Can Prevent Hospitalization

By: Melinda Millsap

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Space Coast provides medical assistance to people in their homes, often preventing the need for hospitalization.

“We make you independent in your home,” said Linda Shelby, VNA professional services director.

The VNA offers various services, including specific care programs, medical social services, nutrition education, telemonitoring, and community wellness programs.

“Sometimes we can head off hospitalization by changing medicine or diet,” she explained. The VNA’s in-home telemonitoring service can also prevent hospitalization.

The VNA typically steps in when a physician calls the agency before a patient’s surgery or when a patient has missed an appointment or is not feeling well. The VNA staff works closely with the doctor to provide for a patient’s needs after surgery, illness, or injury.

Although a doctor usually makes the first call to a home healthcare organization, potential patients or concerned family members can initiate the call and select the agency. “You have a choice,” said Tracey Kendrick, VNA communications manager.

Each VNA patient has an individualized visit schedule and plan. The frequency of the visits depends on the care that is needed. Specific care programs include cardiac care, wound, ostomy, continence care, orthopedic rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, post-surgical care, and diabetic training and education.

Rehabilitative therapy can include physical, speech or occupational therapy to help patients regain mobility, motor skills, speech, or the ability to swallow. The VNA works with the patient’s doctor to develop a plan for transitioning the patient safely from the hospital, surgery center, or nursing facility back to the patient’s home.

The VNA’s medical social service assistance involves helping patients navigate through Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance reimbursement; connect with community resources; and assist with long-range healthcare planning.

To help minimize the risk of hospitalization or a trip to the emergency room, the VNA can provide in-home monitors to patients with chronic heart or lung problems. This gives them the ability to monitor their own vital signs and symptoms. If the readings fall outside a range prescribed by the physician, a VNA nurse can be notified so appropriate action can be taken. By keeping a close eye on the patient’s progress, minor health issues can be caught before they become major complications that can result in a trip to the hospital.

Home healthcare payment options include Medicare, Medicaid commercial health insurance plans, direct payment, private insurance, Workers’ Compensation or VA.

The VNA believes in giving back to the community it has served for more than a decade. “It is important to keep our community healthy,” Linda explained.

For more information about this nonprofit organization, go to or call (321) 752-7550 or (888) 771-0260.