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entries tagged with: Jewish Home At Rockleigh

 

Adult day-care center lobbies for Medicare funds

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Mario DeMasi of Fort Lee, standing, and Joan Foley of Leonia, participants in the adult day-care program at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, sign letters urging Congress to pass a bill that would provide Medicare funding for adult day-care services. With them is staff member Alex Gomez. Photo courtesy of Galen Adult Health Care Center

While many focused on the heated gubernatorial race this past Election Day, participants at the Gallen Adult Health Care Center at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh began a campaign to lobby local, state, and federal representatives on a bill supporting adult day-care services.

The Medicare Adult Day Services Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in June, would offer Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to attend medical day care instead of sub-acute care or home care, providing participants with greater independence while offering respite for caregivers. The social interactions provided by adult day-care programs help seniors maintain their cognitive abilities, said Shelley Steiner, a social worker at Gallen who spoke to day-care clients on Election Day about the importance of the bill, kicking off a month-long letter writing campaign. If such services were covered under Medicare, facilities such as the Gallen Center could offer more to its clients, she said.

“This bill is offering people who have Medicare the ability to use it effectively for what they need,” Steiner told The Jewish Standard earlier this week. “It offers structured, supervised programming. This bill would truthfully save people and the government money.”

Some 40 Gallen Center clients began writing letters on Nov. 3, and she hopes to collect at least 90 letters by the end of the month, when she will send copies to state and federal officials.

Currently, people who use adult day care must front the costs themselves. Medicare should cover the service, Steiner argued, because it not only helps patients mentally, but it can reduce the number of additional medical services they require. For example, nurses at adult day-care centers monitor vital signs and can write prescriptions, cutting down on visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who were discharged from the hospital were readmitted within 30 days. A key goal of adult day care is to keep people out of hospitals, Steiner said.

More than 50,000,000 people provide care for chronically ill, disabled, or aged family members or friends, according to the text of the bill. These caregivers provide an estimated $306 billion in “free” services annually, though caregiving families tend to have lower incomes. The average intensive caregiver loses $659,139 in wages, pension benefits, and Social Security benefits, while an estimated 9 percent of caregivers leave the workplace altogether.

“For many, it’s an extra cost that — as needed as it is — they can’t afford,” Steiner said.

The National Adult Day Services Association has directed adult day-care centers in advocating for the bill.

According to NADSA, these centers provide care for 150,000 people each day; almost 78 percent of centers are not-for-profit; the average age of an adult day-care client is 72; and two-thirds of all day-care clients are women.

Furthermore, 35 percent of adult day-care clients live with an adult child, 20 percent with a spouse, 18 percent in an institution, 13 percent with parents or other relatives, and 11 percent alone.

The national average cost of adult day care, according to NADSA, is $61 a day, averaging eight to 10 hours per day. By contrast, the average cost for home health aides is $19 per hour.

Adult day-care centers, according to the bill, “serve as an effective source of relief to familial caregivers and provide quality health options to treat our nation’s elderly population, which is about to dramatically increase with the aging of the baby boomer generation.”

For more information on the bill or how to advocate for it, visit www.nadsa.org.

 
 

Jewish Home’s Berkowitz receives Saul Schwarz award

In recognition of more than 30 years of Jewish communal work, Charles Berkowitz, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, received the 2009 Saul Schwarz Distinguished Service Award from the New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Service during the organization’s fall meeting last month.

The NJAJCS gathered at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains on Nov. 20 for the event, which was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. Berkowitz, a resident of Glen Rock, is also executive vice president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh.

“I have been in this profession for a long time,” he said. “I was very pleased professional colleagues of mine had thought of me in making the nomination.”

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Charles Berkowitz, president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family, is the 2009 winner of the Saul Schwarz Distinguished Service Award from the New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Service.

Berkowitz has been with the Jewish Home since 1970, when he arrived after a stint at what is now the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, which was then in Englewood. Berkowitz is proud of the Jewish Home’s growth through the years and looks forward to growing it further.

“We’ve grown … to having two state-of-the-art institutions in Rivervale and Rockleigh,” he said. “We’ve really set a standard for the profession through these facilities.”

Through its Jewish Home at Home program, the organization has begun to focus on homecare alternatives for seniors. The first step in the program is a geriatric care management program, which includes a series of home-based services such as Meals on Wheels and medical day care.

