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Health care in the Jewish community

Supplement to Jewish News, May 28, 2012

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Health care in the Jewish community


Jewish involvement in health care is legendary and pervasive.

rom physicians to nurses to physical therapists to conducting groundbreaking and life altering research to assisting people in need in impoverished nations to raising funds for medical supplies and care, Jews are involved and making contributions each and every day to improve the quality of life for all people.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, for example, goes to remote places such as the FSU to care for the sick and elderly, and they always manage to get to disaster areas fast, along with Israeli organizations such as Magan David Adom. Jewish doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, dentists, optometrists and health care administrators devote their days to enhancing the health of Tidewater residents. And many of these same people think nothing of travelling to Cuba or the Sudan to volunteer their time and provide their expertise.

In Tidewater, Jewish Family Service and Beth Sholom Village deliver quality services to Jewish, as well as non-Jewish patients . . . helping people recover from surgery and learn to cope with illnesses and new ways of life. And soon, the Freda H. Gordon Hospice and Palliative Care of Tidewater, a joint venture of these two agencies, will begin assisting patients at the end of their lives. This special section highlights various activities taking place locally in the Jewish medical community, some of the research being conducted in Israel that ultimately affects the world, and three area physicians who tell compelling stories. And, that’s not all. But to learn what else is included, please, read on! —TD

Interest in Maimonides Society sparks energized planning competing events, more than 80 healthcare professionals and their spouses attended. In the weeks since the party, hosted by Alan Wagner—an emeritus chair of the organization—and his wife Jody, queries from those who were unable to attend, who did not know about it, and even from those in attendance, have been fielded by the Society’s committee members. “People are very interested,” says Michael Gross, 2012 Maimonides Society co-chair. “I am still getting calls and emails from people asking if they can get involved. Clearly, the answer is ‘Yes.’” Gross, a physician at Mid Atlantic Dermatology and Laser Center, joined the Society for Jewish healthcare professionals five years ago. His co-chair is Susan and Jerome Blackman and David Maizel. Adam Foleck, a doctor of medical dentistry at the Foleck Center for Cosmetic, Implant and General Dentistry. Gross and Foleck, along with their committee members, are hoping to revitalize the local affinity group, one of 50 Maimonides Societies at Jewish Federations in the Marc Cardelia, Gary Kell, Steve Alperin and Craig Schranz. United States.


by Laine M. Rutherford

n one month, the pulse of the Maimonides Society of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater has gone from resting to aerobic. A large turnout at an April Maimonides Society cocktail party resulted in a buzz throughout the Hampton Roads Jewish medical community. Despite heavy rain and

The Maimonides Society was quite active when I first joined, but was starting to lose momentum,” says Gross. “Recently, a lot of young people in the community started asking about the Society, not only for networking purposes but also to take part in our programs, which include lectures and field trips.” Edward Goldenberg, a psychiatrist at Balance Behavioral Health and a longtime member Cara Novick, Jody Alperin, and Joanna Schranz. of the Society, says it is encouraging to see the new energy and enthusiasm to concentrate on outstanding programexpressed by the Jewish medical commu- ming that is not only educational, but that’s nity toward the organization. fun and meaningful for people who are At the cocktail party in April, I met involved. We like having people call us up people I’ve never met before—people who afterward asking, ‘When’s the next event?’” are new to the profession or to the area, and I saw people who have been involved for UJFT Maimonides Society events in 2012– a long time,” Goldenberg says. “I also saw 2013 are open to all Jewish healthcare people who are Jewish, but who have never professionals who have doctor as their title, really been involved in the community. to PhDs in Medical research, and to mediThat, in itself, is very encouraging.” cal students. Participants are encouraged to At a meeting this month, Gross, become members of the Maimonides Society, Goldenberg and committee member Sue which includes involvement in social, fundraisGitlin PhD, a scientist at the Jones Institute ing, educational and charitable programs with of Reproductive Medicine, talked about Jewish peers. Society membership requires upcoming programming. In addition to a minimum $1,000 gift to the UJFT annual plans for a brunch on Sept. 30, a medical campaign. (Residents, medical students, those supply collection for needy Jews in Cuba, new to practice and participants of the Young and a visit aboard the Navy’s USNS Comfort Leadership Campaign may make smaller gifts.) hospital ship, the committee decided to For more information about the Maimonides plan another cocktail party for this summer. Society and upcoming events, contact Carolyn “We want to keep this momentum Amacher at 452-3181, camacher@ujft.org, or going,” Gross says. “Our goal this year is visit www.jewishva.org. jewishnewsva.org | Health Care | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 35

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Dramatic progress in in-vitro detection spurs new push for Ashkenazi Jews to do genetic disease testing by Hillel Kuttler

WASHINGTON (JTA)—Susan and Brad Stillman grew concerned following their son Benjamin’s birth in September 1998. He was fussy and congested, had difficulty breastfeeding and didn’t take to the bottle. The parents brought him to the pediatrician and then to a hospital pediatric care unit near their home in Rockville, Md., a suburb of Washington. Benjamin soon was diagnosed with Riley-Day syndrome, now called familial dysautonomia, a genetic disease of the autonomic nervous system that disproportionately strikes Ashkenazi Jews. When the Stillmans got married in 1995, they were tested for Tay-Sachs disease, the only genetic disease prevalent among Ashkenazim for which screening was available, and neither parent was found to be a carrier or to have the disease. “Ignorance was bliss,” Susan Stillman says. “We had no idea we were carriers for FD.” Today, tests are available for 19 chronic conditions that are known as Jewish genetic diseases, including familial dysautonomia.

