Research Center Investigators
Dr. Kathy Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI
Dr. Kathy Bowles, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI
Dr. Kathy Bowles, vanAmeringen Chair in Nursing Excellence & Professor of Nursing at University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research as Director and Vice President in the summer of 2014. Dr. Bowles leads the Center to advance knowledge that will promote the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective care in the home and community, and support informed decision making by policymakers, managers, practitioners, and consumers of home- and community-based services.
Dr. Bowles has a 20-year career with a record of continuous funding from the NIH and other sources for her program of research using information technology to improve care for older adults, and has been nationally and internationally recognized for her research achievements in decision science and telehealth. She has served on the National Quality Forum Care Coordination Steering Committee and consulted for The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on its initiative to identify the key data elements essential to safe patient transitions. She has served on CMS’ Technical Expert Panel on the development of the CARE tool and was a member of the Heath Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) Care Coordination Committee to identify standards for the electronic health record. She co-founded a software company, RightCare Solutions in 2011 that was recently acquired by NaviHealth and provides an end-to-end solution for discharge planning and post-acute care management. Most recently she was appointed to the National Advisory Council of the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institute of Health.
Dr. Bowles holds a BSN from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, an MSN from Villanova University, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bowles is a Senior Fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute, and Director of the Health Informatics Minor at Penn Nursing. She is an elected fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) and the American College of Medical Informatics and a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the Gerontological Society of America, the American Medical Informatics Association, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.
Margaret McDonald, MSW
Margaret McDonald, MSW
Margaret McDonald, MSW, Associate Vice President, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 1998. At the Center, she is responsible for developing and conducting research studies as well as overseeing grants and center administration. In the administrator role, she oversees a team that prepares and submits National Institutes of Health grant proposals and management of the Center’s internal finances and legal affairs. She holds the role of Data Security and Compliance Officer for Research and Administrator of the VNS Health Institutional Review Board. In her scientific role, Margaret has extensive experience in helping multi-institution collaborative investigative teams develop, apply for, implement, and disseminate the results of research studies ranging from small pilot studies to large, federally funded randomized controlled trials. Ms. McDonald has been the co-investigator or Project Director on a number of large Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and foundation-sponsored projects.
The focus of her work has been on examining the characteristics and needs of the home health population, developing risk prediction models, and evaluation of the quality, comparative effectiveness and outcomes of home health interventions. Margaret has co-authored over 70 peer reviewed articles, which highlights successful cross-disciplinary research collaboration contributing to the improvement of care for older adults with chronic, complex, and advanced illness.
Margaret is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business and received a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in research from Fordham University. Before joining VNS Health, Ms. McDonald worked with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Psychiatry and Pain Service and the Oncology Symptom Control Research Group at Community Cancer Care of Indiana. The research that she was involved in focused on symptom management in cancer and AIDS patients.
Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN
Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN
Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN, is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at VNS Health, a Professor Emerita in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University, and Co-Director of International Center for Self-Care Research. Her program of research addresses self-care broadly defined to embrace treatment adherence, condition monitoring, and symptom management. Dr. Riegel began studying these issues early in her career while a Clinical Researcher in an acute care setting when hospitals were just beginning to recognize that heart failure was a primary reason for hospital readmissions. She has developed theory and self-report measures of self-care that are used worldwide (www.self-care-measures.com). She has received numerous awards for her research including the Distinguished Scientist Award from American Heart Association and Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame. She is listed as one of the Best Female Scientists in the US by www.Research.com. Dr. Riegel has published widely, with more than 375 peer reviewed articles. She has been consistently funded for her research since 1990, with grants from the National Institutes of Health and private foundations such as the American Heart Association.