“He’s really the dean of Jewish agency executives and somebody we at UJA always turn to for advice,” David Gad-Harf, associate executive vice president and COO at UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, said of Berkowitz. “He’s always eager to be helpful and has wise advice based on his many years of service to our Jewish community.”

NJAJCS was founded in 1970 to “serve as a forum for the discussion of programs of Jewish communal service on a professional level, and of the application of general professional techniques to service in Jewish communities,” according to the organization’s Website. The Saul Schwarz award, created in 1984, recognizes a member who has demonstrated a consistent history of professional and personal commitment to the field. Schwarz was the first recipient of the award, which was later named after him. Winners are chosen by Jewish professionals throughout the state from all fields of communal service.

Schwarz, a past president of what would later become United Jewish Communities of MetroWest and one of the founders of NJAJCS, expected a great deal from others in the field, said Judy Beck, director of UJA-NNJ’s Synagogue Leadership Initiative, a past president of NJAJCS, and a past recipient of the Saul Schwarz award.

“He really felt that people who work in the field of Jewish communal service were professionals,” she said. “He was really an unbelievable human being in what he accomplished and expected us to accomplish.”

Schwarz died in August 2001.

“The Saul Schwarz Distinguished Service Award is an honor accorded annually to a distinguished professional who has devoted his career to Jewish life in our state,” said Arthur Sandman, NJAJCS president and associate executive vice president, program services, of the Whippany-based MetroWest federation. “We were very proud to give it to Chuck Berkowitz this year in light of the vision he has given to the care of seniors in our community and the professional example he has set for people in our field.”

Past winners of the award include UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey executive vice president Howard Charish; Joy Kurland, head of the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council and a regional CRC; and Abe Davis, executive director of Jewish Family & Children’s Services in North Jersey.

“I know everybody who has won the award over the years,” Berkowitz said. “It’s a nice group of people to be involved with.”

 
 

Israeli aid effort helps Haitians — and Israel’s image                     

Haiti hits home for some, others spearhead fund-raising

As the world watched the catastrophe unfolding in Haiti, the tragic events hit home at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, where some distraught members of the staff, originally from that earthquake-ravaged nation, have been trying to track down relatives and friends there. JHR’s Rabbi Simon Feld led a service in the chapel last Thursday and asked attendees to pray for survivors and loved ones. “Our hearts go out to those who are missing and injured,” he said. He also recited a prayer for those who had died as a result of the earthquake.

Snerte Leger, a Haitian-born member of JHR’s kitchen staff, also spoke to the group, saying, “Everyone here knows what is going on in Haiti. We need to help the Haitian people.”

A second service was held the following day for those who were unable to attend the first.

Chuck Berkowitz, JHR’s executive vice president, noted that its residents had contributed to a fund established by the Jewish Home Foundation to aid victims and their families, as had members of the staff and the board of directors. A meeting was held after the service to discuss where to direct the funds — a little over $4,000 as of Tuesday, according to Melanie Cohen, JHR’s vice president of development and public relations.

“A significant number of staff members are native Haitians,” she noted, “and we felt it was very important to show our support in their time of need.” The employees and residents will decide where to send the donations.

As of Wednesday, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey had accumulated pledges and donations through its Website, http://www.ujannj.org/haiti, and by mail, amounting to more than $56,000, not counting several large gifts, one of $25,000. Money continues to come in, said Alan Scharfstein, the federation’s president, and100 percent of the donations will go to the American Joint Distribution Committee, except for the $25,000 supplementary gift that has been designated for Partners in Health, which is also sending aid to Haiti.

Scharstein said, “It’s important for the world to see how much Jews care, not only about Jews but about all of those in need. And I think it’s also heart-warming to see the generosity of our community.”

Jewish Artists for Haiti will stage a benefit concert Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St., in Manhattan. The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring and the New Yiddish Repertory Theater are the lead sponsors of the three-hour concert, which will feature, among others, Frank London and The Klezmer Brass AllStars, Greg Wall, Soulfarm, Neshama Carlebach and The Green Pastures Baptist Choir, Basya Schaechter and Pharoah’s Daughter, Alicia Svigals, Judith Sloan (the evening’s emcee), Gary Lucas, Maracatu New York, Cantor Dan Singer, and others with styles ranging from klezmer to Jewish hip hop.

Zalmen Mlotek of Teaneck, artistic director of the NationalYiddish Theater/Folksbiene, will be among the performers.

Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Admission is a minimum donation of $18. All proceeds will go directly to the American Jewish World Service Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.

