In 1974, Indian River County resident Marion Oeschsner saw a need in the community for a home healthcare agency committed to delivering quality care in patients’ homes and organized a group of dedicated volunteers to form a VNA. That group of volunteers, now known as VNA’s founders, included Celeta Arden, Helen Brackins, George Kuhn, Ann Marie McCrystal, John Moore, Barbara Morrison, Marion Oechsner, Ted Chenault and William Terry. They chose to make the home care agency a VNA because of the non-profit status VNA companies hold, and they wanted to set the standard that the organization would serve all those in the community regardless of their financial standing. In 1975, the VNA was fully established and made 80 home visits in its first month of operation. The staff consisted of one nurse director and one home health aide, and together they cared for patients discharged from the hospital requiring home care.
Since its inception, the VNA has grown tremendously, and increased its services to include hospice and private caregivers, making it the only local non-profit home care agency to provide a continuum of care for its patients. It also expanded its home healthcare service line into Brevard County, and built the VNA Hospice House, a state-of-the art facility in Vero Beach that offers 24/7 hospice care for its residents and families affected by a terminal illness. The VNA also created many community wellness initiatives and offers “health care on wheels” through its mobile health clinic.
The VNA has become one of the largest employers and healthcare providers in Indian River County. But even with its incredible growth, it has never lost sight of the founders’ vision: a community-minded organization that cares for all.