Voluntary Health Association expands visitng nurse coverage

SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake Voluntary Health Association is expanding its visiting nursing coverage to extend from the village of Saranac Lake to include the entire Saranac Lake School District. According to the New York State Office of Comptroller, Saranac Lake covers the largest geographic area of any other school district in NYS.

"We are trying to take on a wider scope because the goal it is to make sure that all people are getting the services they need," said Carol Jaquis, the registered nurse for the SLVHA.

"Voluntary Health was first called The District Nursing Association in the late 1800s. Nurses ran most of the cure cottages in Saranac Lake," says Jaquis. "We've had two name changes since then. We were the Society for the Control of Tuberculosis and now the Saranac Lake Voluntary Health Association. Voluntary Health is continuing on the path that was originally set in 1897. District nursing started by providing nursing services to individual TB patients living in the private cure homes. VHA continues that work by providing visiting nursing services to allow people to remain in their homes."

"Everything has to go through the proper channels - doctors' referrals and approval on a case-by-case basis. I have a schedule down, like having all the med pours on one day, so I am very efficient," laughed Jaquis.

"People want to stay in their homes and if we can provide services that enable that then we are providing the right kind of service. It is a good feeling," Jaquis added. "I work strictly under doctor's orders. On each patient I need to have a referral from other agencies."

Each year the number of patients she sees varies. In 2008 she visited anywhere from 16-20 patients. Currently she has 18 but that will change with the new territory. She visits some patients weekly, some bi-weekly, others monthly, depending on what is needed.

"I average about 60 visits a month. If I feel that they need more care or they do not have family to take care of things I visit again. Over time I have developed a relationship with my people. It is very rewarding and very challenging."

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