For more information, call Workmen’s Circle at (212) 889-6800, ext. 212, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Among the many funds to aid the earthquake victims is the MDA Emergency Disaster Fund of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross.

Jake Hirsch of New City, N.Y., a junior at Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in Harts-dale, N.Y., became interested in Haiti long before last week’s earthquake. He started the school’s Hope for Haiti Club this year after researching a term paper about the country for his history class.

Jake organized an art sale at the school on Jan. 31 with the Vassar-Haiti Project, a volunteer organization that buys and imports Haitian art, with the proceeds sustaining the education, medical program, and other essentials of a village in northern Haiti that was not affected by the earthquake. Proceeds from the art sale will be given to the project as well as for earthquake relief.

The school has put Jake in charge of all Haiti-related relief efforts. Those not attending the sale can send checks made out to the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester (with Haitian relief in the memo), 555 West Hartsdale Ave., Hartsdale, NY 10530; 100 percent of the donations will be sent to Haiti. For information, call (914) 948-8333.

 
 

Making lives wonderful for the elderly

Charles Berkowitz marks 40 years, takes lead on Jewish Home at Home

Charles Berkowitz, the 69-year-old president and CEO of the Jewish Home Family who is marking 40 years with the Jewish Home this year, has no intention of slowing down.

“I feel good,” he said. “I like what I’m doing, and I like who I’m working for, and who I’m working with.”

The organization will honor Berkowitz for his four decades of service at its Oct. 24 95th-anniversary gala. Berkowitz is credited for leading the way for the opening of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh and the Jewish Home Assisted Living, major fund-raising for Jewish Home programs through the years, and launching the Jewish Home at Home program last year.

“There’s a very strong positive reinforcement when you’re dealing with the elderly,” Berkowitz told The Jewish Standard. “It’s a population that’s needy and appreciative of what you do for them.”

Only 4 percent of the elderly population ends up in nursing home facilities, Berkowitz said. To address the needs of the aged who want to remain in their homes, the Jewish Home unveiled its Jewish Home at Home program earlier this year, under Berkowitz’s guidance.

“We will take care of people who never get into nursing homes,” he said.

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Charles Berkowitz

Demand to get into a Jewish Home facility is high and, according to Berkowitz, its facilities have an almost 99 percent occupancy rate — 180 people in Rockleigh and 124 in River Vale. The Jewish Home at Home program will ease demands on inpatient care and delay when people actually need to enter a nursing home. The program will also acclimate people to the idea of a nursing home if and when they need one later, Berkowitz said.

“We’ll be in a position to help those people,” he said. “When their time comes and they need the Home, they’ll be way up on the waiting list.”

Berkowitz’s work with the Jewish community began while he was a Yeshiva University graduate student in social work on a scholarship from the Englewood predecessor to the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. The understanding was that he would work for the JCC after graduation. After a recommendation from then-JCC director George Hantgan, the Jewish Home offered Berkowitz a job in 1970 as an assistant administrator. He became CEO of the Jersey City site in 1982.

“He has been a godsend to the Jewish Home,” said Ary Freilich, chairman of the Jewish Home Family. “It’s hard to imagine that our organization would be where it is had Chuck not been its steward for the last 40 years.”

For about as long as Berkowitz has been involved with the Jewish Home, so has Sandra Gold, president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, who began her work with the organization shortly before his arrival.

“Chuck’s role … is so important because the Home has never stood still in its desire to meet the needs of aging people, particularly the Jewish aged,” said Gold. “He has the wonderful capacity to be both a passionate social worker and a skilled nursing home administrator, combined with the ability to visualize the big-picture needs of those who are aging.”

Berkowitz serves also on the boards of the Adler Aphasia Center and the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities. He continues to inspire others, said Gold, also a member of those boards.

“He is capable of inspiring leadership in those around him,” she said.

As the Jewish Home moves closer to the 100-year mark, Berkowitz has his sights set on continued growth. He dismissed rumors of his retirement, circulating because a new administrator is being brought on board to run the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. Berkowitz will instead focus his efforts on growing the Jewish Home at Home and running the umbrella organization, Jewish Home Family. Berkowitz foresees physical expansion to meet the needs of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh and Jewish Home at Home. He also pointed to the need for fund-raising, particularly since 20 percent of the Jewish Home at Home care will be given to people unable to afford such care on their own.

