About the Visiting Nurses

The Albany Med Health System Visiting Nurses has a rich history. It is one of the oldest continually operating home health care providers in the nation, and the second oldest in New York State.

Our organization had its beginnings in 1880, an era when doctors and hospitals were only for the rich. Albany’s sick and elderly relied on family members for care, often driven to abject poverty by their illness. That is, until a group of resolute young women resolved to find a way to address the needs of their less fortunate neighbors. They formed the Fruit and Flower Mission, delivering their wares throughout the community along with a smile and a desire to be of service.

The Mission reformed as the Albany Guild for the Care of the Sick Poor in 1896, and the following year, incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. By 1889, the agency had begun employing and training nurses to care for patients in their homes. Within the next few years, meal delivery, dental care, and obstetrical services were added. From the start, free services were given to anyone who could not afford to pay.

As the public’s need for medical care grew, so did the guild. A clinic in Arbor Hill was founded, and nurses began traveling to regions outside of the city to meet increasing demand. By 1920, we had become the Albany Guild for Public Health Nursing. Almost 22,000 home visits were recorded that year, at a cost of 75 cents per visit.

To better reflect its purpose, the agency’s name was again changed in 1937 to the Visiting Nurses Association of Albany. By then, the charge for a nursing visit had gone up to $1, and the charge for attendance at the delivery of a baby was $5.

Caring for those with insufficient access to health care continued to be a priority for the agency. By the early 1970's, VNA nurses had offices in three low-income housing communities in Arbor Hill. We also became the first agency in New York State certified to provide services to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

In 1976, the VNA moved to its present, much larger home, at 35 Colvin Avenue in Albany. The move allowed us to add speech therapists and occupational therapists to our staff. The early 1980’s saw an expansion into Saratoga County, followed by Rensselaer County in 1992. In 2014, the agency began providing services in eight additional Capital Region counties.

In 2022, the VNA became a member of the Albany Med Health System, enhancing continuity of care from the System's hospitals to the homes of patients. The System also includes Albany Medical Center, Albany Medical College, Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, and Saratoga Hospital. It is the Capital Region's largest and only locally governed health care system and is also its largest private employer.

What has remained the same since the beginning is those who could not afford to pay received care, free-of-charge. To give the agency a vehicle to raise money for these unfunded services, the not-for-profit VNA Foundation was established in 1984.

Visiting Nurses Home Care (VNHC), an affiliated licensed home-care service agency, was founded in 1988 to provide supportive services including certified home health and personal care, licensed practical nursing, and registered professional nursing.

For over 140 years, our region has been in a continual state of change. We, too, have changed. We’ve grown from teaching morals to teaching diabetes care, from poultices to antibiotics, and from carrying leather medical bags to computer tablets. We see more patients every year, and our medical and administrative staff has expanded to meet demand. We’ve installed new industry software to increase our operational and clinical efficiency. The quality and efficacy of our services is exceptional.

The one constant throughout the years has been our commitment to our patients and to our mission – delivering the best possible health care provided in the most efficient, appropriate, and cost-effective manner.