VNA Health Group’s Palliative Program Helps Raise Awareness of Advanced Care Planning National Healthcare Decisions Day - April 16


It’s been more than six months since the launch of VNA Health Group’s community-based Palliative Care Program in Monmouth and Ocean counties which is being supported by a generous grant from the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. Under the leadership of VNAHG Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marianne Holler, the goal of the program is to provide support and guidance in making health care decisions and produce better outcomes for patients and families dealing with a serious or life-limiting illness.

Dr. Vandana Sharma, VNAHG palliative care physician, has helped implement the community-based program by providing personalized palliative consultations which include collaboration with the patient's health care providers, creating a customized care plan and listening to the patient's wishes and goals of care. Palliative care helps improve the patient’s quality of life through pain and symptom management related to the illness. Since August 2018, Dr. Sharma has conducted over 100 palliative care consultations.

“Serious illness can have tremendous and far reaching effects upon patients and families”, comments Dr. Sharma. “A lack of information, combined with feelings of confusion, anxiety and doubt, can leave many families ill-equipped to determine the best course of action. A palliative consultation can provide help in making health care decisions for yourself or a loved one and improve the end-of-life experience.” VNAHG palliative consultations are not only provided in the community but also in long term care facilities as well as hospitals.

With National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) approaching on April 16, VNAHG, through its palliative program, wants to increase awareness of the importance of advanced care planning. NHDD is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare and for providers to respect those wishes, whatever they may be. Advanced care planning involves making future healthcare decisions, expressing preferences, clarifying values and appointing an agent to express healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated. Completing an Advance Directive is an important first step toward having your healthcare preferences honored. National Healthcare Decisions Day provides free resources, including advance directive forms for each of the 50 states and a great short video to get you thinking and talking.

VNAHG will continue to expand its palliative program in the community and initiate those important advanced care planning conversations so they can provide the much needed care to patients facing a serious or life-limiting illness. If you would like more information about VNAHG’s Palliative Care Program, please call 732-224-6654.

About Visiting Nurse Association Health Group
Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Health Group is the largest independent, nonprofit provider of home-based health services in New Jersey and Mid-Central Ohio. Founded over 105 years ago with a mission to care for the community, today VNA Health Group helps individuals and families achieve their best level of health and well-being by providing high quality, compassionate home health, hospice, palliative and community-based care and offers private-pay personal care services. A full range of primary care services are available through the VNACJ Community Health Centers. Currently, VNA Health Group employs nearly 2,500 people and cares for over 150,000 individuals and families annually with a special focus on vulnerable populations such as children, older adults and those with serious and disabling chronic illness. Our unique partnership model with health systems leverages our clinical and technical resources to operate VNA of Central Jersey Home Care and Hospice, Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses, VNA of Englewood, Barnabas Health Home Care and Hospice, Visiting Physician Services, and Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio. For more information about VNA Health Group and the VNAHG Foundation please call 800.862.3330, visit and follow us on Twitter at or @VNAHealthGroup.

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