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Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center leads the non-profit elder care industry with leading edge programs and services – and a generous helping of heart
One day, an ancient scholar came upon a man planting a carob tree. Astonished to hear that it would take 70 years for the tree to grow, he asked the man, “Why would you plant a tree if you know you won’t live long enough to see it bear fruit?” The man answered, “As my ancestors planted these trees for me, so I must plant them for the children yet to come.” This is the soul of l’dor v’dor, “from generation to generation,” the imperative of commitment that anchors the work of the Gurwin Healthcare System.
Gurwin has served generations of individuals on Long Island for more than 30 years. With the 1988 opening of its flagship operation – the 460-bed Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center – the not-for-profit healthcare system began offering services along a full continuum of senior housing, nursing, and rehabilitative care on an impressive 34-acre campus. The Gurwin Center offers state-of-the-art care in a five-star-rated skilled nursing facility, providing long-term nursing care and short-term physical, occupational, and speech therapy for Gurwin residents as well as members of the community who are recuperating after surgery or illness. The Center also provides specialty services including memory care, ventilator and respiratory care, palliative and hospice care, dialysis for in-patients and members of the community-at-large, and, its newest niche service, advanced care. In addition, the Center features two adult day care programs and two home care programs providing both skilled and home health aide/companion services to those in surrounding communities. On the same campus, there is a 200-plus bed assisted living community, and plans are underway to build Fountaingate Gardens, a proposed independent living community, which will create a Life Plan Community on the Commack, NY, campus.
The Gurwin approach represents a departure from other providers in the elder care space in several ways. A commitment to providing high-level care includes full-time staff physicians and social workers, and an on-site medical clinic covering all medical specialties at the nursing and rehabilitation center. Gurwin employs a full-time transition nurse who not only follows short-term residents during their stay, but also during the 30-day post-discharge follow-up period, to ensure continuity of care in the home. Her support gives patients and their families security and confidence, and also links them to vital ancillary services such as respite care, day care, and home care at Gurwin should they need it down the road. And, in keeping with the idea that providing all levels of care benefits the patient, Gurwin is in the process of adding an on-site infusion center to serve residents and community members.
“Individuals in the community who need outpatient antibiotic therapy will be able to come here for those services,” said Gurwin President and CEO Stuart B. Almer. “This is one example of how we are developing programs that fit in with our mission, that are care-based and that make a difference. As far as I know, there's no other long-term care facility with an on-site infusion center, and only a couple in the state that are really doing true advanced care in a dedicated unit.”
In that vein, Gurwin’s newest 12-bed Advanced Care Unit enables staff to deliver care to residents with complex, more acute care needs within the nursing & rehabilitation center; the goal here is to provide residents with the advanced care they need and ultimately reduce re-hospitalizations. According to Almer, Gurwin is doing advanced care in a big way, integrating telematics to improve the lives of residents who might benefit from the increased level of care.
“The unit has 24/7 patient monitoring with bracelet technology that is unique to the long-term care industry,” Almer reported. “Residents on that unit, even though they're very sick and very complex, can still go to a clinic within our building. They can go to an activity or to rehab on site, and we will have knowledge about their vitals in real time, 24/7, no matter where they are. No one is doing that to this degree in long-term care, and only a couple of hospital systems across the country are using this technology.
“We know from our data that in the past we’ve turned a number of potential patients away because they might have been too compromised for us to care for. This population had limited options when it came to care,” Almer continued. “This unit helps to fulfill my vision of being able to care for anyone from the community who has a need.”
Fortune Favors the Bold
In 2018, the Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services was awarded Fortune magazine’s Best Place to Work in Aging Services in the American eldercare space. Almer attributes the distinction to a culture of professionalism, engagement, and kindness.
“We have a very warm culture that's been cultivated over more than 30 years,” he said. “Great care has always been taken in hiring leadership, as well as in how we run the facility. We’ve really taken things to a very different level from a customer service standpoint.”
Almer takes what he calls a “grassroots approach” to making sure the organization is committed to providing the highest possible standard of care. “Many for-profit facilities are trimming staff to be as efficient as possible. We know that, as a non-profit, our quality and staffing is better than the for-profits because we see the value in investing in our workforce,” he stressed. “When new employees begin at Gurwin after having worked at other places, they often remark that Gurwin is staffed better and encourages continued education for advancement. We are also proud to offer our staff a comprehensive benefits package, including tuition reimbursement, which is very competitive in the local market.
“There are many challenging populations that a typical nursing home isn’t able to serve; my goal is for Gurwin, as an organization, to shape new programs and specialty services so we can address their needs,” he revealed. “It's not only important to identify the programs and then to develop them, it's also having the resources and the right marketing to bring people in. This is a wonderful organization but, like any other, finances must always be considered. I believe if we can keep the admissions flowing and keep developing flexible programs, we'll figure out the other efficiencies and other ways to survive, because in reality, we are a non-profit competing – and thriving – in a for-profit world.”
Gurwin’s reputation for clinical excellence has paid off. They have now achieved preferred provider status for rehabilitation services from a number of top hospitals and health systems, including Hospital for Special Surgery, Stony Brook University Hospital, Catholic Health Services, Mount Sinai Health System, and the Northwell Health network. These outcome-driven relationships, some of them newly formed, provide not only a referral stream and increased revenue for Gurwin, but also an option for quality rehabilitation services for the patient close to home.
“We have the drive and the enthusiasm to succeed,” Almer concluded. “That's part of our grassroots effort and it works. If you give of yourself, it comes back. It's energy, it's passion, and it takes a lot of sacrifice. We will continue to create programs that are unique and innovative, but it's not just that.” What it is, at heart, is l’dor d’vor.
A Healthcare System with a full continuum of care, including a world-class nursing and rehabilitation center, a renowned assisted living community, outstanding home care programs and an exceptional adult day health program.
Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
68 Hauppauge Road
Commack, NY 11725