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entries tagged with: Englewood Hospital And Medical Center


Englewood begins Jewish hospice program

Though it only began on Oct. 1, half a dozen Jewish patients in the last stages of terminal illness already have benefited from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s Jewish Community Hospice Program.

“For many years, we’ve provided a full range of medical and related services in our traditional hospice program,” said Ann Walter, executive director for continuing care. “Now, our hospice staff includes members of the Jewish community, helping to ensure that Jewish traditions and laws will be upheld and respected, both at home and in patient care.”

The Jewish Community Hospice team — a physician, a registered nurse, a medical social worker, a hospice aide, a trained volunteer, and a Jewish chaplain — work with the hospital’s Jewish community liaison, Rachel Dube.

The goal of hospice care is to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life for people whose life expectancy is six months or less. Dube explained that observant Jews require rabbinic guidance on end-of-life issues such as cessation of feeding and hydration, levels of pain medication, and the definition of death, among other critical decisions.

Though existing North Jersey hospices are generally accommodating of these concerns, only two programs in the state are listed as accredited on the Website of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice — one in Cranford, the other in Livingston — by virtue of having completed specialized training. In 2002, the NIJH granted accreditation to Paramus-based Life Source to set up a Jewish hospice program. However, that program folded after just six months.

“Hospice is underutilized nationally and in the Jewish community as well,” Dube acknowledged. “But it is such a helpful option for families at a difficult time and could change the whole experience for them in a truly positive way. In a Jewish program, the rabbi makes sure families receive services that recognize and align with their specific needs and customs.”

Jewish Community Hospice chaplain Rabbi Nathan Langer and Rachel Dube, Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s Jewish community liaison. courtesy Englewood Hospital and Medical Center

As part of the hospital’s effort to publicize this service, both the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County and the North Jersey Board of Rabbis recently received presentations on the new program.

“We invited them so that we could learn more to be able to share information with our congregants,” said Rabbi Randall Mark, president of the NJBR and religious leader of Cong. Shomrei Torah in Wayne. “Their name was somewhat confusing to us in that we had thought they would be a community-wide program, but they are restricted to Bergen County by New Jersey regulations. While the program currently only exists through Englewood Hospital, it is the hope of the rabbis that other hospitals will follow suit.”

Patricia Ballerini, patient-care director at the Englewood Hospital hospice for the past 26 years, told The Jewish Standard she was long convinced of a need for such a program, given the county’s large Jewish population.

“We always had a [gentile] spiritual counselor serving all our clients,” she said, “but now we have brought on Rabbi Nathan Langer, who is credentialed in hospice care and has been well received by Jewish patients. He can work with the patient’s rabbi or directly with the patient.”

She added that many Jewish clients are Holocaust survivors. “In the end stage of life, this brings up a lot of past memories and a great many issues that our chaplain would not have been able to discuss as well as Rabbi Langer can,” she said. “He’s been a tremendous help in resolving a lot of their issues.”

In order to serve patients who cannot be cared for at home, Englewood Hospital’s hospice is contracted with most nursing facilities in Bergen County, including the Jewish Home at Rockleigh. Ballerini had frequently discussed the idea of a Jewish-specific program with the home’s president, Charles Berkowitz, and with Alan Musicant, manager of Gutterman and Musicant Jewish Funeral Directors and Wien & Wien Memorial Chapels. “Finally we all sat down and decided to take on the project,” she said.

Musicant said that more than 30 percent of the families served by his chapel have been touched by hospice in some way. “Almost to the person, we hear that the family wished they had been introduced to hospice much sooner, because it had not only provided specialized care to a patient who was not responsive to curative care, but also to a secondary issue of being responsive to the strain on the family caregiver,” said Musicant, who called the Jewish Community Hospice Program “the most amazing thing I’ve been involved with in a long time.”

Musicant stressed the importance of a Jewish environment for Jews nearing the end of their lives as a way to maintain or rekindle their religiosity and “provide the spiritual dignity that enhances the quality of life in terminally ill patients.”

“Hospice is about promoting life, and that’s the same for all patients,” said Ballerini. “We do everything we can to enhance the time they have left.” She cited the example of one patient who was helped to realize her dream of going to Aruba before she died. “It’s about making the best of it, with comfort and dignity, on your terms.”