Carlin Brickner, DrPH
Carlin Brickner, DrPH
Carlin Brickner is the Director of Analytics at the Business Intelligence and Analytics Department and a Researcher at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at the VNS Health. He obtained his Dr.PH in Biostatistics from Rutgers University. With his expertise in quantitative methodology, statistical computing, and the design and management of electronic data systems, Carlin leads the VNS Health Data Science team that integrates cutting-edge technology and advanced analytic methodology to help develop evidence-based patient care practices, monitor achievement of quality goals, and optimize care cost. As a researcher, Carlin has collaborated with academic, governmental, and industry partners on internally- and externally funded studies addressing current public health priorities. His recent work includes the WIO Evaluation study and an NIH-funded Infection Control project. His research interests include clinical decision support, health care policy and reimbursement incentives to achieve health care outcomes, predictive modeling and data visualizations, and methodology to estimate the effect of a transient effect on an acute event.
David Russell, PhD
David Russell, PhD
David Russell, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at the VNS Health. Dr. Russell transitioned to a part-time role at the Center in June 2017 upon accepting a position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University.
Dr. Russell is a medical sociologist with interests in social disparities in long-term and end-of-life health care outcomes, workforce initiatives, and health care technology. He has substantial experience evaluating new programs and initiatives at the agency, as well as in using secondary electronic clinical data sources (e.g. medical records, clinical assessments, service utilization information) to identify patterns in health care outcomes among VNS Health patients and VNS Health CHOICE Health Plan members. His recent work includes an examination of continuity in visiting nurse personnel and its implications for the patient experience, an evaluation of a workforce initiative to prepare home health aides as health coaches, and an investigation into the frequency and correlates of distinct live discharge outcomes among hospice patients.
Dr. Russell has published widely in the fields of health services, gerontology, and medical sociology. He was twice awarded the Impact Article of the Year in 2011 and 2012 by the National Association for Healthcare Quality. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Russell was an NIMH Postdoctoral Trainee at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research (Rutgers University). His work at the Institute focused on the ways in which community and household integration shape risk for physical and mental health problems among older adults. Dr. Russell received his PhD in Sociology from Florida State University in 2007.
Julia Burgdorf, PhD
Julia Burgdorf, PhD
Julia Burgdorf, PhD, is a Research Scientist at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at VNS Health.
Dr. Burgdorf is a health services researcher who specializes in leveraging population-level linked claims, assessment, and survey data to examine the complex landscape of social and structural factors impacting home health care accessibility and quality for older adults. She is especially interested in better understanding the role of family caregivers during home health care and developing system-based strategies to improve communication and collaboration between clinicians and family caregivers, with a focus on families and patients experiencing dementia. Dr. Burgdorf is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, employing whatever approach is best-suited to the question at hand.
Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Burgdorf was a National Institute on Aging Ruth L. Kirschstein postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She received her PhD in Health Services Research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2020 and continues to work closely with researchers in the Department of Health Policy & Management at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as a Faculty Associate. Dr. Burgdorf also has a BS in Policy Analysis & Management from Cornell University.
Max Topaz, PhD, RN, MA
Max Topaz, PhD, RN, MA
Dr. Maxim (Max) Topaz PhD, RN, MA joined VNS Health’s Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 2018 as Associate Professor of Nursing under a joint-appointment with the Columbia University Medical Center and the Columbia University Data Science Institute, where he is the Elizabeth Standish Gill Associate Professor of Nursing. Dr. Topaz’s clinical experience is in internal and urgent medicine. His research primarily involves leveraging technological and computer science breakthroughs to develop and utilize informatics methodologies, like text and data mining, to evaluate and inform health and home care provision practices and policy, as well as the fields of data science and health informatics methods science generally. Dr. Topaz has authored more than fifty articles on topics related to health informatics and received numerous prestigious awards for his work. His current work focuses on developing natural language processing solutions for big data in health care.
Dr. Topaz’s roles at the Center include collaborating with Center Leadership and staff to determine critical research and practice issues, providing leadership, expertise and efforts in the conceptualization, design, conduct, dissemination, and translation of the Center’s research, and generally, supporting and advancing the research mission and goals of the Center. Dr. Topaz is also responsible for obtaining external funding for and leading nationally-significant, high- quality, practice and/or policy-relevant research in areas at the intersection of nursing, home health care, informatics, technology, and the larger health care system.
Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Topaz was involved with health policy (national and international levels), leadership (e.g. Chair of the Emerging Professionals Working Group of the International Medical Informatics Association) and health entrepreneurship. He served as a Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing, University of Haifa (Israel) where he led the Health Information Technology Lab.
Dr. Topaz earned his PhD degree in Nursing as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and his Masters (Cum Laude) and Bachelors degrees from the University of Haifa, Israel. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Brigham Women’s Hospital.
Mia Oberlink, MA
Mia Oberlink, MA
Mia Oberlink, MA, Senior Research Associate, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in June 1999. Ms. Oberlink is currently managing the AdvantAge Initiative, a data-driven community development project that helps communities measure their elder-friendliness and develop strategies to sustain older residents’ independence and allow them to age in place. To date, over 60 communities around the US have participated in the AdvantAge Initiative.
Past projects include the Rockaways Wellness Partnership, a New York State Department of Health–funded health coaching initiative; Community Innovations for Aging in Place (www.ciaip.org); a national US Administration on Aging–funded project for which the Research Center served as the technical assistance provider; Health Indicators in NORC Programs, a collaborative project with the United Hospital Fund; and the Robert Wood Johnson–funded project, Home Care Research Initiative (HCRI), among others. She has also researched and written reports on livable communities for the National Council on Disability, Grantmakers in Aging, and AARP.
Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Oberlink spent 13 years writing about biomedical and social issues in aging, first at the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center and at the International Longevity Center, where she was Director of Communications.
Miriam Ryvicker, PhD
Miriam Ryvicker, PhD
Miriam Ryvicker, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research of the VNS Health. Her primary research focus is on racial and socioeconomic disparities in access to and quality of health care for older adults with chronic illness. She has led several studies funded by the National Institute on Aging / National Institutes of Health using advanced data science methodologies to examine health service utilization and outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions such as heart failure, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. This body of work includes research on the role of neighborhood characteristics in access to health care for older adults living in New York City. Dr. Ryvicker has conducted analysis for randomized trials of organizational and behavioral interventions to improve the ability of home care patients to manage their health and health care. She has also led large-scale program evaluations of several home health care workforce development initiatives.
Dr. Ryvicker received her PhD in sociology from New York University in 2007. Her dissertation research was a qualitative study of nursing home organizational culture and quality of life, funded by a Health Services Dissertation Grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), US Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Ryvicker also has a BA in urban studies from Brown University.
Penny Hollander Feldman, PhD
Penny Hollander Feldman, PhD
Penny Hollander Feldman, PhD, is Senior Research Scientist and Director Emerita at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at VNS Health. Dr. Feldman served as Center Director from 1993 to 2014 and as VNS Health Senior Vice President, Research and Evaluation, from 2009-2014. In her current position, she leads research focused on improving the quality, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of home-based care for an aging and racially diverse population characterized by functional impairment, multiple co-morbidities, and complex care needs. She is the principal investigator of several grants testing home-based interventions for individuals facing the challenges of uncontrolled hypertension, post-stroke limitations, and chronic illness, compounded by socioeconomic, racial, and linguistic barriers to effective self-care management. She is also co-investigator on several comparative effectiveness studies designed to assess the impact of early home nursing visits and early physician follow-up on selected patient populations.
While Director of the Center, Dr. Feldman established a robust research enterprise with rigorously trained methodological staff and state-of-the-art informatics capacity to address two goals: 1) support quality of care, quality improvement and program planning at VNS Health, and 2) maintain a portfolio of externally funded research to advance the home care knowledge base worldwide. Among other projects, Dr. Feldman served as principal investigator on a series of comparative effectiveness grants funded by AHRQ and NHLBI—most of them focused on helping clinicians and patients improve outcomes through more effective self-management support for high-risk, complex patients, many with heart disease, hypertension, and/or other cardiovascular risk factors.
