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Aurora VNA timeline

Photo gallery | Voices of the Aurora VNA | Aurora VNA timeline | Facts & figures | Our history

How it all began – 1906

The roots of the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin can be traced to the heart of a visionary by the name of Sarah Boyd. Whenever a serious illness occurred in the home of one of her husband's employees at the Shadbolt-Boyd Company in Milwaukee, Mrs. Boyd would send her personal nurse to provide care. Recognizing the need for medical necessities that were unaffordable for many families, Mrs. Boyd began a lifelong pursuit of bringing meaningful health care into the homes of the poor and underserved. In 1906, she hired Milwaukee's first "visiting nurse," Miss Maud Tompkins, to live in her home at 495 Juneau Place and go out on charitable cases.


Incorporated on June 7 as the Visiting Nurse Association of Milwaukee to work for "the benefit of those who are otherwise unable to secure skilled assistance in time of illness, to promote cleanliness, and to teach proper care of the sick."

Elected Sarah Boyd first president; Maud Tomkins, first superintendent.

Employed 4 nurses who made 7,477 visits to 698 patients.


Held first fundraising event, "Tag Day," generating $10,861.84 in 1 day.

Total nurses' salaries: $2,320.04.

Conducted inspections to look for sick children in Milwaukee public schools the start of school nursing.

Began partnership with South Side Free Dispensary to care for tuberculosis patients.


Established Special Infant Welfare Work, operating summer day camps for infant feeding because of high incidence of diarrhea.


Became first nurses to work for city upon establishment of Tuberculosis Division of the Milwaukee Health Department.


Began working with Milwaukee Children's Hospital to visit patients at the hospital and "follow them home." Assigned staff nurse to organize the hospital's first social service department.


Began receiving funding from the Centralized Budget of Philanthropies, forerunner of the United Way.


Called for married nurses to return to work to fill vacancies of nurses volunteering for military hospital assignments.

First motor car used to visit patients.


Provided nursing care during Spanish flu epidemic that resulted in 2,000 deaths.


Established "Special Confinement Care," the forerunner to neonatal/prenatal care.

Offered home delivery service to assist doctors in childbirth cases.


Opened first branch office at St. John's Mission on 12th and Center Streets.

Began offering classes for expectant parents.


Initiated affiliation and educational program with area nursing schools.

Opened branch office to serve Cudahy and South Milwaukee.


Began offering occupational therapy services in addition to physical therapy.


Affiliated with Marquette University to provide field experience for post-graduate students in public health nursing.

Partnered with Milwaukee County Medical Society to provide services for premature babies.


Began operating Mother's Milk Laboratory, which remained open until 1950.


Accepted University of Wisconsin students for field experience.


Contracted with American Cancer Society and the Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to care for cancer and polio patients.


Employed 1st practical nurse.


Hired pediatric nursing consultant with grant from Uhrig Foundation.


Extended services into Waukesha and Ozaukee counties.


Assigned staff nurse as hospital coordinator for the Mental Health Center to plan care for discharged patients.


Began early hospital discharge program with Mount Sinai Hospital and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Later established Blue Cross-insured home care programs with St. Luke's, St. Michael and Trinity Memorial hospitals.


Began Mobile Meals pilot program as joint effort with Milwaukee Auxiliary, Medical Society's Women's Auxiliary and St. John's Home for the Aged.


Received $150,000 from Faye McBeath Foundation to launch Coordinated Home Care program, providing short-term, intensive-level services enabling patients to be discharged early from hospitals.

Became involved with High Risk Clinic at Milwaukee Children's Hospital.


Employed pediatric nurse practitioner as consultant to staff seeing infants and children.

Initiated home hemodialysis pilot project.


Installed computerized management information system.

Initiated in-home nutrition counseling program.


Awarded federal grant to train homemaker-home health aides for VNA and other home health care organizations throughout southeastern Wisconsin.

Established Visiting Nurse Foundation.


Received $20,000 in first of five annual installments from Walter Schroeder Foundation for general operating purposes.

Established Visiting Friends with Junior League of Milwaukee to recruit and train volunteers to visit with terminally ill and elderly patients.

Initiated Intensive Care Services.


Established formal Hospice Home Care program. 69 patients cared for in first 2 months.


Initiated weekend and holiday Mobile Meals service.

