The VNA of NWI celebrates 50 years of answering the call for compassionate care

The VNA of NWI celebrates 50 years of answering the call for compassionate care
By: Beth Ireland Last Updated: April 21, 2020

A 50th anniversary, the golden anniversary, is a milestone for any relationship, but especially for the relationship that VNA of Northwest Indiana (NWI) has with the communities they serve.

Over the last five decades, VNA of NWI has been building a strong relationship with the community it cares for, both organically by the nature of the care they provide, and intentionally by stepping up to meet the needs of patients and families. They are, as an organization, as personable and compassionate as the care they provide, and that success is a reflection of the communities they serve.

“The only reason the VNA has existed for 50 years is because of community support,” said Bob Franko, CEO, VNA of NWI. “The community has invested in and supported this resource for 50 years—they made the decision that this is an important resource to have and we have been fortunate and honored to continue to deliver care and services whenever and wherever needed.”

At the forefront of the hospice care movement, VNA of NWI, originally founded in 1970 as a home healthcare service, began offering hospice services to the community in 1983. In 2002, they broke ground on the in-patient Arthur B. and Ethel V. Horton VNA Hospice Center for hospice care. 

“We were one of the first in the state to offer in-home hospice care to the community and the very first for in-patient hospice care in the state,” said Maria Galka, Director of Development at VNA of NWI. “We’re a pioneer. We educated the medical community about the value of providing that compassionate end-of-life care our community needed.”

That pioneering spirit has helped shape VNA of NWI into the cherished community service it is today. The organization sees itself as belonging to the community, and as needs arise, the VNA of NWI responds. 

“The VNA started because there was a need for patient-focused care. As needs are identified in the community, we can be here to help fill those gaps,” Galka said. “That’s how we’ve ended up providing home healthcare, hospice, Meals on Wheels, the Lifeline program, the Phoenix Center, and palliative care.”

That adaptability is evident in VNA of NWI’s newer program centered on caring for veterans, especially Vietnam veterans, in a more focused manner through the We Honor Veterans Program. 

“As our veterans are aging, we’re seeing that they need special care. We’re committed to providing education to our staff as well as to the community to see how we can help them,” said Melanie Marshall, Director of Marketing at VNA of NWI.

Through their many quality programs and services, the VNA has strengthened their bond with the community.

“We’re a vital resource to the community, and that community has invested in us with resources and support and also with their trust. That trust is every bit as valuable as everything else,” Franko said.

Because of that trust, VNA of NWI takes their responsibility seriously and takes every opportunity to assess and revise operations as needed.

“We see ourselves as stewards of this resource. Our job looking forward is determining how to preserve and enhance this resource for the next 50 years,” Franko said. “We have no way of predicting what needs are going to arise over the next 50 years, but we want to build a firm foundation and a good framework so we can add programs and services to meet any need that may emerge. What that means is to have a good business plan in place, and to have a good community structure of support from volunteers, donors, and municipalities.”

Part of the plan to move forward is to strengthen the bond with community organizations. Working hand in hand with these organizations will allow the VNA to pool resources, expertise, and knowledge to better serve those in their care.

“That’s part of our mission and strategy over the next three years, to really open ourselves up and be seen as a valuable collaborator and partner with the whole community—the non-profit community, the faith community, and even government,” Franko said. “There’s always power in collaboration.” 

Throughout the years, VNA of NWI has touched thousands of Region lives. They know that the community they are proud to serve is the heart of their operation, and they are grateful for the last 50 years and look forward to many more. 

“There are so many people who support us, whether it’s $50 a year or $20,000 a year, or volunteering their time. We couldn’t be here without them and we can’t be here for the next 50 years without them,” Franko said. “Our 50th anniversary is a great way to thank everybody who has supported us over the years for their contributions and their trust.”

The VNA of NWI is planning to celebrate their 50th Anniversary this fall. Stay tuned for more information!

For more information on VNA of Northwest Indiana, visit their website at https://www.vnanwi.org/.