Dr. Feldman has served on a variety of advisory committees and technical expert panels sponsored by nonprofit and governmental organizations in both the U.S. and abroad. Currently, these include the national advisory committee of the U.S. State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities and Family Caregivers; and the Steering Committee of the Swiss National Science Foundation National Research Programme for Smarter Health Care. Since 2005, Dr. Feldman is Associate Professor (Courtesy) of Public Health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Previously she served on the faculties of the Harvard University Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Timothy Peng, PhD
Timothy Peng, PhD
Timothy Peng, PhD, Chief Data Analytics Officer for VNS Health at large, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in July of 1998 as a Research Scientist. At the Center, he was responsible for conducting research on the quality and outcomes of home health care, and the effects of public policy on long-term care. His research also examined potential disparities in access to care and health outcomes of chronically disabled elders from different ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic groups.
In 2018, Tim was promoted into the newly-created Chief Data Analytics Officer role for VNS Health, responsible for providing enterprise-wide staff at all levels with meaningful, timely, directive data, analysis, interpretation, and guidance backed by empirical evidence and research. Business needs addressed include payment and reimbursement policy planning and analysis; quality measurement and monitoring; program evaluation; customer satisfaction; clinical, operational and financial outcomes; operations analysis; performance monitoring and improvement. Also responsible for conducting scientifically rigorous research on: understanding and improving patient outcomes; access to long-term care; quality measurement; payment systems and provider response to policy incentives; value-based purchasing; and chronic disease management in clinically complex patient populations. Duties include developing testable hypotheses from business questions; providing empirical guidance to executive leadership and operational managers; conducting analyses to drive business and operational strategy and efficiency; integrating logic and analysis into workflows and processes; and general supervision and administration of the VNS Health Outcomes, Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Health Care Economics teams, who supply VNS Health leadership and clinical teams with health care provision analytics, while contributing data analytic and infrastructure support and expertise, as well as staff, to Research Center projects.
Research Center Team Members
Alexis Stern, Research Analyst II, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 1999. She currently works with Mia Oberlink on the AdvantAge Initiative, a data-driven community development project that helps communities measure their elder-friendliness and develop strategies to sustain older residents’ independence and allow them to age in place. During her years at VNS Health, Ms. Stern’s responsibilities have included project management, communications, grant reporting, grant proposal submissions, research, data collection, and research analysis. She has worked on a variety of Research Center projects and programs, including the CHAMP (Collaboration for Homecare Advances in Management and Practice) program, the Administration on Aging-funded CIAIP (Community Innovations for Aging in Place) project, the Health Indicators in NORC Programs Initiative, the Home Care Research Initiative (HCRI), and the Multi-Regional Model to Increase the Proportion of Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) in New York City and North Carolina.
Ms. Stern has also worked for various nonprofit organizations and institutions, including Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health (Senior Project Officer, Office of Sponsored Projects Administration), New York University (Grants Administrator, Institute for Human Development and Social Change, NYU Steinhardt), the International Longevity Center, Food & Hunger Hotline, and as a science teacher in New York City elementary schools.
Anahita (Ana) Davoudi
Anahita (Ana) Davoudi
Anahita (Ana) Davoudi, PhD, MS, MS, is a Research Associate at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research. She joined the center in March 2022 and is currently working on the Homecare-CONCERN project to develop risk models for preventable hospitalizations and emergency department visits in homecare.
Before joining the Center, Dr. Davoudi was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Her research mainly focuses on the natural language processing of clinical text for patient phenotyping and intent encoding. Specifically, she developed supervised machine learning pipelines to detect progression status from radiology exam notes among non-small cell lung cancer patients. Also, she has worked on a text messaging platform for hypertension management, utilizing unsupervised learning methods to identify medication-related intents and characterize patient interaction phenotypes.
Dr. Davoudi received her Ph.D. in Computer Science, focusing on online social networks’ dynamics and trust-based relations for small-scale behavior prediction, item recommendation, and anomaly detection. Dr. Davoudi also holds masters in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and a BS in Computer Engineering.
Felix Vasquez, BS, Research Assistant, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research as a Research Interviewer in early 2019 as an interviewer on the CAPABLE study, and began working full-time at the Center in 2021 as a Research Assistant.
