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History of Neighborhood Health

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The year 1893 is often used as the birth date for modern homecare. That's the year healthcare pioneer Lillian Wald first started making home nursing visits to people in the tenements in New York City.

Just a few years later, in 1912, nine women in Wayne, Pennsylvania, formed the Neighborhood League of the Main Line. Their purpose: "To promote moral, social, and physical betterment in the community." Today's NHA traces its roots to this event.

One of their first accomplishments was the hiring of a visiting nurse, who cared for "infants with summer complaint, disease of the pelvic organs, brains and nerves, kidney and bladder, typhoid fever..." and the like. A social worker was added in 1913.

The organization quickly evolved and became part of the community's essential mix of health services, as evidenced by words such as these.

"...what a comfort it is to know that I can call on her [the homecare nurse] whenever it is necessary...Is it not these kindnesses which count, is not such an organization worthy of the encouragement and support of the community? Are we not helped materially and spiritually when we make an effort to help our deserving home folks?"

- Letter from homebound resident 1921

The evolution of what is today's Neighborhood Health has progressed nonstop through wars, the great flu epidemic, the Great Depression, polio, radical social change, Medicare, moon landings, managed care, along with technological and medical breakthroughs too incredible and numerous to count. Nearly 100 years after the simple beginning in 1912, the vision of those nine founders remains valid and vital. The Chester County community still benefits from their bold, visionary work.

Just as important as a quick look back, is a brief look forward. Homecare is one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry. The need for homecare increases daily. Neighborhood Health continues to respond with progressive programs such as Senior HealthLink and telehealth. Our staff is better trained than ever before, from skilled nursing to the therapies. Our volunteer program is the largest of its type in the area.

We now provide supportive services in the form of our palliative care team for individuals with chronic diseases who are still seeking active treatment for a life limiting illness.

We continue our plans for growth; our vision of reaching more people and brightening more lives.

We have no idea of what the area's home care service founders would think if they could take a look at what their idea has become today -- but we're pretty sure they'd be pleased.

Last Updated: 12/5/2014