with Parkinson’s disease.

RVNAhealth’s Balance & Beyond classes are offered every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:30pm-2:30pm at the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center located at 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield. Class fees are $20 per class and registration is required in advance, as attendance is limited. To register or for questions, please contact the RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center at 203.438.7862, or email RehabCenter@rvnahealth.org.

RVNAhealth Earns Top Workplaces Award for the 10th Time!

For the 10th time since 2011, RVNAhealth has earned a Top Workplaces award from Hearst Connecticut Media. The award is given to local companies that lead the way in workplace culture based on employee surveys. At RVNAhealth, the employees surveyed include clinical staff — nurses, rehabilitation therapists, and certified nursing assistants — as well as non-medical caregivers and administrative staff. RVNAhealth places in the mid-sized company category which includes companies with between 100 and 999 employees.

“2022 has been a year of gratitude for our employees who embody the mission and culture of our organization.  Following the pandemic and our 2020 merger with Bethel Visiting Nurse Association and New Milford Visiting Nurse & Hospice, I am proud to see the continued strength and dedication of our employees,” says Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, President and CEO of RVNAhealth.  “Earning this award validates the strength of the RVNAhealth mission, and the commitment of our employees to the patients and communities we serve.  It is an honor to work alongside this talented team.”

The Top Workplaces designation was awarded to 59 local Connecticut companies this year. To be considered, a company must be located in Fairfield, Litchfield, or New Haven County, have at least 35 employees, and be nominated for the award by a current employee.  Company employees then complete a survey on their organization after which results are tabulated and prizes awarded.

RVNAhealth was also named a Hearst Connecticut Media Top Workplace in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021.  In addition to enjoying a mission-driven, rewarding workplace, RVNAhealth employees receive a full range of benefits including: medical and dental insurance, company-paid life insurance, a retirement plan with generous matching contributions, flexible work arrangements, training, professional development, and career paths. To learn more about joining the RVNAhealth family, visit  rvnahealth.org/careers/.

Don’t Miss the Fun at Our Autumn Dinner!

RVNAhealth is hosting our annual Autumn Dinner on Saturday, September 24 at The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury. We have a wonderful evening in store and invite the community to join us in celebrating and supporting RVNAhealth, our exceptional staff, and the vital healthcare services we bring to the greater area.

One of our biggest fundraising events of the year, guests will enjoy cocktails on the patio, a bourbon tasting, live music by local singer/songwriter, Nick DePuy, and a farm-to-table inspired dinner.  Our popular “Date Night for a Year” Raffle will return with gift certificates to fabulous area restaurants, from Ridgefield to Litchfield, an overnight stay at the West Lane Inn, a spa experience at Adam Broderick Salon & Spa, a shopping spree at J. Seitz & Co., tickets to ACT of CT, MoMA and more!

Additionally, our live auction will offer several exciting experiences, including:  box seat tickets to see Andrea Bocelli perform at Madison Square Garden; first row tickets to see the Jets/Patriots battle it out in Foxborough, complete with a weekend stay in Boston; catered dinner for 10 by Chef Sarah Bouissou, of Bernard’s & Sarah’s Wine Bar; three-night stay for two in Monterey, CA, including golf at the Links at Spanish Bay and the Del Monte Golf Course; and a Presidents’ week ski vacation at Loon Mountain.

If you’re interested in supporting the RVNAhealth Autumn Dinner, you may purchase tickets or make a donation to the event here or call Connie Marsala, Development Manager, at 203.438.5555 x1018.

If I Could Pick an Exercise to Do Every Day…

What one exercise would you pick to do every day for the rest of your life? RVNAhealth’s Outpatient Practice Manager and Physical Therapist, Kate Campbell, DPT, shares her own answer!

Kate Campbell, DPT, RVNAhealth Outpatient Practice Manager and Physical Therapist

I’ve been working in sports and orthopedics for over 15 years and added geriatrics to the mix since 2015. I’ve seen athletes in the prime of their physical condition. I’ve seen active dads and moms in shape from running after toddlers and lifting kids. And I’ve seen the workaholic train commuters lucky enough to not have chronic physical conditions…yet. But, with the normal progression of life and retirement from work, most will see their physical activity decrease.

Our bodies no longer need to maintain the ability to chase toddlers, lift multiple grocery bags up the stairs at once, or run to make that train. This means our bodies are not utilizing their full capabilities. My geriatric patients are shocked that their bodies can no longer do what they expect. “If you don’t use it, you lose it” couldn’t hold more truth!

