Well-Child Collaboration Receives Statewide Recognition

RVNAhealth was recently invited, along with Anne Mead, Director of Family, School and Community Partnerships at Danbury Public Schools, to present to a statewide panel of educators at the Connecticut Department of Education’s “Tuesday Talks” series.  Our collaboration was recognized as a statewide model for its ability to remove barriers for families to receiving well-child services upon registering their child to school.

What is the RVNAhealth/Danbury Public Schools Collaboration? Danbury Public Schools continue to see a growth in student registration.  The current healthcare system, especially for uninsured students, cannot support the related increased need for required school physicals and immunizations.  This imbalance can result in delayed school starts for kids of up to five weeks or more after registering.

To help address this growing issue, RVNAhealth is working with the Danbury Public Schools to host on-site well-child clinics at a Danbury school.  As children register for school, they are immediately scheduled for their physical and immunizations at RVNAhealth’s next well-child clinic.

At each of our 2-day clinics, bilingual clinicians provide children with full physicals, exams for vision and hearing, tuberculosis screenings, height and weight assessments, and more.  We also schedule kids for follow-up appointments at future clinics so they can complete their vaccination series.  An RVNAhealth social worker is also available to help enroll children in HUSKY, the state’s health care system.  At the end of appointments, we provide families with resource guides, and full bags of food, toiletries, and other personal care items to take home.

As we look to the future and evolve our well-child offerings, our plans include linking children to an established local physician’s office for future needs, providing more mental health support, and coordinating with other local agencies to connect families to community resources. These programs are made possible through grants and the generosity of our donors.  RVNAhealth is proud of our collaboration with the Danbury Public Schools, and we thank our staff, community partners, and donors for supporting this impactful program to benefit many children and families in the community.

Thank You to Community Food Rescue – A Helping Hand in RVNAhealth’s Well-Child Clinics

Across the United States, food insecurity for families with school-aged children is a common reality – and Fairfield County is no exception. Thanks, in large part, to Community Food Rescue of Danbury, families attending our RVNAhealth well-child clinics in Danbury are receiving large grocery bags (about 10-15 lbs.) of food to bring home.

Since June of 2021, RVNAhealth has distributed over 600 bags of food to families in need at pop-up COVID vaccination clinics and well-child clinics. Over 400 of these bags were donated by a dedicated community partner: Community Food Rescue of Danbury.  These bags include enough items for at least three complete meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When available, they also include fresh produce and dairy from local farms and grocery stores.  In fact, during one of RVNAhealth’s Danbury vaccination clinics last summer, a volunteer from Community Food Rescue picked up fresh produce from a local Connecticut farm and drove straight to our site for families to take whatever they needed from a packed 20-foot truck!

Community Food Rescue is run by manager, Linda Hutchings, who started the organization September of 2020. With the help of a generous donor and a group of committed individuals, Community Food Rescue is determined to help end food insecurity in the Greater Danbury area.  Linda has vast experience with food-insecure populations, having organized a soup kitchen in Bridgeport for over 15 years.  “Feeding people is something I have always enjoyed doing,” says Linda.

At RVNAhealth, we are immensely grateful to Linda and everyone at Community Food Rescue for sharing our passion of caring for those in need.  “Linda’s commitment to helping families is unwavering.  Whenever we call her with a need, she always finds a way.  Her joy and excitement about her mission are genuine and it is a true privilege to work with her,” says Stephanie Collins, Program Manager for Community Health and Wellness at RVNAhealth.

If you are interested in supporting RVNAhealth’s partnership with the Community Food Rescue, please contact Stephanie Collins at scollins@rvnahealth.org, or to donate to RVNAhealth’s community health and wellness initiatives, click here.

Community Food Rescue is located at 78 Triangle St. in Danbury and is open to the public on Thursdays with Spanish-speaking staff to assist those in need of translating.  For more information, contact: 203.733.8848 or email communityfoodrescue@gmail.com.

