A Century of Care

By Lisa Cavanaugh

One hundred years ago, health care on Cape Cod often arrived by bicycle. In 1916, before local hospitals were established, the first nurse of the newly founded Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), Elizabeth Eliot-Smith, was cycling her way to homes in Falmouth to deliver babies and care for the sick. Over the next few decades, various home nursing organizations across Cape Cod were tasked with treating tuberculosis, teaching hygiene and tending to infants in the homes of Cape residents. Eventually, the groups merged to become what is now the VNA of Cape Cod and has become an integral part of the local healthcare landscape. Today, the organization is a comprehensive healthcare provider offering an ever-expanding range of advanced-level services, including hospice care, disease management, rehabilitation, home health aide and social work services. From its humble beginnings 100 years ago to the multi-faceted organization it is now, a patient-centered focus has remained the philosophy of the VNA of Cape Cod. “Going into a patient’s home to help them achieve wellness is the greatest reward you have as a professional,” says CEO Dianne Kolb. “Many patients think of us as angels coming to their homes to help them gain independence. We take pride in that.”

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