Testing capabilities have risen dramatically: Just one year ago, individuals could be tested for 16 conditions; in 2009, the number was 11. Among those conditions, in addition to FD and Tay-Sachs, are cystic fibrosis, Gaucher disease, Canavan disease and Niemann-Pick disease. Organizations dealing with Jewish genetic diseases are intensifying their efforts to educate Ashkenazim of childbearing age about the need to be screened for all 19 conditions with a single blood test, and to update tests that have already been conducted. The experts view this as a serious communal health issue, with one in five Ashkenazim estimated to be a carrier of at least one of the 11 diseases that could be tested for in 2009. A study by New York University’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan found that significant numbers of New York-area Ashkenazim—one in every 3.3 —are carriers of at least one of the 16 diseases tested for last year. A carrier rate of one in 100 for an individual disease would be “of concern,” says Dr. Adele Schneider, director of clinical

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genetics at Philadelphia’s Victor Centers for cent routinely recommend preconception Jewish Genetic Diseases. screening, and just 34 percent recommend As with any genetic disease, when both updated screenings between pregnancies. parents are carriers, each of their children Not a single respondent reported recomwill have a 25-percent likelihood of being mending screening for more than six of the affected; the more diseases for which each 19 known diseases. parent is a carrier, the greater the odds of The findings were “stark” and “very worthe children being affected. risome,” says the Victor Centers’ national “If you and your spouse find out that project director, Debby Hirshman. you’re carriers, you may not want to take The Jewish Genetic Disease Consortium, that one- in-four chance,” says Karen with the support of the New York Board of Litwack, director of the Chicago Center Rabbis, last September inaugurated a for Jewish Genetic Disorders. “It’s clergy awareness program. a terrible ordeal for parents to Several rabbis have go through. From a Jewish taken the effort to spearSeveral community standpoint, head educational efforts there’s a general coninto their own hands. organizations sensus that education Rabbi Peter Kasdan, are expanding their and outreach will, a Reform rabbi from hopefully, prevent New Jersey who has outreach to rabbis and this kind of thing moved to Florida from happening.” in retirement, has Jewish communal leaders made it a requireExperts in Jewish genetic disment that couples to enlist their help in eases are seeking undergo testing to promote awarebefore he performs persuading prospective their ness of the potential weddings. problems, because Rabbi Larry Sernovitz parents to get screening before a pregof Philadelphia’s Old nancy can offer options York Road Temple-Beth tested. for preventing or dramatiAm, whose son was born cally reducing the chance of with familial dysautonomia, a child being born with a disease. successfully lobbied the Union The four main alternative options are for Reform Judaism to host a session utilizing a sperm donor; utilizing an egg on Jewish genetic diseases at its convendonor; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis tion in Washington last year. Rabbi Joseph (in-vitro fertilization of the mother’s egg, Eckstein, who lives in New York, lost analysis of the embryo, and implantation four children to Tay-Sachs disease, and only if the embryo is healthy); and even in the 1980s he founded Dor Yeshorim, a aborting a fetus affected by both parents’ Brooklyn-based organization that promotes disease-carrying genes. screening in Orthodox communities. “Screening is protecting future generaIn August, the Victor Centers rolled out tions,” says Randy Yudenfriend-Glaser, who an iPhone and iPad application it has develchairs the New York-based Jewish Genetic oped with information on Jewish genetic Disease Consortium. She is the mother diseases. of two adult children with mucolipidosis The outreach efforts mean a lot to type IV, one of the known Jewish genetic Stillman. She spoke about her situdiseases. ation during a panel discussion at the “When you’re young and getting mar- 31st IAJGS International Conference on ried, you don’t want to know about it Jewish Genealogy in Washington. Stillman because it’s scary,” she says. “But you should described her son as a sweet, loving child. want to know about it.” Benjamin, who is in the eighth grade, plays Experts also emphasize the need for piano and celebrated his bar mitzvah. But each carrier to be screened prior to each he’ll always have to eat through a feeding pregnancy to account for additions to the tube and to receive daily medication. screening panel in the interim. Stillman isn’t sure if Benjamin can live Several organizations are expand- independently, marry or have children. ing their outreach to rabbis and Jewish “I don’t know how long my child will communal leaders to enlist their help in live. I can’t look too far down the road— persuading prospective parents to get test- only half the kids live to age 30,” she says ed. Even doctors don’t push sufficiently for of those diagnosed with familial dysautotesting, representatives of these groups say. nomia. Her presentation at the genealogy The Victor Centers’ survey in April conference, Stillman says, had one goal: of 100 Atlanta-area obstetricians, gyne- raising awareness. cologists, primary care physicians and “It can happen to you,” she says. “I am a pediatricians found that only 51 per- regular person. It happened to me.”