RVNAhealth in Your Town – This month we are in Bethel, CT!

Welcome to one of our new segments where we are profiling the towns that we serve. On deck this month is Bethel! With nearly 100 years of presence in this town, Bethel is also called ‘home’ by 25 RVNAhealth employees. Read more to find out what we’ve been up to in Bethel, read some input from local friends and supporters, and get the inside scoop on ‘best of’ recommendations by some of our very own local team!

Fun Facts about Bethel:

  • Location: Northern Fairfield County, 60 miles northeast of New York City
  • Size: ~20,000 population
  • Fun Fact: Bethel is the birthplace to Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. Barnum), founder of the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
  • RVNAhealth Fact: Bethel is home to 25 RVNAhealth employees!
  • While in Bethel…Our own employee recommendations:
    • Best pizza: 3 way tie on this one – there must be a lot of good pizza in Bethel! Check these out: Famous Pizza, Bethel Pizza House, and Victoria’s Pizza
    • Best ice cream: Dr. Mike’s Ice Cream Shop (Marie M., QAPI Clinical Specialist)
    • Best coffee: Molten Java (Melissa G., CNA)
    • Best hiking place: Franc Preserve – The Friends of the Franc Preserve recently established a native wildflower meadow (Julia D., Development Manager)
    • Best place for a picnic: Meckauer Park (Laura C., Director of Community Health and Wellness)
    • Best historical gem: Poker Rock (Christine F., Hospice CNA)
    • Other Best (write-in category): A lot of people don’t realize the Bethel Fire Department has a museum. It has a lot of amazing artifacts including firetruck from the early 1900s (Julia D.).

RVNAhealth Events in Bethel:

  • Mary Edna Cargill Scholarship Awards, June 2021. Since 1968, the Mary Edna Cargill Scholarship has been awarded each year to Bethel residents who are enrolled in or accepted to a degree program in a health-related field. This scholarship memorializes Mary Edna Cargill, a Bethel VNA nurse who was both a school and home care nurse. This year’s awards went to 4 deserving students — read more here.
  • Bethel Shop & Stroll, July 2021. We had a blast meeting people during this summer event. Our balance assessments and hugs with our therapy dog, Sophia, made for a fun day!
  • Bethel Healthcare window painting, August 2021. Our own Kathy Haven, RVNAhealth Lead Account Manager, stepped up to help our partner, Bethel Healthcare, create window painting masterpieces to bring cheer to residents and patients.
  • NFP Food & Supplies Drive, November 2021. We thank Caraluzzi’s Bethel for allowing us to collect needed items for the RVNAhealth Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program. The NFP program provides nursing help and support for young, first-time, low-income Moms from pregnancy through age 2.
  • RVNAhealth Flu Clinics in Bethel, September-November 2021. We were honored to be able to deliver 580 flu shots at 10 RVNAhealth flu clinics held in Bethel this past fall.

Words with Friends:

This month we reached out to some friends who live or work in Bethel and asked them to say a few words about their relationship with RVNAhealth. We value all our relationships in Bethel – employees, patients, partners, and supporters. We are honored to work, live, and serve in this wonderful community!

Stan Kessler, DDS, RVNAhealth Board Member. “After being a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethel Visiting Nurse Association for many years, I was asked to join the inaugural Board of the newly formed RVNAhealth, which merged Bethel’s VNA with New Milford’s and Ridgefield’s VNAs. Since its founding in 1927, Bethel’s VNA successfully grew and evolved through changing and challenging public health care needs, while maintaining its focus on its individual clients. Combining the three VNAs has resulted in both continuing the excellent personal care that the Bethel VNA provided and expanding the numerous services that are available. We can now add hospice care, physical therapy, in-home rehabilitation, personal care giving, public health and safety programs, and numerous other services that support everyone from neonatal to end of life care. I am proud to support RVNAhealth!”

