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Free Community Forum June 8: Palliative Care, Advance Directives and Planning for End-of-Life Care

Do you know what kind of medical care you would want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes?

On June 8, the Bennington office of the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region and Brookdale at Fillmore Pond will sponsor a free community forum on the value of palliative care and the importance of advance healthcare decision-making.

The session will be held at noon at Brookdale at Fillmore Pond on 300 Village Lane in Bennington, Vermont. Allen Hutcheson, MD and Diane E. Smith, MD, physicians affiliated with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center will provide information on palliative care and the importance of documenting your healthcare wishes.

The session is free and open to the public and lunch will be served. To reserve your place, call 802.447.7000 before June 5.

VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region Recognizes Dedicated, Exemplary Employees

Employees of the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR) took center stage at the Equinox Hotel for the agency’s annual employee award celebration. The yearly event recognizes employees who have reached years-of-service milestones and highlights employees for specific awards: the Employee of the Year, Unforgettable Employee(s) and HEALTH Matters Award Winners.

This year, 34 employees received special recognition with Colleen Moore as the recipient of the award for 40 years of service, others included: one 35-year award; one 30-year; three 25-year; four 20-year; nine 15-year; three 10 year and 11 five year.

Hospice Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator Andrew Carlson was named VNAHSR’s 2016 Employee of the Year; and Laura Gillis, Scott Tommola, Roxanne Kalifen, Wendy Daley, Patty Andrews and Susie Senecal were honored as the HEALTH Matters award winners. Arlene Ladd and Colleen Moore were recognized with the Unforgettable Awards.

The Employee of the Year is selected from nominations submitted by their colleagues based on their commitment to exceeding expectations in their work and in support or comfort of patients and their families. The HEALTH Matters awards are selected from a monthly recognition program, and awards recipients who emulate the core values of Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Leadership, Teamwork, and Helpfulness.

Ron Cioffi, CEO personally presented gifts of appreciation to longtime employees and announced the winners. The celebration is held each May during the organization’s week long celebration to recognize employees and for years of service and for outstanding performance.

Andrew Carlson Named Top Employee

The Employee of the Year Award recognizes an employee whose work exemplifies the values of respect and dignity of the individual, excellence, honesty and fairness, stewardship of resources, and teamwork. Earning the award this year is Andrew Carlson, who joined VNAHSR in 2015 as Hospice Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator.

In his role, Andrew was honored as a patient advocate, hospice team member, and leader.

In his nominations as Employee of the Year, several people noted Andrew’s deep compassion, “Andrew sees hospice patients and families at a critical juncture in their lives…he gently helps them providing amazing care, compassion, and service when they need it most. He is a strong, positive ambassador for the hospice program and our agency in the community. He holds weekly bereavement support group meetings and works with other local agencies who need his special kind of care.”

“The dedication and patient-focused commitment shown by our employees is an inspiration. All of our employees, no matter where they work in the organization, have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the care we provide our patients,” said Ron Cioffi, CEO of the VNAHSR. “We are honored that each of them, especially those honored at our recognition dinner, joins us in our mission and commitment to the health of our communities.”


VNA of the Southwest Region Named a Top 100 Performing Agency in National Rankings



hce2016_top100The VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region, with offices in Rutland, Bennington and Dorset, announced today that it has been named to the Top 100 of the 2016 HomeCare Elite®, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. For more than ten years, HomeCare Elite has annually identified the top 25 percent of agencies and highlights the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall.

The ranking is developed by ABILITY® Network, a leading information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare; and sponsored by DecisionHealth, publisher of: Home Health Line, The Complete Home Health ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Coding Manual and The Home Health Coding Center.

“Improving quality of care and the patient experience continue to underpin a rapidly evolving healthcare environment,” said Christine Lang, Senior Director, Product Management, for ABILITY Network. “At the same time tracking, measuring and interpreting data that support these efforts is becoming more complex. The 2016 HomeCare Elite winners have demonstrated the highest-quality care in their communities, which is a remarkable achievement. We congratulate the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region and its locations in Rutland, Bennington and Dorset on being one of the top 100 home care agencies in the country.”

