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VNA Physician Education

Please register below for the Physician Education Dinner.



Presented by Dr. Arjun Gupta

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Briar Leaft Country Club

3233 IN-39, La Porte, IN

6:00pm  Cocktails

6:30pm Dinner & Program

Event is by invitation only.

Please be sure to register both you and your guest. (i.e., quantity is 2 if you are bringing a guest)


VNA Stroll for Hospice News

Hundreds of people, families, and friends flooded downtown Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza on May 5th, all with a common purpose: to remember loved ones they’ve lost, share their stories, and show love and support for the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of Northwest Indiana and their hospice program. Maria Galka, Director of Development for the VNA, says that the Stroll for Hospice is a way for anyone who has known the loss of a loved one to honor their memory.

“We invite families and individuals from around the area to come out and remember someone they’ve lost; it doesn’t have to be a family member, just somebody who they love and they miss,” Galka said. “We invite those people to start a new tradition, to come out here and join us. Many of those here today also raised pledges, which will go as donations to support the hospice program.”

Galka said that the event typically raises around $20,000, but hopes that this year will be even better, due to record attendance.

“We had over 470 people who pre-registered, and more who are registering here today, so we’ll have well over 500 people here today, in addition to more than 70 volunteers,” Galka said. “It’s the volunteers who really help make this event possible.”

“This event certainly means a lot to the VNA, but I think that it means even more to the families,” said Bob Franko, President and CEO of the VNA. “That’s what’s really important. It’s a chance for people to come out here, spend some time together and remember their loved ones.”

“Everyone has a story, and this gives them a chance to come together and share their stories,” Franko said.

More than just a walk, the event offered a variety of activities, including a bounce castle, face painting, coloring, balloon animals and crafts. Baskets were raffled and a live DJ provided entertainment. Participants were invited to take a leisurely two-mile walk through Valparaiso’s beautiful downtown district before returning to the Urschel Pavilion for complimentary hamburgers, hot dogs, salad and more. Free ice cream samples were available, courtesy of Culver’s, and free pretzel bites from Ben’s Pretzels were sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Meredith Seydel and Christy Vice, both from Valparaiso, were walking with the largest single group of people at the event, Tony’s Troopers, who showed up to the Stroll for Hospice with 75 team members.

“We’re here to support our good friend, Jaime Perz. Jaime is very grateful for the care and compassion that hospice provided for her mother,” said Seydel. “Jaime just put it out there that she was looking for people to come here and walk with her, and here we are!”

“It’s a great time to spend with friends and family,” added Seydel.

Carolyn Hartley is a volunteer for the VNA and its hospice program.

“Each one of us has had someone served by hospice,” Hartley said. “If we didn’t have the VNA, a place to help when you have a loved one who is nearing end-of-life, it would be incredibly difficult for families. They just do wonderful things.”


Trust is the Cornerstone of Care at VNA of Northwest Indiana

It’s my privilege to serve as the new President/CEO of the VNA of Northwest Indiana. I’m humbled and honored beyond words to lead this organization and know that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants of past board members, supporters, and especially founder Laura Harting. To be given the trust of our board and staff, of our patients and community is an awesome thing. Trust.


It’s a big word. It means a lot of things in different contexts; bankers think about it one way, investors have a different take, but for most of us it is the foundation of our relationships. Trust is the conglomeration of a lot of different components such as integrity, faith, loyalty, and commitment. It is not to be taken lightly, nor is it a commodity whose value fluctuates with whatever conditions exist. I take it very seriously.


I know this community has a large stake in the VNA. It is a valued non-profit, a valued service provider, and a trusted friend during deeply sad and heartbreaking times when we lose loved ones. It’s hard to find anyone in our region whose life hasn’t been touched by the VNA in some aspect.


I also know that there’s been some confusion in recent years about the VNA. When the decision was made to transition our home health services to our valued partner Porter Health, some thought that was the end of the VNA. It wasn’t. It was really a new beginning.


Today we are a vibrant hospice provider that is expanding into palliative care. We provide thousands of Meals on Wheels to our neighbors, install and maintain LifeLine emergency services in hundreds of homes, and provide bereavement services for kids in our Phoenix Center. Our Horton Inpatient Unit is going through a beautiful transformation and modernization to make it even more comfortable and reassuring for patients and families. Our caring providers visit dozens of homes and nursing facilities every day to provide comfort, relief and support for patients and their loved ones.


We value your trust in us. If we’ve done anything to lose it, please let me know. Losing trust in anyone or anything can be tragic. I’m asking for your continued support, for your feedback, and for your renewed trust in YOUR VNA.


But mostly, I thank you for supporting this organization for nearly 50 years and for giving us the privilege of your trust when it matters most.


VNA Stroll for Hospice News

The Visiting Nurse Association's 18th annual VNA Stroll for Hospice is right around the corner - Sunday, May 5th. Onsite registration begins at 12 noon and the stroll steps off at 1:15 pm at Central Park Plaza, 63 Lafayette Street in Valparaiso.

Registration is $10 per walker, with children 18 and under free. Teams of 6 or more may register for $50 per team. Click the title above for more information or to simply make a donation if you are not able to attend the VNA Stroll for Hospice.

Know all you need to know?

Download a printable registration form!

Download a pledge sheet!

Check out our fun puzzle pledge sheet!


Robert J. Franko named as VNA President & CEO




Robert J. Franko, formerly President and CEO of HealthFirst Bluegrass Community Health Center in Lexington, Kentucky, became President of VNA of Northwest Indiana effective January 1, 2019.  Franko is a native of Northwest Indiana.  He was Vice President for Development and Marketing for Portet-Starke Services from 1996 to 2010.  He was Vice President, Marketing, for Marketing and National Training Coordinator for Cherokee Health Systems in Knoxville, TN, for six years before joining HealthFirst Bluegrass Community Health Center.  He earned his BS and MBA Degrees from Purdue University.


In announcing his appointment Cindy Kaarianen Tougaw, Chairperson of the VNA Board, indicated his selection came after a national search.  “We had about 70 responses that were evaluated before our Search Committee focused on Mr. Franko.  His extensive experience in healthcare, his record of community engagement and his experience as a Chief Executive Officer were important criteria that he met.  The fact that he is a native of our area and “knows the territory” was a definite plus factor.  I’m pleased that our employees and volunteers were represented on the Search Committee.  Their perspective was very helpful”


Franko said he was particularly pleased to join VNA of Northwest Indiana.  “I’m excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this remarkable organization.  I’ve known about it for years, of course, but I see it as an increasingly important component of the region’s healthcare system.  The Hospice and Palliative Care programs of VNANWI are enabling people with terminal illnesses or difficult to manage pain and distress to have a higher quality of life than would otherwise be possible.  The VNA Meals on Wheels Program for Porter County, the Lifeline Emergency Response System and the Phoenix Center are incredibly important regional services as well.” 


During his previous tenure in the region, Franko was active in a number of community and regional organizations, serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of both HealthLink and the Mental Health Alliance of Porter County as well as the Boards of Directors of Housing Opportunities and the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club.  He was a surveyor for the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and earlier in his career he was a sports writer for the Post Tribune and the Northwest Indiana Times.  He replaces Leigh Morris, who has served as Interim President and CEO since June.

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