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Healthcare grants help range of programs
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Healthcare grants help range of programs

Foundation announces funding for cancer care, dementia, accessibility

Registered nurse Phyllis Vida and head of school Moshe Vaknin sit in the tiny nurse’s office at the Gottesman RTW Hebrew Academy in Randolph. The grant will enable the school’s nursing facilities to nearly triple in size when its new building
Registered nurse Phyllis Vida and head of school Moshe Vaknin sit in the tiny nurse’s office at the Gottesman RTW Hebrew Academy in Randolph. The grant will enable the school’s nursing facilities to nearly triple in size when its new building

Four agencies connected with the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ have been awarded a total of $1,269,900 in grants from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.

The awards are intended to improve the lives of patients, clients, caregivers, and students.

The highest grant is for $1 million to establish the Lester Z. Lieberman Fellowship in Oncology and Hematology at the Frederick B. Cohen Cancer Center of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Lieberman, who died in 2013, was chair of the “Beth” when, in 1996, he arranged its sale to Saint Barnabas Healthcare System. The proceeds were used to create the Healthcare Foundation.

He had been chair of the foundation’s board until his death.

The grant to the cancer center will provide three-year training sessions to specialists in cancer and blood diseases. The fellowship will be offered six times over the next 18 years.

“The hospital already has three fellows, but it needed a fourth because the volume of patients has risen dramatically,” said foundation executive director Marsha Atkind.

“The emphasis will be on humanism and palliative care, a dimension that was very important to Les Lieberman and the Healthcare Foundation,” she told NJ Jewish News a day after the grants were awarded on Sept. 30.

The first winner of the highly competitive fellowship will be announced in July 2015.

A second award of $50,000 will go to the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest to make the front entrance of its Florham Park building handicapped-accessible. 

“As of now, if you are in a wheelchair or cannot climb stairs, you have to go inside the back entrance through a long winding path from a different parking lot through a wooded area. It can be very difficult for people who have issues with walking. It is not welcoming and it is not safe,” Atkind said. 

A ramp to the front door is expected to be installed later this fall.

“It was a big priority, and it is something the agency has wanted for a long time,” said Diane Klein, grants and marketing manager at JFS MetroWest.

“We currently serve 15 to 20 people a month who need to use the ramp,” she said. 

Another grant recipient is the Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, which will share $113,000 with JFS MetroWest to support an Alzheimer’s caregivers’ project. It will be administered by JFS Central and be made available to families in both communities.

“It is a home care model, in which a social worker and a nurse go into someone’s home, speak with family members who are caregivers, and assess their support needs and the health needs of the caregiver as well as the person receiving care. The intent is to help caregivers develop strategies to cope with the situations they face,” Atkind explained. “The idea is to keep people with Alzheimer’s in their homes for as long as possible and to keep their caregivers from burning out and help them make their own lives as stress-free as possible,” she told NJJN.

“We want to help family members maintain emotional and physical health while they take care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said JFS Central executive director Tom Beck. “It is about how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of them.” 

“Our target was to serve 150 families in the area, but we are actually going to exceed that,” he added.

The foundation awarded a fourth grant of $88,300 to the Gottesman RTW Hebrew Academy in Randolph (formerly the Hebrew Academy of Morris County). The money, which will be matched by the Gottesman Foundation, will fund a state-of-the-art nurse’s office in its new school building, scheduled to open next September.

Seated in her cramped current office, Phyllis Vida, the registered nurse at the academy, told NJJN she currently sees “around 20 kids a day” and estimated that one-third of them “need some emotional guidance.” 

“When I get my new office, the atmosphere will probably make it more inviting for kids who might have had a bad day, or kids who need time out from the classroom to just center themselves,” she said.

Unlike the 50 square feet of office space she now occupies, her new quarters will be 130 square feet. 

“It will be mentally soothing,” said head of school Moshe Vaknin. 

According to Vaknin, the expanded nurse’s office was such a high priority that “it was the only grant we applied for. The mental health of our kids and what they need in and out of school are very important to us.”

Although many of the grant recipients are beneficiary agencies of the Greater MetroWest federation, applicants for funds need not be Jewish, Atkind emphasized.

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