The Boards of Directors of Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County (VNHFC) and Waveny LifeCare Network (WLN) announced Thursday morning (Nov. 5) that they are initiating plans to combine operations. They’ve “entered into an exclusive letter of intent to combine home care and hospice operations” and plan to formalize an affiliation agreement by year-end 2020.

The proposal outlines a plan for VNHFC to initially become a wholly-owned subsidiary of WLN. If all goes well, organization officials say they will explore a more formal merger at a later date. Waveny LifeCare Network has an existing affiliate, Waveny Home Healthcare, that offers services to the community similar to those provided by VNHFC.

The affiliation agreement will be subject to final due diligence, regulatory approvals and final board approvals. The transaction is subject to review and approval by several governmental agencies, including Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, and separate approvals will be sought if the parties determine to formally merge.

Now based in Wilton, VNHFC was founded over 100 years ago and grew to become one of the most enduring home and hospice care organizations in the state. In the 45 years since New Canaan’s WLN was founded, it has grown into a full continuum-of-care service-provider in post-acute care, memory care, short-term rehabilitation, home care, and retirement living. Visiting Nurse would expand Waveny LifeCare Network’s continuum of services in home healthcare, and would add hospice care, school nursing programs, public health nursing, and New Canaan’s Locust Avenue thrift shop.

GMW reached out to the spokesperson for the announcement to ask about whether the plans will impact VNHFC’s current contracts with the Wilton Public Schools or the Town of Wilton. He said further details will be available in the coming weeks but that changes to current services are not anticipated.

The announcement press release noted that both organizations “share a common commitment to provide compassionate, high-quality, clinical excellence through services and resources that meet and exceed the needs of residents throughout Fairfield County and enhance their health, well-being, independence, and dignity in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.”

The release also described the motivation behind the partnership: “These two independent non-profit organizations’ strategic goals led each to identify mission-driven synergies. They are taking this step to ensure their stakeholders that they will continue to deliver the highest healthcare value to their communities, enrich the client experience, while enhancing the scope of services provided. A focus on quality of care and clinical excellence will assure a bright and successful future.”

Officials say the services each organization provides complements the services of the other, filling in gaps in resources with little overlap.

“We believe that combined, the two organizations will better meet the growing healthcare needs and preferences for residents throughout Fairfield County,” said Kathleen A. Corbet, Chairman of Waveny LifeCare Network. “We are delighted to be moving forward to bring together two of the best-known organizations for compassionate excellence in healthcare services in Fairfield County.”

The President and CEO of Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield, Sharon Bradley, RN, DNP, MSN, will continue to serve as the administrator of VNHFC until any merger plans have been finalized and will join the WLN Board, as will other members of the current VNHFC Board. Russell R. Barksdale, Jr., MPA/MHA, FACHE will continue to serve as president and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network, the parent company, and all of its divisions and subsidiaries.

Waveny LifeCare Network is a nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive continuum of healthcare to serve the changing needs of older adults from all areas. Waveny offers independent living at The Inn, memory/dementia assisted living and respite care at The Village, and skilled nursing, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation Services at Waveny Care Center. It also includes the Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, and an array of community-based services through Waveny Home Healthcare.

Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County is a non-profit agency that provides professional nursing and support services, senior care management, physical rehabilitation, health education, community wellness programs and compassionate hospice care for adults and children in the heart of Fairfield County.