5 Surprising Things About Our Home Health & Hospice Partner

Spoiler alert: Prenatal care, community activities and more.
Home Health and Hospice nurse playing poker with adult male patient

For all of its 100-plus years, The University of Vermont Health Network - Home Health & Hospice has demonstrated a remarkably forward-thinking approach to health care, always reaching out to vulnerable populations and making care accessible to all. Now, this venerable institution is quietly reshaping the narrative surrounding home-based care, providing a diverse range of services that most people haven’t heard about.

"On any given day, we care for more than 1,000 people in Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties,” says President Christine Werneke. “There’s a wide array of needs."

Here, Werneke shares five things she’d like you to know about Home Health & Hospice.

1. Home Health & Hospice isn't just for the terminally ill

Our clinicians care for new and expecting parents, children with autism, and those seeking respite from caregiving duties. We serve patients with complex care needs because of diabetes or heart issues, those who need physical therapy or occupational therapy after a hospital stay, and those with memory issues who are looking for a place for companionship during the day. We also provide high-technology nursing care for children who need specialized technical equipment, like gastric tubes or ventilators. Those are just a few of the other groups we support.

2. You don’t need special insurance

Contrary to common misconceptions, you don't need long-term-care insurance to access Home Health & Hospice services. "Don’t assume anything about your eligibility or insurance coverage because each situation is unique; we can help you navigate that,” says Werneke.

3. We’re not a big fan of walls

When people think about health care, they tend to think about physical structures such as clinics, operating rooms or how many beds a location has,” says Werneke. Unlike hospitals or nursing homes, Home Health & Hospice delivers the majority of its care in people’s homes, or in the community -- an approach that emphasizes patient-centered care and comfort. “We care for people where they want to be, and that’s powerful,” says Werneke.

4. We deliver care efficiently

Each home health provider sees about five patients in a day. “Some people think that’s less efficient than a traditional clinical model, but I’m not so sure," says Werneke. “Especially for patients who are not independent.”

A family member has to take time off from work to drive each of those patients to the doctor. Or a social worker has to schedule a transportation service to get them there. “Which is more efficient?” Werneke asks. “Having five sets of family members, drivers and social workers come together to get them to one place? Or having our organization meet community members where they are and provide the care they need?”

5. A lot of people have fond connections to Home Health & Hospice

There's a special relationship when you've served a community for more than a century. “When I tell someone what I do,” says Werneke, “I don’t know that there’s ever a time when someone doesn’t say, ‘Let me tell you about the care you provided to my parent, my grandparent, my child…’” The goal is better health for more people, she says. It's what health care should strive to be. 


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