Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Fred Greenblatt, who has worked for more than 40 years at Jewish Home Lifecare, talked about how the Bronx Campus literally grew up around him as he went from working in the kitchen at 17 to directing Therapeutic Recreation and leading JCAHO accreditation efforts. Greenblatt was being honored by his colleagues at his retirement celebration on May 20, 2008.
Fred explained, “I started working at the Bronx Division in 1964 as a part-time dietary employee while I was in high school,” Greenblatt says. “I took a metal truck with milk and crackers and went floor to floor distributing the snacks. To get the residents’ attention I had a cowbell that I would ring. They loved the idea and looked forward to my visits. . . I realized how much I enjoyed being and working with them, making their lives a little lighter—more enjoyable.”
Once Greenblatt started college, he began working in the recreation department. Ultimately, he earned master’s degrees in therapeutic recreation and public administration—both part of the JHL tuition reimbursement program.
JHL, he says, is an integral part of his life—so much so that he held his son Brian’s bar mitzvah at Jewish Home and later encouraged Brian to start his own career here. Brian joined the security department five years ago.
In 1990, when Bridget Gallagher, R.N., MSN, GNP, joined our Long Term Home Health Care department as a nurse/coordinator, home care was still called by the name “Nursing Home Without Walls.” The title reflected the high level of care the system provided to frail older adults—in their own homes. “I was making home visits and I was captured by the concept of caring for people in the comfort and security of their own homes,” Gallagher says. “I said to myself, ‘This is the future of long-term care—caring for the elderly in the community. This is something I have to be part of.’ ”
Gallagher became an R.N. supervisor for Manhattan Home Care and then director of Patient Services. She went back to school in 1997, joining a double-track program to obtain master’s degrees in Nursing Administration and as a geriatric nurse practitioner. Her return to the classroom was made possible by a Jewish Home tuition reimbursement program. She is now Senior Vice President of the Community Services Division. “It’s been an exciting and rewarding 17 years,” she says. “I wouldn’t change a minute of it.”
Indeed, both Fred and Bridget’s careers are reflective of the many opportunities that are available to members of the JHL family. Today, Jewish Home Lifecare boasts approximately 2,500 employees.
“Family is a word we like to use when referring to our staff members,” says Larry Nirenberg, Vice President for Human Resources. “That sense of tradition makes for a unique work environment and reflects itself in better patient care,” Nirenberg adds.
“There are so many career opportunities within our System,” Nirenberg says. “The average person would think in terms of medicine, nursing and rehabilitation when you mention a nursing home. But there’s so much more required to run a dynamic organization like [ours].”
In the past six months, JHL has hired more than 200 new personnel in virtually every department, from clerical and finance, laundry and housekeeping, to plant maintenance, transportation, information technology, social services and, of course, home health.
“We encourage our staff to think of careers, rather than jobs,” Elvira Vazquez, Director of Human Resources, Manhattan says. “We have mechanisms in place to encourage career advancement for both union and non-union personnel.” There are several support programs in place by both the union and JHL, as Nirenberg explains: “A tuition reimbursement program provided by JHL supports those who are seeking a degree in an accredited program that is either related to your job position or the healthcare profession.”
“The union, SEIU 1199, maintains a training and upgrade fund which supports staff in various professions. Many people have taken advantage of the program and become R.N.s or LPNs. “