Ronald J. Cioffi, RN and CEO of the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region credits the hard work of the staff and high standards of quality with the agency’s ability to achieve recognition as one of the HomeCare Elite. “I am so very proud of the work we do and this distinguished award honors the achievement of a very committed and engaged staff,” says Cioffi. “Our dedication to providing quality, compassionate care not only positively impacts our patients, but also contributes to the health and wellness of our communities.”

“We are proud to recognize the top 100 HomeCare Elite agencies for demonstrating a commitment to improving quality patient care at low costs. The clinical best practices and data tracking skills these agencies have implemented can position them for future success in government programs such as value-based purchasing and star ratings,” said Marci Heydt, Senior Content Manager, DecisionHealth.

Winners are ranked by an analysis of publicly available performance measures in quality outcomes, best practice (process measure) implementation, patient experience (Home Health CAHPS®), quality improvement and consistency, and financial performance. In order to be considered, an agency must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least one outcome in Home Health Compare. Out of 9,406 agencies considered, 2,353 are recognized on the 2016 HomeCare Elite winners list overall.

The entire list of 2016 HomeCare Elite agencies can be downloaded by visiting the ABILITY Network website at

About the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region

The VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR) , is a non-profit, Medicare-certified home health and hospice agency delivering a wide-range of advanced medical care with compassion, dependability and expertise to people of all ages who need home and community health services.  With locations in Bennington, Dorset and Rutland, VNAHSR is one of the largest in-home care providers in Southern Vermont. VNAHSR has over 350 expert health professionals and caregivers committed to providing exceptional care to patients, their caregivers and families and strengthening relationships with referring physicians throughout Rutland and Bennington Counties.

With a national reputation for quality care, VNAHSR is the first and only agency in Vermont to achieve a 4.5 star rating out of five for Quality of Patient Care from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is a recognized as one of the nation’s 100 top-performing home health agencies, by HomeCare Elite, a market-leading review that identifies the top 25 percent of all Medicare-certified agencies and further highlights the nation’s top 100 and top 500 agencies.

About ABILITY Network

ABILITY® Network is a leading healthcare information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare through innovative applications and data analytics. ABILITY is headquartered in Minneapolis with principal offices in Boston and Tampa. For more information visit or write to

For more information about HomeCare Elite, call 888.572.4009, write to or visit

About DecisionHealth®

For over 30 years, DecisionHealth has served as the home care industry’s leading source for analysis and tools to improve revenue cycle performance, profitability, regulatory compliance and quality patient care. Agencies nationwide turn to DecisionHealth for education and training, coding and billing solutions, and ongoing expert guidance through its family of online products, print solutions, and live training events. DecisionHealth also certifies home health agency professionals in ICD-10 coding and OASIS-C2 through its Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), and provides custom consulting services to agency leaders through its DecisionHealth Professional Services unit. For product information, call 1-855-CALL-DH1 or visit



Memorial Service Hosted by Bennington VNA & Hospice

The Bennington Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, an office of the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region, invites the community to attend a free memorial service on Sunday, December 11 at 3pm at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse on 108 School Street in Bennington. Through music, poetry, art and fellowship, this special ceremony, open to individuals of all ages and faith, will help pay tribute to loved ones that have passed away.  For questions about the service or to register, please call 802.442.5502

CLICK HERE: PSA about the Memorial Service

Coping with the Holidays Workshop Offered in Bennington

CLICK HERE: PSA about the Holiday Workshop

The Bennington Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, an office of the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region, will offer a free workshop to help individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one learn coping skills during the holiday season.

The workshop will be held on Monday, December 5 from 6-8pm and again on Thursday, December 8 from 2:30-4:30pm in the Rotary Room at the Bennington Free Library on Silver Street in Bennington. Led by Lucy Ijams, Chaplain and Elizabeth Fredland, LICSW from the Bennington VNA & Hospice, participants will learn suggestions for coping with loss and be provided with resources and information. Free materials are available for those who are unable to attend either date. To register for the workshop, please call 802.442.5502

“This workshop will provide individuals and families with the tools they may need to cope with loss this holiday season,” says Nicole Moran, MSN, BA, RN and director of the Hospice program. “Our caregivers, volunteers and staff care deeply for the families of our patients and this workshop is just one of the ways we can help them deal with grief and loss. “


About the Hospice program of the VNAHSR

Under the direction of Allan Eisemann, MD, oncologist and Medical Director of VNAHSR, the staff provides a variety of services to patients and their families in both Rutland and Bennington County. A patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and admitted to the program by a physician. The attending physician continues to be involved in the patient’s care, and patients and family members work directly with nurses, social workers, chaplains, nurse aides and volunteers.

