In 1913, visiting nurses began fanning out from Rochester, tending primarily to the poor — who simply could not afford to go to the hospital. They went initially on foot, by train and by buggy. Tending wounds, treating asthma, soothing sick children.
A local woman, Norma Snow, saw a need in her community. She gave of her own resources and enlisted the help of the Ladies Aide of the First Church Congregational to fill that community need.
More than 100 years later, visiting nurses are still fanning out from Rochester. They tend to everyone now, not just the destitute — and now, of course, they go by car. Now called Cornerstone VNA, the nonprofit serves some 2500 patients annually in Rockingham, Strafford, Belknap and Carroll Counties in New Hampshire and in York County, Maine. The care the VNA delivers today is far more complex — from in-home chemotherapy to IV therapy, orthopedic and cardio-pulmonary rehab and hospice care. But the spirit of the mission remains unchanged.
Julie Reynolds is a nurse and CEO of Cornerstone VNA.
“Today, you are rarely admitted to the hospital any more. And if you are, you are quickly discharged,” she said. Visiting nurses are now providing the kind of care in-home that was once done in hospitals. And that can be a good thing. “At home,” she said, “You heal better. You have your support systems…and when we go into the home, we can identify what are your resources — do you have the ability to get the foods that are recommended, do you understand them, do you have family support?”
In addition to in-home patient care, Cornerstone VNA also provides a wellness and immunization clinics and community health education.
Cornertone VNA was the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award, which is administered by the Charitable Foundation. Other recent grants from the Foundation include a small grant to purchase rehabilitation equipment and supplies for low-income patients and $60,000 in operating grants and other support between 2005 and 2011.
“From children to seniors, individuals and families benefit enormously from the vital services that visiting nurse associations like Cornerstone provide every day,” said Foundation Senior Program Officer Deborah Schachter.
“We are so pleased to be able to recognize and support their work. Nonprofits like these are critical players in the delivery of health care and the support of wellness in our communities.”