Lake Sunapee VNA Responding to COVID-19 Challenges

Posted 3/20/2020. Please read on for updates since then.

Like so many other community organizations, Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) is working hard to meet the daily challenges of COVID-19 throughout the 32 towns it serves. On any given day under normal circumstances, LSRVNA has an average of 625 people on service receiving home health, hospice, palliative and private care, and the agency is adapting every day to meet the needs of those patients—as well as its staff—safely and effectively. Following are some of the ways in which the agency is responding:

  • Monitoring the rapidly changing daily flow of information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services regarding personal protective equipment, testing, screening protocols, etc.

  • Limiting exposure among its 200 staff members by having the majority of office staff work from home and reducing the need for field staff to go to the office by holding virtual team meetings and calling ahead for medical supplies. According to Jim Culhane, President & CEO, “Home health care is by design a very mobile and adaptable business, which gives us at least a small advantage in meeting the challenges of COVID-19.”

  • Closing all non-essential services for the safety of everyone involved and to focus on essential patient care services. Non-essential services that have been closed at least through the end of April include blood pressure clinics, foot care clinics, support groups, education programs, Good Day Respite, and The Renaissance Shoppe. Culhane shares, “While these are very important services that we provide to the communities we serve, we need to maximize and focus our resources on the programs that are designed to help people with illness and injury, specifically our home care, hospice and palliative care programs. In addition, we will continue to focus on the programs that are the sole service that prevents patients from moving into nursing facilities, such as Medicaid CFI, private duty services and some of our grants.”

  • Screening all patients by phone for COVID-19 symptoms before going into the home and again during each visit.

  • Developing contingency plans to shift resources as hospitals get busier and the demand for home care increases. “Many of our staff have foregone planned vacations and travel in order to minimize personal risk, as well as risk to coworkers and patients, and maximize our availability to meet the growing health care needs of the community,” says Culhane.

  • Educating patients who may be concerned about receiving home visits about CDC guidelines for minimizing risk and various options for care, such as less frequent visits and additional phone calls.

  • Communicating with community partners, such as the Upper Valley and Greater Sullivan County public health networks, area hospitals and other health and human service agencies, to share information and resources. “Many of us work together regularly on emergency preparedness efforts to train and prepare for all types of unexpected events, and those plans and relationships are currently helping all of us to meet this challenge,” says Culhane.

  • Working on supportive measures for staff around pay, childcare and other resources, so they have the ability to see patients while maintaining their own physical and emotional health. Culhane shares, “Our staff is our primary and most precious resource. They are also at the forefront of risk, so addressing their safety and needs, which impact those of patients and the wider community, is a top priority. Rest assured that the agency is looking at every possible way it can support this dedicated, needed team throughout this unprecedented event.”

Culhane continues, “We are an agency made up of individuals who share a common goal and focus, and that is the health and safety of our communities. When all of us made the decision to work in home health, we made the explicit decision to work in public health. We strive for improvements with each individual patient, and collectively, we improve the public health of the towns we serve. We play a significant role in the well-being of many communities. It is this public health obligation that calls us now….to help us navigate this unchartered territory through hard decisions, hard work and perseverance and by doing everything we can to help mitigate risk.”

For more information about the essential services currently being provided by Lake Sunapee VNA, call 603-526-4077.

Update 3/26/2020

Out of care for the community and with an abundance of caution due to COVID-19, Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice has cancelled the 2020 Women Who Make A Difference Luncheon, originally scheduled for May 13. Lake Sunapee VNA thanks all those who have supported the luncheon and looks forward to welcoming you back in 2021. If you would like to learn more about how to support Lake Sunapee VNA at this time, please contact Cathy Raymond at 603-526-4077 x231 or craymond@lakesunapeevna.org.

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Cancellations Due to COVID-19

Effective March 16, 2020, Lake Sunapee VNA has temporarily closed the following programs and services due to the COVID-19 pandemic: blood pressure clinics, foot care clinics, support groups, education programs, Good Day Respite, and The Renaissance Shoppe. In addition, no donations of merchandise to The Renaissance Shoppe will be accepted until further notice.

“This decision was made for the safety of everyone involved and will allow us to focus on our essential patient services during this critical time,” says Jim Culhane, President & CEO. “We will re-evaluate the situation at the end of April and adjust accordingly.”

For information about the essential home care and hospice services provided by Lake Sunapee VNA, call 603-526-4077 or visit LakeSunapeeVNA.org.

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Lake Sunapee VNA Presents Annual Awards

Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) presented its annual staff and volunteer excellence awards at its Annual Meeting on February 13.

The staff award, known as the “Imagine the Possibilities Award,” was presented to Linda Mitchell, LNA. Starting as a home health aide and now a licensed nursing assistant, Linda has been making a difference in the lives of clients and their families for more than 20 years. During the presentation, Jim Culhane, LSRVNA President & CEO, shared, “Linda is an amazing, caring, skilled LNA and a bright light wherever she goes. She cares deeply for each person and embodies our core values of community, compassion, empowerment and excellence.”

