Tag - Lamoille Home Health & Hospice

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Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss
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When to Visit, When to Stay Home
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 The Shallowness of Sanity
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Fresh Garden Salsa
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The Wellness Garden at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice
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Bring On the New Year!
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Ways of Healing

Support for Survivors of Suicide Loss

Death by suicide is complicated as is the survivor grief that follows. Did you know:

  • Grief is unpredictable.
  • Grief is complicated.
  • Grief is not one emotion, but many.
  • Grief is exhausting.
  • Grief ambushes you.
  • Grief never really goes away.
  • Grief permeates all aspects of life.
  • Grief is a process, not an event.
  • Only you know how much time you need to grieve.

Monique Reil of Lamoille County Mental Health Services and Jane Paine with Lamoille Home Health & Hospice are coordinating a support group for survivors of suicide loss. Please join us in this safe, confidential space to share your story or just to be surrounded by those who understand and care.

The Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL) support group meets the last Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. For location details, call Jane Paine at 888-4651 or Monique Reil at 888-5026.

When to Visit, When to Stay Home

By: Mary L. Collins

My great aunt was well into her 90’s when she passed away some years ago. She was an independent, active person who continued to work as a volunteer at her church, walking the three blocks from home, up the steep steps of the cathedral’s entry, spending many hours there multiple times a week to dust the pews – of which there were hundreds. She also mowed her own lawn – with a push mower – the old-fashioned kind that relied not on a gas-powered engine, but on physical strength.

You might say she had an indomitable spirit. She did, indeed. But she did not have an indomitable body.

When my great aunt passed away in the spring of the year, it followed two weeks of sickness due to a cold that evolved into pneumonia. That evolved into a hospital stay, and finally, sadly, her eventual passing. It is not uncommon for vulnerable elders to succumb to pneumonia. Respiratory illnesses younger persons can more easily recover from are often extremely risky when contracted by an elder.

This is not an alarmist’s tale, but one of practicality and consideration. Given that flu season is upon us, and with the recent frigid temperatures, it’s especially important that the most vulnerable among us are shielded in all the ways that we can provide it from exposure to illness. It is essential to be vaccinated and be provided proper medical care to prevent outbreaks of the flu and other airborne illnesses, but it is equally important to be aware of one’s exposure.

It will probably come as no surprise that my great aunt had been exposed to someone who visited her when they were still experiencing flu-like symptoms.  Those of us who are younger and often “tough it out” when we are sick do not always recognize when we might still be contagious to others and when we might risk putting a more vulnerable loved one in harm’s way. Contagious winter illnesses can create a real risk for the elderly, young children and the more vulnerable among us. It is not our intent to cause harm, but we sometimes do so without knowing.

At The Manor, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center and residence to approximately 88 vulnerable elderly people at any given time, staff education, and training is critical to maintaining a safe environment for residents, staff and visitors alike. Policies and procedures are in place for staff who are taught what are “best practices” when working with residents who may have shown symptoms that could be contagious. In closed environments like The Manor, it is critical that these procedures be followed to minimize the risk to residents, visitors, and fellow staff.  According to Staff Educator and Infection Preventionist, Nicole Keaty, RN,

“We are working very hard to keep our residents and staff healthy at all times but especially during the winter months when Flu and other viruses are more prevalent. We ask the community’s help in this effort. We love to see family and friends visit the residents but we strongly encourage that if you are ill, feeling under the weather, or have family members who are ill, it may be better to not visit.”

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. It’s not too late to schedule yours. Contact your health care provider to find out what’s best for you.

Keaty offered a few tips on what works best when visiting a loved one during cold and Flu season. “Most viruses are contagious before we are having symptoms. If you do visit The Manor, we have hand sanitizer at our entrances as well as masks. These are for visitors’ use. We recommend that visitors sanitize upon entering and again when you leave so you don’t bring anything home with you.” She offered that masks are available for visitor’s use should you have a cough, cold or sore throat or if you are visiting a resident who has any respiratory illness. And, the tried and true recommendation of frequent handwashing is also one of the best things we all can do to prevent the spread of any viruses.

The public has a critical role in this prescription for health care management – and it is a simple one:

“If you are not feeling well or believe you may be suffering from a cold, Flu or other communicable illness; it is always best to err on the side of caution and NOT visit your loved one until you are no longer contagious.”

