History

Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) was established as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization in 1952 by a group of concerned citizens following the announcement made by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company that they would be discontinuing their provision of in-home nursing services for policy holders living in the greater Port Huron area. From the beginning, meeting the home-based health care needs of the community, regardless of one's ability to pay has been the foundation on which Visiting Nurse Association Health Services provides care.

Over the years, VNA has evolved to meet the needs of the community through the expansion of services, such as, Special Care Services (1984), Blue Water Hospice (1990) and the Blue Water Hospice Home (2012). Today, Visiting Nurse Association Health Services, also known as VNA & Blue Water Hospice, is comprised of three service lines: Home Health Care, Special Care Services (Private Duty, Telehealth, and Palliative Care), and Blue Water Hospice (in-home/facility care and Blue Water Hospice Home).

VNA & Blue Water Hospice is committed to providing high-quality cost-effective health care to patients and their families in need of short-term, long¬ term and/or end-of-life care residing in St. Clair, southern Sanilac, eastern Lapeer, and northern Macomb county.

  • 1951

    A group of concerned citizens made the decision to establish a Visiting Nurse Association, following the announcement by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company that they would be discontinuing their provision of in-home nursing services for their policy holders living in the greater Port Huron area.
  • 1952

    The first Board of Directors was established, and a nurse was hired to begin immediate delivery of in-home nursing services for all residents of the Port Huron and Marysville areas. The first name chosen was the Visiting Nurse Association of Port Huron and Marysville. The first administrator hired was Bess MacCulloch, who went on to serve as the agency’s director for the next twenty-three years.
  • 1952

    Visiting Nurse Association is established in Port Huron.
  • 1966

    Changes in the federally sponsored Medicare and Medicaid programs allowed for reimbursement of home health care services.
  • 1952 through 1975

    Gained status as a Medicare and Medicaid certified agency, expanded services in the home by adding physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social work and home health aide services.
  • 1975

    Olive F. Doran was hired as the agency’s second director.
  • 1975 through 1984

    Health Care Finance Administration introduced the now famous diagnostic related groups (DRG) for Medicare patients treated within hospital programs. Prior to this time, hospitals were funded on a cost basis and there was no incentive for hospitals to control their expenditures. With the advent of the DRGs, reimbursement for Medicare patients became diagnostic specific, which meant that hospitals were now reimbursed based on a patient’s diagnosis and the federal Medicare program would pay a flat dollar rate for the diagnosis, regardless of the hospital’s cost. Hospitals then had an incentive to control their expenses, since for the first time it was possible for them to make a profit on the federally funded Medicare program. It then became advantageous for hospitals to discharge their Medicare patients as quickly as possible. Hospitals soon identified the home health care environment as one in which a patient could be discharged more quickly, although the patients were still in their acute phases of illness.
  • 1982

    Blue Water Hospice is established with leadership provided by Dr. Elmore D. Shoudy.
  • 1984

    Agency restructuring led to the development of Community Health Services, as a parent corporation, with two subsidiaries, the Visiting Nurse Association of St. Clair County as the Medicare and Medicaid certified agency and Huron Home Health Services as the private duty nursing service.
  • 1984

    Terry Labenski was hired as the agency’s third administrator and first Chief Executive Officer and served in that capacity for the next three and one-half years. Under Labenski’s guidance, the new corporation took on its identity.
  • 1988

    Consulting firm recommends “Visiting Nurse Association” should be incorporated into the name of each of the three entities.
  • 1990

    Timothy D. Liberty hired as the agency’s fourth Chief Executive Officer and served in that capacity for 21 years.
  • 1990

    Community Health Services became known as Visiting Nurse Association Health Services, the Visiting Nurse Association of St. Clair County became known as Visiting Nurse Association Home Health Care, and Huron Home Health Services became known as Visiting Nurse Association Special Care Services.
  • 1990

    Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice begin a working agreement.
  • 1991

    Agreement is formalized. The goals of the agreement were to strengthen both organizations and enhance the services available to terminally ill patients in our community.
  • 1991

    Hospice became certified for the provision of care under Medicare and Medicaid and eligible for reimbursement through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. This accomplishment enabled Hospice to significantly expand and enhance the special kind of care and service it provides.
  • 1993

    Hospice officially became a third subsidiary of VNA Health Services.
  • 2000

    Significant change in the way Medicare paid for services of patients seen by VNA Home Health Care. Instead of paying for services on a “per-visit cost” basis, Medicare began paying based on a patient classification system known as “Home Health Resource Group.” This system is similar to the hospital DRG system, and home care providers were allowed for the first time to make a profit from the Medicare system.
  • 2003

    Consolidated from separate companies into one parent company with three divisions. As a result, we dissolved three boards of directors and formed a single governing board of directors.
  • 2010

    Broke ground on the Blue Water Hospice Home
  • 2011

    James Elmslie was hired as the fifth President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • 2012

    Blue Water Hospice Home opens and accepts new patients
  • 2013

    David McKay was hired as the sixth President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • 2016

    Karen Harris was hired as the seventh President and Chief Executive Officer. Through the strategic planning process, the board of directors brought the membership together to vote to restate the Articles of Incorporation moving Visiting Nurse Association Health Services from a membership non-profit organization to a directorship non-profit.
  • 2018

    Angela DeLaere was hired as the eighth President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • 2019

    VNA main offices move to 3403 Lapeer Road, Suite B101.
  • 2019

    VNA & Blue Water Hospice honors Liz Norris, RN for her more than 40 years of service to the organization by naming the Board Room in her name – Liz Norris, RN Board Room.

Bess MacCulloch, RN

November 2, 1902 – December 26, 1989

Leading up to its establishment in 1952, Bess was essential in developing the Visiting Nurse Association of Port Huron and Marysville (later to be known as Visiting Nurse Association due to service area growth). She was the agency’s first executive director, holding this position for 23 years, until retirement in 1975. During her years of dedication, service, and leadership, she guided the agency through many significant changes and tremendous growth.

She led staff in the vigorous task of qualifying VNA as a Medicare and Medicaid certified agency. She had the foresight to know this was necessary for the agency to continue services in the future. Bess contributed to the expansion of home health care services through the addition of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social work, and home health aide services.

According to Bess, “the journey from birth to the end of life is one of continuous development and each step ahead is preparation for what is to come”.

Bess provided care to patients, trained staff in the art and science of home health care, and developed a fledgling agency into one our community is extremely proud of to this day. She was a true pioneer in the development of home health care services in the Blue Water Area.

Elmore Shoudy, MD

November 3, 1929 – November 22, 2009

Dr. Elmore Shoudy was a Family Practioner in Port Huron from 1960 to 1995. During his years in practice, he thought there should be a more compassionate way to help patients through terminal illness. He believed that patients facing an end-of-live diagnosis should not have to die in a hospital or long-term care facility. Patients should be able to die in the comfort of their homes or in a home-like environment.

Dr. Shoudy established Blue Water Hospice in 1982. Eight years later, in 1990, Blue Water Hospice became a part of Visiting Nurse Association’s continuum of care. As an advocate for patients in the final stages of a terminal illness, Dr. Shoudy still had a vision to provide a home-like environment during their final days. He recognized that sometimes, families couldn’t care for loved ones at the end of their illness and wanted to develop a home away from home for these patients.

It was Dr. Shoudy’s dream that a dedicated hospice home would be built in Blue Water community. In 2009, just a few weeks prior to his death, Dr. Shoudy was informed that funding, land, and design for the hospice home were approved. Three years later, in 2012, Dr. Shoudy’s vision was fulfilled and the Blue Water Hospice Home opened in Marysville.