On July 11, Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) congratulated Betty Cernech on 31 years of service to the organization during her retirement reception at Field Club of Omaha. Cernech not only grew her career from school nurse to Vice President of Development at VNA, but also was a key player in building VNA into what it has become today: an organization that consistently thrives on serving all members of the community, regardless of their ability to pay or complexity of care.

Under Cernech’s determination, the VNA shelter nurse program has grown from one part-time nurse to five full-time staff able to provide nursing services to all homeless shelters in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area. Cernech championed raising money to fund the shelter nursing program through state, federal and foundation grants, and through “Art & Soup,” the popular and ever-growing, annual fundraising event.  She also helped established the Cooking Matters program, where VNA partners with Share our Strength to offer cooking, shopping and nutrition education to families at risk of hunger in the Omaha metro area.

Cernech was also able to bring donor support to the community-based palliative care program. This program has served hundreds of clients and has often prevented re-hospitalizations and improved outcomes of patients.  With each new program or service, Cernech found ways to increase VNA’s donor base, which enabled the organization to raise even more money so the programs could become sustainable. Beyond the individual programs Cernech grew, as a member of the senior leadership team as Vice President of Development, she was able to grow donations and grants from under $1 million before 2009 to over $4 million now.

Finally, Cernech was instrumental in VNA’s recent merge with Easter Seals Nebraska. The two organizations have shared goals, including improving the lives of others regardless of the complexity of care or ability to pay – serving as a safety net for the community.

Backed by a tradition of nursing, VNA offers a complete line of home care services, including Companion Care, Skilled Home Care, IV Therapy, Home Health Technology, and Hospice and Palliative Care.

To learn more about VNA’s unique commitment to quality in-home care and the services they provide, visit www.thevnacares.org or call (402) 342-5566.