Now is a Great Time to Join our Governor Society!

RVNAhealth’s Governor Society is a membership program for business and community partners who invest $1,000 or more each year in the health and well-being of their community. Governor Society support funds our Community Health & Wellness programs, such as our Chronic Care program for low-income individuals, community education, blood pressure clinics, vaccinations, and our Well-Child Clinics for underinsured children. Contributions may also support Hospice care, enabling us to provide bereavement support, music therapy, and even pet therapy – services not covered by insurance.

Governor Society membership options include event and program sponsorships, targeted gifts by service area, or unrestricted contributions to areas of greatest need.  The benefits to Governor Society Members are many, including recognition on our website, brand exposure in event materials, publicity, exclusive access to special events, and concierge services.  In customizing their philanthropic support over a 12-month period, our Governor Society members can target their giving to strengthen their communities in a way that is both meaningful to them and beneficial to their business or organizations.

For more information on RVNAhealth’s Governor Society or other ways to support RVNAhealth, contact Jennifer Christensen at jchristensen@rvnahealth.org or call 203-438-5555, x1052.

Other ways to support RVNAhealth:

Every gift—no matter the size—has a meaningful impact on our work and the communities we serve. There are many ways for businesses to support RVNAhealth:

  • Donate to RVNAhealth’s Annual Fund
  • Choose to become an event sponsor 
  • Advertise in event program books
  • Make an in-kind donation of gift certificates, event tickets, or unique experiences or services for our event auctions and raffles
  • Partner with RVNAhealth to present on a health and wellness related topic
  • Sponsor a community health and wellness program
  • Encourage your staff to volunteer with RVNAhealth

Upcoming ‘Save the Dates’:

  • March 25 – Wellness Fair, East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield
  • April 28 – Spring Breakfast, Amber Room, Danbury
  • September 30 – Autumn Dinner, Silver Spring Country Club, Ridgefield

Kicking Off Your New Year with Tips from RVNAhealth

As the new year kicks off, some of us may be thinking about resolutions or things we want to do differently. Whether you’re into resolutions or not, some of our RVNAhealth health and wellness experts would like to offer a few simple tips and gifts of wisdom. From nutrition and exercise, to doing good, feeling good, being prepared, and nourishing your spiritual side – we hope you find one or more tips to help you make the most of your new year!

Eat Well: Many companies will be looking to capitalize on your desire to improve your health and wellness. Protect your health and your wallet this new year by avoiding gimmicks, fad diets and trending supplements. If you do want to make some changes to optimize your health follow these evidence-based nutrition tips: when possible, eat whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods; eat 5-8 different fruits and veggies per day; and finally, eat a minimum of 35g of fiber–the plant nutrient found in fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes. – Monica Marcello, RVNAhealth Registered Dietitian

Exercise: Just get moving! In any capacity–just get started. Starting is the hardest part. Keys to success: make sure it’s something you enjoy, put it on your calendar and do not cancel on yourself, make it convenient (at home or close to home, low cost), and get an accountability buddy — Kate Campbell, DPT, RVNAhealth Outpatient Practice Manager

Feel Good: Scheduling your annual wellness exams can often take a lot of work.  There are a lot of appointments – physicals, dentist, eye exams, gynecology, and skin screenings, to name just a few!  They’re also very hard to keep track of given that they’re often “due” at different times throughout the year, depending on last completion.  As a suggestion, to keep things a bit simpler and ensure nothing slips through the cracks, designate one month each year (maybe even the 1st week of that month), to making calls to schedule all your annual exams.  They may continue to fall at different times throughout the year but getting in the habit of thinking about and making appointment calls during a single time period can help ensure you stay on track with your well visits! – Dr. Tiffany Sanders, RVNAhealth Hospice Medical Director

Do Good: Did you know 96% of people who volunteer say that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose? Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, but it also can benefit your overall health and well-being! It can make you feel healthier, improve your mood, and help to make your community a better place. At RVNAhealth, we thrive on the time and talents of our volunteer team in order to serve our patients, families and communities.  Please consider volunteering for RVNAhealth in the new year! – Stephanie Peppe, RVNAhealth Hospice Volunteer Coordinator

Spiritual: We care for our bodies by eating right and exercising. But we are so much more than the bodies we inhabit. We are all spiritual beings and that part of us needs nourishment as well. What do you do to care for your soul? Consider one or more of the following in the new year: meditation, journaling, attending services at a house of worship, taking a moment to appreciate your higher power, or prayer. – Garrett Walkup, RVNAhealth Spiritual/Pastoral Care Coordinator

Be Prepared: Peace of mind comes when things are in order. Have you thought about your wishes for care? Reaching decisions for personal care can be a daunting process and an ever changing one. This is why conversations about your wishes are so important…but how do you get started? A variety of resources are available to help you in your process. One such resource is completing a document known as Five WishesThe Conversation Project is another on-line resource.  Most important is to talk about your wishes with those that matter to you! – Cynthia Merritt, RVNAhealth Licensed Social Worker

RVNAhealth wishes you a wonderful new year!  And if you need a little extra help getting started with any of the above or have questions for any of our experts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 203.438.5555.

