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Visiting nurse agencies merge in order to increase service area

April 25, 2014 |

On April 1, the Chicopee Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Porchlight VNA/Home Care joined forces under the Porchlight name, increasing access for patients in Hampden and Hampshire counties. Staff members of the Chicopee location (left to right): Elizabeth Haire, business coordinator; Kelly McCormick, schedule coordinator; Anna Chapman, director of health services; Holly Chaffee, CEO; Karen Stefanelli, quality improvement assistant; Jean Reidy, associate clinical director; and Anita Malikowski, liaison nurse.
Reminder Publications photo by Carley Dangona

By Carley Dangona carley@thereminder.com
CHICOPEE – The Chicopee Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and Porchlight VNA/Home Care officially merged on April 1, creating a unified organization to serve the greater Hampden and Hampshire Counties. The merger was initiated to help the freestanding agencies join forces to provide greater outreach to those in need and to stabilize the futures of both nonprofit VNAs. The headquarters for Porchlight will remain in Lee. The merger includes the integration of four businesses: Porchlight VNA, Porchlight Home Care, Chicopee VNA and its home care division Great to be Home Care. Together, the agencies have 170 years of experience serving patients. The combined budget of $10.5 million will be available to serve residents within both counties. The workforce now totals 300 employees. At this time, no layoffs are anticipated, although some employee’s job duties might change due to internal restructuring, according to Porchlight CEO Holly Chaffee. “We really enjoy providing service to the people out there,” Chaffee said. “We have served generations of people [within the same family]. It’s our job to keep them home. I have a real passion for the work I do. I truly believe that we deliver patient-centered care.” She explained that changing the names from Lee and Chicopee helps the community understand that the VNAs offer services in areas beyond their namesakes. Chaffee explained that the Porchlight name is part of the VNAs history. Chaffee shared the story of Marita Stratton, a member of the Porchlight board of directors, and her husband Dr. Charles Stratton, who used to tell patients to leave their porch light on if they needed him to stop for a house call on his way home from work. The goal of the new name was for “people to think of their home and individual experience” Chaffee said. “We needed to join together to increase our footprint and access to caring and loving professional [for the community],” she stated. The use of a new electronic medical records system and tablets will assist with the improved service. The organization currently offers services from acute to chronic care such as live-in caregivers, home health aides, elder services, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes and medication management, maternal and child health and speech, physical and occupational therapy. Chaffee said that Porchlight will tentatively begin providing nurse practitioners in the Chicopee area on June 1. Chaffee added that people can call Porchlight with questions and staff will connect them with the resources they need, even if it’s not a service the VNA offers. “Today, health care is regional and demands partnerships. For smaller free-standing nonprofit health care organizations to survive and thrive, we must band together to find greater efficiencies,” Judy Cote, chief operating officer of Porchlight, said. Effective April 1, she will become the COO of Porchlight. She added, “Our mission is to achieve excellent patient outcomes, [add] value to our community and exceptional patient experiences. Porchlight and Chicopee joining together will better help us both attain these goals for the betterment of the communities we serve.” Four members of the former Chicopee VNA board of directors will join the Porchlight board of directors to ensure consistency of service throughout the service areas, according to Chaffee. For more information about Porchlight, visit www.porchlighthomecare.org.

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