According to VNA President/CEO Katherine Krause,
The need is greater than ever before. As our community navigates our new normal, it is even more critical to ensure vulnerable senior neighbors are nourished body and soul and seriously ill patients receive care that is safe and compassionate.
At the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), we have remained steadfast in our mission: to help people age with dignity and independence at home. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, our leadership and staff have pivoted to comply with official regulations while maintaining excellence in our Meals on Wheels, Hospice and Palliative Care Programs.
Currently, we are providing more than 8,500 meals to seniors via home delivery and at senior centers throughout Dallas County. VNA adjusted operations dynamically to best meet the needs of our patients and clients. From delivering meals five days a week with volunteer assistance, to reducing physical delivery days, we were able to change the delivery schedule for the safety of our clients, volunteers, and staff. The addition of virtual deliveries provided volunteers with the opportunity to serve from the safety of their homes ensuring clients received vital socialization and friendship through a phone call. Our innovative mobile delivery app enables volunteers to collect important feedback from clients for additional needs such as a nurse to check on them, assistance with medications and utilities, and connecting them with other social services.
The VNA Hospice and Palliative Care clinical team has continued visiting terminally ill patients in need while adhering to the highest standards of safety. All clinical staff were issued the appropriate medical supplies for their individual roles. Serving more than 400 patients each day in 15 North Texas counties, patients are still receiving the highest quality care possible.
Last spring, our budget increased by $1.5 million and with the help of generous donors, we raised additional funds needed to cover our costs and ensure the compassionate care of our seniors in need. As the pandemic continues, VNA’s need for additional funding will persist. Critical medical supplies will likely remain in high demand and at a substantially higher cost.
Through public and private funding, we have added 500 new clients who were waiting to receive Meals on Wheels service. These seniors are now receiving vital nutrition and friendship helping them know they are not alone or forgotten. Sadly, this need will continue to grow as more seniors already struggling financially are faced with hunger and increased isolation. It is estimated approximately 15% of Dallas County seniors (more than 17,500) live below the poverty line. They are the hidden hungry—homebound, aging and unable to access resources like food pantries and grocery stores. With our new challenges, the physical and social nutrition Meals on Wheels delivers is even more vital, creating a safety net reducing health care costs, decreasing hospitalizations and early nursing home admissions helping them stay at home where they want to be.
VNA helps our senior neighbors age well at home. Seniors like Eulalia…
At 93, VNA Meals on Wheels client Eulalia, brightens the day of anyone she sees. This widow and mother of 10 is a Texas native, moving to Dallas at age 10. At a young age, Eulalia became the primary caretaker for her siblings after the death of her mother. She worked as a waitress, ensuring her family was taken care of. She went on to get married and raise children in her West Dallas home, where she still lives.
Since the COVID pandemic, Eulalia has cherished even more the deliveries made by VNA staff, the calls made by volunteers each week, the nourishing food and her favorite part, the hand-made cards made by the many student volunteers of VNA. She proudly displays these cards on her refrigerator and walls. During the pandemic, creative young artists have written sweet cards to “Brighten a Senior’s Day” during this time of isolation. The warm food, friendly delivery driver and special cards certainly do brighten the day of Eulalia and she brightens the day of anyone she meets.
* Graphic and photo provided by VNA