 

Thank You to the Ridgefield Chorale!

RVNAhealth would like to extend a tremendous congratulations and thank you to the Ridgefield Chorale for their Sunday night Holiday Pops concert performance, hosted at the Ridgefield Playhouse!

With over 300 tickets sold — and on an appropriately snowy evening — attendees were treated to an array of holiday vocal and musical talent. Thanks to the virtuosity of the Chorale and the tremendous generosity of concert underwriters (the Kinne family, Blandine Lewine, Stephen and Patricia Ross, the Stockel family, and McLaughlin & Stern), the concert raised $5,500 for RVNAhealth’s Well-Child program. This money will fund much needed annual physicals and immunizations for uninsured children in our local area. Thank you for giving the gift of health to the children and families we serve!

The Ridgefield Chorale, led by Artistic Director, Daniela Sikora, includes four RVNAhealth employees: Jennifer Christensen, Nora Cascella, Tammy Strom, and Lynn Schneider. Thank you all for sharing your gift of holiday music with concert attendees and RVNAhealth’s Well-Child program!

Keri Linardi wins 2022 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership

Keri Linardi, RN, BSN, PHN, CHPCA, Chief Clinical Officer of RVNAhealth was awarded the 2022 Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership on Thursday, November 3rd by the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH). The annual award, CAHCH’s highest honor, was presented at their annual conference in Hartford, and recognizes a nursing leader who is a visionary role model in the development and implementation of innovative projects that positively affect the ever-changing home care environment. Linardi was nominated by her RVNAhealth team.

Tracy Wodatch, President and CEO of CAHCH presented the award, sharing elements and excerpts from the nomination, which highlighted Linardi’s leadership and visionary thinking. Included in the nomination were the following words from Theresa Santoro, MSN, RN, CHCA, RVNAhealth President and CEO, and 2020 winner of the same award, reflecting the organization’s admiration for Linardi:

Keri Linardi is a true visionary in the field of home health and hospice. Throughout her nursing leadership career and since joining RVNAhealth, Keri has challenged the status quo and set out to mentor and educate clinical management and staff. Her unwavering “patients over paperwork” mentality, ability to look at processes globally to maximize efficiencies, commitment to quality, and dedication to inspiring her staff by leading through example makes her an outstanding representative of this award.

Since joining RVNAhealth in 2018, Keri has greatly expanded the agency’s suite of services, including a palliative care program to support symptom management in all phases of disease progression, and a robust hospice program whose census has increased fivefold since its inception four years ago. Her accomplishments, set on the backdrop of a global pandemic and our merger with Bethel VNA and New Milford Visiting Nurse and Hospice, and you are reminded of what this nursing leader is capable of. Her knowledge of our industry and her leadership style has been transformative to our entire organization.

Linardi, who accepted the award alongside members of her family, expressed her appreciation. “I am extremely humbled to receive such a prestigious award, and to have been nominated by my team, without whom, none of our accomplishments here at RVNAhealth would be possible.  It is very fulfilling to work for an agency that embraces vision and change and a continuum of care. I am extremely lucky.”

The Judith Hriceniak Award for Excellence in Nursing Leadership is named for Dr. Judith Hriceniak (1938-2000), who began her career as a registered nurse and director of Home Care Services at Bristol Hospital in Connecticut and went on to become an acclaimed champion and advocate of nursing education, serving as a mentor and role model, and receiving broad recognition for her achievements and contributions.

Have You Seen Us on TV?

That’s right!  RVNAhealth has hit the big screen. Okay…maybe not the movie screen…but we are excited to announce our new advertising presence on cable TV and streaming services across our served area. At the end of October, we released service-specific commercials to advertise our home health, hospice, and personal caregiving services. Maybe you’ve seen us already?

Our commercials will be shared over 16,000 times per month through streaming services and nearly 350 times per month through live TV.  Some of the top network channels you may see us on include Food Network, HGTV, Hallmark Channel, Travel Channel, AMC, CNBC and more. Our commercials will also be shown during UCONN Women’s basketball games on ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, and SNY.

With over 75% of our geographic service area targeted with these commercials, we hope that you will get a chance to “see” us! And if you do – please let us know what you think!

In the meantime, we are pleased to share our new home health commercial with you here. Happy viewing!

