Category: In The News

A Warm Welcome Back to Returning Board Member Jill Oberlander

Jill OberlanderCurrently, a Selectperson for the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, Jill Oberlander is a longtime public servant, attorney and experienced leader in the nonprofit sector. Her diverse experience includes stints in New York City municipal government, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Alliance for Downtown New York, and several law firms.

A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Chicago Law School, Jill’s extensive community service includes six years on the Town of Greenwich Representative Town Meeting and four years on the Board of Estimate and Taxation, including two years as Board Chair.

In addition to serving as a Director and generous supporter of The New Jewish Home, Jill has served on numerous nonprofit boards that support community civics, the elderly and less fortunate. Her posts include Director and Secretary of the Belle Haven Land Owners’ Association; Co-Vice President for Programs for League of Women Voters – Greenwich; Brunswick Parents Association; United Way Community Planning Council; and former Co-Chair, UJA of Greenwich Young Family’s Division.

Jill and her family live in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Greenwich.

Welcome back, Jill!

Visitors Return to Sarah Neuman, Bringing Hugs, Smiles, and Tears of Joy

When visitation reopened at The New Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman facility in Westchester on March 31, the hallways were full of emotion. Lorraine Thomas, a recreation therapist, said her eyes hurt from all the tears of joy she cried with families who were able to visit their loved ones in person after many months apart.

“Our resident Mr. Lopez was so surprised today to receive a family visit that he shouted, ‘My son, my son, my son!’” Lorraine said. “They gave each other the biggest hug ever! It was so sweet to see them reunite!”

Lorraine also shared the story of resident Dorothy Burack, who comes by her office every day to chat. “This time, though, she was more alert and happier than usual, and she shared the news that her daughter and son-in-law had come by for a surprise visit.” Lorraine was glad to hear Dorothy recount this emotional reunion and to see firsthand the lasting impact it had on her mood. “I am so grateful that residents and families can finally be together again,” Lorraine said.

Marcella Simone came around the corner from the elevator on the second floor and spotted her mother, Irma Pennisi, walking toward her. “She noticed me right away,” Marcella said with emotion. “I gave her the biggest smile as if to say, look who’s here! And we hugged and hugged so tightly. We both cried and she said she was so surprised to see me and how much she loved me.”

Elation, tears, and thankfulness—that’s how Debra Grant and her sister described their first visit to their mother Jean Grant in five months. “We’re grateful for the video calls and window visits throughout the months, but there is nothing like being able to see her face-to-face,” Debra said. “She looks wonderful and is definitely well cared for by the staff.”

Niolina Mariani’s daughters Silvana and Yolanda were so happy to see their mother again. “We were like little kids, so excited to finally be able to see and hug each other again. We FaceTime almost every day and call to check in on her morning and night,” they said, but there’s nothing like an in-person visit. We are so very thankful for everything and everyone for taking care of her since we could not be there.

Angela Servidone wore a big smile when her son Peter arrived. “I was so pleased that I was able to see her, speak to her and touch her. I was so happy to see her expression! It was so nice to be able to come in and be with her and knowing that she he’s feeling well and has been so well cared for.”

One sign that things are returning to normal is the reopening of the hair salon, which was closed for nearly a year. Now residents can prepare for family visits, and many of them are ecstatic. As Joan Deubler of Small House 1 said, “I can finally look as good as I feel!”

A High School Internship Opens Doors to a Health Care Career

Patients and residents at The New Jewish Home’s Manhattan facility know Edianna Reyes Ovalle as a caring and talented Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). What they don’t know is that this hard-working and dynamic health care hero had to overcome many obstacles to get where she is. And the support she got from The New Jewish Home’s Geriatrics Career Development (GCD) program made it possible.

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An Empathetic Intern Delivers Love to COVID Unit Patients and their Families

Ariana Schwartzberg, a student intern working at The New Jewish Home’s COVID-19 Recovery Unit in Manhattan, serves as a critical link between patients and their families in this facility, which is one of the few to receive this designation by the New York State Department of Health to exclusively care for patients with COVID-19. She is “a breath of fresh air,” says Manhattan Administrator Sandra Mundy, because she cares so deeply and is so helpful to staff and patients alike. 

Patients and staff members agree: Ariana is a lifeline. She helps them stay in close contact with each other at a time when regulations do not permit face-to-face visitation in our COVID-only facility. (Our main Manhattan facility opened for visitation on 3/14.)

