Time for a change Yelden shifting gears at VNA

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Nancy Yelden
Nancy Yelden recently stepped down as director at Clayton County Visiting Nurses Association. She will continue working at the VNA where she has been employed for 41 years.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

With genuine humility, Nancy Yelden dismisses accolades about her work preferring instead to give credit to her colleagues.

“I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I have in this position without great staff and without the tremendous support of our Board of Supervisors,” she says, referring to her position at the Clayton County Visiting Nurses Association (VNA).
Her colleagues disagree: It’s Nancy’s compassion, empathy and genuine concern for her clients and their families that has set the tone for the entire office.

“She’s so good to people who come in here with all kinds of medical issues,” said Lisa Peterman, who works at the VNA front desk. “We see that every day. She’s a calming, caring presence, and she’s just so sincere.”
Celeste Strong, a dental hygienist hired by Nancy more than 11 years ago, echoes the sentiment.

“She’s very patient and kind both as a supervisor and caregiver,” Celeste said. “She has given more than 100 percent to the people of Clayton County for much of her adult life—and I know that will only continue.”
Nancy, who has been with VNA since 1977 when it was called Clayton County Public Health, has recently stepped down as the department’s manager. She’ll continue working at VNA but her emphasis will shift from supervision and paperwork to caregiving.
“Stepping down was a tough decision,” Nancy admitted. The support of her husband, Wayne along with her three daughters and their families made the choice easier.

 An Edgewood native and longtime Strawberry Point resident, Nancy attended St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Cedar Rapids after graduating from Ed-Co High School. She worked at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for one year before accepting a position with Clayton County.
“I guess my grandma was the reason I choose a career in nursing,” Nancy said. “She had diabetes and lost a leg. That gave me the incentive to pursue a career that would teach me how to take care of people.”
Nancy’s 40-plus years at VNA have been marked by change. Services have been changed or greatly expanded to meet the healthcare needs of community members ranging in age from birth through the senior years. Most recently, VNA has starting offering maternal health management services to pregnant women in Clayton County, as well as Allamakee, Howard and Winneshiek counties. Services may include education, nursing and health assessment, prenatal and postpartum home visits and more. All services provided by the program are free.
Oral health services have been expanded, as well. The office also continues to do immunizations for children and adults, manages the WIC Program and offers a Homemaker Program for low-income residents that need it. Also included in its list of services are various screenings, including lead screening.

One of the biggest changes Nancy managed was the move from the old county office building to the present facility in 2012. Staff prepared for the move for two months while still providing services to its clients.
“I’ll always be grateful for the chance to move here because it’s a much better place for the people we serve,” Nancy said. “It’s safer, cleaner and there are no steps!”

The number of people Nancy’s helped over her long career is incalculable but a figure in the thousands would not be unrealistic. The care and compassion she’s given can’t be measured either, her friends, family and colleagues say.
“She is an angel in every definition of the word,” says VNA staffer Peterman. “There’s no other way to put it.”

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