Even before Joshua Schor became medical director at the Daughters of Israel nursing home in West Orange, he found special meaning in being in the company of senior citizens.
His affection for them began during his childhood summers at a Catskill bungalow colony called Greenwood Lodge.
“Being in that environment around elderly folks, many of them Holocaust survivors, I felt very honored,” he told NJ Jewish News.
Schor will be honored — literally — on Monday, July 22, when the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey presents him with its Lester Z. Lieberman Leadership Award for Humanism in Health Care. The annual ceremony will be held at the Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center in Florham Park.
The award is presented each year to a community member “who is really a role model,” said foundation executive director Marsha Atkind. “It has preponderantly been given to doctors, but not only to doctors. They are people who are looked up to by their peers for the compassionate way they deliver care and the empathy they treat patients with. We decided that Josh should get this award. It is long overdue.”
For nearly 15 years, Schor has supervised medical care for Daughters’ residents and patients in its short-term sub-acute care unit.
“What I love about this place is living in a village among the people I take care of,” he said. “That is such a rare opportunity and privilege — to see them in all of their activities.”
“Josh is a lot more than the doctor here,” said Daughters executive director Susan Grosser. “He is a true mensch who cares about every single person he comes across and gives them all the time they need. I have been honored to work with him.”
Schor grew up in Rockland County, NY, and Long Island, attended Yale University and its medical school, followed by a fellowship in geriatrics at Harvard University.
“I had a lot of great role models to show me the way,” he said. “One of them told me that in long-term care, when you get to know the residents, some of them will actually become good friends of yours. No matter where I’ve been there have always been older people looking for friendship,” he said during a recent interview at Daughters.
Anna Vicari, who will be 95 in August and has lived at Daughters of Israel for nearly three years, agreed.
“Dr. Schor is great,” she said. “For him to do what he is doing — and you have to have a lot of patience to take care of patients here — he has got to be great.”
Schor, who lives in Millburn with his wife, Lori, said he gives his patients his personal e-mail address so they can stay in touch during his off-hours, and has braved blizzards to welcome and comfort incoming residents and their families. He calls the Daughters community “an ecosystem.”
“To get up every day and know we can make changes and be a positive influence in our seniors’ lives is a wonderful thing,” he said. “You just can’t do it any other way.”
“He really walks the walk of treating every patient as an individual, of looking at people as people — not as rheumatoid arthritics or cancer patients or whatever,” Atkind said. “In this day, when things are so complicated, it is difficult to keep that perspective. His model of relating to people is really commendable and important. I would hope every doctor would look at it and say, ‘I can do that.’”