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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Heath care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

NAHC Honors the 2014 Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year

This year’s winner has close to thirty years experience working as a hospice nurse in South Dakota
October 22, 2014 09:24 AM
Andrea L. Devoti, Chairman, NAHC Board of Directors; Mary Pistulka, RN, BSN, CHPN, Hospice Coordinator, Avera@Home, Yankton, South Dakota; and Denise R. Schrader, Chair, Home Healthcare Nurses Association

The 2014 Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year was announced and honored earlier this week during one of the general sessions of NAHC’s 2014 Annual Meeting & Exposition. Denise R. Schrader, Chair, Home Healthcare Nurses Association introduced Mary Pistulka, RN, BSN, CHPN, Hospice Coordinator, Avera@Home, Yankton, South Dakota as this year’s winner. Ms. Pistulka has over 26 years experience as a hospice nurse at Avera@Home. 

This year's Nurse of the Year was highly praised by her employer, Avera@Home. The organization's President and CEO Sandy Dieleman said that, “Mary has set the bar high for nearly three decades in home health and hospice care. Her unwavering love for her patients, their families, and the mission of Avera, is evident in all that Mary does. We at Avera@Home are so proud of her for receiving this honor. Mary exemplifies everything that’s great about patient-centered health care. This honor is well deserved.”

The 2014 Home Care and Hospice Nurse of the Year award was presented by Denise Schrader, Chairman, Home Healthcare Nurses Association; Andrea L. Devoti, Chairman, NAHC Board of Directors, and NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. This is the third year that NAHC has honored a Home Care & Hospice Nurse of the Year.

“A nation is what it honors, and it is time we celebrated the silent band of heroes who give their all to care for America's sick and dying as if they were extended family,” said Mr. Halamandaris. “These honorees have distinguished themselves by fighting on behalf of the aged, ill, and disabled. They have strived to ensure that every person, no matter their age, income, or health, has the right to enjoy the freedoms guaranteed all Americans in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This includes the right to receive care at home and to die there with dignity.”

The Home Care and Hospice Nurse of the Year is determined based on a national vote that includes nurses from all 50 states. Those 50 nurses are chosen by a selection committee that reviews all of the submissions across the country and chooses the top nurse from each state.

Ms. Pistulka recalls working with one particularly memorable patient - a seasoned truck driver with end stage COPD. “He always knew exactly what he wanted, whether it was driving a riding motor or smoking. Often it was not something the hospice team thought would be best, but we did support his wish to avoid going to a nursing home,” said this year’s Nurse of the Year. “By gradually gaining his trust, and mediating several team/patient meetings, I was able to convince my patient to make some compromises. As a result, he was able to remain home with his beloved wife and spend his last days there with the continued support of hospice.”




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