During Cornerstone VNA’s event on August 26th to celebrate the completion of our building expansion and renovation project, guests enjoyed a special presentation that included the announcement of our 2020 and 2021 Cornerstone Award recipients. This annual award is given to an individual or group dedicated to advancing the mission of Cornerstone VNA. The 2020 Cornerstone Award was given to Dr. Archana Bhargava, Medical Director at Frisbie Memorial Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care and Hematology, and longtime Cornerstone VNA board member. Erika Lee, Advancement Director, explains, “The presentation of our 2020 Cornerstone Award was delayed a year due to COVID-19, so we were thrilled to finally honor Dr. Bhargava for her important contributions to our organization and the community.”
Dr. Bhargava first joined the Cornerstone VNA board in 2013 and has made significant contributions to advance the mission of our organization.
Upon joining the board, she began sharing her passion for Palliative Care and encouraged the board, and the organization’s leadership team, to consider adding this specialty service. As a local physician, she identified a need in the community for this type of service and knew that her patients would greatly benefit from receiving this type of support to better manage their chronic illness.
After creating a comprehensive business plan, the board approved hiring a Nurse Practitioner, with Palliative Care experience. Our first Nurse Practitioner was hired in September 2014 to implement this innovative program. With the success of Palliative Care, it was soon determined that the program could stand on its own, rather than as a specialty service within Home Care and Hospice Care. It is now one of five distinct programs at Cornerstone VNA.
Since 2014, Palliative Care has experienced steady growth and positive feedback from referral partners and patients. As the program became more established, additional providers joined the team and expanded the capacity and reach of Palliative Care in our community. Today, the team includes a Medical Director, 4 Nurse Practitioners (one of whom is also the Program Manager), and a Support Nurse. Together the Palliative Care team provides care to over 350 patients each year and now offers hospital-based consultations at both Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Frisbie Memorial Hospital.
One of the key reasons for the success of our Palliative Care program is that we have Dr. Bhargava as our physician champion. She continues to advocate and support the growth of this important program. In fact, Dr. Bhargava was instrumental in helping to establish our new hospital-based Palliative Care model, which has become a valuable resource to physicians and a benefit to patients with chronic illnesses.
Although this program is underfunded, Cornerstone VNA strongly believes in the importance of this program because it provides patients with advanced care for their chronic illness and provides a smooth transition to hospice when appropriate.
In addition to Palliative Care, Dr. Bhargava was instrumental in the development of another key program at Cornerstone VNA. In 2016, Dr. Bhargava recognized that the pediatric nurses at Cornerstone VNA wanted to be able to give small gifts to their patients to help build relationships and ease anxiety. Dr. Bhargava approached the Board and Staff at Cornerstone VNA to establish a special fund for pediatric patients as well as for parents with newborns and their siblings.
The fund was named the Kiddie Cornerstone Fund, and seed money was given by Dr. Bhargava and many other donors. Dr. Bhargava has also been successful in soliciting support from the Frisbie Memorial Hospital Medical Staff to support the Kiddie Cornerstone Fund. Funding is used to purchase gifts such as stickers, books, coloring books and crayons, stuffed animals, bubbles or other items to help brighten their day. Gas cards have also been distributed to families as well to help with travel expenses to and from the hospital for medical appointments (such as Boston area hospitals, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, etc.). Since the fund was first established, we’ve raised over $9,500 and have given out more than $6,500 in gifts and gas cards.
We are very pleased to honor Dr. Bhargava for this important award. She continues to share her passion and expertise to strengthen our organization, and to improve the quality of life for our patients and the community.
And congratulations to our 2021 Cornerstone Award recipients, our local Community Mask Makers! Click HERE to read about their award!
According to Julie Reynolds, RN, President/CEO, “We are very pleased to honor Dr. Bhargava for this important award. She continues to share her passion and expertise to strengthen our organization, and to improve the quality of life for our patients and the community.”
Alexa Gordon is a Nurse Practitioner with the Palliative Care team at CVNA.
L to R: Erika Lee, Advancement Director; Cameron Lee, Kiddie Cornerstone Fund Donor; Dr. Bhargava.
Janice, RN delivers holiday gifts to a patient thanks to the Kiddie Cornerstone Fund.