Your consideration of your loved ones includes your own self-care. By keeping yourself healthy, you also protect the people you love most.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

 The Shallowness of Sanity

By: Mary L. Collins

From the frontispiece of Joan Didion’s book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” the writer chronicles the devastating illness and near death of her only child and of the loss of her husband of 40 years, the writer John Gregory Dunne, that same year. Didion speaks of the unspeakable; the “shallowness of sanity.”  She references that moment when we recognize we may be losing our grip on all that we know to be “normal.”  The balance we keep with what we consider our sanity is, Didion recognized, at best, tenuous.

So, what do we do when we feel at the edge of our capability to cope – as all of us do to some degree at various points in our lives?

This past weekend, I had the honor of spending time with a talented and dear artist who manages to maintain a sense of the magic and mystery of life just by the way he extracts himself from its noise. As a fine jeweler and photographer, Peter’s work takes him out of normal “seeing” every day. This is a person whose talent leaps outside the bounds of the normal. His work is extraordinary, indeed, magical. Within the work, Peter embodies a knowing that comes from wisdom, observation, patience, compassion, and humility. He lives these practices; and so, his knowledge grows as does his expression and artistry. I believe his sanity is derived from his dedication to expression. His method of expression, however, takes him to the edges of “normal” experience all the time.

I’ll attempt to explain.

Peter shared a story of a dream. In this dream he was given a vision of an object. That object was a deer toe rattle. As a fine jeweler, he understands the knowledge that is in his hands and translates that knowing into whatever piece he is making – be it a necklace with gemstones, or a deer toe rattle. He explained that the dream was extremely vivid, compelling, and insistent. He didn’t know why he was obliged to make the rattle. He just knew he was supposed to make it.

He told me, “I have come to trust that the reason for the rattle and me dreaming it would reveal itself in time.” And it did.

He explained further, “There was a young man I met at a Native American gathering who suffers from a form of muscular debility. Dancing at Pow Wows is part of this young man’s tradition; and so, he dances. He is amazingly powerful. Focused. Intense. Dedicated.” When you watch the young man dancing, which I, too, have witnessed; he is the ONLY person in the circle. His devotion to his craft is evident. His body contorts. He struggles to do all the steps. His balance is shaky. Still, he dances. And he is beautiful in his struggle and perseverance.

Peter said, “When I saw this young man dance, I knew it was he who I was to gift the deer toe rattle to.”

If you were ever given the opportunity to see Peter’s work, I am sure you would agree that it is breathtaking, museum quality art. If it were for sale, it would be extremely expensive to purchase. This was no superficial message or gift. To recognize the young dancer in this way, spoke volumes about both person’s dedication and understanding of what matters and what is truly of value. For the boy, it is dancing despite a debilitating handicap; for the artist, it is to listen to the messages, do the work, and honor the dream, even if the purpose is not always, at first, clear.

How does this relate to the quote from Didion’s book or to our understanding of wellness?

I believe the connections we make and honor keep us from “the shallowness of sanity.” When we separate from others, we risk becoming lost. It’s that simple. Connection can be anything from slowing down to watch birds fly south for the winter on your drive home from work. It can be to visit an elder in a nursing home or spend time with someone who is homebound and bring them the gift of your attention. It can be to walk barefoot and feel the earth under your feet. It can be to choose a different place to sit in the cafeteria with a student or co-worker whom you don’t normally socialize with – older, younger, shy, gregarious, popular, or not. It can be to listen without defense or pretense; or, to speak with confidence and courage. Or it can be the dream of a deer toe rattle designed, crafted, and gifted to a person you’ve never met.

The point is, find a way to connect. Our sanity is sometimes held securely with the deepening and meaningfulness of our connections to each other and to the many gifts freely provided to us – as long as we recognize them in our midst.

September was suicide awareness and prevention month. For more information about how you can advocate for those who may have become lost in some way, contact NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), Lamoille County Mental Health or your own physician, counselor, family or friends.  There are many ways to find help and support.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Fresh Garden Salsa

Have you read Mary L. Collins’ blog post about Lamoille Home Health & Hospice’s Wellness Garden? Aside from providing an opportunity to support physical and mental wellness, gardens provide fresh, healthy produce that can be used in your favorite recipes.

Here’s a great summer recipe for Fresh Tomato Salsa, courtesy of Mary L. Collins and Lamoille Home Health & Hospice.

The Wellness Garden at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice

By: Mary L. Collins

It’s no secret that wellness among those who provide care to others can often suffer from neglect. While it may be benign neglect, the fact is, nurses, LNAs, PCAs, homemakers, therapists and others in the direct care field can often place themselves last on the list of health and wellness.

