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VNA Annual Recognition Dinner Celebrates Hard Work and Dedication of Staff

Thursday night, the Visiting Nurse Association of NWI held their annual recognition dinner to honor its staff, volunteers and supporters. The evening welcomed and awarded VNA staff and supporters who continue to help those who need it most.

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VNA Director of Development, Maria Galka, said the night is a great way to show their appreciation to the staff. “It’s wonderful because these people were selected by their co-workers to be honored tonight,” said Galka.

“These people are unsung heroes. You don’t see what they do out in the patient’s homes every day, but we hear from the patients and the families of how remarkable they are. This night lets them know that they are truly amazing,” said Galka.

Hospice Clinical Director Joy Loya said the dinner is a great way to get the VNA team together to recognize the employees.

“Everyone works so hard and they are the patient advocates. Tonight is a thank you for the volunteers, the staff, and everyone that does an amazing job for the VNA. It’s great to watch everybody support one another, and that’s the best part about it,” said Loya.

President and CEO of the VNA of Northwest Indiana, Ann O’Heir, said they like to take an evening out every year to recognize their team.

“We have a great, cohesive team that has such a strong leadership. We care for people and we care for them quickly when they need us,” said O’ Heir. “These nurses, aids, and pastors are out on their own in the field. They don’t have that additional support that other people do in hospitals. We have such a serious career with what we do on a day-to-day basis, so, this down time is nice to be able to laugh and relax together.”

Clinical Supervisor for the VNA Inpatient Unit, Matthew Adams, said the most rewarding part of being a part of this team is living by the VNA mission.

“We are able to provide the gift of hospice to Northwest Indiana. Hospice is about life and we bring life and support to those people. We have a team that is able to navigate you through that difficult time in your life,” said Adams. The mission of the VNA of NWI is to be the foremost patient focused provider of aging, hospice, palliative, and grief support services in Northwest Indiana. Their vision is to provide quality care with compassion to patients and their families throughout the aging process. Those honored live by the VNA mission daily and out in the field.

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The VNA provides hospice care in the patient’s home, at the VNA Hospice Center and at extended care and assisted living facilities in Northwest Indiana. The hospice team provides the expertise and support families need when a loved one becomes terminally ill. In addition, VNA provides Meals on Wheels throughout Porter County and grief support for children at the VNA Phoenix Center. For more information on VNA programs, visit the VNA website at

Those who received awards were:

June McCort Companion of the Year: Virginia Lence

VNA Caregiver of the Year: Deborah Farrington, Hospice Aide

VNA Support Staff of the Year: Jessica Schlyer, Billing Processor

Tricia Marie Simpson Russell, RN “Good Nurse of the Year”: Jeanne Kokinda, RN, BSN, MBA

Tricia’s Scholarship: Caroline Chase Meyer, Abigail Rose Moon, Beverly Renee Stewart

VNA Physician of the Year: Obaid Shafiq, M.D.

VNA Patient Advocate of the Year: Mirko Bebekoski, RN, BS


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