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Free breast cancer exercise program begins in October at Simon Family JCC


ositively Pink, an exercise and nutrition program at the Simon Family JCC for people dealing with breast cancer, is open to all who are currently undergoing treatment, post treatment and survivors. The program ran successfully two years ago and returns thanks to a generous grant provided by the Susan G. Komen Foundation Tidewater Affiliate. Jewish Family Service of Tidewater will provide in kind support. Positively Pink begins in October and runs for eight weeks, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1–2:30 pm. The Positively Pink Cancer Exercise Program’s goal is to improve overall quality of life by reducing fatigue and improving the immune system. The program is free, with a physician’s approval required for participation. The specially tailored exercise program includes aerobic exercise, stretching and strength building. In addition, health education lectures will be given on such topics as exercise, nutrition, yoga, cancer treatment and self esteem. Classes last 90 minutes with 30 minutes devoted to education and an hour of exercise. Classes are taught by certified personal trainers and by the Simon Family JCC’s two certified cancer exercise specialists, Starr Kimmer Gargiullo and Terry Corrigan. Interested participants must complete a registration packet and provide a physicians approval form. Packets and additional information are available at the Simon Family JCC, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Virginia Beach or by contacting Terry Corrigan at 321-2327 or tcorrigan@simonfamilyj.org.

CASE STUDY Answer the phone…

You are our neighbor and you are very important to us.

Alan L. Wagner, M.D., F.A.C.S.


efore caller ID, when we all still had “home phones”, we answered the phone when it rang. I picked up the phone one Sunday morning, and it changed countless lives. The founder of Project Vision, Stephen Kutner M.D. in Atlanta, was on the line and told me that he needed my help with a new project. There was a serious need to link the Jewish Diaspora and Israel together to respond to the desperate medical and social situation of Jews in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Ethiopia. A few years earlier, after a chance casual conversation with a senior colleague from Tubingen Germany who told me how the awful shortages and archaic training were hobbling the well intentioned doctors behind the recently fallen Iron Curtain, I took it upon myself to organize a relief effort, collect a semi trailer worth of eye surgery equipment and medicines from across the U.S., take all of it “quietly” through customs and distribute the goods to what would become the leaders in ophthalmic care in the former Soviet Union at a groundbreaking educational meeting in Germany. Steve wanted me to help him do the same thing for our “extended family” of Jews in need asap! I said yes. And now the phone began to ring regularly, and with lots of people at the other end that I had never met. To make a long story short, four other people that had picked up the phone that same Sunday morning met in Israel four weeks later. With the idea that through the concept of “stone soup” that everyone would bring a little bit of what they knew to the table and then be able to start a worldwide reilef program. It was somewhat similar to when Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland would roll up their sleeves and say, “we need to have a show to save the zoo…” When we met in Israel, all of us assumed that each other had big plans, and came to find out that really what we had was a desire to help, and a tool box of energy, dedication, and a desire to assist others. We conferenced with representatives or the very leaders of different parts of Israel’s governmental, not for profit, health care, and military institutions. All of these people had the same tool box as well. Eventually, in what turned out to be a week, Jewish Healthcare International was born. From that time, an organization

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that became an United Nations recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) delivering health education, care, durable goods, medicines, comfort, and hope to Jews and non-Jews alike that were at the fringes of society, at risk, and the ability to practice Tikkun olam, came forth. I made calls, and people answered. Our 555 East Main Street l Norfolk, Virginia l 23510 l 757.625.4700 l www.wec-cpa.com own UJFT was a Founding Sponsor along with five other community federations in North America. The rest is history... The same thing happens every day in our practice of medicine, in working with our families, and making sure that we leave the world a better place than we found it. When the patient calls, when a family mem- HE RIGHT CHOICE FOR OPTIMAL OUTCOMES. ber needs your help, when your community, secular or otherwise, needs your help, I have found that answering the call gives back more to me than I could ever hope to give to them. Although at times the needs around us are so large it feels that your personal actions are like putting a band-aid on a shark bite, every little bit really helps. It is through these actions that I have come to understand the Talmud’s sage advice that A. Midis, MD, FAAOS • Jordan, Kevin Bonner, FAAOS Louis C. Jordan, A. Midis,Nicholas MD, FAAOS • Kevin F. Bonner, MD, FAAOS • Louis C. MD,F.FAAOS • Jack L. MD, Siegel, MD, FAAOS •• James E. Dowd, MD, FAAOS •MD, SamuelFAAOS P. Robinson, MD, FAAOS helping or saving one person is the same as Nicholas (L-R) Jack L. Siegel, MD, FAAOS • James E. Dowd, MD, FAAOS • Samuel P. Robinson, MD, FAAOS helping or saving an entire universe. I encourage you to remember that if the phone rings, answer it! Kevin F. Bonner, MD, FAAOS • Louis C. Jordan, MD, FAAOS • Jack L. Siegel, MD, FAAOS • James E. Dowd, MD, FAAOS



