April 8, 2024
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Community Applauds Heroic Efforts at CareOne to Aid Israel

Since the conflict erupted almost two weeks ago, there have been numerous local efforts to help Israel get much needed supplies. Behind most of those herculean efforts in Bergen County was CareOne of Teaneck, whose administrators rapidly mobilized the facility to accept donations which were then loaded onto planes bound for Israel.

“Emily Vazquez, vice president of operations at CareOne, and Eden Weiss, assistant administrator, are the administrators over at CareOne behind this incredible work and together with a team of dedicated staffers, have been successful at getting everything off and through to Israel,” said former Teaneck council member Keith Kaplan.

Supply drives have been in full swing with donations coming in from everywhere. But then word came in that there were hangars of supplies just sitting in airports unable to make their way to those who needed them the most. Kaplan knew enough to know that donating supplies was the least complicated part about this endeavor. “Things are rarely ever as easy as they may seem,” Kaplan explained.

Knowing exactly what to donate and how to actually get it to where it needed to go was a whole different story. “With that as a starting point, my basic working script here was not to bother anyone that is already doing it well, learn as much as I could in order to figure this out better, and always assume it’s more complex.”

But CareOne seemed to have already internalized that script with people in the back room constantly on the phone with the Israeli Ministry, customs officials and El Al officials. The supplies collected there had been making it through.

As supply donations kept making their way to CareOne, someone inquired if anyone was interested in getting medical supplies to Israel. When Kaplan heard about this, he immediately knew what to do. He reached out to his contacts at Holy Name Medical Center, including its vice president Steve Mosser, and asked what they could do to help. Kaplan also contacted Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci and Holy Name Hospital CEO Mike Maron. Between them, they came up with a list of items, including PPE, which they had in large supply. CareOne shared the list with the Israeli Health Ministry which then prioritized their greatest and most urgent needs.

But here’s the thing: it’s all about the pallets. Supplies of this nature need to come in on pallets and carefully labeled according to instructions outlined by customs officials in JFK/Newark and Israel. This ensures that upon their arrival in Israel, all supplies can be easily and accurately identified so that everything gets to exactly where it is needed. A full pallet measures 48”x48”x48.”

CareOne administrators have spreadsheets to keep track of inventories and manifests. They count everything they have so that they know what they have on each pallet as they are loaded, the quantity of a specific item loaded on a pallet, and any other information that is needed to ensure supplies arrive in Israel, meet all customs requirements, and are distributed accordingly. “This way, the officials in Israel know exactly what they are getting, so that it can all get through as fast as possible to get where it needs to go.”

Government officials must know how many pallets are in a load and must be clearly labeled, so that they can be cross-referenced with the information they were given by people organizing drives in the U.S. “It’s a major logistical operation,” Kaplan explained. Supplies brought to CareOne are transported to a warehouse to be loaded onto pallets, wrapped and labeled in preparation to be sent to Israel. So far at least 50 pallets are set to make their way into the hands of medical personnel.

“At CareOne, the people there are doing so much work, along with the Chaverim of Bergen County, which has a small army over there helping to pack everything perfectly,” Kaplan said.

Not to be outdone, Hackensack University Medical Center has gotten involved as well, committing to another six pallets worth of supplies, while Medline jumped in to send over 10-12 more pallets of medical supplies. However, when Medline employees began unloading the trucks, the pallets wouldn’t fit through the doors at CareOne, so they had to be broken down. Which meant that organizers now had to go in search of more pallets to bring to its warehouse in Hackensack.

The CareOne team jumped into action, calling local businesses like Sanzari from the Glenpointe, and Stop&Shop to get the necessary pallets. Sen. Gordon Johnson heard about the pallet issue as well, and had one of his companies donate them. Even the Department of Public Works brought over 10 extra pallets. Everyone wanted to contribute.

Then, another resident of Teaneck, Dr. Esther Adler, who works as a doctor at NYU Langone Health, reached out to CareOne because that hospital wanted to help the cause. CareOne put Kaplan in touch with Dr. Fritz François, executive vice president and vice dean, chief of hospital operations, and Dr. Robert Grossman, dean and CEO of the hospital. Grossman and Francois then put Kaplan in touch with the head of their supply chain. “The folks at NYU Langone have been absolutely accommodating and helpful.” The hospital committed to even more pallets of supplies, which CareOne quickly began to coordinate. “There are heroes on the ground that are doing a ton of work,” said Kaplan.

Over the weekend Kaplan received an urgent call that there were around 200 medical personnel stranded at Newark Airport waiting to get back to Israel. Unfortunately, TSA hold ups were preventing that from happening. He immediately reached out to Rep. Josh Gottheimer who jumped into action to rectify the situation. Johnson also reached out to offer help in any way possible. “Everyone is just standing in support and it’s very heartening to see so many doing so much,” noted Kaplan.

“Some of our people in government are absolute friggin’ heroes,” he continued. “The police have done a superb job with the event in Votee Park and are a tremendous help to the Jewish community.” The exceptional members of the local law enforcement agencies have been nothing short of outstanding and the community has great deal of gratitude to them.

“All of this has been done through CareOne. Literally, CareOne has been the center of everything. They have been arranging flights for the medical personnel to get to Israel, getting donations from Holy Name, HUMC and community members, packing all the donated supplies, and speaking with the Israeli Health Ministry.”

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