Grieving Through the Holidays

Garrett Walkup, RVNAhealth Spiritual and Pastoral Care Coordinator, recently held an in-person class through RVNAhealth’s Wellness Academy called “Grieving Through the Holidays.” For those who did not attend and are grieving a loss this holiday season, Garrett has shared with us some highlights from his class.

This holiday season may be the first since experiencing the death of someone close to you. For lack of a more clinical term, grief is “sticky.” It attaches, not just to you, but to times and places. Instead of holiday traditions bringing us — as the song says — “comfort and joy,” they stir up memories and trigger emotions that also bring up pain and sadness.

You may be saying to yourself, “I don’t want to be of good cheer.” If this is you, here are ten thoughts and reflections that may help.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a holiday after the death of a loved one. If an occasion or tradition is too painful, don’t do it. If you need to minimize decorations, that’s okay too.

Be kind and gracious to yourself. Grieving consumes your physical and emotional energy, and holidays place additional demands on that.

Take care of yourself. Don’t neglect eating, hydration, exercise, and sleep.

Create boundaries. You may need to leave early, arrive late or say “no” to engagements. Be flexible with social commitments.

Create support for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with items such as shopping, meal prep, or getting a ride.

Have that one person. Have one person you can be your real, raw and authentic self with.

Plan ahead. You may have found this already, but grief causes brain fog so make lists and prioritize. If your loved one had a special role like carving the turkey or saying the table prayer, think of someone else to take that tradition.

Don’t feel guilty about enjoying yourself. Laughing, singing and having fun is healing to your soul.

Embrace the emotion. If you feel a rogue wave of emotion come on, don’t turn away from it, welcome the unwelcome. It is better to go through it than try to hold it off.

Create new traditions. There is a tension between looking back to remember your loved one, and facing your new reality. How can you do both? Making new memories does not erase old ones…

  • Light a candle
  • Donate or serve others in their memory
  • Serve their favorite food
  • Collect stories in a box and share

We at RVNAhealth hope you find peace as you mourn and joy for your spirit this holiday season.

Eye Spy a New Billboard…Thank You Fairfield County Bank!

Thank you to Fairfield County Bank for generously donating their billboard space on I95N Exit 15 to RVNAhealth from November through January!  The Bank has been a loyal supporter of RVNAhealth for more than 25 years.  Use of this billboard is another example of the many ways in which the Bank partners with RVNAhealth to support and help expand our services in the region.

As Theresa Santoro, RVNAhealth President & CEO explains, “RVNAhealth’s growth and innovation have been due, in no small part, to the support received throughout the years from Fairfield County Bank, its employees, and its board members. From banking, insurance, and investments to guidance, advice, and support across countless volunteer hours, the impact Fairfield County Bank has had on RVNAhealth has been immeasurable.  They are a true friend and partner of our agency and we are immensely grateful for their unwavering commitment to the health and wellness of our communities and the many lives we serve.”

A Month of Thankfulness but an Honor Year-Round

As November brings a celebration of thankfulness with the Thanksgiving holiday, at RVNAhealth another type of thankfulness is celebrated throughout the month. November is recognized as National Hospice & Palliative Care month. It is a time we show our appreciation for the nurses, aides, social workers, and others, who pour their heart and soul into the compassionate care of our hospice patients and their families.

”When asking any member of our team why they chose to work in the hospice field, you often hear the phrase ‘it’s an honor’ mentioned,” says Hospice Clinical Director, Jessica Velasco, RN, CDP. “They are honored to be a part of a patient’s end-story…honored to have families welcome them into their homes to care for their loved one…honored to share in a family’s personal stories, thoughts, and emotions. RVNAhealth’s Hospice team works around the clock daily to deliver a remarkable standard of care and support to our patients and their loved ones. During this month as we celebrate and recognize the hospice profession, please join me as we ‘turn the table’ and express what an honor it is to work alongside this amazing team!”

We send our tremendous gratitude and appreciation to the following Hospice teams:

Thank you to our Medical Directors who oversee the care and management of our patients. Our Medical Directors provide round the clock expertise, patient team coordination, and support to our Nursing and extended interdisciplinary teams, helping to ensure comfort through each patient’s individual hospice journey.

Thank you to our Nursing Team — those in the field and in the office, those who work weekdays, weekends, and night shifts. Our Nursing staff do everything from creating and overseeing patient care plans, to answering family calls and questions, to reviewing charts and ongoing adjusting of comfort measures, to teaching and helping loved ones to best support their family member. Our Nursing Team members work 24-7 to ensure patients and family members are supported through easily accessible communication and compassionate expert care.

