VNA Hospice NWI celebrates its outstanding staff at annual dinner

VNA Hospice NWI celebrates its outstanding staff at annual dinner

For over 50 years, VNA Hospice NWI has been a proud leader in not-for-profit healthcare for thousands throughout Northwest Indiana. From Hospice and Palliative care, to Meals on Wheels of Porter County, Medical Guardian alert button, and a variety of Grief Support services including The Phoenix Center for children, VNA Hospice is there to make the best days possible during what can be life’s most vulnerable moments.

This type of quality care is made possible through VNA Hospice’s dedicated staff, who always go above and beyond for patients. As a way to honor those at VNA Hospice making this positive impact, the organization hosted its annual dinner recognition event on Monday, March 13.

“For any company to recognize their employees is really important, but I think it's particularly important for our staff. Not a lot of people can do this work. I can't do what they do. Our nurses and social workers and aides, they are just exceptional people,” said Bob Franko, President and CEO of VNA Hospice.

Many VNA staff members were celebrated and received awards for their hard work and dedicated service over the past year. This included Caregiver of the Year, presented to Tabitha Adams; “Best Days” Employee of the Year, presented to Julie Kissinger; “Good Nurse of the Year,” presented to Tara Watkins; and Physician of the Year, presented to Dr. Rupesh Shah.

People across the Region were also in attendance to congratulate those awarded and to show their support for the VNA Hospice mission. Laura Harting, the first executive director of VNA Hospice in 1970, was filled with joy seeing all the accomplishments that continue to occur even after her retirement in 2011.

“It’s great to see everyone come together like this,” said Harting. “I get to socialize with old friends. There are a lot of people I don’t know, but it’s nice to see the ones I do.”

The VNA Hospice program began when Harting recognized the need for hospice care in the community and brought a team of researchers together to statistically establish the need. As the need became clear, Harting and her team worked to implement the program. Once it was up and running and helping patients, the impact it had was obvious.

“It was so rewarding because we not only took care of the patient, but we took care of the family members too,” Harting said.

The dinner concluded with a special honor to Pat Bodensteiner, a former VNA Hospice social worker who made an everlasting impact on those around her through her fierce attitude and strong, uplifting values. A panel discussion featured Kaye Frataccia-Seibert, Rich Schmidt, and Kay Magnetti to share her message with those in attendance and to show just how much of an integral part she was for the hospice organization.

“Pat was an OG social worker – a fierce advocate for causes and populations she believed in,” Franko said. “She didn’t back down from any fight. The panel talked about gratitude, integrity and advocacy – with compassion being woven in throughout all of the conversations. You can’t have a hospice worth a nickel without those things. These are a few of the principles that our hospice was founded on, that these are imprinted in our DNA.”

The work Bodensteiner completed during her time at VNA Hospice was a core foundation in the organization’s successes both then and now. Franko noted that carrying on her impact through events and discussions, such as the panel, is the perfect way to both pay homage while making sure the VNA’s values stay strong for many years to come.

“We are not just handed this as a blueprint on how we go about our business, but rather we are obligated to carry on this torch in the work we do,” Franko said. “This is what makes us different from anyone else. These are a few of the elements that go into making every best day possible. I thought it was important that we not miss the opportunity to not only celebrate Pat’s lifetime achievements, but that we make sure we’re reconnected to that electric current that runs through the VNA directly from her source still today. We should all feel privileged to carry on her work. I know I do.”

Overall, the event was successful and full of many smiling faces, excited to congratulate those winning awards for their outstanding performance helping those in need.

To learn more about the mission of VNA Hospice, and to find more information on its services, visit