Community Visiting Nurse Association (CVNA) was established in 1948 by a group of community-minded citizens as Somerset Valley Visiting Nurse Association (SVVNA) and certified by the State of New Jersey as a non-profit social welfare corporation. The Somerset Valley VNA office was located at 25 North Bridge Street in Somerville, offering services in the boroughs of Bound Brook, Manville, Middlesex, Millstone, Rocky Hill, Raritan, Somerville, South Bound Brook and the townships of Branchburg, Bridgewater, Hillsborough and Montgomery.
On September 1, 1949 Marie G. Gemeroy was appointed Director of Somerset Valley VNA. She was a graduate of Cornell University New York Hospital School of Nursing and earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Nursing at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She joined Somerset Valley VNA after working at the Henry Street House of New York, the first public health nursing facility. The initial staff of the agency at that time consisted of two nurses and a clerk.
The functions of Somerset Valley VNA were defined as:
- Promoting individual, family and community health
- Preventing disease by teaching the principles of health, hygiene and sanitation.
- Applying the functions of public health nursing in the prevention of disease and promotion of health.
In 1951, our office moved to 204 West Cliff Street, Somerville. Marie Gemeroy supervised a staff of three nurses, directed public relations and administrated fieldwork and bedside care. Mrs. Gemeroy firmly believed that public services delivered by the agency were only possible as a result of support from individuals and local welfare agencies. In addition to her leadership of SVVNA, Mrs. Gemeroy was elected first Vice President of the NJ Organization for Public Health Nursing.
Marie Gemeroy resigned in 1955 and Mildred LaDue succeeded her as Director. By 1956, the staff had grown to six nurses, including the director, plus two part-time clerks. The nurses made 11,336 home visits that year. By 1966, we had grown to 12 nurses and moved to 256 East Main Street in Somerville, New Jersey.
The nurses' main duties were to provide care and give treatment ordered by a physician to anyone who was ill and at home and in need of a nurse on a part time basis. Some duties included bathing, changing dressings and administering medications and injections.
The Federal Medicare program was created in 1965 and SVVNA received Medicare certification. Fees were charged based on actual cost to the association; however, service was never denied because of a patient’s inability to pay.
Caroline E. Krajewski Manney, who served the agency for over 20 years, became Director in 1968. During her tenure, we experienced considerable growth, moved to a new location to accommodate the increasing number of patients in Somerset County, and developed many community-based programs serving the underprivileged.
In 1974, we purchased our first headquarters building, at 586 East Main Street in Bridgewater, and celebrated our 25th anniversary. After a 30-year absence as director of SVVNA, Marie Gemeroy rejoined the organization as a member of the Board of Trustees, serving from 1982 to 1989.
In 1985, Marilyn Zuchowski became the new Director, bringing an extensive background in home health care and nursing management. Our services continued expanding to include health maintenance and monitoring for local boarding home residents, non-public school nursing, health screening programs for industry and community groups, and infusion therapy services.
By 1987, SVVNA had 16 Registered Nurses, five Physical Therapists, two Occupational Therapists, two Speech Therapists, one Social Worker, one Registered Dietitian and five office staff. SVVNA was designated as the Case Management site in Somerset County for Medicaid ACCAP waiver program (extended home care for AIDS clients). A formal arrangement was made to provide client assessments to the Somerset County Board of Social Services and agreements were made to provide local health departments with child health clinics and health screenings.
In 1990, we established a new program, Somerset Valley Hospice. It was certified by Medicare in May, 1990, and began providing care and support to terminally ill patients and their families.
In recognition of the dedication and service provided to Somerset Valley VNA by Marie Gemeroy, we created an annual award in her name that honors extraordinary individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the agency and to our patients. The award is presented at our Annual Meeting each spring.
In 1993, in cooperation with the Visiting Nurse Association of America, we began a Flu Immunization program, providing flu shots throughout the community to adults, helping to prevent illness and the complications that arise from the flu. Also in 1993, SVVNA achieved accreditation from CHAP, The Community Health Accreditation Program.
The Hospice program’s annual fund raiser, “Light Up A Life,” began in 1995. Family members gather to remember their loved ones as a Christmas tree is decorated with colorful ribbons and lit in their memory.
To demonstrate the high quality of care and services provided, SVVNA earned Accreditation With Commendation from the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) in 1997.
In 2000, the Board of Trustees adopted our present name, Community Visiting Nurse Association. Community VNA is the parent company for Community Visiting Nurse Service, the Medicare-certified provider; Community Home Care, caring for managed care patients and community health programs; and Community Care Hospice, caring for terminally ill patients. All of the companies are non-profit and function seamlessly as one unit to provide outstanding care to patients.
In May, 2001, Alyce Brophy, who joined the agency in 1995, was appointed President/CEO of Community Visiting Nurse Association and its affiliates, a role she continues today. She is supported by a Board of Trustees, comprised of local residents and people from the health and business community who voluntarily contribute their time and expertise to help oversee the plans of the organization and the activities of the staff.
In September 2003, the world’s largest health care philanthropy, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, awarded Community VNA a $232,000 collaborative training grant to improve training, literacy and job success of home health and long term care aides in Somerset County and to ease the shortage of caregivers in our community. A second grant was received from Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Corporation that enabled us to update patient equipment and educational tools for all our child health clinics in Somerset County.
The Somerset County Office on Aging awarded its Chronic Disease Care Management Program grant to Community Home Care in 2004. This grant helps fund nursing care, nutritional counseling, physical therapy, social services and telemedicine to frail, elderly county residents with diabetes and/or congestive heart failure.
In January, 2005, we moved our offices to a distinctive Victorian house at 110 West End Avenue in Somerville. This move doubled the size of our offices to accommodate the growth of the agency and expand our services to the residents in the area.
In 2006 we established a nursing scholarship in honor of the late Caroline E. Krajewski Manney. The scholarship is awarded to one or more students from Somerset County who are enrolled in a National League for Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredited nursing program within the State of New Jersey and who have successfully completed at least one semester in an RN Program.
In 2007, we again sought and were awarded certification by CHAP, the Community Health Accreditation Program. That same year, we received a $25,000 grant from the State of New Jersey for an emergency preparedness program that enables us to be an integral part of community efforts in this area.
Community VNA has grown considerably since 1948. Today our approximately 120 employees, including RNs, LPNs, Therapists, Registered Dietitians, Home Health Aides, office staff and management, are truly the faces of caring. Each year our dedicated staff provides thousands of hours of service to patients and their families who rely on Community VNA for the best of care.