At the Center, Felix is responsible for recruiting and interviewing study participants, data entry, and reviewing patient interviews. He graduated from SUNY Stony Brook in May 2018 with both a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Felix had worked alongside a researcher on the structural characterization of proteins during his time at Stony Brook. Before joining VNS Health, he had worked as a customer care representative and returns agent. More recently, he helped to do his part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 when he joined our efforts in vaccinating VNS Health as a member of our clinic.
Greg Horton, BFA, Business Manager, Research Studies, rejoined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in 2021 following previous administrative work for the Center from 1996 to 2003. At the Center, he provides administrative and research support to the research staff, manages grant submissions and grant and financial administration, and is responsible for ensuring the Center’s internal and external research and administrative compliance. He also serves as coordinator and liaison between the Center and VNS Health’s Legal, IT, Procurement, and HR departments, and works with VNS Health Marketing and Enterprise Communications to manage the Center’s online presence.
Mr. Horton graduated with a BFA from Syracuse University in 1986 with a degree in Musical Theater. After his previous work for the Center, he moved on to working with the VNS Health Chief Executive Office as Administrative Assistant and then to the VNS Health Performance and Innovation Department as Executive Assistant to the SVP and Department Coordinator. From 2016 to 2021, he worked as the Administrator for the fertility clinic start-up Extend Fertility. As an actor, he has performed in regional theatre, on tour, on a Mississippi steamboat, as well as multiple shows Off and Off-Off Broadway, and is the winner of two New York Innovative Theatre Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role.
Lauren Evans, DrPH, MA
Lauren Evans, DrPH, MA
Lauren Evans, DrPH, MA is a Research Analyst II/Project Coordinator in the Center for Home Care Policy & Research at the VNS Health. She has experience in data analysis, program evaluation, and the design and implementation of community-based surveys to promote health among older adults. Her primary research interest is in improving the health outcomes of older adults in the context of complex chronic disease comorbidity and frailty.
She has worked on several Research Center projects since 2012, including the AdvantAge Initiative, a data-driven project that helps communities measure and improve their elder-friendliness; and a program evaluation of home care workforce development initiatives.
In addition to her work with VNS Health, she has taught courses in biostatistics and epidemiology as a Doctoral Lecturer at Brooklyn College, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences. She has also worked as an epidemiologist and evaluation specialist in the area of tobacco control in Virginia. Lauren graduated from the CUNY Graduate Center with a doctoral degree in Public Health. She also has an MA in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College Columbia University.
Leah Gross joined the Center as an Administrative Assistant in April 2022. She previously worked in the entertainment industry, most recently as an assistant to two theatre literary agents at United Talent Agency. Also a writer and teaching artist, Leah holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, where she received the Television Writing Award at Fusion Film Festival for her comedy pilot Nick and Nikki. During the pandemic, Leah co-developed a virtual arts vitality workshop called Adventures in Visual Storytelling, aiming to bring adults aged 55+ into community through the exploration of various visual mediums. Currently teaching this workshop virtually at FilmNorth, Leah is passionate about improving quality of life in vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lori King, MPH is a Research Analyst who joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in September of 2000 where she has primarily worked on quality improvement and access to care projects. Ms. King previously worked on two Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)–sponsored projects focused on patient safety, Working Conditions and Adverse Events in Home Health Care (WEPS) and Developmental Center for Evaluation and Research in Patient Safety (DCERPS), a collaborative effort with New York University’s Division of Nursing. Prior to this work she worked on a large-scale project sponsored by AHRQ, Translating Research into Practice (TRIP): Evidence-Based ‘Reminders’ in Home Health Care”, which focused on evaluating strategies to promote evidence-based care. Her latest work was sponsored by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Interventions to Improve Blood Pressure Control in African Americans, which also focuses on evaluating strategies to promote evidence-based care. Ms. King is responsible for Institutional Review Board (IRB) activities for VNS Health.
Ms. King earned her Masters in Public Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Before joining VNS Health, she worked at The National Board of Medical Examiners in Philadelphia, where she worked on the Standardized Patient Project.
