At VNS Westchester, A Little Creativity Goes a Long Way in Bringing Cheer to Patients

VNS Westchester has a long history of community service. Its staff provides free health screenings at community sites, contributes to food and clothing drives, arranges for donated medical equipment, and recently participated in HCA’s “Bring the Vote Home New York” drive by distributing flyers to patients so they can learn about options for voting from home using an absentee ballot.

As the “giving season” approaches, VNSW staff is busier than ever finding ways to give back to community members in need. This year, the agency will be providing personalized holiday gift baskets to many of its vulnerable patients, including at-risk families and children, the frail elderly who live alone, veterans and others who could use some extra holiday cheer. The contents of the baskets are tailored for each person or family based on the recommendations of nurses, therapists and home health aides.

“Because of the close bonds they form with our patients, nurses, therapists and aides develop a keen understanding of items that would be useful or meaningful in fulfilling a need or desire that the patients may not be able to provide for themselves,” says Joyce Infante, VNSW’s Director of Development and Communications. Contents might include stationery and stamps for a homebound patient; scented lotion and special socks for a diabetic patient; a flowering plant for a gardening enthusiast; warm mittens and toys for young children.

“The creativity that goes into the holiday baskets was matched this year with a creative enterprise to raise money to fund them,” says Infante. “Last year we raffled off a quilt created by staff to raise funds for a staff member’s service mission to help orphans in China. This year, for our second quilt raffle, six members of our nursing and support staff worked for several months to create a beautiful autumn-themed quilt, titled ‘Fall into Pieces.’ The quilters decided to raffle off the quilt to generate funds for the gift baskets.”

According to VNSW Director of Patient Services, Suzanne Moses, “I’m proud of the creative ways multiple groups of staff work together on community service projects that benefit our patients in need. The attention to detail that goes into personalizing the holiday gift baskets means a great deal to our patients and to our staff as well. It is characteristic of the level of personalized care that patients come to expect from our home care team, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.”

Photo caption: “VNSW Quilters” created and raffled off a quilt to raise funds for its holiday community service project this year. They are (left to right): Sandy Ogburn, Supervisor-Support Staff; Claudia Weiner, RN, CWON; Sally Wilson, RN; Mindy Kendall, RN, Intake Coordinator; Jill Foscaldi, Executive Assistant (not shown, Janice Malett, RN, CWON).