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High scores for JFS Home Health by Betty Ann Levin, Jewish Family Service executive director


e’ve often touted the quality of the skilled home health care provided by our experienced staff at Jewish Family Service of Tidewater. I’m happy to report that recent data available online at www.Medicare.gov validates these attestations. In 2010, all Medicare-certified home health agencies throughout the United States were required to contract with a vendor who would administer the same survey to all home health patients. Thus, the results below are based on a standardized, national patient survey assessing patient perception of care, as well as standard data collected at the time of patient admission and discharge from home health agencies across the country. JFS scored above both the Virginia and national averages in a number of areas, including the following: Percent of patients who reported YES, they would definitely recommend

JFS to friends and family.

• How often the home health team treatment their patients’ pain. • How often patients’ wounds improved or healed after an operation. • How often the home health team

included treatments to prevent the occurrence of pressure sores (bed sores). How often the home health team  checked patients’ risk of falling. How often the home health team  checked patients for depression Under the category of “Preventing  Unplanned Hospital Care,” JFS scored below the Virginia and national average (a positive score) in regard to how often home health patients had to be admitted to the hospital while receiving home health care. I am proud of the dedicated staff we have at JFS who take pride in providing the best care possible to our patients. In recognition of National Nurse’s Week, which took place May 7-11, I would like to thank all of the JFS nursing staff (see attached

• • •

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Contact JFS home health at 489-3111 with questions or to arrange assistance.

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How to say “No!” to stress by Mark Underwood


tress affects people in many different ways. It often creeps up when feeling overwhelmed or pressured to accomplish something in a short amount of time. Stress triggers an alarm in the brain, telling our bodies that something is wrong. The ‘fight or flight’ response calls in the nervous system to respond and hormones to be released, jolting the body into action. Muscles become tense, breathing increases, and pulse quickens. Heightening the senses during a crisis is essential to survival. This is a natural and important biological response. The body is designed for short bursts of activity in response to stress or danger, but the ongoing nature of daily stress often means that the system is left ‘on’ to respond. Recognize that it is possible to learn to lead a less stressful life. Recognize too, that when the stress is alleviated, it helps to live a longer, healthier life.

Stress signals Stress reactions vary from person to person, and can involve mental, physical or behavioral changes. Headaches and fatigue are common signals that the body is overworked. While one person might have a mild headache due to stress, another person’s headache may be so uncomfortable they have difficulty concentrating. A stress-related headache may also mean muscles are tight and cause difficulty sleeping. Some people experience a combination of stress signals making it difficult to work and turn off stressful thoughts in their brain while they sleep. Change the choices made The choices one makes can lead to more or less stress. Try to pinpoint what you’re anxious about. Are you feeling stressed because you don’t have time to finish a project before its deadline? Are you worried that a friend may have misinterpreted something you said? Or maybe everything you think about seems to have a worry attached? Now is the time to use your brainpower to tackle these types of stressors. Try adjusting your thinking by asking yourself if your worries are small, medium or big problems. How upset do you want to get over it and for how long? Look at the possibilities around you, not the restrictions. Nutrition and exercise also play a big part in reducing stress. Most people are exposed to sweets, particularly when they visit friends. Eating too many sweets adds to feeling stressed and run down. Instead,

try eating simple foods. Reprogram your thinking so that you enjoy the people around you instead of the food. Learn to say ’no’ when something becomes too difficult to fit in your schedule or accomplish during a short period of time. Listen to your inner voice. If something feels stressful and it keeps replaying as stress in your head, give yourself permission to say no. If you do this more often, you’ll enjoy a less stressful life. Plan To Be Less-Stressed— Tips for Success Work on having a positive attitude. Try not to worry about things out of your control. When feeling overwhelmed by a  task, ask yourself—is this something you enjoy or is it just something you think you’re supposed to do? Problem solve with people around  you. Ask them to help you alleviate stress. Eat nutritional food. Decrease the  amount of fat and sugar you eat. The easiest way to make sure you don’t overeat is to have a solid plan for dealing with stress before you go to family gatherings or parties. Nutritional stress can drain your energy. Maintain a regular exercise program. Exercise helps on many levels. It releases the build-up of glucose in the muscles and relaxes them, and increases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that increase good overall sleep. Rest. Try to get eight hours of sleep a night. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates the mind as well as the body. Play board games or card games with friends. You’ll enjoy the benefits of improved brain health as well as social interaction, which is all important to healthy aging.

