Letter: VNA director discusses future of organization

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To the editor,

The staff of the Naugatuck VNA has been asked many questions about the future of the Naugatuck VNA by patients and the public. Recent newspaper articles make mention of privatizing the VNA. The Naugatuck VNA will continue to take new referrals and to provide service to our existing patients. Our patients are our first priority.

Our history: The visiting nurses services originated in Naugatuck on Aug. 21, 1919 under the auspices of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The program was funded for one year by the Howard Whittemore family, local philanthropists. After the first year, the funding was assumed by the American Red Cross, a function of many of the Red Cross agencies, at that time. This arrangement continued until July 1, 1949, when the agency known as the Naugatuck Public Health Nursing Service, became a municipal agency, a department of the Borough of Naugatuck.

Blum Shapiro: On July 29, 2013, Jeff Ziplow of Blum Shapiro presented the Strategic plan to the Naugatuck Tri Boards (Board of Mayor and Burgesses, Finance Board and Board of Education). Blum Shapiro was hired last November for $62,000 to develop a long-term strategic plan on the operations of borough government. Included in this report is the recommendation to privatize the Naugatuck Visiting Nurse Association and Youth Services. The draft report recommends merging the two agencies with private health care organizations. 

The Citizens News reported the following from the presentation: “It’s our opinion it doesn’t make sense to keep it within the municipality,” Ziplow said. He said health care services in other communities are provided by private organizations. “It seems to make more business sense to come up with game plan to transition what exists today in the current municipality to more of a private-type of organization,” Ziplow said. The Tri Boards accepted the strategic plan.

Our future: For the purpose of fact finding, the Mayor and Naugatuck VNA staff has been meeting with several Home Health Agencies (VNAs) who are interested in our organization. This information will be considered by the committees implementing the Blum Shapiro Strategic Plan. The Future of Naugatuck VNA is yet to be determined.

Word of the month: Privatize. Take something out of state control; To transfer to private ownership an economic enterprise or public utility that has been under state ownership. Encarta Dictionary North America.

Theresa Stieber

Director, Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association