Annual Meeting 2020 Awards
Linda Mitchell, LNA, receiving the “Imagine the Possibilities Award”

New London resident, Betsy Boege, received the “Joanne Hughes Volunteer Excellence Award.” Betsy has been a stellar volunteer since 2002, supporting Hospice, Good Day Respite and other programs whenever her schedule allows. “Her commitment, enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, willingness to provide valuable feedback and happy smile make her a beloved member of our team,” shared Culhane as he presented the award.

Annual Meeting 2020 Awards
Betsy Boege, Volunteer, receiving the “Joanne Hughes Volunteer Excellence Award”

In addition to the award presentations, Culhane thanked outgoing Board member Dr. Donald Eberly for his many years of service on the LSRVNA Board of Trustees, most recently as Chair, and presented him with an honorary plaque. Also recognized were new Board officers Kieran Kays, Chair, and Daniel Junius, Vice Chair.

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Caitlin Harmon Named Chief Clinical Officer at Lake Sunapee VNA

Caitlin Harmon, RN, BSN, has been named Chief Clinical Officer at Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA).

Caitlin’s nursing career began in home health care after earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of New Hampshire. Since joining LSRVNA in 2010, she has held several positions including RN Case Manager for both home health care and hospice clients, Preceptor for new clinical field staff, and Quality Assurance Director.

As Chief Clinical Officer, Caitlin is responsible for oversight of clinical operations and program processes, including home care, quality assurance, intake, scheduling, medical records and performance improvement. “Caitlin has made substantial contributions to our organization in the ten years she has been with us, and we know that she will provide strong leadership in this new position moving forward,” says Jim Culhane, President & CEO.

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LSRVNA Announces Annual Meeting as it Begins 50th Anniversary Year

Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) invites the community to its Annual Meeting to be held on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 4:00pm at the Wilmot Community Association Red Barn on 64 Village Road in Wilmot, New Hampshire.

The meeting will include highlights of 2019 initiatives and accomplishments, annual staff and volunteer award presentations, and remarks by Dr. Donald Eberly reflecting on the agency’s 50th Anniversary this year. “Founded in 1970, LSRVNA is strong, resilient and committed to remaining an enduring presence in the community for another 50 years! We hope to see you there,” says Jim Culhane, President & CEO.

There is no fee to attend and refreshments will be provided. RSVPs are greatly appreciated by contacting Cathy Raymond at 603-526-4077 x231 or craymond@lakesunapeevna.org.

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Lake Sunapee VNA Celebrates 31st Annual Hospice Dinner

Lake Sunapee VNA Celebrates 31st Annual Hospice Dinner

The 2019 Lake Sunapee VNA Hospice Dinner, held on November 13 and again graciously hosted by The Millstone at 74 Main, saw a record attendance of nearly 110 guests. “Such strong support from the community over many years is empowering and deeply appreciated,” says Cathy Raymond, Development Officer.

This elegant evening honors hospice and raises funds and awareness that help to sustain compassionate end-of-life care. The occasion featured music, words of gratitude from staff and hospice families and a delicious meal prepared under the expert guidance of Rich Stockwell. Special thanks to Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, dessert sponsor, and Horizon Beverage, wine sponsor.

For information about hospice care or any of the programs provided by Lake Sunapee VNA, call 603-526-4077.

Photo Caption

Members of the Lake Sunapee VNA hospice team enjoying the 31st Annual Hospice Dinner (from left): Cinnamon Blomquist, Spiritual Care Coordinator, Dr. Kristi Saunders, Associate Hospice Medical Director, Tammy Porter, Outreach Liaison, JoJo Hayes, Hospice LPN, Rachel Riedel, Hospice Clinical Coordinator, Jen Taylor, Hospice Program Director, and Kyleigh Mercier, Hospice RN Case Manager.

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Annual Craft Fair to Benefit Hospice

The 2019 Lake Sunapee VNA Craft Fair takes place on Saturday, November 16 from 9:00am to 2:00pm at the Kearsarge Community Presbyterian Church in New London.

With a wide variety of crafters and vendors, there is truly something for everyone. A perfect chance to do some holiday shopping, the fair also features music, food and the annual “Cookie Walk” where you can purchase a selection of holiday cookies. Stop by and support a wonderful cause. Proceeds benefit the Lake Sunapee Region VNA Hospice Program.

Contact Cheyrl Fogwill at 603-475-2450 for information.

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Lake Sunapee VNA Expands Hospice Volunteer Team

The volunteer team at Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) grew substantially on October 2, when 12 area residents graduated from a 16-hour training program that prepared them to be hospice volunteers.