• • • • •




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Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience, a biotech company located in Madison, Wisc. focused on the discovery and development of medicines to treat age-related memory loss and the diseases of aging. Underwood has been taped as an expert in the field of neuroscience for The Wall Street Journal Morning Radio, CBS and CNN Radio among others. He is also a contributor to the “Brain Health Guide,” which highlights the research at Quincy Bioscience and offers practical tips to help keep health brain function in aging. More articles and tips for healthy aging can be found at www.TheGoodNewsAboutAging.com.

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Can a ray of sunshine help the critically ill? Tel Aviv University researcher finds that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased mortality in intensive care patients

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42 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | Health Care | jewishnewsva.org

Tel Aviv—Scientists have long believed that vitamin D, which is naturally absorbed from sunlight, has an important role in the functioning of the body’s autoimmune system. Now Prof. Howard Amital of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center has discovered that the vitamin may also affect the outcomes of patients in intensive care. In a six-month study, Amital and his colleagues found that patients who had a vitamin D deficiency lived an average of 8.9 days less than those who were found to have sufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D levels also correlated w i t h the level of white blood cells, which fight disease. The study, which was published in the journal QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, demonstrates further research into giving patients vitamin D could confirm that it will improve their survival outcomes. Adding days of life To measure the impact of vitamin D levels on the survival of critically ill patients, the researchers designed an observational study. Over the course of six months, 130 patients over the age of 18 admitted to an intensive care unit of a TAU-affiliated hospital and requiring mechanical ventilation were admitted to the study. Patients who had taken vitamin D supplements prior to admittance were excluded from the study population. Upon admittance, patients were divided into two groups based on vitamin D concentration: those who had 20 nanograms or

more of the vitamin—the amount defined as the National Institute of Health as sufficient—and those who were vitamin D deficient based on the same criteria. In total, 107 patients suffered from vitamin D deficiency. Survival curves indicate that while patients with sufficient vitamin D survived an average of 24.2 days, those who were deemed to be deficient in vitamin D survived an average of only 15.3 days—patients with sufficient vitamin D levels survived an average of 8.9 days longer. They were also found to have a better WBC count. Seek out sun—or supplements These findings merit further investigation, Amital says. He suggests that the effects of vitamin D supplementation in critically ill patients be further assessed in future studies. The initial results indicate only that vitamin D concentration may be an indicator of survival, he says. But don’t wait until you’re in poor health to start taking vitamin D, suggests Amital. Vitamin D appears to enhance the function of the immune system in numerous ways, and it’s becoming clear that it does have an impact on overall health and well-being. According to research, including an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the majority of those who live in North America and other Western countries are known to be vitamin D deficient due to limited exposure to the sun. But even if the springtime skies are gray, supplements from the pharmacy shelf will have the same benefits, Amital says.

CASE STUDY A face-to-face experience Alice Laibstain Werner, MD


s a pathologist, I don’t often interact with patients. I spend most of my days looking at colorful slides, making diagnoses based on tissue specimens. I do on occasion have opportunities to work with families. Some religions, such as Jehovah Witness, forbid medical treatment with human blood. For a physician trying to care for a child who must receive treatment, dealing with parents who won’t consent to blood transfusions can be very frustrating and even heartbreaking. In critical situations when it is apparent that medical treatment will save a life and doing nothing could lose that life, physicians have access to a judge 24 hours a day, seven days a week who is able to mandate that blood be transfused if needed, even against the parents’ wishes and beliefs. For one patient with leukemia, I felt it was imperative that the child receive the transfusion and got the judge involved in the case. In another instance, after examining tissue from a biopsy from a young teen, I determined the child had a rare malignancy. If left untreated, it would likely be fatal. With treatment, however, the teen had approximately a 95% chance of survival… as if it never existed. I felt tremendous relief that the child could survive chemotherapy. When presented with the pathology results, the parents refused treatment. Exasperated, the child’s physician told me he was calling the judge. Allowing this child to die seemed a ridiculous option. I said, “Let me talk to the parents. I’ll help them understand why treatment is imperative.” The parents were brought to my office to review the slides, textbook pictures and medical literature. By the time I finished,

Rest in peace? The medieval Jewish scholar Maimonides is said to be rolling over in his grave over plans to turn his tomb in Tiberias into a major pilgrimage site. Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, spoke out against pilgrimages to rabbis’ tombs when he was living, and he would not be happy with the announced $10 million renovation to his place of eternal rest. The renovation, funded mostly by for-

the parents were so grateful the cancer their child had was so treatable that they immediately consented to move forward with treatment. There was no need for the judge. The teen survived and thrived. And for me, these are positive and rewarding experiences. Dealing with families whose child has expired and for whom an autopsy has been performed can also be fulfilling, though sad. Any comfort and information I can provide is an important part of the satisfaction derived from my practice of medicine.