Gave first Sarah M. Boyd Award to Faye McBeath Foundation in recognition of contributions totaling over $390,000.

Initiated Community Assessment and Resource Evaluation Services (CARES) program.


Initiated flu vaccination program.

Began offering IV therapy services.

Employed first speech and language pathologist.


Recognized 7 millionth patient visit on November 25 proclaimed VNA of Milwaukee Day by Wisconsin Governor Tony Earl.

Began administering chemotherapy drugs in the home.

Hired pediatric/maternal nurse clinician to provide specialized services for high-risk maternity patients, new parents and pediatric patients with special needs.

Became home care component to St. Joseph's Hospice.

Gave first annual Volunteer of the Year Award to Patricia Apple.


Received over 4,000 volunteer hours of service from Mobile Meals drivers, Visiting Friends, members of the Milwaukee Auxiliary of the VNA, clergy counselors, professional advisors and board directors.

Began joint venture with St. Luke's Medical Center for "Visiting Home Care."


Completed capital fund drive for $1.75 million to consolidate three offices and move headquarters to 30,000 square foot building at 11333 W. National Avenue in West Allis.

Began Sick Child Care Program to assist working parents.

Began offering respiratory services including oxygen therapy and home ventilators.


Became the 3rd affiliate of Aurora Health Care.

Began offering home phototherapy services for newborn infants.

Initiated student health program at Milwaukee School of Engineering.


Received $250,000 contribution from Jane and Lloyd Pettit for new headquarters building.

Established Medical Ethics Committee.

Became 1st home health care organization to develop hazardous waste procedures.

Gave Bernadine Johnson first annual Claude Pepper Caregiver of the Year Award.


Established VNA Community Hospice with St. Luke's Medical Center.


Began partnership with Caremark to begin infusion services.

Established nursing scholarships in honor of Sarah Boyd and Sally & Jim Grootemaat.


Launched "Shoo the Flu" vaccination program; 7,939 injections given at 70 clinics.


Affiliated with Visiting Nurse Association of Sheboygan.

Issued cell phones to clinical staff.

Received donated bottled water from Miller Brewing to distribute to Mobile Meals clients during cryptosporidium water crisis.


Established Aurora Home Medical Services.

Developed Pediatric Home Care Program with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Issued laptop computers to field nurses.

Partnered with Aurora Sinai Medical Center to open Positive Health Clinic for people with HIV disease.

Sheboygan joined Milwaukee in providing Rapid Recovery Cardiac Program.


Started pediatric hospice program.

Established Mom/Baby Program with Aurora Sinai Medical Center to provide continuum of care from hospital to home.

Opened branch offices in Kenosha, Cudahy and Two Rivers.


Transitioned from paper to computerized patient record keeping.

Affiliated with Lakeland Home Health.

Developed behavioral health program.

Introduced Great Icescape for Kids annual fundraiser for pediatric home care.


Affiliated with Milwaukee Hospice Home Care and Residence, Milwaukee's first residential hospice program.

Opened Lake Geneva branch.


Established wound care team in Aurora's central and north regions.

Launched Synagis - a pediatric pharmacy program designed to minimize hospitalization for infants suffering from respiratory synctial virus.

Established certified hospice program in Sturgeon Bay.


Used funds from Harley-Davidson challenge grant to purchase two Mobile Meals vans equipped with refrigerated and heated compartments.


Began offering health monitoring technology in patients' homes to provide vital sign tracking and remote evaluation of patient's condition.


Affiliated with Village Adult Day Center.

Given $60,000 grant from Our Hope of Burlington to create hospice suite at Memorial Hospital of Burlington.

Extended Lifeline program to Sheboygan area.


Announced $1 million gift from Joseph and Vera Zilber Family Foundation at groundbreaking ceremony for hospice residence.

Opened Oshkosh branch.

Initiated Diabetes Partnership Program with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Public Schools.


Opened 18-bed Aurora VNA Zilber Family Hospice in Wauwatosa, Milwaukee area's first hospice for children and adults, and Institute for End of Life Education in partnership with Marquette University College of Nursing.

Synagis served 6,000th child.

Shoo the Flu set record with 100,207 immunizations.


The Aurora Visiting Nurse Association celebrates its 100 year anniversary!