The American Nurses Association defines a healthy caregiver as:

“one who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional wellbeing. A healthy caregiver lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum, as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients.”

So, how do our caregivers manage their own needs?

By choosing nutritious foods and an active lifestyle, managing stress, living tobacco-free, getting preventive immunizations and screenings, and choosing protective measures such as wearing sunscreen and bicycle helmets, health care professionals and providers can set an example of how to be, themselves, healthy.

Lamoille Home Health & Hospice is dedicated to supporting its staff’s wellness by encouraging physical activity. Office staff are often seen walking the few miles each day around the health care campus on Washington Hwy that includes Copley Hospital, The Manor nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility, Copley Terrace, Morrisville Family Practice, and LHH&H’s offices. Staff can easily complete a two mile walk just by circling the campus. Many have invested in Fitbits to track their steps and activity. Most have dropped a few pounds in the process.

It is not only a physical benefit; the mental health benefits are also noted. According to Director of Nursing, Jennifer Beebe, “Nurses and caregivers are fully dedicated to their work, so much so, that we sometimes neglect our own health and wellness as we care for others. Lamoille Home Health is dedicated to providing the tools and resources our staff needs in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s essential that we do in order to be examples to ourselves and to our patients.”


LHH&H has also received a grant from the Vermont Department of Health to launch our first Wellness Garden to benefit staff and families. If you agree with the adage, “Your body is your temple,” it starts with what we ingest, or don’t. LHH&H sees the wellness garden as a collective benefit and example for its staff and volunteers. All are invited to participate in the maintenance and harvest.

How does the wellness garden work?

Four years ago, the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Community Garden Network, Gardener’s Supply Company, and Master Gardener, Charlie Nardozzi, started working together to create a way for small employers (under 100 people) to initiate a garden at their worksite. From that, the Green Thumbs at Work Program was born. Through it, cash grants are awarded to companies and nonprofit organizations through a competitive application process. The grants must be matched by the employer. Grantees also receive a gift certificate from Gardener’s Supply Company and technical assistance from the Vermont Community Garden Network and Nardozzi. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont provided more grant money to expand the program. To date, 26 employers in the state have started Green Thumbs at Work gardens. Eight more organizations were chosen to launch gardens in 2017. LHH&H is among those eight.

The LHH&H Garden will benefit staff, volunteers, and our clients. The support of the grant and donations from local organizations and businesses including the HA Manosh Corp., many community volunteers, and staff, including PCA, Peggy Sprague, who is donating ALL the starter plants from her own extensive home gardens, will help LHH&H to complete the garden and encourage good health habits among our employees.  A bimonthly newsletter will be shared among staff, volunteers and patients and will include gardening tips, healthy recipes, and the benefits of eating certain vegetables and herbs.

The LHH&H Wellness Garden will provide much needed physical activity as well as the bounty of fresh produce harvested throughout the growing season. For more information, contact, Mary L. Collins, Marketing Director, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice at (802) 888-4651 or, email her at mcollins@lhha.org


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Bring On the New Year!

By: Mary L. Collins

New Year's Resolutions

Resolutions. Dreaded, resolutions.

What will yours be for 2017?

More exercise? Better diet? Finally cleaning out that “catch-all” drawer in your kitchen?

How about – be a little kinder to yourself and less self-critical?

Statistically, less than 50% of people who make New Year’s resolutions (1 in 3 of us does) are still on track with their resolution 6 months later. Most crash and burn (54% to be exact) within the first month. And, as we age, our resolve to even suggest a resolution for the new year wanes.

So why do we do it?

One person called it, “A triumph of hope over experience.” It is our desire to do better and to achieve more that propels us forward into the “resolution zone.” And, in that thought, comes this idea of being kinder to and less critical of ourselves.

So how does that happen while we’re smack dab in the middle of the season of giving?

Hard to say. But let’s try.

I was told by a friend and colleague recently that, “Your compassion is your Achilles heel.” Interesting assessment! Yes, I do all that I can to consider others’ feelings and needs and to be kind. It’s how I was raised and it’s the way I want to conduct myself in the world. I truly think it is right to set the best example I can for myself, for my son, and for anyone in my ever-widening circle. But, perhaps, my friend was right. In my quest to do good and right things, am I reluctant to include the self-care that I need in order to function at my best? Do I rest on self-criticism because whatever I did or didn’t do in some particular situation wasn’t quite “up to standard,” not quite “good enough?” Yep, my friend may be right. I bet you do the same things and evaluate yourself almost exactly as I do. Hopeless self-sacrificers, aren’t we!