Through the Jewish Home at Home program, a geriatric care manager will assess a candidate’s home and work on a care plan with the applicant and perhaps with a social worker or nurse. The Jewish Home then helps fulfill the patient’s needs, which, Berkowitz said, may be as simple as changing a light bulb and helping with chores, or helping with medications.

With many challenges ahead, Berkowitz is looking forward to continuing to aid a vulnerable elderly population.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It makes life worthwhile doing the things I do.”

Charles Berkowitz, a snapshot

Wife: Rachel

Children: 3

Grandchildren: 3

Resides in: Glen Rock

Past leadership roles:

Chair, New Jersey Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging

Chair, Association of Jewish Aging services

Delegate, 1995 White House Conference on Aging

Treasurer, board of directors, UJA Association for the Developmentally Disabled

Treasurer, Adler Aphasia Center

Past accolades:

Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Community Service Award

New Jersey Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging Distinguished Service Award

New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Services Saul Schwartz Award

Solomon Schechter Day School Community Award

 
 

Making lives wonderful for the elderly

Jewish Home celebrates its 95th anniversary

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The Jewish Home at Rockleigh

What began as a small orphanage in Jersey City in the early 20th century has turned into a major player in how the North Jersey Jewish community cares for its elderly.

The Jewish Home Family will celebrate its 95th anniversary on Oct. 24 with a gala celebration at The Rockleigh, and its supporters are reflecting on its long history.

“There are many interesting and innovative ways to make life wonderful for people who are older and whose children live far away and for whom life has changed dramatically,” said Sandra Gold, president of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. “We are in the business of vibrant Jewish living. That is the motivation for everything we do. We want people to live their lives with that quote in mind, ‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.’”

‘It was the place to go’

Founded as the Hebrew Orphans Home of Hudson County in a Jersey City cottage, the organization grew until, in the 1930s, its leaders realized another Jewish population was in need. It became, in a larger building, the Hebrew Home for Orphans and Aged of Hudson County.

During the 1940s the organization added new facilities to expand nursing and custodial care. In the 1950s, the Hebrew Home and Hospital opened its doors to Bergen County residents, as well.

By the 1970s, the Jewish Home was delivering 80 meals a day through Kosher Meals on Wheels and more than 100 clients were getting served by the Jersey City site a day.

The Jewish Home at Rockleigh opened its doors in 2001 and with the opening of the Jewish Home Assisted Living in River Vale in 2007, community leaders decided that a central body was needed.

They created the Jewish Home Family in 2008, which today oversees the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Living; the Jewish Home Assisted Living, Kaplen Family Senior Residence, in River Vale; the Jewish Home Foundation of North Jersey Inc. and the Jewish Home & Rehabilitation Center, in River Vale.

“It became apparent that we were sufficiently complex, that we could not have various entities operating totally autonomously,” said Ary Freilich, chairman of the Jewish Home Family. “Rather, we needed to have a common philosophy, common goals, and a common institutional vision.”

For Steven Morey Greenberg, president of the Jewish Home Foundation, supporting the Jewish Home is a family obligation. His grandparents, Mollie and Paul Weisenfeld, helped create the original Jewish Home in 1915.

By the late 1970s, Greenberg was attending Jewish Home functions and following his parents’ and grandparents’ tradition in his contributions to the Jewish Home. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s, however, when Greenberg’s mother, Rhoda, went to live at the Jewish Home in River Vale, that he fully understood the impact of the Jewish Home. During his first meeting to discuss his mother’s care, one of the staff members spoke up and said she could provide the care Greenberg’s mother needed.

“That was a reaffirming thing,” he said. “There she was saying, ‘I can take care of your mother.’ You really have personal contact.”

Personal contact has been a hallmark of the Jewish Home experience for Greenberg. Following the example of the Jewish Home Family’s president and CEO Charles Berkowitz, Greenberg walks the halls of the Jewish Home facilities, interacting with patients and staff. It’s important, he said, to let people know that the volunteer lay leaders are invested in the Jewish Home.

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Shiri Redensky, a Jewish Home at Rockleigh board member, and resident Sylvia Contente. Photos courtesy Jewish Home Foundation

“It’s my pleasure to walk … get to know the staff and the residents and the volunteers,” Greenberg said.

While growing up in Livingston at a time when there weren’t that many Jewish communal organizations, Sandra Gold knew that the home in Jersey City was the place to go for Jewish families in need.

“It was the place to go if you needed a place for an aging parent or somebody who needed that kind of intensive care,” said Gold.