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Alice Laibstain Werner, MD Medical Director of Pathology and Clinical Laboratory, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Associate Professor of Pathology, Eastern Virginia Medical School Board Certified Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Blood Banking and Transfusion Medicine Pediatric Pathology

eign donors, will include a glass enclosure of the tomb housing a 3-D eternal flame and a laser beam rising from the tomb several miles into the air. Maimonides did not believe in mysticism, and wrote in his seminal work the Mishneh Torah that headstones should not be erected on graves and that people should not visit graves. Maimonides was born in Spain in 1135 and died in Egypt in 1204. (JTA)

Dr. David Gilbert & Assoc., OD • Full Scope Eyecare 220 W. Brambleton, Norfolk • 622.0200 1547 Laskin Road, Va Beach • 425.0200


jewishnewsva.org | Health Care | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 43

Jewish health care organizations


variety of Jewish-based national and world wide organizations strive to enhance healthcare, seek cures and improve quality of life for people around the globe. Here are a few of these dedicated organizations:

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee www.jdc.org JDC is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian and medical assistance organization, impacting millions of lives in more than 70 countries.

National Jewish Health www.nationaljewish.org National Jewish Health is the #1 respiratory hospital in the U.S. and is a research institute located in Denver, Col. specializing in respiratory, immune and allergic research and treatment.

Hadassah The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. www.hadassah.org Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is a volunteer organization that inspires a passion for and commitment to its partnership with the land and people of Israel. It enhances the health of people worldwide through its support of medical care and research at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Hadassah empowers its members and supporters, as well as, youth in Israel and America through opportunities for personal growth, education, advocacy and Jewish continuity.

National Insititute for Jewish Hospice www.nijh.org National Institute for Jewish Hospice was established to help alleviate suffering in serious and terminal illness. Its 52,000 members are comprised of business and professional leaders, and a consortium of endowing foundations. NIJH serves as a resource and educational center for hospices, hospitals, family service, medical organizations and all health-care agencies, educating them to the issues and challenges of serving the Jewish terminally ill. A 24-hour toll-free number counsels families, patients and care-givers, and provides locations of hospices, hospitals, health professionals and clergy of all faiths. Toll-Free, 24-Hour 1-800-446-4448.

Halachic Organ Donor Society www.hods.org The Halachic Organ Donor Society, also known as the HOD Society, was started in December 2001 by Robert Berman. Its mission is to save lives by increasing organ donation from Jews to the general public (including gentiles). The organization recognizes the legitimate debate in Orthodox Jewish law surrounding brain stem death and offers a unique organ donor card that allows people to choose between donating organs at brain stem death or alternatively at cessation of heart beat (asystole). It currently has thousands of members, including more than 200 Orthodox rabbis and several Chief Rabbis. It has delivered educational lectures that have encouraged more than 25,000 Jews to donate organs. To date it has saved more than 200 lives. Jewish Healthcare International www.jewishhealthcareinternational.org Jewish Healthcare International is a 501(c) (3), not-for-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of, and access to, healthcare services available to communities in need throughout the world. Through teams of U.S. and International volunteer healthcare professionals, JHI provides ongoing healthcare education, training and services to those in need, thereby enhancing the medical infrastructure of the communities served. 44 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | Health Care | jewishnewsva.org

Sharsheret www.sharsheret.org Sharsheret is a national Non-profit organization dedicated to serving the unique concerns of young Jewish women with breast cancer. Susan G. Komen For the Cure www.komen.org The global leader of the breast cancer movement, this organization has invested more than $1.9 billion since inception in 1982. As the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, it works together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure®, and contributions from its partners, sponsors and fellow supporters, it has become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

CASE STUDY A valuable lesson Rosanne Newman, MD


uring my internal medicine residency at the Veterans Hospital in Northport, N. Y., I became attached to caring for the less fortunate. I didn’t see myself as a pessimist, but I found it more rewarding to work up those with more wrong than right. In other words, I didn’t find the worried well satisfying. The veteran population, with their myriad of medical, social and spiritual problems was just what I needed. I particularly admired the World War II vets who were stoic and happy to have the VA to help them and I learned many valuable lessons, most about myself. One of those lessons occurred when I was a second year resident in the days before call schedules were humane, and I was ending my 36 hours on call. I had admitted a very frail elderly man to the medical floor and spent several hours talking to him, getting his history, examining, poking and prodding him. He needed an IV for fluids and antibiotics and no one could get an IV in his arms. After many failed attempts, I explained to him that we would need to put an IV in his vein under his clavicle. I knew it was not the best choice for him, because he was so osteoporotic with a curve in his upper back, which made him unable to put his shoulders flat on the bed. The central line, the one placed in the internal jugular, would have been more appropriate, but I was not yet proficient in those. I explained the procedure to him and said, “This will go into the vein, but because of the closeness to the lung, it is possible to puncture the lung and cause it to deflate. If that happens you will need a chest tube to re-inflate the lung. I have done several of these and have never caused this complication.” He said, “Okay Doc, do what you have to” and signed the consent. I did the procedure, which was not easy, but the IV was in and he was getting his fluids. I got the chest x-ray to check for the pneumothorax, ie the punctured lung. I read it as negative. I signed out my patients to the resident

Mezuzah on a world record roll Visitors to the emergency room of the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot may be kissing the world’s largest mezuzah on their way in. The 4-foot, 7-inch tall bronze mezuzah recently donated to the center may soon take its place in the Guinness Book of World Records.


