BENNINGTON -- After a year of planning, Southwestern Vermont Health Care's Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice's ownership and employment will be transferred to Rutland by Oct. 1.

The Green Mountain Care Board, Vermont's health care oversight authority, issued a certificate Thursday authorizing the transition of SVHC's operations to the Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice.

Between its offices at Dorset Nursing and now in Bennington, RAVNAH would be able to work more closely with the local VNAs. SVHC communications director Kevin Robinson said that oversight by one larger organization will simplify coordination of care.

"(SVHC) felt like there was a better opportunity to provide care within a larger organization," Robinson said. "There is a big push for organizations to work together to make care more seamless across regions."

As members of VNAs Vermont (http://vnavt.com), SVHC VNA and RAVNAH have worked on several statewide initiatives together. RAVNAH CEO Ron Cioffi added in a press release that the two organizations share the goals of "reducing the cost of care, improving the collaboration and coordination of home care and ensuring high-quality home health care remains available in the Bennington area."

The transition of Bennington's visiting nurses and hospice to RAVNAH will maintain current clients and caregivers, establish a local committee for oversight of the area's services and will set up the placement of someone from SVHC on RAVNAH's board of directors.

Robinson said SVHC began to seek out a partner for its VNA and hospice roughly 14 months ago in order to make the services more efficient. "A focus on home care reduces the amount of times people need to come in for a hospital visit, which is more costly," he said.

Cioffi stated in the release that RAVNAH's goal is to make the transition unnoticeable to current SVHC patients. "We also are building systems to ensure that we work closely with the hospital and the physicians serving these communities," he said.

RAVNAH (http://www.ravnah.org/), has been named a "Home Care Elite" agency by the National Research Corporation for six of the past seven years.

Find SVHC on Facebook or online at http://svhealthcare.org/.