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Jamaica welcomes eight-bed hospice

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The unit is located within the nursing center and offers more support to the...

By Betsy Scheinbart

The Margaret Tietz Center for Nursing Care and the Hospice of New York opened an eight-bed Inpatient Hospice Unit in Jamaica last week, the first facility of its kind in Queens.

The unit is located within the nursing center and offers more support to the patient and the family than a home-care hospice.

A staff of doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists is assigned exclusively to the new unit, which features sleep-sofas so family member can stay with their loved ones around the clock.

Kenneth Brown, the president and CEO of the center, said the unit was developed to offer end-of-life care in a soft and warm environment.

The average stay in the new Tietz hospice is expected to be about two weeks, he said.

“In developing this unit, we hope to provide a circle of support, to make our patients feel comfortable and at home surrounded by their family and friends,” Brown told the ribbon-cutting event Jan. 31.

That circle of support includes music therapy with registered music therapist Jennifer Weber.

“Music bridges a gap between this world and the next,” Weber said. “In a spiritual sense, music can be used a medium to ease the pain and suffering of the elderly.”

Weber, who also conducts a choir for the nursing center residents, said she has known patients to continue singing up to five days before their death. She also plays the piano to patients who cannot sing as a form of therapy.

Dr. Esor Ben-Sorek, the center’s rabbi and the director of counseling, agreed with Weber on the importance of music therapy and noted that Queens needed a hospice like this one for some time, so Queens residents do not have to go into Manhattan or Long Island for that service.

The Margaret Tietz Center was founded in 1942 to provide care to Holocaust survivors and it is now a 200-bed, not-for-profit center with patients of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Brown estimated that about 55 percent of the center’s patients are Holocaust survivors.

Dr. Gail Lowenstein, the medical director at the center, described the unique combination of Western and Eastern medicine the center offers with the help of Dr. William Young, the director of traditional Chinese medicine.

“I am trying to bring the two together,” Lowenstein said of Eastern and Western medical techniques. “This year patients no longer need a [Western] physician’s order to see Dr. Young.”

Acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal nutritional therapy are some of the services Young offers patients. Although side effects and bad drug interactions with Western medication are rare, his constant communication with Lowenstein and the center’s staff further reduces those chances.

J. Uniqua Mc Intyre represented Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the Department of Health at the event by presenting the Margaret Tietz Center for Nursing Care and the Hospice of New York with declarations of honor.

Mc Intyre also announced that in the city Jan. 31 would henceforth be marked as “Margaret Tietz Center for Nursing Care and Hospice of New York Day.”

City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) also attended as well as Barry Grodenchik from Borough President Claire Shulman’s office.

Grodenchik commented that hospice care is not something you think about until you need it, but once you do, “it is like water to a thirsty person.”

Jeff Gottlieb, from the office of City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Forest Hills), said there was a definite need for a hospice care center in the community, so families would no longer have to take their loved ones further from home to get good care.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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