When her father and grandmother needed that kind of care, both spent time at Jewish Home facilities.

“I was so grateful to have the home there when I needed it,” she said. “But if you don’t lift a finger beforehand, you can’t expect it to be there. We need everybody to get involved before the need arises.”

Because of Gold’s close relationship with her grandparents, she said, she developed a “deep affection and respect for those who are getting older.”

“A Jewish community has a responsibility to sponsor and support a quality Jewish home for the aged,” she said.

The 1970s was a decade of expansion for the Jewish Home. Its first Bergen County facility opened in River Vale, New Jersey’s first adult day-care program launched at the JHRC in Jersey City; and the Kosher Meals on Wheels program was serving 100 meals a day.

In 1991, the Meals on Wheels program came to Bergen County, and plans were soon under way to build a new facility in Bergen County, a “big moment,” Gold said, that culminated with the opening of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh in 2001.

“When we made the decision to create a facility in Bergen County, even though it was a small one, I thought that was visionary,” she said. “We saw people were moving north and we wanted to be where the needs would be.”

Freilich noted that his own parents spent the last years of their lives in a nursing home, although not the Jewish Home.

“Their circumstances were not easy on them or the rest of us,” he said. “What I witnessed was how a high-quality, caring institution can make a meaningful contribution to dignity and health and freedom from pain, and at the same time make an enormous contribution to the life of children and other family members.”

In 1999, Freilich received a call from his stockbroker, who asked him to make a contribution to the Jewish Home, which led to years of volunteer service, a way, he said, to “indirectly pay back, not to the institution that had supported my parents, but rather to the notion of caring for the elderly.”

Looking toward the future

“There are not a lot of opportunities in life to do good in a setting in which you are encouraged to be creative and to make a difference,” Freilich said. “The Jewish Home is very special in that regard.”

The economy has been rough for many non-profit agencies, but the Jewish Home has weathered the storm, according to Freilich. Still, it is in need not only of donations, but of volunteers, he said.

So many people do not think about nursing homes until their own parents or grandparents need one, Gold said. About 45 percent of the patients in the nursing home are on Medicaid, which does not reimburse the full costs of care, she continued. She pointed to several new board members in recent years who are in their 30s and 40s, and a desire within the board to keep the Jewish Home evolving with new ideas and people.

“Being a volunteer at the Jewish Home is so rewarding,” Gold said. “It really makes a difference in how you feel when you know you can make a difference for people who really need to have that in your lives. You really know you’re doing something important.”

 
 

The CPA who helped turn a hospital around

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Jay Nadel of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center claims that its emergency room has become the best in the country. Jerry Szubin

On the website of a hospital outside of this area appear various recent remarks posted via the Internet. The very first:

“Do not go to their E.R. The nurses are horrendous, they are always short [staffed], and most are careless, do not want to be bothered. If you go past midnight expect to see a few nurses sleeping at he desk. I’ve heard numerous inappropriate conversations….”

Directly under that is: “I would stay away from the E.R. Staff always looks like they hate everyone. I’ve heard bad stories about this place. Nurses sleep, make fun of patients.”

Complaints about emergency rooms seem endemic, including this memorable post, about a famous hospital in California: “The only way I will ever go back to UCLA ER is if I’m carried in on a stretcher unconscious.”

That hospitals don’t do more to reduce the volume of such complaints is puzzling. After all, far more people visit a hospital’s ER than are admitted as patients. So a hospital’s reputation tends to hinge upon what happens to visitors in its emergency room. Do they wait seven or eight hours before seeing a doctor or nurse — who pooh-poohs their illnesses or injuries? Or are they treated promptly and sympathetically — even if they confess that they have no money and no health insurance?

The second scenario certainly seems true of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

“We have the best emergency department in the entire country,” boasts Jay C. Nadel, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, and he believes it. He proudly escorts visitors to the E.R., which — unlike so many other E.R.s — is well-lighted, clean, sparklingly new, and welcoming; it resembles a cocktail lounge rather than something tacked on to a decaying 19th-century building.

Nadel, a CPA, points to the comfortable chairs where patients are supposed to wait: empty. He’s pleased as punch. All the patients are being seen and helped.