Conducted by Lori O’Connor, Volunteer Manager at LSRVNA, along with several hospice staff participating as guest speakers, the training covered topics such as what is hospice, what does a hospice volunteer do, patient symptoms, boundaries, family dynamics, spirituality, bereavement and self-care. Each graduate received a certificate and pin and joined the group of more than 20 hospice volunteers already providing support and comfort to patients and families throughout LSRVNA’s 32-town service area.

“Volunteers are an integral part of our hospice team,” says O’Connor. “In addition to the nurses, therapists, medical social workers, home care aides and spiritual counselors that are available to hospice patients and their families, hospice volunteers are the ‘warm fuzzies’ that walk through the door to help make the last phase of life the best it can be,” she says. “Not every patient wants a volunteer, but we strive to make them available whenever a need arises.”

In addition to the initial training, hospice volunteers meet monthly for ongoing education and camaraderie. “We are extremely grateful to all our hospice volunteers for the time they dedicate to this important work,” says Jen Taylor, Hospice and Palliative Care Program Director at LSRVNA. “This is the largest volunteer class we have had, and we are excited that there is so much interest from community members wanting to join our team.”

For more information about hospice or volunteer opportunities, call 603-526-4077 or visit lakesunapeevna.org.

Hospice Volunteer Graduation small jpg

Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) celebrated 12 new hospice volunteer graduates at a ceremony on October 2. Front row from left: Jen Taylor, LSRVNA Hospice and Palliative Care Program Director, Pam Sanborn, Victoria Nedder, Andrea Wilson, Mary Liz Lynch, Helen Wickham, Margaret Wulff, and Lori O’Connor, LSRVNA Volunteer Manager. Back row from left: Deb Smith, Dereck Johnson, Richard Dwyer, Tom Connair, Catherine O’Brian and Brita Ek.

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Summer Party Supports Staff Education

Lake Sunapee VNA “Fun-Filled” Summer Party Supports Staff Education

FUN(d) for Excellence, the 2019 Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice summer party held on August 27 at the New London Historical Society, was a “fun-filled” success complete with a balloon-popping raffle, trivia, ‘Funtinis’ and more!

According to Cathy Raymond, Development Officer, “Guests once again enjoyed an array of delicious food donated by local chefs and restaurants, including A Better Image Marketing & Promotion, Bubba’s Bar & Grille, Coach House Restaurant, The Millstone @ 74 Main, The Old Courthouse, The Refinery, Oak & Grain Restaurant and Suna. Thanks to our “Funtini’ sponsor, A Better Image Marketing & Promotion, and to Flying Goose Brew Pub for the delicious craft beer. We are deeply grateful to every guest and donor and applaud the exceptional generosity of our Luminary sponsors, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust/Charter Trust and Robert Faircloth.”

The support of so many helped to raise vital funds for continuing staff education and training. “At the same time that our population is aging rapidly and the demand for home health and supportive services is increasing, we are also seeing a shrinking workforce. This ‘perfect storm’ makes it more important than ever to dedicate robust resources for competitive compensation and meaningful educational opportunities in order to attract the quality staff needed to care for our community,” said Jim Culhane, President & CEO.

One of the most compelling moments of the evening was when several staff members shared their personal thoughts about what having these resources means to them. For information about supporting Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice, contact Cathy Raymond at 603-526-4077 x231 or craymond@lakesunapeevna.org.

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Dr. Lori Richer Joins Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice

Dr. Lori Richer Joins Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice

Lori Richer, MD, has joined Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice (LSRVNA) as its new Hospice and Palliative Care Medical Director. Dr. Richer grew up in Newport and returned to the area after earning her medical degree at the University of Utah. She completed her residency with the NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency program and was a primary care physician (PCP) in the New London area from 2006-2018. As a PCP, Dr. Richer was drawn to taking care of patients in the last phase of life in conjunction with their hospice caregivers. That lead her to pursue a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and transition to that specialty. “I am really excited to be back in the community caring for people in this capacity,” she says.

Hospice focuses on physical, emotional and spiritual comfort, so individuals with a life limiting illness can live their last phase of life to the fullest wherever they call home. Dr. Richer works closely with the entire LSRVNA hospice team—nurses, therapists, social workers, home care aides, spiritual counselors and trained volunteers—in the care of hospice patients and their families.

Palliative care focuses on the conversation and navigation of serious illness. Dr. Richer can assess palliative patients in the home setting, working closely with the patient’s other medical providers to achieve optimal symptom control and other goals of care.

“Along with providing care to our hospice and palliative patients, Dr. Richer is also developing inpatient palliative care services at New London Hospital,” says Jim Culhane, President and CEO at LSRVNA. “She will be a great asset to both organizations and our community as we further develop these important services.”

To learn more about the hospice and palliative care services available through LSRVNA, call 603-526-4077 or visit lakesunapeevna.org.

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