Remembrance Ornaments On Sale


click on image above for an order form

Remembrance ornaments are now on sale and are a meaningful way to honor a loved one or friend while helping the Hospice program of the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR). Each ornament is beautifully crafted and engraved by New England Ornaments.

Remembrance OrnamentThis year’s tear-drop shaped ornaments are made of a clear optical glass with beveled edges and can be engraved with the name of a special loved one and a date of significance. Ornament measures 3-3/4 long x 2-3/4 at its widest.  Ornaments are tied with a satin ribbon and presented in a dark silver gift box.  Ornaments are $20 each. Orders can be shipped directly or picked up at the Tree of Remembrance ceremony on December 6 (for pick-up at the ceremony orders must be placed by November 18).

“Since we began this project Remembrance Ornaments have been given as gifts to loved ones living across the United States,” says Nicole Moran, MSN, BA, RN and Director of the Hospice program.. “For some people, giving the Remembrance Ornament has become a family tradition. It’s heartwarming to know we are part of that special tradition.”

For information, please call 802.775.0568

Tree of Remembrance Ceremony Hosted in Rutland

The Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR) will host its 28th Annual Tree of Remembrance ceremony at the Franklin Conference Center, Howe Square in Rutland on Tuesday, December 6 at 5pm.  The event is free and open to the public. For inclement weather a snow date of December 13 has been set.

The Tree of Remembrance ceremony is a way for community members to reflect, honor and celebrate loved ones and friends who have passed away. The ceremony will feature music by the Hospice Trillium choir, remarks by Hospice medical director Allan Eisemann, MD, recitation of loved ones’ names, the lighting of the tree, refreshments and fellowship.

Director of Hospice & Palliative Care“This ceremony is about families who have lost a loved one and their legacy,” says Nicole Moran, MSN, BA, RN and director of the Hospice program. “Our caregivers, volunteers and staff care deeply for the families of our patients and offer a variety of services to them to help deal with grief and loss. This ceremony is a beloved annual event and is just one of the many ways we want to honor and remember their loved ones for years to come.

To add a loved one’s name to the wall of remembrance, to RSVP or for event questions, please call 802.775.0568.



Naylor & Breen Golf Invitational Raises Funds for Hospice

Team Naylor & Breen From left to right ~ Don Houle, Ron Bruce, Kerry Wetmore, Kim Levins and Rich Davis

From left to right ~ Team Naylor & Breen Don Houle, Ron Bruce, Kerry Wetmore, Kim Levins and Rich Davis

Naylor & Breen Builders, Inc. hosted their second annual golf invitational at Neshobe Country Club in Brandon, Vermont to benefit the hospice program of the VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region. Nearly $29,000 was raised in support of hospice care in the communities served. In just two years, the tournament has raised nearly $50,000 for hospice.

Chairing this year’s tournament was Rob Naylor, Tanner Romano and Peter Breen with committee participation from Rodney Bicknell, Ron Cioffi, Christine Hoard, Pam Horvath, Linda Hurley, Bob Kelly, Marc Miele and Chris Naylor. 30 teams enjoyed a great day of golf and participated in on-course games, a 50/50 and dinner and auction. “We had a great group of people helping to organize this event,” said Rob Naylor, President of Naylor & Breen. “We’re proud that so many of our friends and business partners joined us help make difference in the lives of terminally ill patients and their loved ones in our community.”

“It was a great tournament and we had a fantastic day on the links,” said Ron Cioffi, RN, Executive Director. “I thank all of our attendees and sponsors for their generous support. All proceeds benefit our hospice program and will help to ensure that we can continue to help so many in their time of greatest need.”

