Home Care More Important Than Ever 

April 5, 2022

“It’s been busy, busy, busy to say the least, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” That’s how Executive Director Sandy L. Ruka describes the last two years for the agency she manages, Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice of Carroll County and Western Maine. “We haven’t closed down a bit since COVID started. We’ve been open and staffed every single day for home health care workers.” Ruka wants the community to be aware of the role her team plays in keeping local patients in their homes, and how much has changed due to the altered landscape of healthcare during the pandemic. These healthcare professionals bring the human touch to those at risk of prolonged isolation, responding to other needs that might go unmet.

For home healthcare workers, the work is always remote. Visiting nurses, and other clinicians, bring health care to patients who are housebound. COVID brought fear and increased isolation to many. Jennifer Grise, APRN, stated, “It’s become very rewarding to see how our work has sustained a lot of community members who really would have struggled otherwise. Everyone’s goal has been in our health care system here in the Mount Washington Valley to keep people out of the hospital as much as possible, to minimize those exposures.”  

Ruka described their work as being very different than hospital-based care, and often more challenging, “Once our staff is in someone’s home, they are holding it together by themselves. So, unlike institutions when help is a raised voice away, in home care, it’s not that way.”

VNHCH serves Carroll County and western Maine, which covers a vast area. The agency travels to 18 towns over 1,000 square miles. They provide a wide array of services, teaching family members how to care for loved ones, do physical and occupational therapy work, or offer medication maintenance. With the pandemic struck, they expanded to include telehealth and vaccine administration.

Ruka believes her team has been a critical behind-the-scenes resource during COVID-19. She explained, “We fly below the radar in terms of being part of the hospital system. But as the hospitals are filled to overflowing, people are coming home sooner, and sicker. We’ve been there all along, day in, day out, the unsung heroes of healthcare. We want the community to know we are here for them no matter what.”

Ruka was recently interviewed by reporter Amy Coveno on WMUR Channel 9, to discuss the work of these #homecareheroes. That story can be viewed online at https://tinyurl.com/VNHCH-WMUR

For more information about Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice, visit them online at www.vnhch.org or call 603-356-7006.