Nicole Onorato, BS, Research Analyst II, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research as an intern in 2014, transitioned into a per diem project assistant role in 2015, and began working full time for the Center in 2016 as a Research Assistant. Nicole is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health (MPH) at the George Washington University. At the Center, Nicole is responsible for recruiting subjects into various research studies, helping to provide training and support to field staff, and for providing administrative and research support to several senior researchers across multiple projects as well as to the Center in general.
Ms. Onorato graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a degree in Public Health. Before joining VNS Health, Ms. Onorato worked as a Nurse’s Assistant from 2008–2011, and then became a Patient Care Technician from 2011–2016 working on a neurorehabilitation unit. Nicole is interested in working with Home Health Aides/ Health Coaches and is interested in a post-stroke population. She has worked on several studies involving Health Coaches, and two stroke studies so far.
Piotr Kapela is a Statistical Programmer and Analyst who joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in January of 2022. Prior joining the Research Center, Piotr worked on various technical positions within Academia and Cultural Institutions helping to deliver large public facing software projects. During his work he developed interest in distributive computing, cloud solutions applied to data intensive applications, and statistical learning methods. At the Center, Piotr is helping researchers on federally funded research studies leveraging data obtained from various VNS Health Health computer systems.
Piotr graduated from CUNY Hunter College with a degree in Computer Science, and hold a Master’s degree in Statistics from CUNY Baruch College.
Sasha Vergez, Research Assistant, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in early 2019 as an interviewer on the SHARP feasibility study and began working full-time at the Center in 2021 as a Research Assistant.
At the Center, Sasha is responsible for recruiting and interviewing study participants, training field staff, and providing administrative research support for ongoing projects. Sasha works on multiple projects across the Center. She graduated from CUNY Lehman College in May 2021 with both a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Before joining the center, Sasha has worked alongside several CUNY professors on studies focusing on the wellbeing of older adults and more recently, of all individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shivani Shah, MPH
Shivani Shah, MPH
Shivani Shah, MPH, Research Project Manager, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in February of 2008. Mrs. Shah is currently leading a project with Dr. Sarah Szanton at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing called Reducing Disability Following Hospital Discharge in Vulnerable Older Adults: the CAPABLE intervention, a multiyear randomized controlled intervention trial. This study is testing the effectiveness of the CAPABLE program, which combines evidence-based nursing, occupational therapy, and handyman components to help diverse older adults function at home and save our nation costly nursing home care. The VNS Health team includes Research Analyst II, Nicole Onorato, 5 field interviewers for data collection and 9 field clinicians (OT and RN) delivering the intervention. The project has also partnered with Met Council to provide home modifications to participants in the intervention group. CAPABLE is a program that leads with participants setting their own goals and getting support to make it happen.
Prior work at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research, includes primary data collection, policy focused and comparative effectiveness studies using national data from CMS.
Primary data collection projects: (1) Health Related Quality of Life: Elders in Long Term Care (PI: Naylor, Penn School of Nursing, National Institute on Aging)
Policy research initiatives: (1) Post-Acute Care Payment Demonstration (PI: Gage, Research Triangle Institute, CMS); (2) PRIDE Promoting Integrated Care for Dual Eligibles (PI: Feldman, VNS Health, Commonwealth Fund)
Intervention studies: (1) Self-Management of Urine Flow in Long-term Urinary Catheter Users (PI: Wilde, University of Rochester School of Nursing, National Institute of Health); (2) Rockaway Wellness Partnership: A health coach and wellness worker led outreach in the Far Rockaway, a community devastated by Hurricane Sandy. (PI: Oberlink, VNS Health, New York State Social Services Block Grant); (3) Home-based Primary Care for Homebound Seniors: a Randomized Controlled Trial (PI; Federman, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, National Institute of Health); (3) Reducing Disability Following Hospital Discharge in Vulnerable Older Adults: the CAPABLE intervention, a multiyear randomized controlled intervention trial (PI: Szanton, John Hopkins School of Nursing, National Institute of Aging).
Facilitated community based assessments of elder with local organizations through the AdvantAge Initiative (PI: Oberlink, VNS Health).
