By John Burton and Joseph Sapia
MIDDLETOWN – The VNA Health Group, one of New Jersey’s largest non-profit home and hospice health care companies and based in Red Bank since the 1960s, is moving its headquarters to the Vonage internet company site in Holmdel.
VNA is to begin relocating its headquarters, now on Riverside Avenue near the Route 35 bridge over the Navesink River, and other offices in the first quarter of 2017. The move of 200 workers – 125 from Red Bank and 75 from offices elsewhere in New Jersey – should be completed by mid-2017, said Vito Buccellato, Chief Operating Officer of VNA Institutes and Services.
The move puts VNA on a sprawling, 88-acre campus on Route 520 at Holmdel Road, versus its in-town setting in Red Bank. It will lease Vonage’s first floor, going from the 35,000 to 36,000 square feet of space it has in Red Bank to 52,500 square feet at Vonage, Buccellato said.
Vonage will relocate its workers from the first floor and continue on the second and third floors, Buccellato said.
VNA will get more space, improved infrastructure, and better parking, while remaining in the area where it formed more than 100 years ago, according to a press release the two companies put out Wednesday, Dec. 7.
The companies said the move allows the two to work together on internet-based health care, such as VNA’s Connected Health Institute that allows the elderly and young families to have virtual healthcare visits, monitor wounds online and access digital health applications. VNA said it is outgrowing its offices, both in terms of space and technology support.
Also, the two companies will be involved in healthcare programs for Vonage employees, such as health screenings and vaccination programs.
VNA’s Community Health Center, which now operates on the first floor of the Red Bank building, will remain in place, Buccellato said. The clinic will remain somewhere in Red Bank, even if VNA sells the Red Bank building, he said.
When asked if VNA wants to sell its brick, three-story Red Bank building, Buccellato said “we’re exploring different options,” but declined to go into detail.
“The mission of our move is where the majority of our staff can work together and achieve synergy,” Buccellato said. “This (Red Bank) building cannot accommodate all these employees.”
Also, according to Buccellato, “there’s a nice synergy” between VNA and Vonage.
The move has been in the works for about a year, Buccellato said.
Holmdel Mayor Eric Hinds said VNA is a “great organization” and that he “couldn’t be more happy” about it. Hinds said he had heard Vonage did not need all its space and the possibility of another entity moving in.
“We’re certainly happy to see when the building is filled to capacity,” Hinds said. “I’m glad they worked it out.”
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna said he was unaware of VNA’s planned move until contacted by a reporter Wednesday morning.
“If they sell it,” said Menna, speaking of the Red Bank building, “hopefully, they’ll sell it to somebody who’s going to pay taxes. Happy holidays and I hope they sell it to a tax-paying entity.”
Non-profits do not pay taxes on property they own. Perhaps the VNA building, which sits across the street from the proposed Hampton Inn hotel, now before the borough Planning Board, could enter the tax rolls as a for-profit hotel, Menna said.
Red Bank and VNA have had a cantankerous relationship over the years, in a kind of battle of whether VNA is a community organization worthy of non-profit status.
Both companies made additional comments in the press release.
“A dedicated, entrepreneurial workforce deserves an innovative, creative workplace where they can thrive and grow professionally,” said Dr. Steven Landers, president and chief executive officer of VNA.
“We are excited to bring our expertise in cloud communications technology to VNA Health Group as a signature customer in the healthcare space, providing them with tools to help them increase mobility, flexibility and productivity, particularly to meet the needs of their large mobile workforce and employees that are spread across multiple locations,” said David Pearson, Vonage’s chief financial officer and treasurer.
VNA has roots going back to 1912, when Middletown philanthropist Geraldine Thompson hosted a meeting of volunteers on her Brookdale Farm – now the site of Brookdale Community College and Thompson Park on Route 520, just down the road from Vonage – and formed a benevolent group.
The group evolved into the Monmouth County Organization for Social Service and the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, before becoming known as VNA.
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