Our History

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About Home Health
Helping You Recover in the Comfort of Your Home

Bringing Health Care Home for Nearly a Century
St. Luke’s Home Health has been caring for patients in their homes since 1919. It was founded as the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Bethlehem by the Baby Welfare Association, which provided immigrant mothers of newborn babies with pasteurized milk and childcare advice. The two agencies shared a car and offices at Second and Polk Streets, from where the “Baby Milk Station,” (later “Baby Health Station”) distributed milk.

As the first nurse made her rounds to Bethlehem homes, Woodrow Wilson occupied the white house under prohibition and suffragettes fought to give women the right to vote. The agency's work reflected the public health concerns of the times. For example, in the 1920s the VNA tested hundreds of women at R.K. Laros Silk Mill in Bethlehem for tuberculosis (TB) and at the request of other businesses visited employees’ homes to do TB tests.

Over the next several years, the VNA and Baby Welfare Association merged, acquired responsibility for home nursing in cases of communicable diseases, held well baby conferences for mothers and began an affiliation with the St. Luke’s School of Nursing to provide students with home health experience. In 1937, the VNA joined with other agencies to improve conditions for a Mexican labor camp that developed near the Bethlehem Steel Coke works.

St. Luke’s Home Health Mission Statement
The Visiting Nurse Association of St. Luke’s, as part of the St. Luke’s University Health Network, will provide compassionate, excellent quality, cost effective home health care, hospice services and home based parent/child programs.

Visiting Nurse Association Timeline

1920-Present

  • 1919 — The Baby Welfare Association, located at Second and Polk streets in Bethlehem, decides to organize the Visiting Nurse Association.
  • July 1920 — One visiting nurse begins giving service in the community.
  • 1925 — The VNA buys its first car.
  • 1926 — VNA merges with the Baby Welfare Association.
  • 1931 — VNA incorporates.
  • 1932 — The VNA assumes responsibility for communicable disease nursing for the Bethlehem Health Bureau.
  • 1937 — The VNA affiliates with the St. Luke’s School of Nursing to offer students home health experience.
  • 1942 — The VNA starts a clinic for children who are physically handicapped. The agency buys a trailer for a mobile clinic to weigh and measure babies in the housing projects. It provides care to more than 2,600 children in its first year.
  • 1951 — Through an agreement with St. Luke’s Hospital, the VNA sends nurses to visit homes of first-time mothers after discharge from the hospital.
  • 1959 — All well babies and children at St Luke’s.
  • 1961 — A nurse from the VNA begins visiting all 13 departments at St. Luke’s Hospital to determine which patients need home care.
  • 1962 — Under the Medical Care for the Aged Program, the VNA begins to receive payment for qualifying patients age 65 and older.
  • 1964 — Cars owned by the VNA are sold to staff. Field staff members are required to furnish their own cars and are reimbursed for mileage.
  • 1965 — The state Department of Health transfers responsibility for nursing service at the tuberculosis and venereal disease clinics to the VNA.
  • 1966 — The Social Security Health Insurance for the Aged Program (Medicare) approves VNA as a home health agency. The Homemaker Service of VNA signs contract to provide home health aides to the Medicare program. The VNA moves to the Health and Welfare Building at 520 E. Broad St.
  • 1970 — The VNA begins serving Allen Township, Bath, Chapman Quarries, East Allentown Township, Moore Township and Walnutport.
  • 1973 — Dr. Ingrid Laszlo is recruited to run the VNA’s community health clinics.
  • 1975 — The Primary Care Clinic and Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis Treatment (EPSDT) Clinic are added to serve children.
  • 1976 — The VNA staff administers flu vaccine to homebound elderly.
  • 1978 — The VNA signs contract with St. Luke’s Hospital to provide home health care to Blue Cross subscribers. The agreement allows the VNA to provide service under third-party reimbursement.
  • 1981 — The VNA expands its hours and offers services from 8 am to 8 pm due to demand.
  • 1982 — Three VNA children’s clinics are combined into one: Health Care Clinics for Infants and Children. Operations of the venereal disease and tuberculosis clinics are transferred to the Bethlehem Health Bureau.
  • 1986 — The VNA begins providing home hospice care.
  • 1989 — The VNA Hospice is certified by Medicare.
  • 1990 — The VNA moves to 1510 Valley Center Parkway, Suite 200, Bethlehem.
  • 1993 — The VNA formally affiliates with St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network.
  • 1995 — Six children's health care clinics run by the VNA throughout the city are consolidated to become KidsCare at St. Luke’s.
  • 1996 — The name is changed to Visiting Nurse Association of Eastern Pennsylvania Inc.
  • 1998 — The VNA enters the durable medical equipment industry as HomeStar Medical Equipment is transferred to agency from St. Luke’s Hospital.
  • 2000 — The VNA opens inpatient hospice unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, Bethlehem. It is one of only three freestanding hospices in Pennsylvania at the time.
  • 2001 — HomeStar Medical Equipment operations separate from the VNA.
  • 2001 — Acquisition of LifeQuest Homecare of Quakertown significantly expands the VNA home health services in Upper Bucks County.
  • 2002 — The VNA changes name to Visiting Nurse Association of St. Luke’s to better reflect its role as part of St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network.

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