The fact is, among people within the healthcare field, it is our job to “care.” Caring, is, after all, our mission and mandate. Nurses, therapists, nursing assistants, hospice volunteers, personal care attendants and all others who serve have a responsibility to provide respectful, professional care to our patients and clients. To shirk this duty is not only acting out of integrity, it can also be an actionable offense.  Truly, I believe those who are in helping professions really do enjoy and gain deep satisfaction from helping and providing care. We just aren’t always as good at providing it in equal measure to ourselves.

Have you ever seen an overweight nurse? Met a therapist who smokes? Known a volunteer who looks tired or distracted? Might you be one of these people yourself? If so, I ask you to consider a thought that may make a huge difference in your wellbeing; and, perhaps, as a result, will present a stronger you to whoever you care for and about. It is this:

“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

– Christopher Germer*

Easier said than done.  So, now, here’s where you need to make your list.

What are the 5, no, 10 things you do for others that you are reluctant to also do for yourself, if you even do them at all?

MAKE TOP TEN LIST HERE
1 – 10
Now, go back and number that list in order of the item where you give the most to others and the least to yourself – in descending order. Let’s call it the:

TOP 10 WAYS I IGNORE MY OWN NEEDS LIST
1 – 10
So as not to sabotage your resolution success, circle the first three items on the list.

THE FIRST THREE ITEMS ON MY TOP 10 LIST ARE:

1.

2.

3.

Copy and print these first three items and paste them on:

  • Your calendar
  • Your car visor
  • Your bathroom mirror
  • Wherever you are likely to see the list every day

Now, promise that you will resolve in 2017 to do, or, at least attempt to do these three things better for and toward yourself.  The world will manage. Trust me, it will.

Happy New Year!

 

* Christopher Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy. He is a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy: Deepening Mindfulness in Clinical Practice. Dr. Germer lectures and conducts workshops internationally on the art and science of mindful self-compassion.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. 

Ways of Healing

By: Mary L. Collins

healing

Healing is not always limited to what we might think it is or what we may have experienced. Within indigenous cultures, I have learned that much of healing evolves from spiritual practices, from symbols and rituals. While Western medicine is adept at the biology of illness, Western practitioners often stumble over the psycho-social benefits of healing that cannot always be measured in the ways we are accustomed. There is much more to healing than meets the eye. Here are a few questions that may help each of us get to the heart of it.

How do we measure elements of healing that matter most to us as individuals?

In what way do we, or others, evaluate our healing journey and progress?

What practices help us to create or restore wellness in ourselves and others?

How do we prepare, accept, and administer healing practices that go beyond surgical technique or pharmaceutical intervention?

I believe each of these questions can be answered by expanding our definition of healing. Or, if we, at least, remain open to the possibility, can we accept that there is more available to us than meets the eye? Here’s how.

Most everyone can relate to healing that comes from faith. Many people rely on their religious practices in times of joy, stress, or trauma. These worthy beliefs are founded in the practice of:

  • Compassion, As the recipient, “I now understand what it means to hurt or to be discouraged by a diagnosis.” Or, from the caregiver, “I want to know you as a person first; a patient second”
  • Gratitude, “What has my illness taught me and others?” and, “Thank you for allowing me (your physician, nurse, care attendant, hospice volunteer) to care for you. I have learned from the experience in ways that will help me help myself and others.”
  • Humility, “I am humbled by this disease; yet, as your physician/caregiver/loved one, I will do all that is within my power to restore you to health and wellness.”

How do we then weave these three aptitudes into our understanding and practice of health, wellness and healing?

Recently, I had conversations with seven care providers who work in different capacities within the Lamoille community; one is a hospice nurse with Lamoille Home Health & Hospice; another, a young Physical Therapy graduate student completing her clinical studies at Copley Hospital; the third is a service provider and client who works within the field of Traumatic Brain Injury services; the fourth, the Executive Director of a regional Recovery Center; the fifth, a Licensed Social Worker; the sixth a Reiki master; and lastly, a friend who recently completed a series of Writing Workshops where she learned a method of storytelling and coaching that has shown compelling results for people who have suffered some form of trauma. All seven women spoke of the unseen and often undocumented care provided through their work and interaction with patients, families, clients, and caregivers.

