History

This is the chronological story of how our agency came to be as it is today.  We started as two separate entities, Visiting Nurse Association and Blue Water Hospice.  We first came together in 1990 to consolidate and form a stronger team.  Here are some highlights from that journey.

  • 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 – VNA 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 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 Terry’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 CEO
  • 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 our agency’s fifth President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • 2012 – Blue Water Hospice Home opens and accepts new patients
  • 2013 – David McKay was hired as our agency’s sixth President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • 2016 – Karen Harris was hired as our agency's 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.  
Since their respective inceptions in 1952 and 1982, the Visiting Nurse Association of Port Huron and Marysville and Blue Water Hospice has undergone significant growth, development and change. However throughout this growth and development, two elements have remained unchanged. The first is our mission to provide high-quality, cost effective health care to any patient and family member with short-term, long-term, or end-of-life care and second, our goal, to provide the best quality home health care and hospice services available in our community.


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