VNA updates facility for patients and families

VNA updates facility for patients and families
By: Beth Ireland Last Updated: December 7, 2019

When a loved one is being cared for at the VNA of Northwest Indiana it's important that they and their family have a comfortable, home-like space that is peaceful and serene. The VNA’s Arthur B. and Ethel V. Horton Hospice Center has provided that comfort for nearly 18 years, and recently underwent a major renovation to make the space even more accessible and comforting for families.

“We’re adding to the atmosphere and comfort for the patients, families, staff, and volunteers,” said Maria Galka, Director of Development. “Hospice is all about comfort and being able to provide a peaceful space for families to gather is important to us."

The VNA Hospice Center was built in 2002 through a joint effort of community leaders and the VNA Foundation. Having since served over 5,000 patients it was time for a facelift and some maintenance upkeep. A task force of volunteers, staff, and stakeholders has been regularly meeting since 2017 to plan and implement the updates.

In 2017 the VNA hosted its inaugural Last Chance for White Pants Gala to raise funds to support the Center rehabilitation. Annual galas followed in 2018 and 2019 to support the purchase of new beds, flooring, furniture, technology, lighting, and painting.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of the community and our donors,” said Galka. The community response has been great and the money raised has covered almost all of these costs.”

Little touches like new privacy curtains, televisions, and updates to the Chapel have topped off the rehabilitation to make the Center even more warm and inviting.

“We worked with our staff, volunteers and the families of former patients to better understand the needs of everyone involved,” said Bob Franko, President, and CEO. “Comfortable couches and chairs for families where they could sleep if need be, for example, were important; as well as having adequate storage for additional pillows and patient belongings that didn’t take up too much space in the patient’s room was also a consideration."

Having other spaces throughout the facility where families could gather and let their loved one rest was another consideration, and assuring that those spaces can accommodate multiple families and allow them to spread out and be comfortable.

“When families are going through hospice there is already so much stress,” said Galka. “We want them to have the opportunity to be relieved of the burden of being a caregiver and once again be a spouse, a mother, a son or daughter or friend."

Connie Bowman of Hattie Smith Designs was the key facilitator with a keen eye for function and style.

“Connie did so much due diligence in understanding the needs of our families and staff and putting so much thought into the types of furnishings, colors, and fabrics that would help provide that level of comfort and care,” Galka said. “We are so grateful for her.”

Galka reiterated that the Hospice Center really belongs to the community.

“The community identified the need for it, built it, supported it and continues to value it as a key component to the quality of life in our community,” she said. “We’re beyond blessed by the supportive community that believes in what we’re doing and wants to see this kind of service available for generations.”

The VNA will host an open house of the renovated center from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm on January 23, 2020, in conjunction with the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce.

About VNA of NWI:

VNA of NWI is the most patient-focused provider of aging, palliative, hospice, and grief support services in Northwest Indiana, providing comfort, peace-of-mind, and superior care to families working through some of life’s greatest challenges. VNA of NWI provides hospice and palliative care services as well as children’s grief support at the VNA Phoenix Center, Lifeline, and VNA Meals on Wheels. The VNA is an accredited, not for profit, United Way agency serving Porter, La Porte, Lake, Jasper, and Starke counties for nearly 50 years. For more information, contact the VNA of NWI at 219.462.5195 or visit