At The Manor, in Morrisville, Elena Robertson, a Life Enrichment provider and a Master Reiki practitioner, shares the Japanese practice with residents. This form of healing touch has been woven into care plans for residents as a natural alternative to relieving pain, anxiety, and other stressors. Staff and family who had never heard of the practice now sit up and take notice. A good example is the experience of one elderly woman who regularly receives reiki treatments as part of her ongoing care. As the woman relaxes in her wheelchair, her head gently bowed, eyes closed, Robertson places both hands just above the crown of the woman’s head. A slight smile grows on the elder’s face. She looks contented and comfortable. With slight, precise movements, Robinson focuses intently on the elderly woman as she concentrates on the movements that provide comfort, relaxation, and a sense of wellness. The senior says simply, “It makes me feel better.” She doesn’t quite know why but recognizes and welcomes the healing touch.

From Dawn Lefevre, a skilled and respected Hospice nurse with LHH&H, I learned that healing is a process of giving and receiving. From the deathbed of a patient, Dawn was able to provide clinical care to someone who was eased out of this world surrounded by their beloved dogs – all of which were snuggled close to their master on her bed as she breathed her last breath. The moment was peaceful, loving, and there was serenity in the room. All of it came from accepting and allowing that the best way onward was to know that to be embraced by the animals that were so beloved and connected to their person was the medicine she needed. Healing comes from love expressed.

From Paige Driver, a Physical Therapy graduate student enrolled at South College in Knoxville, TN, and currently completing her clinical studies at Copley Hospital, I learned that there are physicians who are working hard to break down medical practice habits and stereotypes in order to teach their students how to imbue their care with compassion toward the patient. Paige shared a story of a doctor who, rather than stand by the bedside of a patient diagnosed with terminal cancer, (standing in a queue around a patient’s bed is common in teaching hospitals), asked if he could sit next to her and hold her hand. That simple act of intimacy at a critical moment in the woman’s life allowed the doctor access to her healing process while it allowed the patient an opportunity to express her emotions and to be “heard” by the doctors who had gathered to break unfortunate news to her. Doctors can heal with compassion. Healing does not always mean an extension of life. It means being at peace with the diagnosis.

From Sonja Crowe, a Service Provider with Green Mountain Support Services, who works in the agency’s community-based Brain Injury Program, I learned that experience and observation can translate into providing better care and services to those who have had a traumatic or acquired brain injury. With intimate knowledge of what it means to live meaningfully with TBI, translating one’s own experience into the care and understanding of others can make a meaningful difference in that person’s healing journey. For Sonja, it comes from gratitude. When we turn something awful into a lesson and see it as a gift, it can be transformative for all.

From Deborah Miller, a mother, homeschooler and writer from Elmore, and from Stefani Capizzi, Executive Director of the North Central Vermont Recovery Center, I learned that efforts at creating a space for a person to tell their story and to be received with courtesy, attention, and dignity, opens up the opportunity to heal from past traumas or addictions. Humility is exhibited when we learn how to listen, rather than find it necessary to command the floor and express our opinions or knowledge at every opportunity. Listening is a practice of the very wisest and it is done all too rarely. Good caregivers listen. Listening heals.

And lastly, from Mary Ann Ginette, MSW, LICSW, who practices at The Manor and works with residents as well as staff to help them understand how they serve as a healer – no matter their position, education or experience. She said, “Our belief is that each individual working at The Manor is a healer being that they provide comfort, support and assistance to the residents and to each other.” The Manor understands that while healing is a requirement of good nursing home care, the wellbeing of the employees who provide that care also matters. This year, in addition to their Employee Assistance Program, The Manor added a monthly “Heal the Healers” program that encourages open and candid conversation. Mary Ann said, “Healing begins with understanding our own personal body, mind, emotional and spiritual connection to ourselves and others. Healing ourselves transforms into a healthy, happy work environment that flows into our care of residents. Balancing work, home, giving and receiving, brings compassion to our work as healers.” The program allows staff to explore their feelings and share their experiences in a supportive and nurturing environment, which translates to better care and understanding of residents.

In our quest to be exceptional care providers we must do these things well: We must possess the skills that heal the body. We must provide the services that ease a person’s suffering. And, we must connect on the most intimate level possible with compassion, gratitude and humility. Our patients are our teachers in healing and provide us the lessons of their illness, injury or infirmity. It is through their experience that we are made better caregivers and that we become true healers.


Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.