Most of our supporters only know VNA of Albany in its present from, but may not realize that we are one of the oldest continually operating home healthcare providers in the state.
In fact, our organization had its beginnings in 1880, an era when doctors and hospitals were only for the rich. Albany’s sick and elderly relied on family members for care, often driven to abject poverty by their illness. That is, until a group of resolute young women resolved to find a way to address the needs of their less fortunate neighbors. They formed “The Fruit and Flower Mission,” delivering their wares throughout the community along with a smile and a desire to be of service.
By 1889, the Mission had begun employing and training nurses to care for patients in their homes. The group reformed as “The Albany Guild for the Care of the Sick Poor” in 1896, and within the next few years, meal delivery, dental care, and obstetrical services were added. From the start, free services were given to anyone who could not afford to pay.
As the public’s need for medical care grew, so did the Guild. A clinic in Arbor Hill was founded, and nurses began traveling to regions outside of the city to meet increasing demand. By 1920, we had become “The Albany Guild for Public Health Nursing.” Almost 22,000 home visits were recorded that year, at a cost of 75 cents per visit.
To better reflect its purpose, the agency’s name was again changed in 1937 to the “Visiting Nurse Association of Albany.” By then, the charge for a nursing visit had gone up to $1, and the charge for attendance at the delivery of a baby was $5.
Caring for those with insufficient access to healthcare continued to be a priority for the agency. By the early 1970’s, VNA nurses had offices in three low-income housing communities in Arbor Hill. We also became the first agency in New York State certified to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients.
In 1976, the VNA moved to its present, much larger home, at 35 Colvin Avenue. The move allowed us to add speech therapists and occupational therapists to our staff. The early 1980’s saw an expansion into Saratoga County, followed by Rensselaer County in 1992. In 2014, the agency began providing services in eight more Capital Region counties.
One critical thing has remained the same since the beginning – those who could not afford to pay received care free-of-charge. To give the agency a vehicle to raise money for these unfunded services, the not-for-profit VNA Foundation was established in 1984.
Visiting Nurses Home Care (VNHC), an affiliated licensed home-care service agency, was founded in 1988 to provide supportive services including certified home health and personal care, homemakers, companions, licensed practical nursing, and registered professional nursing.
Today, VNA of Albany has 125 employees. Visiting Nurses Home Care employs a staff of 45 administrative workers and more than 600 paraprofessionals. It boasts five locations to meet growing client needs, and has expanded its service area to encompass 18 counties.
For almost 140 years, our region has been in a continual state of change. We too, have changed. We’ve grown from teaching morals to teaching diabetes care, from poultices to antibiotics, and from carrying leather medical bags to computer tablets.
We see more patients every year, and anticipate that number will continue to grow. Our medical and administrative staff has expanded to meet demand. We’ve installed new industry software to increase our operational and clinical efficiency. The quality and efficacy of our services is exceptional.
The one constant throughout the years has been our commitment to our patients and to our mission – delivering the best possible health care provided in the most efficient, appropriate, and cost effective manner. You can rest assured that this dedication will endure for the next century and beyond.