On Monday, the community will celebrate the 40th birthday of a nonprofit agency whose service to Douglas County stretches as long as its name.
It started out as the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association on Feb. 2, 1969. Now it is known as Douglas County Visiting Nurses, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care. Most people know it simply as VNA, an organization that has helped thousands of local residents deal with trying health-related situations and even the death of loved ones.
A story in Saturday’s Journal-World reminds us of the humble beginnings of the agency in the basement of a building in the 300 block of Missouri Street. The agency now is a few blocks north and east in the Community Health Facility, which also houses the Douglas County Health Department and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. From a part-time staff of four, the agency has grown to employ 90 people now serving about 130 clients.
Over the years, it seems about everyone in the county has somehow been touched by the attention of VNA nurses, therapists or hospice workers to a friend or family member. VNA staff members offer their clients not only the best of care but the comfort of being able to receive that care in their homes. Much of the cost of that care is covered by insurance and government medical programs, but the generosity of the community also allows VNA to offer care to other clients who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay.
Many dedicated administrators, workers and board members have worked hard for the last 40 years to build Douglas County VNA into a respected and dependable care-giving service, that continues to look to the future. Last summer, the agency realized a longtime dream by opening a hospice house equipped to serve up to four people facing the final stage of their life.
Lawrence and Douglas County have dozens of agencies that provide services that add tremendously to our quality of life. Douglas County Visiting Nurses, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care certainly ranks among the best.