I went on a personal mission to figure out what exercise I could tell anyone to do every day to maintain physical performance — enough for safety and success in “super senior” years (age 80+). I asked myself, “Does this exercise help maintain strength in the legs, arms, and core, maximize balance, flexibility, and joint motion?”

Then, I found a simple answer! Get on the floor and get back up again. It was found in the Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine in 2015 that those who cannot do it in 8.8 seconds have poorer balance and are more likely to fall.

To start, put both knees on the ground one at a time and lower yourself to your belly. Then, roll yourself over to lay flat on your back. This is also a great opportunity to stretch out your spine! Then to come back up, roll to your belly and press up to all fours and gently lift yourself. If needed, use a chair for stability.

Doing this simple exercise daily strengthens basic core muscles and those needed to recover from a potential fall. For other balance-building exercise demonstrations, visit: https://rvnahealth.org/balance/.

For more information about RVNAhealth’s Rehabilitation and Wellness services, call: 203.438.7862 or visit our website.

Introducing the Wellness Academy!

As you may notice upon scrolling down to our calendar of events…its getting a little full…and we couldn’t be more thrilled!  We are pleased to offer everything from ongoing classes and support groups, to one-time educational offerings. And with all that’s going on, we thought we’d give you a sneak peak into one of our new upcoming communications to keep you better informed of all that RVNAhealth has to offer!

Introducing RVNAhealth’s Wellness Academy – our new way of organizing and communicating RVNAhealth’s expert-led offerings.  Our fall calendar is already packed with a variety of classes, support groups, and more, held at our RVNAhealth offices in Ridgefield and New Milford, as well as out in the community at partner organizations. Our Wellness Academy line up includes RVNAhealth employee experts covering a broad range of topics such as Nutrition, Neuropathy, Parkinson’s, Healthy Living, Strength and Balance, and Bereavement.  There are many free special-interest events and support groups, as well as some ongoing, pay-as-you-go, fitness and wellness classes.

“We are excited to be able to bring such a broad and dynamic line up of in-person classes and gatherings back to our communities.  Our RVNAhealth team brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge and we are all excited to open our doors and welcome the public back into our offices,” says Kim Cafiero, Director of Marketing.

Here’s just a highlight of things going on in September. Look out for our fall Wellness Academy special edition newsletter and please continue to check our website calendar for the latest information on available classes and events and new programs.

September 2022 Line Up

What’s on Your Nerves? – New Milford
This free session will provide an overview of neuropathy and how symptoms can be improved through food, exercise, and holistic medicine.
Tuesday, September 20th, 12:00pm – 1:30pm
RVNAhealth New Milford office, 68 Park Lane Road, New Milford
Registration Required (Lunch provided with registration)

Benefits of Exercise and Balance Training to Boost your Health as you Age – Wilton
It doesn’t take much to improve your balance, strengthen your bones, and benefit your heart health. Learn strategies on HOW to get started with regular exercise and WHAT kind of exercise to do depending on your overall needs.  Session is free.
Tuesday, September 27th, 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Comstock Community Center, 180 School Road, Wilton
Registration Recommended (Free)

Interactive Cooking Class – Recipes that Fight Inflammation: Miso Noodles with Glazed Salmon
Come cook with registered dietitian, Monica Marcello, and learn how food can help you fight inflammation and maintain bone density. Class fee is $65.
Wednesday, September 28th, 11:30am – 12:45pm
RVNAhealth, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield
Registration Required ($65 class fee)

Balance & Beyond – Ridgefield
An ongoing weekly drop-in class (come for one or come for all!) that focuses on building muscle, restoring balance and improving your walk or jog, all while giving your brain a great workout! $20 per class, space is limited.
Every Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield
Registration Required ($20 per class)

Living BIG – Ridgefield
An ongoing weekly class. Living BIG addresses the problem of patients’ movements becoming smaller and more tentative as Parkinson’s Disease progresses. Each class, the therapist takes the patient through a series of whole-body LSVT BIG exercises aimed at improving strength, balance, flexibility and coordination. $20 per class, space is limited.
Every Thursday, 11:00am – 12:00pm
RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield
Registration Required ($20 per class)