Thank you to our CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants), a team that comprises a core function of everything we do in Hospice.  These talented hands-on health care professionals spend the most time with our patients, following plans of care, aiding with activities of daily living, and dynamically supporting their changing needs.

Thank you to our Social Workers who provide emotional and informational support and education to patients and their families, helping them navigate and understand the hospice care journey. They are also trained to comfort and guide families with grief both during and after a loved one’s passing.

Thank you to our Pastoral Care Team who provide non-denominational spiritual care that is personalized to each patient’s beliefs and wishes. Trained to help individuals explore and navigate feelings, understandings, and hopes, this team also provides bereavement support for our patients, loved ones, and the community.

Thank you to our Music Therapists who use their restorative talents to support comfort, fond memories, and the release of emotions throughout care. Whether as a quiet listening experience or as an active entertainment with dialogue or song, our music team strives to meet what a patient needs the most on any day.

Thank you to our Hospice Volunteer Team who have donated over 2,000 hours of their time in the last year alone providing visits to our patients and their families, as well as assisting in our offices. From chatting, to playing games, to walks, and supportive listening, our volunteers add meaningful moments to our hospice team every day.

Thank you to our Therapy Dog, Sophia who works tirelessly to provide joyful, tail-wagging visits and cuddles.

Thank you to all other RVNAhealth interdisciplinary teams who work to ensure our hospice program delivers best in class service to families when they need it most!

For more information on RVNAhealth Hospice services, please visit our website or call us at 203.438.5555.

An Autumn Dinner to Remember

On September 24th RVNAhealth hosted its annual Autumn Dinner at the Amber Room Colonnade in Danbury. Friends, supporters, clients, and clinical staff came together to celebrate the agency’s work providing exceptional health and wellness care for individuals of all ages.

Guest speaker, Joseph Pastore, shared his personal experience with the care his family received from RVNAhealth when their twins were born, one with a life-threating health concern. Twenty years later, he called upon RVNAhealth again when he suffered a stroke at age 53. Mr. Pastore has spent the past two years working with the RVNAhealth Rehab team and has successfully regained his strength and mobility.

President & CEO, Theresa Santoro, spoke about the increase in demand for home health and hospice care following the peak of COVID-19. “We surpassed quite a milestone this year, caring for more than 5,000 patients in their homes. That’s three times our patient count of 5 years ago.”

RVNAhealth cares for people across all stages of life in 35+ Connecticut communities, from first-time mothers and uninsured children to older patients with varying medical needs and people needing end-of-life care.

Mrs. Santoro noted the challenge of meeting the increasingly complex needs of patients in the context of the work force shortage. “RVNAhealth must remain a competitive and appealing employer through innovation and technology, education, and skills training.”

The evening featured a bourbon tasting sponsored by Ancona’s Wines & Liquors, live music by singer/songwriter, Nick DePuy, and autumnal centerpieces donated by Mary Jones at Rodier Flowers. Popular entertainer, Tom Pesce, led the guests through a spirited live auction and paddle raise to fund the RVNAhealth mission.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and RVNAhealth staff, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to Joseph Pastore for serving as the evening’s guest speaker, our sponsors and advertisers for supporting the agency, and every member of the Autumn Dinner committee for their time, enthusiasm, hard work and dedication in planning and organizing this memorable event.

 

RVNAhealth Flu Vaccine Options for the Whole Family!

If you are age 6 months or older, RVNAhealth has you covered for flu season! This year we are pleased to offer a variety of ways to get your flu shot. RVNAhealth Ridgefield and New Milford offices are offering convenient drive-thru clinics, as well as in-office appointments. There are also two community clinics in the town of Bethel open to anyone. A limited supply of the new Pfizer and Moderna COVID booster will also be on hand, available upon request and availability at the time of your flu shot.

Whether you are a regular in rolling up your sleeve, or you need a little more nudging, it’s always good to get the facts. Here’s a few facts to get you started!

  • The Flu vaccines are highly effective and adverse effects are rare. Even in a year where the flu shot is not a “good match” for the virus, vaccination still protects against severe illness.
  • You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.
  • You can receive a flu vaccine if you have an egg allergy. RVNAhealth offers egg and preservative-free vaccines.
  • Flu vaccines for all children in CT, age 18 and under, are provided at no cost regardless of insurance status.
  • And you can get the COVID-19 booster and flu shot at the same time!

Recommendations for this year’s flu season remain similar to last year. While timing and length of flu activity through the COVID pandemic has been less consistent with prior years, the CDC continues to recommend September and October as optimal times for flu vaccination. Vaccination after October is still recommended for providing valuable protection through the typical peak season.

For more information on available RVNAhealth flu clinics and appointments, please visit our flu webpage or call 203.438.5555.