Community Outreach

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

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


Keep the Flu Away

We’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed some of the best summer weather on record.  But these beautiful, warm days will soon fade, as we enter the cool, crisp weather of fall.  And who knows what this winter will bring? One thing we do know is that we want to stay healthy during the winter months. And one of the best ways to do just that is to get your annual flu shot. It’s the single best way to prevent the flu.

You can get your flu shot at one of the public flu clinics held at convenient locations in communities throughout Rutland County and in Dorset and Rupert. Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (RAVNAH) has scheduled a number of community flu clinics for peoples age 18 and older, starting September 21.RAVNAH offers regular strength flu and pneumonia vaccines and a high dose flu vaccine especially developed for people age 65 and older.  Ask your doctor if the high dose vaccine is right for you.

When should I get a flu shot?

Here in Vermont flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February. Getting vaccinated any time between September and November can ensure you have immunity to protect yourself through the flu season.

Who should get a flu shot?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu shots for:

  • Anyone 6 months of age and older.
  • People with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease or asthma.
  • People with weakened immune systems.
  • People who live with, or provide care for, children and adults.
  • Women who will be pregnant during the flu season.

Who should get a pneumonia vaccine?

The Centers for disease Control (CDC) recommends pneumonia vaccinations for:

  •  All adults 65 years of age and older
  • Anyone 2 through 64 years of age with a chronic illness
  • Anyone 19 through 64 years of age who is a smoker or has asthma
  • Women who smoke or have asthma, have a chronic illness or compromised immune system should be immunized before becoming pregnant.

 Preventing the Flu

The first and most important step is to get a flu shot, but practicing good health habits can also help. Here are some tips to keep the aches, pains, sneezes and sniffles at bay:

    • Wash your hands well and often throughout the day or use sanitizing hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
    • Avoid close contact with those who are ill and stay home if you are sick.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, not your hands.
    • Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of fluids and eat nutritious foods, stay physically active and manage your stress.

 If you get sick with the flu

Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms are usually more severe and can come on suddenly. Call your health care provider if your flu symptoms are very serious or if you have chronic health conditions. Common flu symptoms include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache, muscle aches, chills
  • runny or stuffy nose, sore throat , dry cough
  • extreme tiredness
  • vomiting and sometimes diarrhea (more often in children)

For a full listing of RAVNAH’s public flu clinics, visit or call RAVNAH’s flu hotline at 770-1574.


“Breathe Easy” Helps Patients Breathe Easier

Improved Quality of Life from those Suffering from COPD

RAVNAH, in partnership with Wilcox Bioscrip, offers a new pulmonary rehabilitation program to help improve the quality of life for those living with pulmonary disease.

Breathe Easy is a clinically integrated, in-home program designed to mirror the level of care you would receive in a setting such as a nursing home.

Patients in the program receive physical and occupational therapies, nursing, and social work services in an effort to improve their functional status.  Patients are educated about their disease and equipment use, such as oxygen CPAP/BIPAP machines. They learn how to manage their medication and about techniques to conserve their energy and are guided through exercises and breathing strategies for them to use on a daily basis.

The goals of the Breathe Easy program are to reduce preventable hospitalizations and emergency room visits, educate patients about their disease, promote self-management, help family members and caregivers to provide better care and keep patients at home.

Each patient’s needs are different. An individualized plan is developed for the patient depending on what the patient’s personal goals are – then the team works together with the patient to figure out what needs to be done to reach those goals.

Signing up for the program is easy.  A referral can be made by the patient, family, friend, nursing facility or doctor.

We can help you sooner than you think.  Call us today at 802.770.1555.

How do I Become a Hospice Volunteer?

Hospice volunteering is a unique opportunity to serve our fellow human beings at a potentially scary time in their lives.  Hospice volunteers  are an integral part of hospice care.

Why do so many step forward to volunteer? It may be a sense that this is a way to “give back” to an organization or system of care that was there for the volunteer’s own family in a time of crisis.  Or it may be a “calling” that beckons us to give of our time and compassion for others. Here’s what some volunteers have shared about what being a volunteer means to them.

  • Giving relief to a caregiver
  • Receiving more than you give
  • Volunteering means caring and being cared for – giving my heart to others
  • Volunteering feeds my soul

The volunteers who sing in Trilllium, the hospice chorus, share their love of music by singing in small groups in a patient’s home.   For them, the smiles and singing along with the old standard songs that patients enjoy is what motivates their volunteer participation.

