In 1985, Suzanne Herbst, RN, MA, working as a home infusion clinician in San Francisco, and caring for patients and friends with AIDS, discovered that clinicians' knowledge of vascular accessand vascular access devices (VADs) varied widely. She noted that the lack of knowledge also applied to healthcare institutions and consumers. Important issues such as consumer education, care and maintenance procedures, catheter-related complications and their management were rife with discordant information. The unknowns, discrepancies, and misunderstandings about these critical lifelines may well have led to some serious problems. Vascular access devices were inserted by healthcare professionals and used, and maintained clinicians, and consumers with little or no up-to-date information. In June of 1985, Herbst sent a letter to 12 colleagues and to 18 mothers of consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area…colleagues whom she believed shared the same thoughts and concerns aboutVADs. She proposed the development of a multidisciplinary VAD network to address the complexities of VADs and their insertion, use, care, and maintenance. Issues from research and development of VADs, to educating the health care community, and the consumer- were on her agenda.The focus being the best possible outcomes for infusion therapy and excellence in the new specialty of vascular access.
Fifteen people attended the first brainstorming meeting. They included individualswith diverse backgrounds from hospitals, home care, the research and development community, the medical device industry, nursing, and pharmacy as well as consumers. After considerable discussion, it was unanimously agreed to develop a committee, the Bay Area Vascular Access Committee (BAVAC). Its primary goal was to "establish a collaborative effort through standardization of education, training, and research and development that would benefit consumers and healthcare professionals alike.
The first few years were spent identifying the local needs, developing expertise, increasing membership, creating group/community credibility and surveying current practices. Four task forces were established: tunneled catheters, implanted ports, percutaneously inserted central catheters, and consumer education. These groups were tasked to develop collaborative policies and procedures, and best practicessurrounding a variety of topics within the field of vascular access.
Although challenging and time consuming, these efforts proved fruitful and the organization grew to 65 members in just one year.
In 1987, BAVAC became BAVAN (Bay Area Vascular Access Network) and a new logo was launched. The founding Board of Directors included Suzanne Herbst, President; Stella Petrakis, President-Elect; Donna Brandstrom, Secretary; Bunny Tigerman, Treasurer; with Dwayne Hardy and Malle Schneideras Directors-at-Large. Over the next few years, membership neared 150, and in keeping with its original objectives, BAVAN began producing a newsletter, BAYVIEWS, and held its first annual conference.
By 1990, membership grew to more than 600 with a significant number of the members outside the San Francisco Bay area. Networks similar to BAVAN started in Orange County, California, (Orange County Vascular Access Network (OCVAN)), and Salt Lake City (Utah Vascular Access Network (UVAN)) with other areas of the country expressing interest in starting their own networks. It was at this time, after much consideration, meditation, discussion, and trepidation, that the process of developing a national organization was begun.
A contest was held to name the new organization. BAVAN became the "National Association of Vascular Access Networks (NAVAN)." In ensuing years NAVAN went through many growing pains and phases. It played a major role in raising awareness and promoting best practices in vascular access and development of VAD education, training, and advocacy.
In November 2002, the NAVAN Board of Directors implemented a strategic planning process to better reflect the organization's worldwide focus. This initiated another name change, approved by membership ballot in the 2003 and the organization became the Association for Vascular Access (AVA).
AVA continues to grow and provide the focus necessary to promote excellence in the specialty and practice of vascular access.