For more information on the Jewish Community Hospice Program or to learn about becoming a hospice volunteer, call Judith Stampfl, hospice volunteer coordinator, at (201) 894-3333.


Local lawyer expands burn network to Haiti

Sam Davis, right, and Dr. Tom Bojko are pictured with Presume and Roselyn DeHart at the For Haiti with Love burn clinic.

To most people, the January earthquake in Haiti had no connection to burn injuries – after all, it was not a fire. But the connection made sense to Sam Davis. The Teaneck-based attorney, founding director of Burn Advocates Network, helps equip and staff 22 burn camps and centers throughout the United States and one in Israel.

“A lot of our work is dedicated to helping burn survivors, so we did research and found out that because the standard [Haitian] method of cooking is using hibachis, hundreds of kids were burned when hibachi stoves went flying into the air with hot oil in them,” said Davis. “And kids with even minor burns were dying from infection because there was no supply chain for medicines and no facility left standing that was doing skin grafting; the biggest burn facility in Port-au-Prince had been destroyed.”

That left only a three-treatment table burn clinic called For Haiti with Love, founded 40 years ago by a Jewish man from Indianapolis and run by his adopted daughter, Haitian nurse Roselyn DeHart, and her husband Presume, a police officer. Its building sports a large Star of David on its façade.

“You would have a mother carrying a sick child for 70 miles, getting rides where she could, because this was the only place to get free care for burns,” said Davis. “Parents and children started essentially camping out and overwhelming this little facility.”

Ironically, DeHart’s dad had arranged spina bifida surgery for her many years ago at a Shriners Children’s Hospital, and — through Davis — Shriners surgeons, therapists, and dieticians are now helping DeHart treat burn survivors in Haiti.

Davis stumbled upon the clinic in March, while he was running a general BAN relief drive for Haiti. Through the generosity of the Israeli-owned Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, BAN and Cooper University Hospital in Camden shipped close to 50 tons of food and medical supplies out of Bayonne to the Royal Caribbean port in Labadee, North Haiti. Rabbi Lawrence Zierler of the Jewish Center of Teaneck came to Bayonne with a check from his congregation to help defray costs.

“Our slogan was ‘From the dock to the doctor in six days,’” said Davis, a member of Temple Beth El in Closter.

That was not an easy goal to meet. Because the Haitian airport was shut down, he hopped on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, got off at Labadee to receive the first shipment, and escorted the goods over treacherous mountain passes with the help of a Nepalese U.N. convoy. Along the way, Davis discovered For Haiti with Love just five miles from Labadee in Cap Haitien, and mounted an effort to staff and stock the facility.

Though he had intended to focus on burn victims, Davis could not ignore other medical needs he witnessed at Cap Haitien’s Justinian University Hospital. “It was swamped with earthquake cases and badly needed equipment and physical therapy help because they didn’t have a PT capability to tend to all the amputees,” he said.

Securing permission from the Haiti Ministry of Health to start a physical and occupational therapy clinic at Justinian, Davis returned with Jim Ressler of Medical Angels and Premier Home Health Care in Fort Lee; Karen Canellos, a licensed physical therapist from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center; and Dr. Thomas Bojko, an Israeli pediatric specialist from Tenafly who is director of medical services and clinical operations at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. Among their self-appointed tasks was training a crop of local therapists.

At the April 27 dedication of the facility, presided over by a Catholic priest, Davis and his team wore clothing bearing the logo of BAN’s Israeli burn camp. “They knew we were Jewish,” he said. “As a result of the Israeli field hospital, the entire country has a favorable view of Jews and Israel and many people expressed that to us.”

BAN also arranged for Royal Caribbean to bring over a new $155,000 life-saving oxygen processor from Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck to the Sacre Coeur Hospital in Milot, and recruited a team of burn surgeons from Shriners hospitals, therapists from Weill Cornell Medical Center, and doctors from all around the country who belong to the American Burn Association.

“We are committed to taking the burn care system in Haiti to a point where they’re able to do skin grafting and care for more serious cases,” he said. “We will see how we can coordinate care offered by small satellite clinics like For Haiti with Love. With a little more education and supplies, they could save more lives.”

Davis likened the current standard of care in Haiti to “Civil War medicine,” citing many cases of patients undergoing amputations without anesthesia. “They use coconut and herbal paste on burn wounds, which is not going to keep patients alive for long once infection sets in,” he said. “We’re still raising funds and finding volunteers to keep antibiotics and bandages and medical equipment flowing to a place where burn cases often take years of care. The biggest challenge right now for those burned in the earthquakes is to get scar surgeries, because their hands and feet can start to claw.”

