LECOM Health Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County

The Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County was founded in 1906 by the Woman’s Club of Erie to meet the home health care needs of our community. Since that time, our beliefs and values have guided us. We remain sensitive to the needs of our patients, staff, community and associated care providers.


lady-seniorThe mission of VNA of Erie County is to provide quality, cost effective home health care services to residents of Erie County, regardless of the ability to pay.

We believe that patients prefer to be at home whenever possible and that they should be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. Our services will provide care for individuals and their families. The physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients will be met through the coordinated efforts of all concerned.

We believe our most valuable resources are the loyal and compassionate people who provide services for our Agency as staff or as volunteers.

We believe that we should provide the same high quality of care, regardless of race, sex, color, age, religion, lifestyle, national origin, value/belief system, handicap or an individual’s ability to pay.

We believe that our primary goal is to provide services that not only meet the needs of the people we serve but exceed their expectations.

We believe that services directed and supported by our community will be responsive to the special needs of the patients we serve.

We believe that we must maintain a sound financial position, manage our assets wisely and approach all aspects of our business in an ethical manner.

We believe that through cooperation, coordination or collaboration we can provide continuity and quality of care for the patient. Building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with allied health and human service providers is important to our community.


home-imageIn 1906 Erie County’s population had just passed the 100,000 mark. A group of community-minded and energetic women from The Woman’s Club of Erie saw the need for nurses to provide medical care and health education in the homes of the thousands of immigrants crowding into the world’s busiest freshwater fishing port of the day—Erie, Pennsylvania. Those visionary women pooled their resources, went door-to-door for community contributions and created the Visiting Nurse Association of Erie County (VNA). They engaged the services of one nurse “to take care of the sick poor of Erie.”

Due to the increasing demand for home nursing services, an independent Visiting Nurse Association was incorporated in 1912, and a director and four nurses were hired. The purpose of the new organization was “to provide graduate nurses to visit those otherwise unable to secure skilled assistance in time of illness, to teach cleanliness and the proper care of the sick, to prevent the spread of disease and to provide such other aid to the poor and needy as may seem from time to time desirable.”

Early sponsors were largely concerned with fund raising projects. The records contain accounts of rummage and baked goods sales, thimble and card parties, block days, benefit moving picture performances and door-to-door solicitations. In 1915 the VNA became a member of the Social Service Foundation, the forerunner of today’s United Way of Erie County. Community support continued, and by 1924 an endowment fund had been established.

As home nursing services became increasingly popular, not only “the sick poor,” but the public in general required home care. Funds to support VNA services continued from many sources. Fees from those able to pay, the Health Department, the Department of Public Assistance, various industries and societies, the United Way and VNA membership dues all helped fund home health care services.

The first office, established at the Associated Charities office, soon moved to 522 German Street and then, after the Millcreek Flood in 1915, moved to 423 East Sixth Street; to 319 West Eighth Street in 1924, to 1305 Peach Street, Erie, on September 1, 1971, and to 2253 West Grandview Boulevard, Erie, in December, 2008.

The VNA premise was that no matter how poor or how remote, the patient and family deserved special attention. They believed that if society’s basic unit was nurtured, a strengthened community would result, and everyone would benefit. The work of the VNA was also based on the assumption that the wealthy, the middle class and the poor should all receive the same level of care “without regard to the ability to pay.” If a family had the means, a small fee would be assessed. If not, home visits continued anyway.

Some historical highlights include:

[dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1906 – 1919 ” open=”yes”]1906During the devastating Millcreek Flood, the VNA cared for 32 families for 8 days at the VNA Neighborhood House; engaged 13 extra nurses during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic to care for many orphaned children and over 1,000 other flu patients that year; established Mothercraft or Prenatal Classes and started child health stations throughout the city of Erie to promote hygiene and provide health education and pediatric information for mothers and their children.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1920’s” open=”yes”]19201920’s—VNA opened an Orthopedic Department at the VNA building which served the community until local hospitals were able to institute physical therapy departments in 1959; established VNA endowment fund.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1930’s” open=”yes”]1930VNA provided extensive TB follow-up and taught student nurses the TB program in public health nursing. VNA began providing part-time industrial nursing services to employers.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1940’s” open=”yes”]1940VNA accredited as a School of Public Health Nursing; assisted the now defunct Lakeview Hospital in setting up and staffing a polio ward; provided nurses during a flood disaster to care for evacuees.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1950’s” open=”yes”]1950VNA participated in mass Salk Polio vaccine inoculation; provided home health care for veterans; piloted a program in public health nursing which combined the City of Erie, Erie County Health Department and the VNA.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1960’s” open=”yes”]1960VNA established Child Health Stations in remote areas of Erie County; received Medicare certification as a home health care agency.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1970’s” open=”yes”]1970VNA participated in the mass Rubella vaccine inoculation; burned the mortgage on its new building at 1305 Peach Street; expanded rehabilitation program with physical therapists and rehab nurse on staff; provided clinical experience for a graduate program in community health nursing for State University of New York-Buffalo; participated in Swine Flu inoculation program; added venipuncture to VNA services.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1980’s” open=”yes”]1980VNA expanded medical social work services and occupational therapy program; began comprehensive support services (later known as hospice); Within one year VNA had served 80 patients with comforting end-of-life care and pain and symptom management; started intravenous therapy service; initiated computerized system for billing; established an infection control program.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”1990’s” open=”yes”]1990VNA joined the VNA’s of America; became the first Medicare certified Hospice in Erie County.

[/dt_sc_toggle_framed] [dt_sc_toggle_framed title=”2000’s” open=”yes”]2000VNA installed upgraded computer system to enable electronic transfer of patient records; introduced palliative care program; produced Spanish-language program brochures; offered physical therapy service of lymphedema management/treatment; transitioned to paperless documentation system of record-keeping; celebrated 100 years of service to the community.[/dt_sc_toggle_framed]

Since its founding in 1906, the VNA has provided uninterrupted skilled nursing and home health care services despite the Great Depression, World Wars, disease epidemics and natural disasters. As a not-for-profit, Medicare-certified home health care agency, the VNA of Erie County has traditionally demonstrated the vision and flexibility to meet the ever-changing home health and Hospice needs of our community. New technologies, such as electronic record keeping, online billing capacities and point-of-care documentation systems continue to improve the quality of patient care we offer.