Hospice volunteers go through a rigorous training that is provided over several weeks and generally includes an introduction to hospice and palliative care, education on death, dying and grief, and communication and support skills. The goal of the training is to provide each person with the knowledge they will need to confront a wide range of possibilities as a volunteer. After completing the training, you have the option to become an active volunteer or opt to support the program in other ways if you are not ready for in-home care. Once you elect to provide in-home care, we will complete a background check.

Some questions commonly asked by volunteers as they start in with the training program are: “Am I really ready to make this commitment and will I be able to do it?”    “Will I know what to do in a difficult situation?” We can anticipate many things people experience as they near the end of their lives, and some we can’t.  But with training and the entire hospice team available to assist you, most things can be dealt with.

Volunteers can help the family by providing a needed respite. The time the volunteer spends with the patient provides family members and other caregivers with a chance to get out of the house or spend time with other family members. On a typical hospice visit, a volunteer may read to the patient, or simply sit and hold their hand.

Rarely are volunteers called upon for hands-on personal care such as helping people go to the bathroom or changing their clothes – that is usually what the nurses, home health aides and family or other close caregivers do. As a volunteer you will have the support you need to do what you have been asked to do – – to support the hospice patient and other caregivers.

For more information on becoming a hospice volunteer in:

Bennington Contact Mary Pleasant, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator at 802.442.5502.

 Rutland and Dorset Contact John Campbell, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator at 802.770.1683.






The Importance of Adult Immunizations

Vaccines may be the greatest technological development of the 20th Century. Immunizations are so effective at preventing and eradicating disease that many Americans have never seen a single case of mass epidemics, such as smallpox and polio. Despite the many advances in modern medicine, each year, thousands of people in the U.S. die from diseases that are easily prevented by safe and effective vaccines.

Although most adults realize that immunizations play an important role in keeping infants and children healthy, many are unaware that readily available vaccines offer a safe and cost-effective way to prevent serious illnesses and death among adults.


From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

  • As we age, we may become more susceptible to serious diseases caused by common infections, such as influenza and pneumococcus.
  • More than 46,000 American adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications.
  • Almost one million Americans get shingles every year. About half of them are 60 years of age or older.
  • Seasonal influenza causes more than 100,000 hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
  • Young adults have an increase incidence of meningococcal meningitis; Approximately 50 percent of all cases occur in persons 15 years and older. However, about 80 percent of cases in this age group are vaccine-preventable.
  • Adults are much more likely to develop complications and die from chickenpox than are children.
  • Vaccines are among the safest medicines available.
  • Individuals with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease are particularly at risk of influenza infection, as are people in nursing, convalescent, or other institutional settings.


  • 12,000 additional lives could be saved each year if 90 percent of adults age 50 received an annual flu immunization.  Today, less than 40% of adults have had an annual flu vaccination.
  • Vaccines can protect people from potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella and chickenpox.
  • Pertussis can be a serious disease in babies. Unimmunized parents and grandparents can pass the infection on to babies too young to be vaccinated. Adults who receive the Tdap vaccine are protected against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The td vaccine is given to adults as a booster shot every 10 years or after exposure to tetanus. The pertussis vaccine need only be given once in a lifetime.
  • Influenza immunization can reduce physician visits and lost work days, and reduce antibiotic use.
  • By preventing illness, vaccinations save many healthcare dollars by keeping people healthy and avoiding the expensive therapies and hospitalizations needed to treat illnesses like influenza and pneumococcal disease.
  • Higher immunization rates and a stronger immunization infrastructure could help prepare the U.S. to respond to major disease outbreaks by improving our capacity for wide-scale rapid vaccine delivery to adults.
  • The costs of both the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B.


  • Consumers are often unaware that they need to get vaccinated or do not know when they should be vaccinated.
  • Public concern about the side effects, safety, and efficacy of immunizations.
  • Due to time restraints and competing priorities, health care providers may not recommend patients receive vaccinations.
  • Research suggests that financial barriers reduce vaccination rates among underinsured and uninsured adults.
  • Remember to consult your healthcare provider to determine your risk for vaccine-preventable diseases and the need for immunization.

For more information on adult immunization, contact Community Health at Bennington Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice at 442.5502.