Nadel became chairman of the board five years ago, and in that time he has helped turn the hospital’s reputation around — from an institution faced with tough issues to a cheerful, proud, and prosperous place with good staff morale. In fact, he’s being honored tomorrow, April 30, for his “exceptional dedication to the community in ensuring the present and future of quality healthcare at the Medical Center.” A gala in his honor will be held at Pier Sixty in New York City, where he will receive the Touchstone Award, EHMC’s highest tribute given to someone “for distinguished service to the Medical Center and the community it serves.” (But he quickly adds, to this writer, that he has had many skilled people assisting him.)

Impressively, Nadel was able to help the faltering hospital even though he doesn’t have a whisper of a medical background. For 25 years he worked on Wall Street, for such illustrious companies as KPMG, Bank of New York, and Weiss, Peck & Greer. But unlike the magazine publisher who fell on her face recently when she became New York City’s schools chief, Nadel made a big switch and wound up receiving top grades.

He’s 52, lives with his wife, Beth, and their three children in Demarest, and is a graduate of the University of Maryland. He spent his early years in Jersey City but moved to Fair Lawn, where he attended high school.

Besides his work at the hospital, he is a trustee of the Jewish Home at Rockleigh as well as a member of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

In person Nadel is cheerful, courteous, upbeat, funny, quick-witted, shrewd — and handy with compliments. (“Great question!” he responds to a few of this reporter’s humdrum inquiries.)

In a 45-minute interview last week, Nadel talked about the first thing he did after becoming chairman; how much he is paid; how someone living in (say) Omaha can find a good hospital; how Englewood caters to its large Jewish community; and what his next career might be, assuming he ever leaves EHMC.

Jewish Standard: How did you deal with the hospital’s problems when you first became chairman?

Nadel: The first thing I did was: completely nothing. For six months. Except listen. And people came up to me and asked, what are you going to do about this or that? I said I was very proud to say: nothing. Except listen.

My parents had told me that God gave me two ears and just one mouth — for a reason. My background was not in health care, so I wanted to learn and to understand. I went on a listening tour — for six months. I sat with management, major physicians, and leaders of institutions, fellow trustees, community members, nursing staff, other staff, technical staff.

And in a collaborative way we put together our game plan for the future. And you know, it wasn’t easy, but when it was done, it was pretty comprehensive. And it was something we could all agree on, and we all signed up for it. And from that point on, the institution just took off.

This was always a well-respected organization, and the question was: How do we get to the next level?

J.S. Improving the emergency department was one of your goals?

Nadel: In the last few years, Englewood Hospital has been transformed — it’s been put on the map. Look at the ratings of Englewood doctors in the CastleConnelly guide, where only physicians can rate other physicians [http://www.castleconnolly.com/index.cfm].

The emergency department had been built in the 1970s, and it was crowded. Although the doctors and the nurses were fantastic, the facilities were not very good. Today it’s the best in the country.

J.S. It’s easy to reach, right off Engle Street. And I see that there’s even free valet partking for the E.R. now.

Nadel: We put it right on the street. When people drive by, they can’t help but see the entrance.

I had been told that when you build a spanking new emergency department, you bump up 3 percent or 4 percent in patients. That’s considered enormous. In our first year, it was 7 percent. The real surprise was the second year: another 7 percent. It’s a tremendous feeder of patients to our hospital.

J.S. If you don’t mind a personal question, did you take a big cut in income to take this job?

Nadel: The chairman of the trustees is a voluntary position. A lot of people don’t understand that you do it without being paid. I was coaching my son’s baseball team, and one of the kids’ fathers came up to me and said, “Jay, somebody told me you don’t get paid for being chairman of Englewood Hospital.” I decided to really give this guy a good time, so I said, “Bob, not only do I not get paid, but I have to pay for the privilege.” He almost fainted.

J.S. Exactly what is your job here? What does the chairman of the board do?

Nadel: Basically the board is to provide oversight and leadership — whether it’s a hospital, a nursing home, a for-profit institution or a not-for-profit institution. It’s always the same.

And at the end of the day, everybody has a boss. My boss is the board. And my job is to help bring Englewood Hospital up to the next level.

The truth of the matter is, like a lot of things in life, it’s really what you make it. A chairman is supposed to gain consensus, to provide leadership through consensus. But a lot of it is what you make of it, based on the individual characteristics of the institution

It’s a lot about knowing when you should be using your head and when you should be using your heart.

J.S. What did you learn about the hospital’s mission?

Nadel: Its mission is to be the regional leader in providing humanistic medicine. Other hospitals in the area are great, but our mission is to be their leader.

