"The VNA staff were professional, thoughtful and knowledgeable about what they were doing." - Brad - VNA Hospice Services Client
Mary knows the value of excellent customer service when it comes to hospice care. After her mother was diagnosed with cancer, she was directed to VNA hospice by staff at Mercy Hospital. Mary has since become a volunteer for VNA.
"I am one of six kids, and they didn't care if all six of us called on the same day asking questions," Mary said. "We didn't know what we were supposed to be doing, but their support was unbelievable. It's not an easy situation; they held our hands and walked us through the process."
VNA nurses provided the medication Mary's mother needed, and gave her baths. At the initial meeting, VNA gathered all of the pertinent information, so Mary's family did not have tell their story over again to other staff. They also provided the family with literature that helped explain this difficult time.
"They really guided us in so many ways. The literature provided insight on what to expect; what was coming up," Mary explained. "The unknown is what is so scary, and this really helped us understand."
But what was most important to Mary and her family was the solid communication between them and VNA's staff, most notably with Linda Hopkins. She said they could always reach someone when they needed them, giving the whole family a feeling of trust.
"It's amazing how they worked with us, always answering our questions thoroughly," she added. "They put us all at ease and said, 'If there is anything you need, just call us.' Once, three of us called the same day without knowing, asking for advice on how to deal with our father. We were comforted and never felt like were bothering anyone."
Mary's family also were impressed with the high level of service VNA provides, noting their informed, detail-oriented and thorough approach. They also valued VNA's team work in the way they went above and beyond to provide the best care.
"The oncologist came to my mother's house for a visit. What doctor makes house calls anymore?" she said. "It was just out of the realm, something that we didn't expect. But things like that can bring peace."
Mary said she hopes more people will use VNA's hospice when they need it. She found a support group VNA offers especially helpful for herself after her mother passed.
"Even though it can be hard to have strangers come into your house and help, know that you will have amazing support. You just feel comfortable right away with them, and you will never be alone in this process," she said.
~ Client of VNA Hospice Services
For Jeanne and her husband, Paul, who suffered from emphysema, VNA's personal touch was what made their hospice care so special. Jeanne said that his nurse, Lisa, who visited once a month at first and later more often, understood Paul's sense of humor, and they clicked.
"Lisa was a sweetheart doll," Jeanne said. "Paul was always introverted and unsociable, but he was not nasty. I wasn't sure he was gonna go for the hospice. But Lisa knew he was just pretending to be cranky and that he was a sweetheart, too."
Ann, a social worker with VNA, visited with Jeanne and they would talk for about an hour, and Jen, a chaplain, would also visit. Although Paul was not interested in talking with the social worker or the chaplain, Jeanne said they were "so good about always offering him the chance to participate if he wanted."
While Paul's doctor's office recommended VNA, Jeanne was immediately impressed with the organization. She appreciated the staff calling to check on convenient times for visits, and for arranging a special stay in a nursing home for Paul while Jeanne was out of town for a few days.
Further into Paul's care, they received visits from Pam, another nurse, who reminded the couple of an old friend they had known.
"Pam was a take-charge kind of person, and followed up on Paul's medicines well," Jeanne explained. "That was something he worried about, so she was really helpful."
She also trusted VNA's staff completely, and felt comfortable with all who came to their home. Jeanne and Paul agreed to have donations sent to VNA after he passed as a testament to their good service.
"I think a lot of them," Jeanne said. "You can't do this job unless you have a heart of gold. It's the people that count."
Now that she has experienced VNA's service, Jeanne's advice to others considering hospice is to ask all of the questions you have.
"VNA took all of my questions seriously, and always acted professionally and respectfully," she noted. "They were angels, and the biggest help I could have had. They checked with Paul every time they needed to do something. You just can't ask for nicer people."
Jeanne also said that VNA did a lot to reassure her that she was doing the right thing, and caring for Paul as well as she could.
"Many of them have reaffirmed for me since Paul died that I treated him well and that I really cared about him," Jeanne added. "To have someone say that out loud is great. They are still calling to check on how I am doing. Before Jen went on maternity leave she called to see if I wanted her to come over and talk."
~ Client of VNA Hospice Services
Timing is crucial in a hospice situation, and to Brad, VNA's hospice service had excellent timing in caring for his wife, Judy, as well as incredible skills in uniting his family during this time, even though some live in Colorado.
"They were just right on in their diagnosis of Judy and started visiting at the right time. They interacted with all of us and got to know me and my family," Brad said. "My son and his family live in Colorado, and VNA suggested that we have a conference call with them so they could be brought into the loop. All of the nurses were there. It worked so well we started doing it on our own."
Brad said he and his family were pleased with the care they received, and Judy liked all of the people who visited. A difficult time became a positive experience.
"The VNA staff were professional, thoughtful and knowledgeable about what they were doing," he said of the team of four, including three nurses and one chaplain who visited every other week, then each week. "They all spent time with Judy to get to know her and understand what she was going through. They really wanted to know Judy, and make her feel comfortable."
Brad had been given positive recommendations about VNA from others, and now he knows firsthand why they have such a solid reputation.
"A staff member came to our home and outlined everything they wanted to do, before we got started," he noted. "They let us know what we could expect."
He also suggests that those considering hospice care call the VNA first, and ask any questions they may have, even concerning health insurance.
"Insurance is complicated, but the VNA was able to tell me that this was something that would be covered under our health insurance. We weren't sure if it would be."
After Judy passed, a VNA counselor called Brad to check on him, and some of the nurses have called as well. He feels confident that if he or his family felt the need to call VNA to talk at any time, they would be welcome to do so.
"If I were having personal problems I could talk with them or the kids could call them," he said. "They are so caring."
~ Client of VNA Hospice Services