Category: In The News

Dr. Ruth Spinner, Senior Medical Director on the Second Wave, Staying Safe During the Holidays and the Flu Shot

Text transcript of the interview with Dr. Spinner

Hi, my name is Dr. Ruth Spinner, and I’m a geriatrician and Senior Medical Director at The New Jewish Home. As Senior Medical Director, I oversee the medical staff at our nursing homes, and I also put policies and procedures in place to care for and protect the older adults under our care. I was also appointed in the spring as director of our COVID-19 task force.

In this role, I’ve been guiding our organization through the original outbreak in the spring through a relatively quiet summer, and now preparing us in case we have a second wave this fall. There’s been a lot of talk about whether we are going to see a second wave or a second surge, especially in New York City. Whether or not that happens, we can’t predict, but we do know that we’re in a much better position than we were when we were first hit in March.

First of all, we’ve got testing in place with quick results. We’re testing all of our staff and most of our residents on a routine basis. That way, if we detect anybody with positive results, Additionally, we’re doing contact tracing. So if somebody is positive, we’re finding out if they had contact with anybody else and we’re quarantining those people. This is an extremely effective way of preventing spread, and we have been doing this since the summer and through the fall. The other thing that we have are extremely tight infection control procedures, including the use of PPE. We’ve increased all of our stocks of PPE,  we’ve implemented eye shields, and are continuing to use PPE in the best possible protocols to protect our healthcare personnel.

This year, it’s more important than ever to get your flu shot. The flu shot is recommended for most people over the age of six months. Getting the flu shot can help prevent getting the flu. If you do get the flu, your symptoms, most likely, will be milder. The flu shot can help prevent hospitalizations in both children and adults and even death, in some cases. Additionally, as we are on the verge of flu season, and in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we want to prevent what’s being referred to as the “twin-demic”: outbreaks and surges of both viruses at the same time, that could cause a surge to the hospitals and the healthcare system.

There are many ways that you can enjoy the holiday season while still staying safe. We are still in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to avoid any unnecessary travel. We have many remote options, ways to see family remotely through Zoom, phone calls, and other ways. We’re on the verge of a vaccine, and hopefully, this time next year, we will be able to rejoin with families.

But for now, try and avoid unnecessary travel. If you will be meeting with family, outdoor options are safest. It’s always important to socially distance and wear masks. Even if you are with friends or family, it doesn’t mean that you or they won’t contract COVID-19 from each other. Many people are asymptomatic and don’t even know that they have it.

Yiddish Folksbiene Musicians Bring the Music of “Fiddler” to Tenants of The New Jewish Home’s Kittay Senior Apartments

A special event on Thursday, November 12, brought together two groups of people who have been especially affected by the global pandemic: vulnerable older adults and performing artists.

Thirteen musicians from the cast of the Off-Broadway hit show “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” reunited at The New Jewish Home’s Kittay Senior Apartments, an independent living community in the Bronx, to play the iconic music from Fiddler.

“Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish” was a surprise hit in 2018. Originally planned as a six-week run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park, it ended up moving uptown to the theater district and playing sold-out performances for a year and a half.

Over the show’s run, the ensemble became very close, so when the musicians who were such an important part of the experience had a chance to work together again, they were enthusiastic about the opportunity.

The November 12th performance was made possible by a partnership between The New Jewish Home, AJAS and the National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene, the longest running consecutive Yiddish theater in the world, which produced Fiddler in Yiddish.

In the spacious Kittay auditorium, the 13 musicians, socially distanced from one another, played instrumental music from Fiddler along with arrangements of some of the musical’s familiar songs, like “Sabbath Prayer” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” The auditorium opens onto the dining room, where 30-40 tenants were able to enjoy the live performance, at a safe distance from the musicians and each other.

The impact of this event will ripple far beyond the lucky tenants who were able to experience it in person. The performance was recorded, and the final, edited version will be available not only to all Kittay tenants but to residents at The New Jewish Home’s Westchester and Manhattan skilled nursing facilities and other Jewish nursing homes around the country.

Oren Neiman, who played guitar and mandolin in the Fiddler orchestra, conceived of the performance as a way to provide some of New York City’s talented, unemployed musicians an opportunity to work, while also providing joy to older adults and the essential workers who care for them.

“This is really the first time this group has come together since COVID,” said Zalmen Mlotek, artistic director of National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene and musical director of Yiddish Fiddler. “In these times, when we’re all trying to figure out what we can do to stay active and relevant, it was very fulfilling for these musicians to come together to play for another population that has been hit hard by the pandemic.”

Kittay Tenants Rave About “Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish!”

Zalmen Mlotek, artistic director of National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene with Alyssa Herman, chief development officer, The New Jewish Home

Geriatrics Career Development Featured on CBS 2 News

CBS 2 News featured Francisca Fadairo, a remarkable high school senior in our Geriatrics Career Development Program (GCD). For the past 15 years, The New Jewish Home’s groundbreaking workforce development program has provided underserved high school students with allied health care certifications, college preparation and invaluable experience caring for older adults. Instead of closing GCD when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we actually hired our GCD participants so they could continue to receive hands-on training and gain firsthand experience working on the front lines as health care heroes.

IN MEMORIAM Fred Richman 1922-2020

The New Jewish Home mourns the passing of Fred Richman, beloved husband of Rita Richman and father and father-in-law of our supporter Jim (Great Neck) and Elissa Richman.

Fred was a successful business entrepreneur who developed Richloom Fabrics Group, a family run textile company, into a multi-faceted global firm. Together Fred and Rita, avid art collectors, collected Greek, Roman and Middle Eastern antiquities in addition to work from Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and Indian oceans, manuscripts, jewelry and architectural fragments. They endowed the African Art department and a curatorial position at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and are responsible for the Art of Island Southeast Asia Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We were grateful to be able to honor Fred and Rita in 2015 at our Eight over Eighty Gala. Please watch this wonderful short video from the 2015 gala about Fred and Rita’s life as art collectors par excellence.

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