A Legacy of Care and Independence

Barbara Gray Upton is one of Santa Barbara’s longest standing residents, and at 96 years old she’s lived most of her life in this beautiful city. She may also be one of the few locals who remember receiving medical care at the “little red house on Haley Street.” That house was the original headquarters of the Visiting Nurse Association of Santa Barbara (commonly called VNA), now known as VNA Health and celebrating its 110th anniversary of serving Santa Barbara County.

Barbara recalls going to VNA Health’s first headquarters to get her vaccinations. She also recollects the caring and attentive nurses who often made house calls to her family’s home during her sister’s final days battling tuberculosis. At the time, VNA was the only organization in town providing nurses and caregivers who tended to the sick and injured in their homes. Barbara is certain that her sister’s premature passing led to her mother (Sarah Ellen Gray) to a higher level of health consciousness, and the reason why she and her siblings often visited “the little red house” to take advantage of VNA’s vaccination services.

Fast forward nine decades to the present, Barbara continues to use VNA Health’s services for optimum health, recovery, and living her vibrant life to its fullest. Today, Barbara still lives in the same house that she and her husband bought early in their marriage 60 years ago, and where she continues to manage her home, as well as her life, independently. Like for each of us, life has its challenges, and in 2016, Barbara experienced her first major accident when she broke her hip playing ping pong. Her active and healthy lifestyle temporarily came to a halt, until her dedicated VNA Health Home Health team ensured that she made a full and speedy recovery, allowing her to return to her favorite activities. “I remember Sally [Gordon], my Physical Therapist, even taking me back to the Page Youth

Center for my Tuesday ping pong and [she] tried to help me play with a gait belt.” Barbara admits that the gait belt didn’t necessarily enhance her playing skills, so Sally gave her the independence to play without it and stayed close by for support. She was grateful for the creative care and “tough love” provided by the VNA Health Home Health team, which was the perfect technique for Barbara’s personal recovery.

A year later, VNA Health was again at Barbara’s side helping her recover from an accident that gave her a severe concussion. After she was released from the hospital, VNA HEALTH assisted Barbara with her recovery at her home to get her well as soon as possible. She had several good months, until recently experiencing a stroke while her grandson and his wife were visiting for Easter. Although her family quickly rushed her to the hospital, the lingering effects of stroke led her to call on VNA Health again for help at home.

Barbara is comforted to have familiar and trusted faces from her previous VNA Health care teams, now caring for her again. Barbara is also grateful for the wheelchair she is borrowing from VNA Health’s Loan Closet, which she insists is “only provisional” and will not affect her ping pong game for long. “I know this is temporary because I know I’m going to walk again, so I’m glad I don’t have to buy a new wheelchair.” She is excited to return her wheelchair to the Loan Closet after what she is sure will be another speedy recovery, so that she can return to her active lifestyle.

Barbara continues to live independently in the home she raised her family in, and intends to remain healthy and independent for years to come, so that she can continue to watch her family grow. Since Barbara was a young girl at the beginning of the 20th century, she has utilized VNA Health’s quality care to sustain a life of enduring well-being in body, mind and spirit. Barbara thanks VNA Health for their many years of service to her, the Gray family and the Santa Barbara community.

By making a gift today, you can ensure that anyone, from a young child to a vivacious senior, receives the necessary medical equipment and health care at home they need to live independently.

Please don’t hesitate to call the VNA Health Foundation at 805.690.6260 or email us at fdtn@vna.health.