Important News for Internatinal Travelers


Planning a trip to relax and recharge your batteries? Or to seize an opportunity in the global marketplace?  Go for it!  Overseas travel can provide opportunities to volunteer, work, or relax – but it is important to make sure you and your loved ones are protected with vaccines against serious diseases.

Plan Ahead

Planning a trip abroad will become a lot easier with a call to the RAVNAH Travel Health Clinic. The Travel Health Clinic provides comprehensive and safe travel health services including vaccines and individualized disease prevention plans to international travelers.

The World Health Organization advises travelers “to consult a travel medicine clinic or personal physician 4-6 weeks before departure if the travel destination is one where exposure to any vaccine-preventable diseases may occur.” RAVNAH’s Travel Health Clinic will be able to assist travelers in providing this invaluable service.

People who benefit from our services would include those traveling abroad on business, student trips, vacationers, church groups, adventure clubs and service organizations.

The pre-travel visit with a RAVNAH travel health nurse includes:

  • Pre-travel consultation and assessment
  • Trip research and risk identification
  • Vaccines  (i.e. yellow fever, rabies and other necessary medications)
  • Health education, vehicular safety, and prevention of air travel hazards

RAVNAH’s staff is able to instantly link to ever-changing health requirements, CDC updates and travel recommendations.  Education is an essential part of RAVNAH’s travel clinic services. Many international travelers are unaware of the latent health threats awaiting them at their destinations.

While it is certainly important to receive the appropriate vaccinations prior to commencing travel, education plays just as vital a role. For example, certain foods overseas may be dangerous to consume; certain marine hazards (such as jellyfish) may be present during your chosen time of travel, and risk of traveler’s diarrhea may be prevalent in certain destinations.

These are all examples of risks that cannot be prevented, but if properly educated, can be avoided. RAVNAH is pleased to be the area’s resource for this vital, potentially lifesaving service to our community’s international travelers.

For more information about RAVNAH’s Travel Health Clinic, please call 802-770-1536 or email

travel health2

Veterans’ Voices — Sharing Memories to Begin Healing

veterans photos        History has carried the heavy burden of war. Those who have chosen to serve their country through the military bear a heavy emotional burden when they come home. For many, unpleasant memories resurface again and again – despite the fact that they have returned to a safe place. These internal wounds often go unhealed for a long time, and for some it never heals. Many veterans who had been deployed to war-ravaged regions of the world return as different people, frozen by the horror of traumatic losses.

In any traumatic experience, our body shuts down, unable to process what has happened. In time the body can re-adjust itself, realizing that the event is in the past, and can focus on the future. Those who have experienced endless traumatic events in war, however, often can’t recover internally; their body continues to react as if the event was still happening.

The military has a unique culture, one that is very different to civilian culture. Some discharged members may experience ‘culture shock’ as they try to adjust to civilian life and a civilian workplace. Some may find it hard to accept the difference between living as a private citizen and life in the military.  Talking about an experience as a service member can be daunting. Not just because the individual may have to relive traumatic events, but because now those events are being shared with the others.

Memories are signposts depicting where we are in life, and – in relation to grief – where we are in our own healing process. Some memories simply dissipate because we no longer have need of them. Others remain to provide comfort, a sense of history, or a personal lesson.  If, after a significant amount of time following a loss, difficult memories still evoke overwhelming emotions, our body may be asking us to address how the relationship affected our life in an adverse way.

Sharing memories can do just that – help address those influences in our lives so that we can begin healing.

To assist veterans in their journey toward healing, Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (RAVNAH) is proud to offer Veterans’ Voices. Veterans’ Voices is a program that honors those who have served in the military, as well as active duty members – and the families who support their service. The program gives veterans, service members and military families a chance to share their stories about their lives and their experiences – and leave an enduring legacy behind.

Veterans’ Voices interviews are conducted between two people who know and care about each other. A trained facilitator from RAVNAH Hospice guides participants through the interview process. Participants receive a CD copy of their interview and, if desired, a copy will be archived at the Folk Life Center in Middlebury, VT.

RAVNAH believes that the simple act of listening tells veterans how much they matter, and by preserving that conversation for future generations, we assure them that they won’t be forgotten.

If you are interested in more information about our Veteran’s Voices program, or bereavement services available at Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, contact Marc Miele at 770.1634 or

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