We have 2,800 employees, the largest in Northern Valley, and another 800 doctors on top of that, and almost another 1,000 volunteers. So it’s a relatively big enterprise, with revenues of $360 million to $370 million a year. The question is, how do you bring humanism into this?

J.S. By “humanism,” you mean, among other things, accepting all patients?

Nadel: Yes, but there’s a way to “accept” and a way to “accept” — if you know what I mean. We treat someone with no insurance — an illegal immigrant who broke his hand — the exact same way we treat a VIP. We’re very proud of that.

I like to believe that what drives me is the Judeo-Christian ethic — which our country was founded on. I’m a member of Temple Emanu-El in Closter — it’s Conservative and it’s our family synagogue.

We have lots of different ethnic groups in Bergen County; we’re a welcoming place. And our hospital doesn’t turn away one single person. If someone comes in with no money and no insurance, and says, “I need help,” we treat him. We treat everybody. Everybody.

To me, “humanistic” also means treating the entire person and not just the illness.

J.S. The hospital is mindful of the large Jewish population in this area?

Nadel: We have a liaison to the Jewish community [Rachel Dube], a Shabbos elevator, kosher food, a place for the family to stay on Shabbos when their loved ones are being treated. These amenities are used very robustly, and we’re looking to expand them because of the demand. And Englewood Hospital has a good relationship with Jewish Family Services. We host the cocktail reception for their annual Night of 100 Dinners event.

Whether it is the Jewish community or the Korean or the African-American or the Hispanic, we are very, very sensitive to these communities and the special needs they may have.

The Jewish community has been very special to Englewood Hospital throughout the years, and we have been helped by generous philanthropists like Bill and Maggie Kaplen, Henry and Mickey Taub, Angelica and Russell Berrie.

J.S. There were financial problems when you became chairman?

Nadel: In the old days, hospitals in New Jersey got reimbursed dollar for dollar for charitable work. Then, 20 years ago, with economic troubles, we received 90 percent. Then 75 percent, 50 percent, and 25 percent. When I became chairman they gave us about 20 percent. Today, our cost of charity is about $15 million and the state gives us a check for only $800,000.

So our mission has been to make up the difference. And we had to start running a hospital more like a business. Asking ourselves: Where can we make money? How do we advertise? How do we attract more patients?

Now, the hospital had never raised its fundraising to a higher level. Here we live in a relatively prosperous area of the United States, and we had to make sure we had the right people with the right attitude to foster a real culture of philanthropy. We needed to get more money from the outside.

Not long ago we did a survey and asked doctors what they wanted most. One was: a great emergency department. Another: the latest technology.

Besides upgrading our emergency department, we implemented a new computer system — second to none in the area. We now have state-of-the-art equipment in just about all the areas.

But we take our time in deciding what we need. So you’re not going to see a lot of equipment lying around unused.

J.S. Let’s say that someone is living in, maybe, Omaha. How does he or she find a good hospital — like Englewood?

Nadel: It’s funny how the best doctors normally work at the best hospitals. For good doctors, you can check CastleConnelly.

J.S. Why do the giant New York City hospitals have such splendid reputations?

Nadel: They’re great institutions. But we have an affiliation with Mount Sinai. There’s lots of crossover — in resources, money, and people. We’re able to benefit from their really significant scientific research in various areas.

We also have a medical school residency program with Mount Sinai, and we have our own residency program. We recruit from around the world some of the best and brightest to assist our doctors. And on top of that, we have a nursing school in conjunction with Ramapo College.

So there’s a certain robustness in our environment here. We have a certain vibrancy that you don’t get at other hospitals in the region. I don’t mean to belittle our competition, but this vibrancy is something that’s unique to Englewood Hospital.

J.S. To change the subject: What are the marks of a successful business leader?

Nadel: Different circumstances call for different individuals with different skill sets. What I tell my kids is that one of the most valuable skills is the ability to listen. And that this is a wonderful country, and what this country has done for the Jewish people is unprecedented in world history. There are so many opportunities here — there are low-hanging fruit all over the place. And today all the information you need is right at your fingertips.

The single most valuable opportunity is getting involved in your community —because it pays dividends every single day.

J.S. You’re fairly young. Might you ever have another career?

Nadel: At least one!

J.S. What might it be?

Nadel: It might be the public sector or the private sector. I’ve been approached at times to consider public office. But I’m focused on the hospital right now, and what the future might bring, I don’t know. But there are a lot of exciting possibilities.

 
 
 
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