Greenwood House Senior Healthcare in Ewing Has History of Providing Compassionate Care
KEEP MOVING! These assisted living residents of Greenwood House Senior Healthcare are enjoying an energetic morning “Sittercise” chair exercise session. “Our residents keep moving,” says Greenwood House Executive Director Richard Goldstein. “Movement is very important. Our residents get up and out of bed, get dressed, and keep moving!”
By Jean Stratton
Since 1939, Greenwood House Senior Healthcare has been caring for elderly individuals, initially for those of the Jewish faith, and now for those of all faiths.
Established by the Trenton Ladies Sick Benefit Society, a charitable humanitarian organization, it offered people who required medical, nursing, and personal care a safe and secure environment.
Originally located on Greenwood Avenue in Trenton, it moved to its current home at 53 Walter Street in Ewing in 1974.
What started as a local home for the Jewish elderly with 25 residents is now a highly respected non-sectarian senior health care organization for 125 residents. It offers an entire continuum of care, including long term care, skilled nursing, respite care, home care, an assisted living facility for private residents, rehabilitation care programs for a variety of conditions, physical, occupational and speech therapy, home-delivered Kosher meals on wheels, and hospice care.
“When we opened our doors, we made it our mission to care for seniors with quality care, respect, and compassion,” says Richard Goldstein, executive director of Greenwood House.
“From our roots as a nonprofit Jewish nursing home to the highly respected (faith-based) nonsectarian health care provider we are today, we will continue to develop and evolve our programs and services to ensure that seniors thrive and can rely on Greenwood House. This commitment has been evident in the quality and scope of the health care services we offer and in the vibrant life enrichment we provide.”
Notable not only for its excellent level of care, it is uncommon in its non-profit status. As Goldstein points out, “Greenwood House is set apart by the fact that we are not based on profit. We are based on what people need. We are dedicated to high quality care for our residents. We are a community organization committed to our community. We are supported by donations from companies, organizations, institutions, and individuals.”
Fundraising events are held in support of these efforts, adds Neil Wise, director of development. “There are a variety of events, including galas with well-known speakers and entertainers, and these bring in generous financial support.
“I consider it an honor to work for a nonprofit senior care community. At Greenwood House, every act by our team is performed with an extra dose of compassion. Consistently, our staff gives from their hearts to ensure loved ones receive the highest standard of care. In turn, our team relies on the generosity of donors who support our mission. It is a privilege to share the story of Greenwood House and steward the philanthropy of a grateful community.”
This support and philanthropy enables Greenwood House to offer the best care and a beneficial environment for its residents, explains Sherry L. Smith, director of marketing. “At Greenwood House, we provide compassion and a person-centered approach to health care that greatly enhances our resident’s experiences and daily life. Our services also focus on social, emotional, and spiritual well-being to create a resource unlike any other.”
“Since my arrival just a year ago, I have witnessed heroism, humanity, and compassion from the community, our families, our employees, and our supporters,” continues Smith. “People may not understand the importance of Greenwood House until a loved one suddenly needs specialized care either after a surgery, illness, or onset of disease. Part of my focus as director of marketing is awareness: informing people of the services we offer to assist with every stage of aging, starting with home care and home health aides, and of our expertise and personalized care teams, such as our hospice care.
“Our residents’ care team consists of a medical director, nurse practitioner, dietician, social worker, and spiritual counsel along with RNs, LPNs, and certified nursing aides. Our goal is to ensure that each and every resident, patient, and client experiences quality care in an atmosphere that promotes not only dignity and empathy, but kindness deep-rooted in valued traditions.”
Greenwood House offers both skilled nursing and assisted living arrangements. For those with special physical or mental conditions, the Robert and Natalie Markus Home for the Jewish Aged provides nursing and health care services with medical supervision on a 24-hour basis to individuals whose physical and/or mental condition requires continuous nursing or health care related services.
Skilled nursing may be appropriate for people who have suffered a catastrophic illness or accident that requires major changes in lifestyle and needs, or who have a debilitating or chronic illness that causes deterioration of self-care skills.
There are 137 beds available for skilled nursing residents, and services include comprehensive medical, nursing, and nutritional care, assistance with daily activities, rehabilitation therapies, social and recreational services, and a wellness-focused lifestyle.
Residents are visited by the medical director or other physicians at least once a month for a wellness exam, and more frequently if necessary. Board-certified geriatricians provide counseling and clinical evaluations; podiatrists and dentists keep regularly scheduled clinical hours on-site; and there are more than 100 licensed nurses and certified nurses aides, who provide daily care and support.