Comparative Effectiveness study using National claims files from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services: (1) Comparative Effectiveness of Intensive Home Health and MD visits in Heart Failure (PI: Murtaugh, VNS Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality); (2) Sepsis Survivors’ Post-Acute Outcomes: Impact of Early Home Health and MD Visits (co-PI: Murtaugh and Bowles, National Institute of Nursing Research); (3) Comparative Effectiveness of Home Health Therapies after Joint Replacement (co-PI: Murtaugh, VNS Health and Siu, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, National Institute of Aging); (4) A Longitudinal Network Study of Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care in Relation to Disparities in Access and Outcomes (co-PI; Ryvicker, VNS Health and Merrill, Columbia School of Nursing, National Institute of Aging) (5) Nurses’ documentation of patient diagnoses, symptoms and interventions for home care patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD): A natural language processing study (co-PI; Ryvicker, VNS Health, National Institute on Aging)
Sonia J. Cheruvillil, MPH
Sonia J. Cheruvillil, MPH
Sonia J. Cheruvillil, MPH, Research Project Manager, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in August of 2021. Sonia is currently managing a multiyear, longitudinal study with Dr. Miriam Ryvicker and Dr. Walter Bockting at Columbia School of Nursing called Gender Affirming Program Study. The study looks at the kind of support that transgender and nonbinary people need from the health care system after gender-affirming surgeries. The study examines the patient experiences of people who have gone through VNS Health’s Gender Affirmation Program.
Sonia is currently also finishing up her dissertation at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Public Health and Health Policy in the Department of Community Health and Social Sciences. Prior to this work, she has been an educator and a researcher in areas related to gender, sexuality, human rights, and environmental science.
Sridevi Sridharan, MS, Manager
Sridevi Sridharan, MS, Manager
Sridevi Sridharan, MS, Manager, Analytics Engineer, joined VNS Health’s Center for Home Care Policy & Research as a Consultant in August 2008. Soon after, in December 2008, she joined the center as a full-time staff member. She has a BS in Computer Science and MS in Biomedical Engineering. Prior to joining the center, Sridevi worked as a Statistical Programmer for Health Care and Pharmaceutical companies.
At the Center, Sridevi works closely with the Research Center Project Managers and assists in the design and implementation of patient enrollment for research studies, produces statistical summaries and quantitative analyses. She is currently working on the following projects: Cognitive-Behavioral Pain Self-Management, Washington Heights / Inwood Informatics Infrastructure for Community-Centered Comparative Effectiveness Research, Home-Based Blood Pressure Interventions for African Americans, Improving Medication Management Practices and Center for Stroke Disparities Solutions.
Yolanda Barrón-Vayá, MS
Yolanda Barrón-Vayá, MS
Yolanda Barrón-Vayá, MS, Senior Biostatistician, joined the Center for Home Care Policy & Research in September 2011. Ms. Barrón is currently working in the analysis of the “Improving Medication Management Practices and Care Transitions through Technology (IMPACT)” project, a randomized trial to examine the effectiveness of a comprehensive information technology (IT) strategy to improve medication management for home health patients at risk of potentially serious medication problems due to the complexity of their medication regimen.
Prior to joining the center, Ms. Barrón worked as a biostatistician at the Pain Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She later became a member of the Biostatistical Consulting Core and the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute in Johns Hopkins, before joining the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a statistical programmer, where she collaborated with investigators from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a multicenter cohort study of the natural history of HIV-1 infection in women in the United States.
In 2005, Ms. Barrón joined the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she collaborated with Weill Cornell and VNS Health investigators in the design and analysis of a longitudinal multilevel study on the effect of the Patient Activation Measure on chronic care of patients with hypertension. She later worked with members of the Division of Quality and Medical Informatics at Weill Cornell in the design and analysis of studies to evaluate the effects of health information technology (HIT) and health information exchange (HIE) on quality of care and medication safety through the HEAL NY initiatives. Ms. Barrón was also the co-director of the course “Introduction to Biostatistics in Clinical Research” for the Masters Program in Clinical Investigation, part of the Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC) at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Ms. Barrón received a MS in Statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BS in Applied Mathematics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).