The Visiting Nurses Association in Red Bank has been receiving an outpouring of community support following Monday's devastating fire at a historic Rumson mansion where the health group was supposed to hold it's biggest fundraising event next week.

Colleen Nelson (left) and Catherine Wallin (right) with the Visiting Nurses Association in Red Bank, photo by Tom Mongelli, TSM News.
Colleen Nelson (left) and Catherine Wallin (right) with the Visiting Nurses Association in Red Bank, photo by Tom Mongelli, TSM News.

"Their concern is for the VNA, their concern is for the family, the homeowners, the designers, the landscapers, everybody that poured their heart and soul into making this the event the largest fundraiser for us," said Colleen Nelson, the VNA's Vice President of Clinical Operations, during an appearance Wednesday on the "Townsquare Tonight" Program on News Talk AM-1160 & 1310.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, the VNA is looking forward to honoring its caregivers, who tend to 120,000 patients, during National Nurses Week in May.

"Any time that you can celebrate a win that you can make a big deal out of what you're doing and take a breath, it's so, so important," Nelson said.

The VNA was founded in 1912 and is the second largest in the country and the second largest non-profit provider of home care, hospice and palliative care, and community services, according to Catherine Wallin, the VNA's Patient Care Director.

Information provided by VNA illustrates that nurses in the program travel an aggregate 5 million miles a year to service their patients, about 7,000 of which are homebound. Another 1,500 or so receive hospice and palliative care. More than 10,500 special-needs families are enrolled along with some 9,000 under-insured and uninsured individuals.

She said "selflessness" is probably the most special quality all nurses possess.

"Devotion, they're dedicated, they're compassionate. They just go above and beyond and their patients come first, they're available to their patients, and they want the best outcomes for their patients," said Wallin.

Some of the grant programs the VNA provides include the Nurse Family Partnership, a home visitation program with nurses specially trained to work with expectant women from their seventh month of pregnancy until the child is two-years-old.

VNA's Children and Family Health Institute serves families coping with cancer, audism, cystic fibrosis, asthma, and other afflictions. The program includes nurse-family partnerships, early health intervention, school-based nursing, and special supplmental nutrition for women, infants and children (WIC).

The group estimates that morethan 50,000 children and families in New Jersey receive service from grant-funded programs affiliated with VNA.

"We handle everything from mom's care of her newborn to handling the different changes that are happening to the babies, the milestones that they need to meet," Wallin said. New moms are also given guidance on how to meet their own goals, including finishing her education.

"Having sometimes that cheerleader, that nurse in that role, is the support system that maybe that person doesn't really have," added Nelson.

A Mobile Outreach program also provides care for the homeless and mentally ill in Monmouth County, connecting them with resources such as where they can get food, eyeglasses, help managing medications, and other things that get overlooked with the vulnerable population.

National Nurses Day is May 6th. The theme is "Ethical Practice and Quality," which is fitting of a Gallup Poll showing nurses are the most trusted profession. National Nurses Week falls during Florence Nightingale's birthday in 1820, who came to be known as "The Lady with the Lamp," the founder of modern nursing. It was initially created to raise the awareness of the important roles nurses play.

The VNA will show videos highlighting some of its nurses stories during celebrations at six locations statewide.

For the shore area, a breakfast will held May 5, at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Eatontown, from 8:30 am to 10:30 a.m..



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