The last several months have seen several changes in our community and our country. In addition to civil and political unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered life for all of us in myriad and almost unimaginable ways.
As New York City’s number of new COVID-19 cases has ticked upward since last fall, I’m proud to say that VNSNY has continued to fulfill its mission. For 128 years, we’ve been on the front lines, supporting our patients, our partners, and our community.
This continuity has benefited our organization immensely as my predecessor Marki Flannery led us in ways that laid the groundwork for VNSNY to weather an unforeseen storm. It was my honor to be appointed as her successor by the VNSNY Board of Directors in July, 2020, and since then I have worked closely with Marki to ensure steadiness in this time of change.
As I assume my new role of President and CEO this month, I can also assure you that VNSNY’s commitment to protecting our staff, our patients, and our community has not wavered. As we deal with the COVID-19 resurgence in New York, our greatest concern is for the safety of our patients and the staff who care for them:
Protecting our staff—Thanks to Marki’s incredible leadership and passion for the VNSNY Mission, our workforce was prepared to rise to the occasion and do what needed to be done at a critical time. We sourced and maintain a supply of critical equipment, we created programs to support staff with emotional and mental health, and in accordance with government guidelines we have begun vaccinating eligible staff members.
Protecting our patients and members—VNSNY’s focus is on continuing to deliver care to vulnerable New Yorkers who depend on us. We follow strict protocols for preventing infection, but during this public health crisis, that safety has taken on new urgency—and has required a massive shift in how we deliver that care. The value of the care we deliver became evident in November of last year, when the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study about the important role home health care plays in post-discharge recovery of COVID-19 patients.
Maintaining the necessary equipment and sufficient funding to serve and protect our patients and staff is a vital and continuing need for VNSNY. I invite you to learn about the VNSNY Coronavirus Response Fund, where you can help us continue to provide care to those who need it.
Protecting our community—Since our founding in 1893, VNSNY has had a strong presence in the community, and COVID-19 is only one public health crisis we face. This pandemic has sadly shone a direct light on the impact of race and ethnicity in health care. Addressing health disparities has always been central to VNSNY and as a national leader, our role is to improve access to the full range of health care for all people.
Programs like VNSNY’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), Project HOPE, and our veterans and LGBTQ+ outreach programs are designed to address health disparities in underserved populations.
Our Community Collaborations initiative is strengthening outreach, boosting health literacy, and addressing health disparities head-on. Partnering with elected officials and community organizations, we have hosted or sponsored events to address the importance of voting, to provide testing for COVID-19 and HIV, and to distribute facemasks at our Chinatown Community Center.
In June of last year, VNSNY convened an Anti-Racism Employee Advisory Group, and I am extremely committed to turning their recommendations into action steps for our organization and the patients and members we serve.
In closing, I want to thank you for supporting VNSNY, and I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to continue to lead VNSNY’s mission and legacy. Your letters and emails, your positive messages and comments on our social media pages, and your generous donations all serve to remind everyone at VNSNY that we are part of a resilient community with a determined spirit.
We are in this together, and together we will stand strong.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Visiting Nurse Service of New York
New York State has established a hotline for questions and information: 1-888-364-3065.
You can also visit the VNSNY Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Hub to learn more about the Coronavirus and what is VNSNY doing to keep patients, plan members, and the community safe.