03% 45%







67.58% 86.72%




67.58% 86.72%



78.13% 98.05%



78.13% 98.05%



80.86% 100%



80.86% 100%


26.56% 85.16% 100%

26.56% 85.16% 100%

Pantone 179 C
































1.56% 24.22%

80% 50% 30% 50% 80%

Pantone 322 C Pantone 179 C

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taking call for that night and left for home. The next morning I went to the medical floor and my patient was not there. I asked the nurses where he was—praying he had not died. They said he had been transferred to the ICU. I rushed to the unit and went to his bedside where he was clearly hooked to a bubbling chest tube. He saw me and gave me a big smile and said, “Doc, I am your first!” Needless to say, I never was as cavalier with consents after that, but I also never attempted a sub-clavian line again. My patient did survive my care. Doctors make mistakes and this patient showed me it was possible to be human and to apologize and still maintain a healthy doctor patient relationship.

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80% 50% 30% 50% 80%

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Rosanne Newman, MD Geriatrics/Internal Medicine, Hampton VAMC-Community Living Center Medical Director, Sackler School of Medicine/Tel Aviv University Medical degree Sackler School of Medicine/Tel Aviv University

Board Certified Internal Medicine Board Certified-Geriatrics

The parchment inside the mezuzah is nearly 2 feet long when rolled out. It was donated by Israeli-French businessman Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, who has made an official request with Guinness to record it as the largest mezuzah in the world, according to Ynet. (JTA)

AVI Z. MEIER, M.D. Dr. Meier is a graduate of George Washington University Medical School. He attended John Hopkins University Sinai Hospital for his medical internship, and completed his Ophthalmology residency at EVMS in Norfolk, Va. 160 Kingsley Lane Suite 300 • Norfolk 828 Healthy Way Suite 200 • Virginia Beach

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jewishnewsva.org | Health Care | May 28, 2012 | Jewish News | 45

Health Care

A shaggy dog story by Leslie Legum


t Beth Sholom Village, health care comes in many forms. Fulltime RNs, LPNs and CNAs are on staff every day of the year and every hour of the day. The Rose Frances and Bernard Glasser Health and Wellness Center is staffed by a physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner and LPN. A full-service therapy department provides physical, occupational and speech therapy in two fully-equipped gyms. Several specialists make daily or weekly visits to care for the residents. And, for mental and emotional well-being, volunteers visit and play games or read to the residents. A subspecialty of these visitors includes the ones who come with their dogs. Yes, pet therapy is an important part of life at The Village, which has its own certified therapy dog, Max, the golden doodle everyone loves. So it is not surprising to learn that, more and more, experts are dis-

covering new ways that pets can contribute to the well-being of the elderly. The following story indicates just that premise: A person was walking his dog one day and everything was business as usual. Controlled by her nose, the dog sniffed her way down the block until she approached some neighbors, a middle-aged man and his elderly mother, sitting on their front lawn,. The dog catapulted toward the pair and, for whatever reason, went immediately to the elderly woman instead of the man. Despite a sprint up to her lap, the dog was otherwise gentle in her approach and was soon standing up with her front paws resting on the woman’s lap. She respectfully showed the woman plenty of love, offering her gentle touch and licking at her face. Was there a reason why the dog went to the woman and not her son? As it turned out, the woman’s dog, a black Labrador, had recently died from cancer. While conspiracy theorists or those who believe in superstition might be inclined to attribute it to a dog’s “sixth sense,” this might not be too far from the truth and this dog’s propensity to approach the elderly may not have been a mistake at all. Experts and animal psychics believe dogs can feel the energy of humans around them, and this may have tipped off the dog to the elderly woman. Forty-three percent of pet owners say dogs have warned them about bad news, according to a 2010 Associated Press-Petside.com poll. But the benefits of pets are not limited to their tendencies to pick up on nonverbal cues and emotion. According to a University of California study on Alzheimer’s, patients can reduce stress and have fewer outbursts with a pet in the home. Furthermore, even though they can’t talk like people do, pets provide a beneficial form of nonverbal communication. Playful interaction and the soft touch of a pet can halt aggressive behavior in an Alzheimer’s patient. Consider these other fun health benefits that pets can bring:

• Pet •

46 | Jewish News | May 28, 2012 | Health Care | jewishnewsva.org

owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets. People with pets have lower blood  pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.

