In the summer of 1908, Miss Luella Bristol began her work as the first public health nurse for what later became Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. With her work began the long tradition of public health nurses serving the health needs of central Iowa, in their homes as well as in clinics. Six years later, Adah Hershey, the Director of Public Health for the precursor to VNS of Iowa, the Nursing Association of Des Moines, initiated the "Save the Babies" Campaign as a response to a dramatic increase in infant deaths during the summer. The agency provided ice and safe milk for infants and education for mothers. Well-child clinics evolved from this initiative and preventive health services were offered to children in low-income families.
Carrying tradition into the present, the current staff of VNS of Iowa is comprised of nurses, social workers, case managers and outreach workers. Interpreters are available in 21 different languages and dialects to work with the expanding refugee and immigrant population residing in Iowa. True to the tradition of VNS of Iowa, the agency continues to work with all clients including those who do not have the ability to pay for services.