When Ariana decided to take a semester off from the University of Michigan, she wanted to do something meaningful. Though she was enjoying her internship in the Development department at The New Jewish Home, when the opportunity to do something more hands-on arose, she jumped at it. That’s how she became a family-patient liaison.

Ariana serves as a critical link between patients and their families, bringing them news so they can stay in close touch. The information she relays to patients’ families is not medical in nature — rather, she may simply take a photo of a patient so their family can feel the relief of knowing they are okay. “Simply sharing that their loved one is receiving rehab therapy, sitting up in bed reading or watching television helps reassure families,” she said.

On the patient end, Ariana sees her job as delivering love and support. She does more than just convey messages from families to patients. She is happy to take the time to listen and learn about the patients. She became close with a resident who had just lost her husband of more than 60 years. “They both had COVID, and she didn’t have time to grieve,” Ariana said. “I went up to help her with her Amazon Alexa device, and I ended up talking to her for an hour. I visited her every time I was in to see how she was doing. I also talked to her family on the phone all the time.” She also prints out word searches and crossword puzzles to keep patients busy and active as they recover.  And she solicits messages of love from the outside world to brighten patients’ lives.

For Valentine’s Day, Ariana recruited everyone she knew to send messages to patients. She posted on Instagram and spread the word, sharing a request for messages of hope and love. The messages then poured in from all over — inspiring quotes, children’s drawings, and many warm and supportive messages. Ariana blanketed the building with them. In residents’ rooms, in the hallway—everywhere you looked, there were loving words. There were even notes of gratitude to health care and security staff.

Ariana plans to pursue a career in public relations and crisis management, and she’s gaining valuable experience. “I’m learning communication skills during a public health crisis. Dealing with the patients’ and family members’ day-to-day issues has taught me how to navigate many different personalities and requests while working with other members of a team.”

Sandra Mundy, Manhattan Administrator, recognized right away that Ariana had natural empathy and good instincts. “Ariana cares deeply for the patients and the families,” she said. “That helps her to be extremely involved and helpful. On one of her first days, we had a patient who was very anxious. Ariana was able to understand, with very little guidance, what this woman was going through — and connect with her.”

Just being a reassuring voice, whether in person or on the phone, is one of Ariana’s principal roles. “Families call because they’re concerned that they’re unable to visit. I can go up and talk to patients and bring comfort to both sides. The residents sometimes feel alone without visitors, but I tell them that their loved ones are thinking about them all the time.”

The New Jewish Home’s Manhattan Administrator Sandra Mundy Interviewed in Skilled Nursing News

Learn more about The New Jewish Home’s COVID-19 Recovery Unit, selected by the NY State Department of Health as a COVID-19 designated nursing home. Manhattan Administrator Sandra Mundy shares with Skilled Nursing News how the dedicated unit is helping patients recover from COVID-19.

Remembering Vernon Jordan, 1935–2021

Distinguished Honoree at The New Jewish Home’s Eight Over Eighty Gala in 2017

The New Jewish Home mourns the passing of Vernon Jordan. We were grateful to be able to honor Mr. Jordan in 2017 at our Eight over Eighty Gala. Please watch this wonderful short video from the 2017 gala.

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. was an attorney, civil rights leader and business consultant. He held many important positions, including, Senior Managing Director of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York;  Senior Executive Partner with the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP; President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League, Inc.; Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund, Inc.; Director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council; Attorney-Consultant, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity; Assistant to the Executive Director of the Southern Regional Council; Georgia Field Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and an attorney in private practice in Arkansas and Georgia.

Mr. Jordan also received several prestigious presidential appointments: the President’s Advisory Committee for the Points of Light Initiative Foundation; the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on South Africa; the Advisory Council on Social Security; the Presidential Clemency Board; the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission; the National Advisory Committee on Selective Service; and the Council of the White House Conference “To Fulfill These Rights.” In 1992, Mr. Jordan served as the Chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team.

Calls from DOROT Volunteers Bring Connection and Caring to Sarah Neuman Residents

In normal times, nursing home residents enjoy a wide range of social activities and companionship, in addition to visits from friends and family. But this pandemic year has been far from normal, with restricted visitation and limited group activities. A pilot program offered in conjunction with DOROT enabled some residents at The New Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman campus in Westchester to take part in a series of friendly phone calls — while getting some much-needed relief from the isolation of the pandemic to boot.

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