Living LOUD – Ridgefield
An ongoing weekly class. Living LOUD tackles the soft voice, mumbled speech, monotone speech and hoarse voice that often afflict Parkinson’s patients.  The class follows structured activities that continue to work the patient’s vocal range to maintain the progress made after LSVT LOUD treatment. $20 per class, space is limited.
Every Tuesday, 11:00am – 12:00pm
RVNAhealth Rehabilitation & Wellness Center, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield
Registration Required ($20 per class)

Coping with Loss – A Six-Week Bereavement Class – Ridgefield
The RVNAhealth Bereavement Team will be hosting a free six-week class on grieving and coping with loss.  Advanced registration is required.
Wednesdays, September 21 through October 26, 3:00pm – 4:00pm
RVNAhealth, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield
Registration Required (Free)

Bereavement Support Group – New Milford
The RVNAhealth Bereavement Team hosts this ongoing monthly support group. Sessions are free.  Registration is requested before the first time you plan to come.
The second Thursday of each month, 4:00pm – 5:00pm
RVNAhealth New Milford office, 68 Park Lane Road, New Milford
Registration Requested Before First Attendance (Free)

In the Words of our Patients and Loved Ones…

RVNAhealth’s StayingWELL services provides hourly and live-in personal caregivers to assist individuals with maintaining independence and live safely wherever they reside. We are grateful when one of our clients writes in to share the impact our caregivers have had on their family. Our StayingWELL caregiving team — over 200 strong — is a group of award-winning individuals who bring pride and compassion to their work and clients. Congratulations to our caregiver, Karen, for being recognized!

“I would like to recognize and thank Karen for the care she has provided to my grandmother. Having a loved one who is challenging to care for has really put my personal and work life to the test. Since Karen joined our family’s care team, she has made our lives so much easier! My grandmother, who would never have agreed to a “caregiver,” was instead introduced to Karen as a “housekeeper.” Karen’s bubbly personality quickly won her over and within the first day my grandmother was letting her do the laundry – something she would previously only let my cousin, or I do. Since starting, we have increased care to every week, and this has lifted a huge burden from my mother and myself. Karen ensures the fridge is clear of expiring foods, goes grocery shopping, and cleans. She also took my grandmother to a local nursery to buy some outdoor plants that she continues to show every family member and neighbor that comes by. It has been a very stressful time as my grandmother began to lose her independence (driver’s license, etc.). Karen has made this transition so much easier! We are grateful to Karen and her personality. She has been such a benefit to my grandmother, and she looks forward to Karen’s visits.” – N.B., Bantam, CT

If you would like more information on RVNAhealth’s private duty caregiving services, please contact us at 203.438.5555 or click here to visit our website.

RVNAhealth Autumn Dinner 2022 – Join Us!

RVNAhealth will host its annual Autumn Dinner on Saturday, September 24 at The Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury. The Board of Directors, Autumn Dinner Committee, and friends of the organization look forward to celebrating the meaningful work of RVNAhealth and the continuum of care the agency provides throughout 35+ communities.

Guests will enjoy cocktails, live music by Nick DePuy, Bourbon tasting sponsored by Ancona’s Wines & Liquors, farm-to-table fare, and live auction all in support of RVNAhealth.

This year’s impact speaker will be Joseph Pastore, managing partner at Pastore LLC and active member of his community. Joe will share a personal success story about how the RVNAhealth team helped him recover his health following a sudden illness and return to the many activities he enjoys with his family.

RVNAhealth is very grateful for early sponsorship support from these businesses and friends.  If you are interested in supporting the Autumn Dinner, you may purchase sponsorships, program ads, or tickets online or complete this form  and return to RVNAhealth, 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield, CT.

If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Christensen at 203.438.5555, x1052 or jchristensen@RVNAhealth.org

Travel Health Vaccines and Consultations Return

RVNAhealth is excited to announce the return of its Travel Health services!

Travel can make you feel wonderfully alive. But it can also expose you to serious diseases that may threaten your health. Don’t be among the people who experience health problems when traveling. Before you go, get in the know and learn about your travel health needs, including travel immunizations, by visiting our RVNAhealth travel health clinic.

Consultations and Vaccines Available by Appointment
Travel consultations with our Travel Health Nurses include itinerary-specific health advice; discussion and administration of immunizations; safe food/water practices; and other recommendations, including insect precautions and environmental considerations. Appointments should be scheduled 4 to 6 weeks prior to travel, especially if preventative vaccines or medications are required/recommended, but we will do our best to help you with last-minute appointments.

