VNA Health Group Cares For Older Relatives

Daughters Christine Pellegrino, left, and Deborah Barbieri, right, are grateful that their mom, Kay Cannella, can stay at home thanks to the care provided by VNA Health Group Hospice and Visiting Physician Services. (Photo courtesy VNA Health Group)

  TOMS RIVER – For elderly Toms River resident Kay Cannella and her family, VNA Health Group Hospice and Visiting Physician Services have been a rock of Gibraltar.

  Following a series of ministrokes over the past two years, 100-year-old Toms River resident Kay Cannella suffered a loss in functionality and independence. And her daughter, Christine Pellegrino, worried about how to care for her beloved mom.

  “Though my mom had a minor stroke two years ago and amazingly recovered with very few impairments, she continued to have ministrokes and got weaker each time,” said Pellegrino, 71, a retired art teacher and nearby Manchester resident. Failing balance and a series of falls soon left Cannella immobile, a development that changed her and her daughter’s life dramatically.

  “She’s now in a wheelchair and we use a Hoyer lift to lift her from her bed to her wheelchair and from her wheelchair to her recliner,” said Pellegrino of her mom, who also suffers from dementia. “Though she can still feed herself and likes to color and play games, she can’t dress herself, cook or use bathroom facilities on her own.”


  While Pellegrino acknowledged that “My mom gets depressed sometimes because she still wants to do things and can’t,” Cannella’s challenging circumstances and healthcare needs brought up an equally difficult range of emotions for her daughter.

  According to Pellegrino, who resides just 4 miles away from her mother, “It’s always been in my mind to have my mom live with me, but it’s just not possible because I don’t have room in my house for her special bed and all of the other medical paraphernalia she requires. It’s been a struggle between the guilt I feel and my desire to provide her with the best care.”

VPS Nurse Practitioner Kathy Corbet spends time with Mrs. Cannella during a home visit. (Photo courtesy VNA Health Group)

VNA Health Group to the Rescue

  Happily, the support Pellegrino needed was just a phone call away. Today, thanks to the hospice care she receives through Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNAHG) and the home-based primary care she receives through Visiting Physician Services (VPS) — both of which fall under the VNA Health Group umbrella — Cannella enjoys the utmost in high-quality, consistent and compassionate care and Pellegrino takes comfort in knowing that her mom is in the most capable hands.

  “About a year ago, our wonderful VPS nurse practitioner, Kathy Corbet, suggested that it was time to put my mom on hospice based on her functionality at the time, and she’s been on that ever since,” Pellegrino said. “With VNA Hospice, we get a whole circuit of people who assess and take care of my mom. Among them are visiting nurses and home health aides who provide Mom’s medications and most of her medical supplies which are all a big expense that’s taken care of,” she said. “VNA Hospice also sends a social worker, and every other week a chaplain comes and sings with my mom, which is great because she loves music.”

  “A nurse practitioner from Visiting Physician Services will come as often as I want or need her to, but usually every six weeks,” added Pellegrino, who confirmed that VNA’s Hospice and Visiting Physician’s nurses are incredibly kind and compassionate. “They’re also funny and always try to engage my mom while they’re caring for her,” she said.

  “It’s peace of mind knowing that if any issue arises, I can call on our VNA team and they’ll immediately send someone out to check on Mom,” Pellegrino said. “It would be so difficult if I had to get her to an emergency room, but VNA Health Group can provide a lot of services right at home – including X-rays, ultrasounds and more, so Mom doesn’t have to leave the house.”

  Looking ahead, “My hope for my mom is that she continues living in a way where she’s not suffering and that she’s as content and comfortable as possible until it’s time to light up heaven,” Pellegrino said.

  As the family prepares to celebrate Cannella’s milestone 101st birthday this April, Pellegrino said that she and her family couldn’t be more grateful to VNA Hospice and Visiting Physician Services for their outstanding support.

  For other families struggling with the care of an elderly loved one, “Try not to feel guilty, and contact VNA,” Pellegrino advised. “VNA will provide great care and will also guide you as to what to do and where to go next. Overall, VNA is a great place to start and you’ll be in the best hands.”

  To learn more about VNA Health Group, visit or call 800-862-3330. For more information about Visiting Physician Services, call 732-571-1000 or email