Dan Carter, RVNAhealth Board Member. “There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our town’s residents and the VNA, first as Bethel VNA and now as RVNAHealth, has been there for us every step of the way! Over the years I have run into people of all ages across our town that have benefited from the care and services of the professionals at RVNAhealth, and I have learned they provide so much more than in-home care. It’s what prompted me to join the board of directors and help them provide healthcare when and where it is needed. I encourage Bethel residents to check out RVNAhealth and learn more about the services available.”

Brenda Moon LPN, COF, CMF, CDME, CPC-A, Medical Home Care, Bethel, BOC Certified Orthotic & Mastectomy Fitter, DME Sales. “I have worked with both Bethel VNA and RVNAhealth for many years, referring patients when appropriate and working together for the people we both care for and for the Bethel community. RVNAhealth is fabulous and the full circle of services, from rehab to home health care to the clinicians covering so many towns. I know who to call at RVNAhealth for questions and resources for my clients.  Medical Home Care has been involved with RVNAhealth’s annual Health Fair for many years. RVNAhealth was a hero during the pandemic.  I know a lot of people in town and many local companies provide my personal services like McKleans Cleaners, Stony Hill Dental, Quality Gem and Hollandia. RVNAhealth is a home health care agency that has Bethel’s back.”

Stronger Together…18 Months Later

For over a century, RVNAhealth, New Milford VNA and Hospice and Bethel VNA have been neighbors and collaborators, each serving a parallel mission in our respective communities. Over the decades, we have each grown- expanding our range of services, our territorial reach, and deepening our ties to the patients and families we serve.

In 2020, we came to the realization that there is strength and talent in numbers. By joining forces, we could all be stronger, better, and healthier for the long term. As organizations, we had a lot in common. We had over 300 years of history between us. We had parallel missions, overlapping services, and overlapping towns served. We shared common goals and common challenges.

So here we are 18 months later…How’s it going?

Below, Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, RVNAhealth President & Chief Executive Officer, shares her thoughts.

“I’m proud to say it is going well!

Our boards of directors have joined forces and established one, unified governing body to oversee and shepherd the combined centuries-long mission of a not-for-profit home health, hospice, and community health organization.

We’ve established a 3 -5-year strategic plan, a roadmap shaping the way for our future, ensuring we continue to meet the growing needs of all populations of people we serve in a changing healthcare landscape.

Our driving force is the health and well-being of our patients and communities- today, tomorrow and 50 years from now. Our patients were our priority. All patients under the care of New Milford and Bethel were seamlessly transferred to RVNAhealth. Today, we have an average daily census of nearly 1,100 patients across all our service lines. To accomplish this significant growth successfully, we pooled our collective talent and resources and invested deeply in people, service, and technology, all while managing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The merged organization has allowed us to grow and thrive while maintaining the mission-driven history of each former agency. Our new organization is stronger and more valuable for generations to come, and offers access to the best home and community healthcare.

We’ve adopted and grown all services and programs brought on at the merge and now have an enhanced continuum of care to address all ages, stages and levels of health including preventive and wellness programs.

We continue to uphold our legacies recognizing there is strength in collaboration to meet today’s challenges in delivering care. We’ve made significant investments in talent, programming, technology, and specialty services to meet the needs of a larger territory of towns served. By sharing these resources and making future investments together, we’ve set a stronger foundation for the future.”

Thank you Theresa!  And thank you to the entire RVNAhealth employee population for working hard to ensure that patient care remained our top priority through the transitions of the last 18 months. We look forward to continuing to grow as a best-in-class agency for our employees and the communities we serve. 

National Healthcare Decisions Day – Have you made yours yet?

The topic of healthcare decisions and writing a will is oftentimes an avoided topic as many are intimidated by the thought of potential future health declines.  However, National Healthcare Decisions Day aims to change the public’s perspective on this conversation, encouraging people to have an action plan and prepare providers to honor these plans. 

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) exists to inspire, educate and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers, facilities and families to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. 