“It is such an honor to merit the support of Naylor & Breen and the many other businesses that participated in the tournament,” said Christine Hoard, Director of Philanthropy at the VNA. “We couldn’t be more grateful for this wonderful show of support for end-of-life care.”


Rehab in the Home Setting

Changes in health often mean changes in abilities, daily routine and comfort level at home.  People are anxious to return to the life they enjoyed before being impacted by illness, injury or surgery.

Physical, occupational and speech therapists from the Rutland Area VNA (RAVNAH) take care of people in their homes by helping them regain mobility and restore the strength and confidence they need to return to independence.  Therapists work with patients to improve movement, restore skills needed for daily living and recover from deficits in speech and learning. RAVNAH therapists also treat and instruct patients and their families on home safety, balance and fall prevention.

RAVNAH provides in-home therapy services to patients following joint replacement, surgery, cardiac/pulmonary episodes and problems with decreased mobility.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy pertains to more than just being able to sit, stand and walk on one’s own. While helping patients regain or improve their abilities to do these tasks, therapists also perform assessments and provide treatments that assist patients of all ages with mobility, strength and coordination. Our physical therapy program helps patients maximize their independence with stair climbing, negotiating environmental obstacles and the safe use of assistive devices.

Occupational Therapy

The goal of occupational therapy is to provide patients the skills they need to reach their optimal levels of independence by managing the activities of daily living. Our occupational therapy program teaches patients how to safely use appropriate techniques and/or adaptive equipment to perform any number of activities, including grooming, hygiene, dressing, meal preparation, housekeeping, shopping, financial management, and medication management.

Speech-Language Therapy

As well as assisting patients to regain the fundamentals of speaking, RAVNAH’s speech-language pathologists help patients and family members cope with speech and language disorders. Our speech therapy program helps people needing assistance with long-term and short-term memory, the ability to complete sequenced tasks, problem-solving and voice conditions. In addition, our speech therapists can evaluate patients with swallowing problems and help implement diet modifications to improve swallowing safety.

Fall Prevention

Therapists teach patients, families and caregivers the best methods of preventing falls and injuries that may result from a fall. During home visits, our healthcare professionals provide a comprehensive clinical assessment to identify risk factors.  They then develop a comprehensive plan of care and set appropriate goals unique to each person. The plan of care may include an in-home exercise program to increase balance and strength, education on medication management, assistance with vision correction and recommendations to reduce home hazards. The goal is to offer a solution to reduce hospitalizations and avoid lengthy nursing home stays due to the result of falls.

For more information about rehab services in the home setting, contact RAVNAH at
775-0568 or visit our website at


Quality Improvement Specialist Passes Coding Exam

ann-pollockThe Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of the Southwest Region (VNAHSR) is pleased to announce that Ann Pollock, RN, BSN, COS-C, HCS-D, recently passed the Home Care Coding Specialist – Diagnosis (HCS–D) exam through the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), the credentialing arm of the Association of Home Care Coding & Compliance (AHCC).

The HCS-D credential is earned by professionals with advanced skills in classifying medical data from home health patient records. Coding specialists review patients’ records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis. Pollock, through the exam demonstrated expertise in the application of ICD-10-CM conventions and guidelines and in-depth clinical knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy/physiology, disease processes, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Professionals with this designation are able to use their coding knowledge to better work with clinical staff in understanding complex coding principles and guidelines, and to ensure proper reimbursement from payer sources.

Pollock, a 26-year employee of the VNAHSR began her career as a staff nurse and has held a variety of managerial positions. She was recently named Clinical Informatics Specialist.


About the Association of Home Care Coding & Compliance (AHCC)

AHCC is the community for professionals who are dedicated to providing quality care in post-acute care settings and establishing, meeting, and maintaining standards of excellence in their area of expertise. AHCC’s credentialing arm, the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), offers professional credentials, including the only nationally accredited home health coding credential that tests coding skills exclusively, the Home Care Coding Specialist—Diagnosis (HCS-D), and the Home Care Clinical Specialist – OASIS (HCS-O) .

AHCC also engages in advocacy activities that focus attention on the vital role home care plays in meeting the national goals of ensuring affordable, quality care for all, while lowering health care costs.

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