• Playing with a pet can elevate levels

of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets. Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without. Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets. A pet doesn’t have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and pulse rate. While dogs can help improve a patient’s lifestyle, don’t forget about cats. The subdued, calming nature of cats can thwart the stressful environment that family care giving can bring about, in both caregivers and those receiving care. A stressed caregiver can have an impact on their loved one, so if everybody is comfortable with cats and allergies aren’t a concern, the quiet nature of feline friends can help promote a healthy, serene atmosphere and, ultimately, an optimal environment for care giving. Overall, a pet can improve the moods of both the caregiver and caretaker. Most pets fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even the most dangerous, notorious criminals have shown behavioral changes after interacting with pets for the first time. Touching a loving animal can immediately reduce levels of stress and produce endorphins, which promote happy feelings in the brain. A pet can ease loneliness and stimulate exercise, which can also significantly improve mood. So, whether someone is battling Alzheimer’s disease or suffering from clinical depression, a pet can be just what the doctor ordered. And, for family caregivers looking for ways to help with their loved ones, they may not have to look much further than their own homes for a creative and soothing way to relieve tension and bring a smile to their faces. Maybe the dog in the story knew something no one else knew when she approached the woman who was grieving the loss of her pet.

• • • •

JDC saves lives One hour… One patient… One therapist throughout the world


or nearly a century, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has assisted Jews and others in need, rescuing those in danger, providing relief to those in distress, renewing Jewish life, and helping Israel address pressing social challenges. Throughout its long history of lifesaving work, the provision of critical medical care and health services has been central to JDC’s work. A sampling of JDC’s current medical relief programs and services from around the world includes providing vital food, water, and medicine for families that lost everything in the Southeast Asia tsunami; state-of-the art medical care and rehabilitation for amputee victims of the Haitian earthquake; two years of relief efforts directly impacting more than 300,000 Haitians; a public health initiative promoting early breast cancer detection in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Montenegro, and Russia by providing life-saving access to screening, treatment, and psychological support for women and families.



JDC provides health care including medicines, vaccinations, vitamins to malnourished children, and prenatal and infant care to roughly 100 Felas Mora in Gondar each month who are waiting to immigrate to Israel.

Working with Haitian, Israeli and other NGOs, JDC and its partners delivered medical services to more than 53,000 Haitians devastated by the January 2010 earthquake and aided more than 800 people and fitted more than 70 prosthetics through its stateof-the-art rehabilitation clinic.

FSU The JDC-supported network of Hesed relief centers and other organizations provided the following medical services to destitute elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union in 2010: 74,082 elderly with free or subsidized Medications preventing them from foregoing food, rent or heat in order to purchase critically needed medicines. A cadre of volunteer physicians provided free Medical Consultations to 10,612 clients.

Tunisia JDC provides medical care subsidies, medications, and hospital and clinical treatment to elderly Tunisian Jews, including 75 Holocaust survivors.

With advanced diagnostic skills and cutting edge treatment techniques, including DRY NEEDLING, our physical therapist’s unique approach gets you better faster. Trigger point dry needling is one of the most effective treatment options to inactivate myofascial trigger points. Our physical therapists are among the few in the country certified in trigger point dry needling.

For more information on dry needling and our clinic, call us at 486-8663 or visit us online at www.innovativetherapy.us


very day of my life since I had ankle surgeries as a child I have had pain. I had been told by multiple physicians and surgeons that there wasn’t much more that could be done short of fusing my ankle. For the past two years I have been seeing Tracy at Innovative Therapy. Using a combination of techniques to break up scar tissue, including dry needling, I have more range of motion in my ankle than I have in thirty years. My pain level has dramatically improved and I even have pain free days!

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JFS: Caring for Seniors for Over 65 Years

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is a recipient of funds from the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

One thousand transplants


ne thousand! And sometimes it can mean life itself. Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry recently celebrated its 1,000th life-saving transplant. One thousand people have donated their marrow to cancer patients whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. Liraz is 24 years old and works in a clothing store in Israel. A simple person— Liraz has done something special. She saved a life. Liraz joined the registry in 2004. For eight years, she went to work, went out with friends, read magazines and did her laundry. The fact that she was an Ezer Mizion registrant did not make even a blip in her day-to-day life.

Then the phone call came. “You’re a perfect genetic match to a cancer patient. Only you can save this person’s life.” Suddenly her ordinary life took on hues of purple and pink. “Only me…only me…” Legally, no information regarding the patient was allowed to be given to Liraz, but it didn’t make any difference to her. It was a person and only she could help. And so young Liraz, clothing salesgirl, became a celebrity, the 1,000th Ezer Mizion bone marrow donor. Sporting a tee shirt reading Do To Others and a wide smile of utter joy, Liraz sat in the hospital bed, a small bag of her cells on its way to save someone’s life. For further information, go to www.ezermizion.org.

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater has been caring for seniors in the community for over 65 years. We thank our nursing staff, case managers and all other staff for the care they have provided to seniors. To learn about the many services JFS offers, please call us at 321-2222. You never know when you’ll need help, but you’ll always know where to find it.

Jewish Family Service of Tidewater

260 Grayson Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 ~ www.jfshamptonroads.org

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