Health care reform has taken a big bite out of Ellen Rothberg's routine.
As president and CEO of VNA Health Care Inc., her plate is already full managing 800 employees who provide a range of home care, health care and hospice services in 59 towns in central Connecticut and the Waterbury area.
But when health reform became the centerpiece of the Obama administration's domestic agenda, her frequent flyer account started growing.
These days, Rothberg spends much of her time speaking — both in Hartford and Washington, D.C. — on behalf of VNA Health Care, other nonprofit home care services and the thousands of clients who receive their services.
The challenge, she explains, is educating federal and state legislators and policy makers that there is a delicate balance between Medicare and Medicaid. Even a minor change in one program can cause sometimes unexpected change in the other. All involved must give their utmost attention to every detail, she stresses, as they evaluate health care reform proposals.
From her perspective as the leader of VNA, she wants to make sure those who control health care funding realize that the home care industry plays a huge part in saving dollars by keeping patients out of more expensive hospitals and nursing homes.
"The agency works day-to-day to make sure the family of a client may go on with their lives knowing their loved one is in capable hands," she explains. "We are here for those who lack family and may not realize what services are needed and available, or how to apply for them, who to trust or simply that they are entitled to advocacy. Health care is global, but home care is the glue between acute episodes… or for chronic conditions"
And that is VNA's goal: to engender a sense of peace of mind, allowing clients to stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.
For Rothberg, the key to her success is simple: "Perseverance," she says. "I don't take no for an answer. I don't understand giving up, but I will accept incremental gains."
Those who know her say Rothberg is an enthusiastic leader, a passionate advocate for home care, and a powerful voice for the voiceless.
"(Rothberg) is committed to ensuring that the agency fulfills its mission of providing the best home care possible to all," says Joy Savulak, communications manager for VNA HealthCare.
Rothberg is the 2008 recipient of the Judith Hriceniak Nursing Award for excellence in nursing leadership given by the Connecticut Association for Home Care and Hospice, and in 2005 was named one of The Hartford Business Journal's Eight Remarkable Women.
VNA Health Care is a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving and maintaining the well being of clients by providing a wide ranging home care, hospice and community-based healthcare and wellness services. The VNA staff provides assessment, skilled nursing care, home health aides, palliative and hospice care, speech therapy, physical therapy, cardiac care, rehabilitation, personal care attendants, homemakers, Meals on Wheels, monitoring and telemonitoring.
VNA was started in 1901, in answer to the burgeoning birth rate, as an aid to new mothers and their babies. Within two years, VNA had two nurses and a fee schedule of 10 cents to $2 per visit. Then as it is today, VNA services are available to all regardless of ability to pay.
Title: President & CEO
Work place: VNA HealthCare
Address: 103 Woodland St., Hartford CT 06105