In addition, physical, occupational, and speech therapists provide rehabilitative and restorative services, and social workers develop plans of care to meet individual psycho-social needs.
Enrichment programs focus on enabling residents to stay as active and involved as possible, as this is an important part of overall well-being. The activities staff plans recreational and social opportunities designed to keep residents mentally, physically, and spiritually engaged. Programs are tailored to individual preferences. A typical day may include games, music, arts and crafts, exercise programs, discussion group, pet therapy visits, outside entertainment, and more.
“The activities are structured for the individual’s ability,” points out Goldstein. “They can participate in conversations and social interaction, depending on their capacity to engage.”
Prior to COVID-19, family members, friends, volunteers, Girl Scouts, local school and community groups, dogs, and other family pets often visited. In time, the hope is that those visitors will be able to return in person. In the meantime, virtual interaction via Zoom and other means has been ongoing.
Specialized memory care is available for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Such care requires special skills, patience, and understanding, and the Greenwood team has specific training and experience in helping people with varying degrees of memory decline. Care is provided in safe, secure, and cheerful surroundings.
As the Greenwood House mission statement notes, “Life within our memory care neighborhood offers residents an opportunity to live a meaningful life. Through a program of proper nutrition, programming, social activities, and surroundings, our lifestyle is designed to accommodate the cognitive and functional abilities of each resident. As with everything we do, our goal is to focus on comfort, dignity, and quality of life.”
The Abrams Residence for Assisted Living (a separate building) offers assistance with activities of daily living in a residential setting. Residents receive supportive health and social services as needed to enable them to maintain their independence, individuality, privacy, and dignity in an apartment-style living unit.
Twenty-nine apartments, featuring one or two bedrooms, kitchenettes, living room area, bathroom, and spacious closets, are available for those who need extra support to live as full a life as possible. From assistance with the needs of daily living to medication reminders, a friendly, helpful and respectful staff works with each resident to customize a daily schedule based on that person’s lifestyle and individual preferences.
Nursing care is available on-site 24/7, and licensed nurses supervise administration of medication and also manage health and personal supplies for residents.
Recognizing that each resident is an individual with unique goals and capabilities, Greenwood House offers a wide variety of programs to help keep everyone involved and engaged. Pre-COVID programs included live musical performances from area entertainers; magicians; and guest speakers who led discussions on numerous topics, ranging from politics to religion to health to legal issues, as well as intergenerational programs from local schools.
Trips to restaurants, museums, and shopping malls were regular events. Today, residents can still enjoy playing cards with other residents, attending book club meetings, arts and crafts classes, and seeing a movie on-site. Yoga, tai chi, and exercise programs for all fitness levels are also offered.
Attractive common areas, a dining room, a living room with large screen TV and fireplace, a secured area for outdoor recreation and gardening, a barber and beauty salon, transportation to doctor’s appointments, a private dining room for family parties, and three Kosher meals a day are all available.
In addition, Greenwood Houses offers worship services for its Jewish and Christian residents.
As Smith points out, “Worship before COVID was available for both faiths in our synagogue and auditorium. Now, during COVID, we can only offer services to be viewed virtually online. For example, we live-streamed the service of Hanukkah with the NY Synagogue, and technology, along with our iN2L (It’s Never Too Late) programming system, allows us to stream services, including Christmas Mass.
Greenwood House’s extensive range of services also includes a health care and homemaker program, known as Greenwood House at Home. Home care services are provided by experienced and certified home health aides. All are insured and bonded. All clients’ care plans are developed by a registered nurse.
Services include light housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry help, as well as assisting with shopping and errands. Personal care includes bathing, dressing, grooming, and feeding assistance.
Greenwood House’s 5-Star Quality Rated Therapy and rehabilitation services are on-site at the facility, and are designed to help patients regain strength, mobility, and independence. Physical, occupational, and speech therapists are available in the state-of-the-art gym.
Rehabilitation is typically provided for orthopedic conditions, stroke rehabilitation, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and cardiopulmonary conditions. In addition, short-term rehab is available for recovery from catastrophic illness or accident, post-surgery recuperation, and those in need of restorative services on a short-term basis.
“Our patients appreciate our more relaxed, home-like environment, highly personalized care, and nutritious chef-prepared Kosher meals,” says Smith.
Above and Beyond
In addition, Greenwood House offers a Kosher Meals on Wheels program, featuring up to two meals per day to elderly persons in the community who are homebound.
