A Pillar of Support: Achiezer's Hospital Services
January 31, 2017
Part IV of a special series highlighting Achiezer's innovative programs which service the community throughout the year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
We want people to feel that they are not alone. That is the overarching message shared by all those who contribute to Achiezer's Hospital Support Services.
Hospitals are overwhelming, even under the best of circumstances. Patients are subjected to long waits, a revolving staff of nurses, doctors and paraprofessionals, a litany of questions and a lack of privacy. It's easy to feel frightened and alone.
It doesn't have to be that way. "Any need that comes up while someone is in the hospital, we are prepared to deal with it," says Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, President of Achiezer. Achiezer has developed a singularly comprehensive hospital-based support system, which encompasses patient advocacy, insurance authorizations, emergency transfers, well-appointed respite rooms and Shabbos meals.
With experience and connections in a vast network of hospitals, Achiezer is uniquely equipped to advise both professionals and community members regarding which hospital to go to for particular needs. This information saves time, money and the aggravation of unnecessary transfers. And when someone finds themselves in the "wrong" hospital, Achiezer can help too.
A patient was admitted to a small hospital that was ill-equipped to properly handle her condition. When the family tried to have her moved to another facility, they were told that a transfer was not possible. Family members reached out to Achiezer, who then proceeded to contact a larger hospital with the know-how to treat the case. The hospital agreed to accept the patient and sent an ambulance for the transfer. Ten days later the woman was discharged, on the way to a complete recovery.
Achiezer can help legally obtain information and medical records, secure the help of difficult-to-reach specialists and reassure families by ensuring that the patient is receiving the highest level of care.
A young woman was hospitalized with severe abdominal pain. After several hours, it became clear that surgery was necessary. Now the family panicked. Was there a surgeon specializing in this area on staff? Achiezer did the research and reassured the family that the patient would be in good hands.
It doesn't end there. "When someone calls from the hospital with a medical concern, they think they'll get help with one thing," explains Program Coordinator Aliza Wartelsky. "We look at the whole picture. We'll direct them to respite rooms, send them meals if necessary, help them figure out where to sleep..."
Achiezer's respite rooms, one in South Nassau Communities Hospital and one in Mercy Hospital, provide an amazing oasis of tranquility in the midst of the draining hospital experience. Each room is furnished with comfortable couches, books and sefarim, magazines and even games. And of course, the rooms are stocked by Achiezer volunteers several times weekly with fresh food, much of which is generously donated by Gourmet Glatt.
"We have two wonderful boys on staff, Dovid Kovitz and Shragi Olshan, who shop our weekly order on Thursday nights and then fill each room before Shabbos. It's a big undertaking, and they do a great job!" shares Aliza. Volunteers come in after Shabbos to clean up the rooms and restock for the week with items such as coffee, danishes, yogurts, string cheese, snack bags and cold drinks. Aliza herself regularly stops by at least once a month to make sure the rooms are up to standard and not lacking in any way.
Families of patients in local hospitals without respite rooms benefit from the Meals 'N More program, coordinated by Suri Bender. A cadre of volunteers cook, bake and deliver full Shabbos packages for family members spending Shabbos in the hospital. Some prepare food; others label and bag the items after they are delivered to Achiezer's Far Rockaway office; and others drive the packages to their destinations.
Each recipient receives three packages: Friday night food, Shabbos day food and a bag of non-perishables, including challah, grape juice, treats and reading material. Families are so thankful both for the delicious food and for the infusion of Shabbos spirit. "We are always looking to improve and add to what we send," shares Suri. And that serves to strengthen the message that when one community member is in pain, there are so many others who truly care!
As one recent beneficiary of Achiezer's hospital services wrote: "The help was beyond belief...I don't know what our community would do without Achiezer and Hatzalah, and I certainly don't know if Mom would be here today if not for them! Thank you!"
Thanks to Achiezer, the Hospital-Based support of this caliber is always available to the community with just one call. Join Achiezer on February 26, 2017, at Bay Harbour Mall, in supporting a unified goal to always be on call, with just one call.