Davis pledged to secure kosher food for any Jewish volunteers who come forward.

Ressler wrote in his blog that the Sacre Coeur Hospital is expected to become the national facility for serious burn cases. “The catchment area would extend the 70 miles to Port-au-Prince and beyond.... It is our goal to enable For Haiti with Love patients who require a higher level of care or surgeries to get that care at [Sacre Coeur] and return to FHWL for wound aftercare.”

Davis is convinced that additional burn injuries are inevitable. “The next big disaster in Port-au-Prince will be a burn disaster because thousands are living in tent cities in close proximity and they’re cooking and storing fuels there,” Davis predicted. “When this disaster hits, there will need to be an expanded capability to deal with the injuries. Hopefully through this program at Sacre Coeur, there will rotations of clinicians and educators. It will not be an American style burn center, but it will offer a more organized system to save more lives given the resources they have.”

For information, go to or call (877)-BURN-411.


Berrie grant to help further Englewood Hospital and Medical Center’s commitment to humanistic care

A $1.5 million challenge grant provided by the Russell Berrie Foundation to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center “will be the catalyst for the completion of the community-wide campaign to fund the new emergency care center,” said Douglas A. Duchak, president and CEO of the medical center.

The gift, which requires the institution to raise an equivalent amount, will benefit its $30 million Lifeline to Tomorrow Campaign. With the Berrie Foundation gift, the campaign needs to raise $3.5 million to reach its goal.

Citing the foundation’s continuing commitment to the hospital and its “enduring friendship and inspirational leadership in the area of humanism — a belief system at the very core of the missions of both the foundation and the medical center,” Duchak said Englewood Hospital will raise the required matching funds from a variety of sources, most of which will be from the medical center’s service area.

Russell and Angelica Berrie, in a photograph taken some years ago.

“This grant marks the beginning of the critical final stage of Lifeline to Tomorrow,” said Todd Brooks, acting executive vice president for Englewood Hospital and Medical Center Foundation. “We are very proud that The Kaplen Pavilion has been built completely through the support of the community and with no borrowed funds.”

During the 1990s, the Berrie Foundation awarded the Englewood facility a $5 million challenge grant to build a state-of-the-art outpatient facility modeling the practice of humanistic patient care.

According to Duchak, the medical center not only accepted the challenge and raised more than $5 million, but it initiated an organizational overhaul to embrace the values of such care.

“Humanism is those elements of the healing process that are not really directly related to medicine,” he explained, noting that the medical center believes that “treating people with respect and dignity” is part of the healing process.

“There’s no easy dictionary definition,” he said. “It’s the little things that aren’t always prescribed by doctors or in the ‘cookbooks’ of medicine. It means making patients feel like more than just a number — making them feel like a whole person.”

That commitment, he said, is manifest in the layout of the emergency care center.

“We’ve invested a tremendous amount in a new emergency room with humanism in mind,” said Duchak, noting that the facility includes private rooms and additional staff, including greeters.

“We’ve educated the staff as to how to treat patients,” he said, adding that the rooms have also been designed with family members in mind.

For example, he said, there are separate areas where medical personnel can talk to families, a separate grieving area for those who lose a loved one, and a separate area for rape victims and behavioral health patients.

The late Russ Berrie, who was well-known for his philanthropy to Jewish causes, “cared very much about putting the ‘care’ back in healthcare, in fostering patient-centered relationships, and in ensuring our community’s access to centers of excellence in humanistic medical care,” said Angelica Berrie, president of the foundation’s board and an honorary trustee of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

“Our country’s medical institutions are so financially challenged that it endangers, in every community, the well-being of families who are struggling to survive. We have to do whatever we can to strengthen all our community’s institutions, to contribute our resources as volunteers, donors, doctors, nurses, and caregivers, to rise above our personal interests and to make whatever sacrifices are needed for the common good.”

“The Russell Berrie Foundation has issued a challenge grant to encourage everyone to make a difference right here in our own community,” she said.

“We hope that everyone, when asked to give, will be as generous as possible,” said Brooks. “You can be sure, each donor makes a difference.”


The CPA who helped turn a hospital around

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 [].

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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