NHDD was founded by Virginia-based healthcare lawyer, Nathan Kottkamp in 2008 with the intention of providing clear, concise, and consistent information on healthcare decision-making to the public and healthcare providers/facilities.  Kottkamp achieved this by making simple, free, and uniform tools, rather than just forms, available to aid in the process.  

Today, NHDD stands as a series of independent events held across the U.S. as well as a national media and public education campaign.  NHDD gathers a variety of organizations together including healthcare, legal, and religious to work towards the common goal of benefiting patients, their families, and providers.  The key goal of NHDD is to bring the conversation of healthcare decision making to the table for every family and make the topic of advance care planning inescapable.  Among other things, NHDD helps people understand that advance healthcare decision-making includes much more than living wills; it is a process that should focus first on conversation and choosing an agent.  

NHDD’s vision is that every healthcare facility will participate in venues for public engagement as will non-healthcare facilities/businesses such as libraries, grocery stores, and drugstores.  NHDD also hopes for religious and community groups to highlight the importance of advance care planning within their congregations.   

To learn more about National Healthcare Decisions Day, visit: https://theconversationproject.org/nhdd/ 

RVNAhealth in Your Town – This week we are in New Milford CT!

Welcome to one of our new segments where we are profiling the towns that we serve. First up on deck this month is New Milford. Not only do we maintain building operations and serve hundreds of patients in this town each year, New Milford is also called ‘home’ by 43 RVNAhealth employees. Read more to find out what we’ve been up to in New Milford, read some input from local friends and supporters, and get the inside scoop on ‘best of’ recommendations by some of our very own local team!

Fun Facts about New Milford:

  • Location: Western Connecticut, 14 miles north of Danbury, along the Housatonic River
  • Size: ~28K population
  • Fun Fact: At 62 square miles in size, New Milford is the largest town in Connecticut by land-mass
  • RVNAhealth Fact: New Milford is home to 43 RVNAhealth employees!
  • RVNAhealth ‘Best of’ Votes:
    • Best pizza: Italia Mia (Shelby B., Social Worker)
    • Best ice cream: Kimberly Farms (Ronette C., Hospice RN Case Manager)
    • Best coffee: River & Rail Café (Taylor D., Development Associate)
    • Best hiking place: Lover’s Leap (Cindy M. Hospice and Palliative Care Social Worker)
    • Best place for a picnic: The town green (Cindy C., CNA)
    • Other Best (write-in category): Sophia, our therapy dog loves Candlewoof – best dog park! (Stephanie P, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator)

RVNAhealth Events in New Milford – Past & Coming Up:

  • New Milford RiverFest, October 2021. RVNAhealth enjoyed meeting the community as a patron and exhibitor during this weekend fall event.
  • Candlewood Valley Health’s Annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser, October 2021. RVNAhealth was the Platinum Sponsor and exhibitor at this 3rd annual breast cancer fundraiser, raising over $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.
  • New Milford Sip & Stroll, December 2021. We were honored to attend this beloved end of year event and excited to sponsor the luminaries around town.
  • NEW Upcoming: New Milford Bereavement Support Groups. RVNAhealth is pleased to announce the re-start of monthly in-person bereavement support sessions at its New Milford office. Click here for more information on the April session.  All are welcome.
  • NEW Upcoming: 53rd New Milford Village Fair Days, July 29-30th. We are excited for the return of the New Milford Village Fair Days and to have the opportunity to sponsor this fun, family-friendly, community event in the historic downtown district!
Platinum Sponsor at Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation Annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser, October 2021
New Milford RiverFest – Patron sponsor, October 2021
New Milford Holiday Sip & Stroll – Luminary sponsor, December 2021








Words with Friends (no, not the game!):

This month we reached out to some friends who live or work in New Milford and asked them to say a few words about their relationship with RVNAhealth. We value all our relationships in New Milford – employees, patients, partners, and supporters. We are honored to work, live, and serve in this wonderful community!