RVNAhealth Travel Health Nurses can administer the following commonly needed travel vaccinations*:

  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Yellow Fever {we are a U.S. Government Certified Yellow Fever Center}
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Polio
  • Meningitis
  • Measles {MMR}

We can also provide advice on ways to avoid the mosquitos that carry diseases such as:

  • Zika virus
  • Yellow fever
  • Malaria
  • Dengue fever
  • Chikungunya

Travel consultations will be scheduled for the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 203.438.5555 x1012 or email BeWELL@rvnahealth.org.

* Please call us early so that we can best advise you on your travel preparations and review availability and timing of required vaccines.

Theresa Santoro honored by Thrown Stone Theatre Company

On Friday, July 15th, our own Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, RVNAhealth President & Chief Executive Officer was honored as an inaugural recipient of the Thrown Stone Theatre Company New Connections Award. Thrown Stone is a local theater company in Ridgefield, and their New Connections Award focuses on a distinct theme that relates to their current season of performances. The award was presented following the sold-out production of Athena by Gracie Gardner.

As stated by Thrown Stone: The New Connections Awards were envisioned to recognize individuals who exemplify Thrown Stone’s values and our mission to move, connect, and challenge all who join our theatrical conversation. Each year, the award will focus on a distinct theme that harmonizes with our season. In 2022, that theme is Mentoring Young Women. The inaugural honorees have distinguished themselves over a number of years as mentors, and have each selected a mentee, who will present their awards in a short ceremony following our opening night performances. Thrown Stone is grateful to these mentors who make a profound difference in our region, and we are delighted to celebrate their work with this award.

Theresa was asked to identify a mentee to be a part of the ceremony. “After over 20 years of working at RVNAhealth, I have had the privilege of mentoring and supporting so many of our team members, watching each grow in confidence, skill, and leadership. One of those individuals is Melissa Woodhouse, RVNAhealth Director of StayingWELL Services,” said Theresa. “It has been my pleasure to work alongside Melissa from her earliest days at RVNAhealth and to see her realize her growth and potential.”

Attending the ceremony alongside Theresa, Melissa expressed her mutual appreciation, “I will forever be grateful for her [Theresa’s] feedback, support, and guidance to grow and become the person I am today. A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of you to show you how to do it, a mentor walks alongside you to show you what you can do. Thank you, Theresa, for helping us all become better versions of ourselves.”

Theresa concluded, “Receiving this award reminds me again how important it is for all of us to take the time to support and champion each other. Without a doubt, we can all learn from each other, make each other stronger, and help each other become our best selves — both professionally and personally.”

Congratulations to Theresa! And congratulations to Thrown Stone Theatre Company for enriching our community. To learn more about Thrown Stone Theatre Company and the 2022 New Connection Awards, click here.

Does Your Dog Need Sun Protection?

Summer is many dog’s (and human’s) favorite season.  It’s a time for sunbathing on the patio (tongues out of course) and really working on that summer bod with some good outdoor activities.  However, what many dog owners may not know is the same way us humans need protection when enjoying the sun, our furry friends do too. Yes, you heard it right.  Not only should you be protecting yourself against sunburn this summer, but you should take protective measures for your furry friend as well! 

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dogs are prone to sunburn and the health risks associated with it – just like humans.  And just like humans, there are certain dogs that are more at risk for sunburn depending on their features including hairless breeds, dogs with white or light coats/thin coats, and dogs with light pigmented noses or eyes such as Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Dalmatians. 

Even if your dog has a thick coat, you may notice excessive shedding or bald patches that can be a sign of sunburn. 

Fortunately, sunscreen options for dogs are out there and are specially designed to be safe for your pet!  When choosing a sunscreen for your dog, it is important to ensure that it does NOT contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) as these ingredients are toxic to dogs when ingested (and as we know, dogs love to lick themselves).  

When you find a good sunscreen, you might be thinking, “How the heck do I apply this?”.  The answer is simple: apply the sunscreen where skin is most exposed to sunlight and least protected by hair.  These areas include: the ears, bridge of the nose, skin around lips, paw pads, groin, inner thighs and lower belly.  Make sure your dog does not lick him/herself for 15-20 minutes or until the sunscreen is fully absorbed! 

If your dog is already experiencing sunburn, showing signs such as reddened, warm, or flaking skin, move your dog inside or in the shade as soon as possible.  Using cool compresses and ointments can soothe these initial symptoms and ease pain for your dog.  If your dog’s burn is severe, call your veterinarian. 

Keep your dog safe and happy this summer by checking out some dog-friendly sunscreens on Amazon or your local pet supply store!