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Senior campus eyes mission ‘beyond its walls’
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Senior campus eyes mission ‘beyond its walls’

Preparing to install the new Wilf campus officers and trustees are, from left, president William Davidson, immediate past president Gerald Staffin, and vice president Monte Block.
Preparing to install the new Wilf campus officers and trustees are, from left, president William Davidson, immediate past president Gerald Staffin, and vice president Monte Block.

After 35 years of evolution and growth, what began as the Central New Jersey Jewish Home for the Aged in Somerset is looking beyond its walls to provide service to seniors in the surrounding communities.

The new vision for the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living was presented by board president William Davidson at its 35th annual meeting. Just over 100 guests attended the cocktail reception and dinner held Dec. 13 at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick.

The organization, whose campus is home to residences for independent and assisted living, a long-term-care facility, and hospice services, is looking for ways “to help improve the lives of seniors not only within the walls of our campus, but also for seniors within all the communities that we serve,” said Davidson,

Davidson said the organization’s new mission is “to be the leader in central New Jersey in providing health, housing, and community services, primarily to the Jewish elderly in an environment that enhances and respects Jewish values, traditions, and lifestyles.”

Davidson traced the history of the Wilf campus and spoke in detail about the decision in 2007 to partner with the for-profit Regency Jewish Heritage and Rehabilitation Center to manage the long-term-care facility. He said it was a difficult but necessary choice due to the changes and regulations in the health-care system. And ultimately, he noted, it was a very smart business decision.

“Today we can boast of an excellent relationship with Regency; they are a part of the campus’ continuum of care. And moreover, the campus facilities that we continue to operate are all on sound financial footings,” said Davidson.

In her remarks, Wilf CEO Susan Harris elaborated on the new strategic plan. “Our community agencies do a phenomenal job, but there is a lot of work that remains to be done as our senior population lives longer and better in their communities. We are not looking to replace services, but to complement what is being done by addressing unmet needs and gaps in service,” she said.

One of the first of the new projects is transportation for seniors who are unable to use public — or can’t afford private — transportation. “We are currently working with local agencies and anticipate that our vehicles will be rolling next year,” she said.

Other plans include expanding the services of the Martin and Edith Stein Hospice. The five-year-old hospice has mainly been serving the population in the immediate area of the campus; now, said Harris, a “concerted marketing effort” will be made to extend its outreach, particularly into Monroe Township, with its large population of Jewish seniors, and Union County. She also noted that the hospice was certified this year through the National Institute for Jewish Hospice.

Harris cited the Lena and David T. Wilentz Senior Residence’s new, state-of-the-art monitoring system that is designed to detect absence of movement during certain hours of the day, as well as the facility’s “perfect” rating in the state’s annual survey. The Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence achieved the same rating.

Even the campus’ approach to marketing itself has changed. “We can now be found on Facebook,” said Harris. “We are blogging and soon will be Twittering.”

The evening concluded with the installation of new board members, including Adrienne C. Rogove of Somerset, a member of B’nai Tikvah, and Steven Tabak of Westfield, who grew up in Highland Park.

Toby Ehrlich, director of marketing for the Wilf campus, said she is working on “expanding relations with family service agencies in Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties.”

Noting that the Wilf campus is a collaborative partner with all the area federations — including the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County — and agencies, Harris said that the facility “will invite those who provide senior services to sit at one table. Now is the time for us all to work together.”

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