July 24, 2024
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St. Mary’s General Hospital Appoints an Advisory Board

(Courtesy of St. Mary’s) As part of their focus to reach out to the Orthodox Jewish community, St. Mary’s General Hospital has appointed an advisory board to assist and guide management and staff in accommodating the frum community.

Both exist for the same reason—helping the organization succeed. A board of directors focuses on governance, whereas an advisory board contributes advice and insight and, with the frum community, halachic opinions.

“When I was first contracted to help St. Mary’s accommodate our community, I advocated for an advisory board,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, consultant to St. Mary’s General. “It’s just not possible for one person to make all the decisions with this endeavor, even though I have the support and can count on prominent rabbanim in the community. Edward J. Condit, CEO, understood and is 100% behind this effort.”

“First we analyzed what St. Mary’s had to offer the frum community,” said Matyjewicz. “I met with every department and many doctors and key people to learn more about what makes St. Mary’s better than other hospitals. Then we matched those services with the needs of our community—which we gathered from Bikur Cholim, Hatzolah and medical professionals. Our kehila has a good population mix—young couples starting families, older couples with large families and those a bit older whose children are married with children of their own.”

Based on the makeup of the community, it was apparent that younger members have a need for family planning, which includes OB/GYN and pediatrics and may include infertility treatments. Older members have musculoskeletal disorders—back, hips and knees and need surgeries and physical/occupational therapy. And with all the food the kehila eats, it’s obvious that gastro/digestive issues and food sensitivities are an issue. Sadly, Jewish people have a higher incidence of cancer, which means surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. And everybody needs health education and health screenings. One surprise was a need for counseling, either because of a greater occurrence or just less stigma and more education so more people are seeking help and diagnosis. Added to all this was the need to address emergencies—Hatzolah of Passaic-Clifton takes 600+ patients to hospitals every year.

With younger families, a pediatrician is needed to guide us with their needs. Are we able to handle this population? Do we need more equipment or physicians? The first person that came to mind is Dr. Elliott Samet, a prominent board-certified pediatrician in our community, who has been in practice for 38 years.

Next we had to address the emergency calls. “I met with Dr. Michael Rosen, medical director, and Baruch Jaffe, coordinator of Hatzolah, and discussed how St. Mary’s can help Hatzolah,” said Matyjewicz. “It was an excellent meeting and we identified what patients should be taken to St. Mary’s. We also had the privilege of having Moshe Stareshefsky, EMT, assist me in educating the emergency room staff. As an aside, I served as executive director for Hatzolah for two years and had the privilege of working with this team. Which is why Dr. Rosen was a prime candidate for our advisory board.”

While Orthodox Jews have large families, there are also some couples who have difficulty conceiving. “We needed somebody with experience in addressing this population. Rabbi Eli Rybak, MD, MPH, FACOG is a reproductive endocrinologist and is an ideal candidate for the advisory board.”

The elderly population had their own unique issues—physical and mental. While most have families that can help, it is not always easy to depend on family, especially if they are in Israel or in another state. Physical needs may be as simple as mild exercise, whereas mental may be simple age-related forgetfulness to more serious dementia.

“Two people came to mind with this population,” said Matyjewicz. “One was Rabbi Colonel (ret.) Ira Kronenberg, LCSW, who was an Army chaplain for 34 years and was director of religious services for Daughters of Miriam. He has spent his career serving any spiritual need regardless of affiliation and also as an advisor on issues of ethics, morale and religion.

“The second was Esther East, executive director of Jewish Family Services who has over 40 years of mental health and program development experience with specialized training in addictions, mental illness, family violence and family therapy. At JFS they have the Sequoia program supporting the dignity and independence of seniors, working with adults 60 years of age and older and their families to ensure safe, supported and independent living at home.”

“Now we needed somebody who understands community outreach and also the Touro medical students at St. Mary’s General. The ideal candidate was Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, EVP and university ombudsman of Touro. Rabbi Krupka serves as chief liaison for community affairs and has spearheaded new initiatives that have raised Touro’s visibility within the Jewish and general communities—an ideal candidate for assistance with integrating into our community and for guidance on the Touro medical students at St. Mary’s.”

“We are honored to have such an experienced and diversified membership on our advisory board,” said Ed Condit, CEO. “With their guidance on what we are doing internally, we are certain that St. Mary’s General Hospital will be the choice for the Orthodox Jewish community of Passaic-Clifton and Northern New Jersey. I am looking forward to working with them.”

For more information about this advisory board or St. Mary’s General Hospital, please email George Matyjewicz at [email protected].

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