Cheryl Bakewell, New Milford resident and partner at Bakewell & Mulhare LLC, former New Milford VNA Board Member, and current RVNAhealth Board Member – “I was a member of the New Milford VNA board and continue to be a member of the RVNAhealth board for very personal reasons. I think that an individual’s ability to stay at home and recover in the case of illness or to pass away in their own home in the case of hospice care is a very important choice. Both of my parents passed away from cancer and the gift that the VNA gave us to allow both of them the dignity to pass on their own terms was unparalleled. Everyone that we dealt with was caring and compassionate. RVNAhealth will always be one of my preferred charities for those reasons.”

Jim Polito, New Milford resident, former New Milford VNA and VNA Home Board Member and current RVNAhealth client – “My wife has used the home care services from VNA Home (now RVNAhealth StayingWELL Services) for over two years. Brita and I have found all of the caregivers, nurses and therapists we have met to be very caring and warm people. They have been a tremendous help to us. The services provided by RVNAhealth are very important to New Milford and surrounding towns – with such a long legacy of having a VNA in our town – you represent an essential and signature service to our area.”

Melissa Marici, Candlewood Valley Health & Rehabilitation, Vice President, Corporate Communications – “RVNAhealth has become a trusted healthcare partner. We’ve come to rely on the organization for a multitude of patient care needs. One of the most important, would be their highly skilled, comprehensive, and compassionate hospice care under their ComfortWELL services. The collaboration in this area has been a game changer for our staff, patients, and their loved ones.”

Nichole Brant, RVNAhealth Staying WELL Services, Business Operations and HR Manager – “I’m very proud to work for this agency. I started work for New Milford Visiting Nurse & Hospice and their VNA Home division 6 years ago. Since the merger, I’ve found that RVNAhealth has helped to open so many more opportunities – in terms of offerings and resources – for the New Milford and northern communities. And the leadership of Theresa Santoro, President & CEO, has helped to create a smooth and welcoming transition.”

Genevieve Pelliciari OTR/L, CLT, New Milford resident and RVNAhealth Occupational Therapist – “I started working for New Milford VNA in 2005 and continued with RVNAhealth after they joined forced. I have lived in New Milford for 37 years and provide RVNAhealth rehabilitation therapy services across New Milford, and other surrounding towns. I love what I do and enjoy my patients and take pride in making Occupational Therapy a part of their recovery.”

RVNAhealth Spring Breakfast: Community Comes Together to Care for Neighbors

RVNAhealth will be hosting its 21st Annual Spring Breakfast on Friday, April 29 at The Amber Room in Danbury. After a two-year hiatus, the RVNAhealth Board of Directors, Spring Breakfast Committee, and staff cannot wait to celebrate with friends and neighbors from towns across Connecticut.

Each year, the Spring Breakfast brings together 400 local business leaders, medical professionals, community groups, and RVNAhealth supporters to welcome spring and raise funds critical to patient care and program support.  Funds raised allow RVNAhealth to care for patients and clients regardless of age, diagnosis, or financial circumstances and make a lasting impact on the lives of those served. It’s truly an inspiring morning and a great way to start the day!

This year’s impact speaker is Kate Denoyer Fitzpatrick, CEO & Founder of Kate Fitzpatrick Consulting.  A long-time volunteer at RVNAhealth, Fitzpatrick has also experienced the love, comfort, and compassionate care of RVNAhealth, firsthand.

You’re invited to be a sponsor or table host at this year’s event, which will include a delicious breakfast, Fitzpatrick’s compelling testimonial, live auction, and raffle with dozens of prizes.

If you are interested in supporting the Spring Breakfast, you may purchase sponsorships or tables online at RVNAhealth.org or contact Julia Douglas, Development Manager, at 203.438.5555, x1018 or jdouglas@rvnahealth.org.


So You Want to Go on a Diet?