Every effort has been made to keep everyone at Greenwood House safe during the virus, and to date, nearly all residents and employees have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The Greenwood House staff in all areas has gone above and beyond to ensure the residents’ safety, emphasizes Goldstein.
“No matter what possible pandemic challenges our team of experts face in today’s world, our residents will have everything they personally need to keep them healthy, safe, and secure,” he reports. “As more vaccines become available to everyone, the sooner we can get back to normal. This is the first step to opening the doors to our families, friends, and loved ones who have not had physical contact with each other for almost an entire year.”
During the virus, many have reached out to offer services and support, and among them was the National Guard. Arrangements were made by the state for the Guard to assist nursing home facilities in New Jersey, reports Smith.
“The National Guard (154th OM Co from Sea Girt) came for six weeks, and assisted our staff 24 hours, seven days a week, all three shifts. The support not only gave our residents’ families the comfort of knowing that additional resources were made available, but just as importantly, the National Guard’s help was a blessing to our hardworking staff soldiering on themselves through these past several months.
“The extra hands supported our entire staff in a variety of ways: moving beds, janitorial services, cooking and serving meals, and performing general helpful tasks. Words cannot express how grateful we were for their unconditional support.”
Pen Pal Program
Another pandemic related project has been met with extraordinary enthusiasm, adds Goldsmith. “Thanks to one motivated lady and dedicated Greenwood House supporter, Carli Masia, who proposed an idea that could be wonderful and engaging for our residents and the community, our Pen Pal Program was born.”
This program connects people of all ages from all over the country with Greenwood House. The activities department snapped photos of interested residents with a “Will You Be My Pen Pal?” sign, and posted it on Greenwood House’s Facebook page. Immediately, letters, poems, photos, artwork, and cards arrived.
“What was truly wonderful was when the residents wrote to a pen pal, and then received their first responses back,” reports Smith.
Adds Masia, “It’s been so uplifting to see how the letters have brightened our residents’ day. We are social beings, so even when the note is from someone they don’t know, it reminds them that someone is thinking of them. It makes all the difference.”
And as Goldstein reports, “Our new Pen Pal Program is a welcome surprise for all of us. We have been overwhelmed with the correspondence we have been receiving. I think we can safely say that a virus has caused our new program to go viral!”
Reaching out and giving back is all important at Greenwood House, and its many supporters share those values. Hank Siegel, president and CEO of Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton, has a long history with Greenwood House.
“Four generations of our family have supported it,” he reports. “This is an amazing resource within the greater Mercer County region, and consistently recognized for its outstanding level of care. My grandmother worked at the home as a volunteer in its early days — the 1940s and ’50s, and my great grandmother and great-grandfather were residents in the 1950s.
“Also my mother Denise came up with the idea for and chaired many of the larger scale fundraising events during her many years of service to Greenwood House. An annual gala and events with celebrities and well-known entertainers were included. The largest of these was a sold-out benefit event held at the Trenton War Memorial, featuring former President Clinton in 2003.
“In addition to the diversity of high quality services provided to the residents, the greatest asset is the outstanding, committed, compassionate, and talented staff and administrative team that work together to provide such wonderful care for the residents and their families.”
Denise Siegel certainly agrees. “Under the leadership of Rick Goldstein, the care there is superb. The nursing staff is caring and attentive, and personally involved with each person. There is a unique meld and connection of staff and patients, so that it almost feels as if you are in someone’s home. The comradery and affection are palpable. I have never seen anything like the genuine quality of attention for the patients.”
In whatever way all these ingredients come together, the result is a special place in which residents seem to thrive. Seven — six women and one gentleman — are 100 years old or older. At Greenwood House, they call it Aging With Attitude!
Do they have a secret? When fielded questions about their longevity, residents replied: “Be happy because life is what you make it!” and “Live life to the fullest.” Adds another, “My secret — keep laughing!”
“We honor them for their positivity, longevity, and for sharing their wisdom and talents,” says Goldstein.
Indeed, while they have more yesterdays than tomorrows, they surely have stories to share with us. They have lived through the major events of the 20th century and now into the 21st. What lives they have led and what legacies they will leave us.
And Greenwood House will continue its role in providing its residents with the highest standard of care and quality of life.
As Wise observes, “As a student attending a Jewish day school, I learned the importance of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and the Jewish tradition of honoring and respecting seniors (kibud zekaynim). I was fortunate to have four grandparents in my life until my late twenties, and they left an everlasting impression. Working at Greenwood House reminds me of my roots and values.”
For more information about Greenwood House, call (609) 883-5391, or visit the website: greenwoodhouse.org.