Understood. Us too! Just a good re-set to lose weight, get back on track, break some recent habits, feel better, and start the year off right. There’s just one problem. Our RVNAhealth registered dietitian, Monica Marcello, MS RD, won’t let us. 😊

Why Not?

“To be clear, explains Marcello, “I am not anti-weight loss. But I am anti-deprivation. And deprivation is a key element of most diets.  As a registered dietitian, I want you to EAT! I want you to eat the foods that are going to make you feel great, give you energy, promote good health, and still allow joy in your life. That is going to be different for everybody.”

Here are Marcello’s concerns about diets:

  • Diets set you up for failure by neglecting your individual needs and promoting an unsustainable approach.
  • Diets don’t work. Studies show that many dieters regain more weight than they originally lost.
  • Diets are often expensive. Specific diet food plans may cost between $100-500 per week and dietary pills and supplements may cost between$50-$200 per package.
  • Diets and healthy eating are not synonymous. Low in calories does not mean high in nutrition.
  • Diets can mess with your metabolism. When you’re dieting and in a moderate to extreme calorie deficit, your  body learns how to adapt on fewer calories and can therefore stunt weight loss prematurely. Not only is this counter-intuitive to your goals, it can also add frustration and mental fatigue. 

Why the Diet Appeal?

“Diets continue to intrigue people for many reasons,” says Marcello, “in part, I believe, they’ve been part of our culture for a long time, and we’re just programmed to think that if we want to lose weight, a diet is the place to start.”

But there are other reasons too:

  • Diets are big business and have been for decades. According to marketresearch.com, diets were a $78 billion dollar business in the United States in 2019, and that number is on the rise.
  • There’s a certain quick-fix appeal. If this, then this, and all will be better.
  • Deprivation for a finite time sometimes seems easier than moderation for a lifetime.
  • The jumpstart effect. Sometime people just want a wholesale change to interrupt current habits and put themselves in a better position quickly.

What’s a Dieter to Do?

Assess Your Goals.

If you really want to lose weight —for good — a diet is not the answer. You need a plan that works for you, your lifestyle, your goals, and your personality.

Through sustainable and healthy weight loss, done right, you can learn long-lasting tips/tricks that do more for the body beyond weight loss. You can improve your health and wellness by recognizing and responding to your internal cues and realities — hunger, fullness, food likes/dislikes, time for cooking, budget, sustainability. If it’s going to work, it needs to work for you and your life.

Weight Loss 101

Whether your motive is good health, weight loss, or to manage a health condition, there are certain basic tenets to remember:

Foods First. Foods First is an evidence-based approach that encourages individuals to eat intuitively and consume a variety of foods that assist in achieving good health

Prioritize nutrition over calories and the rest will fall into place —if you’re patient and approach correctly!

Try not to make weight loss the absolute priority and only goal. Let other aspects of your life be the guiding force for changing your diet.

Back to Basics.
There is evidence-based research that supports a common eating style: Unprocessed, Plant-rich, Whole foods, High nutrition. All of the conditions below can be managed by adhering to these essential concepts. 

    • Family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s
    • Struggling with mood and mental health disorders
    • Stomach or bowel issues
    • Diabetes and prediabetes
    • Skin
    • Inflammation and joint pain
    • Energy and brain fog
    • Creativity

I still want to diet to reset my habits. It’s worked in the past for me.

Oh, for goodness’ sake! You’re incorrigible! Let’s talk. If you must diet, you’ll want to do it as healthfully as possible, and be sure to transition from your diet to a subsequent plan that will reward your hard work.  If you have a particular diet that’s interesting to you, we can review the benefits and pitfalls; identify what to watch out for; plan for what to do when you’re ‘done,’ and consider other lifestyle habits that might help you along.

What Next?

If you’re serious about losing weight, getting healthy, managing a condition, or dieting safely, get in touch!  The first 25 people to click the link below will receive a 15-minute nutrition consultation and $50 off your first visit.