A bright future ahead for Jewish Family Service

January 21, 2021

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As Jewish Family Service nears its 75th year as a Jewish Service Agency, the non-profit organization is charting its future by focusing on the increasing needs of the community.

JFS sees an opportunity to expand and re-energize the agency’s big impact mission-based programs.

“JFS is increasing our focus on outreach through our Private Duty Embrace program,” says Ellen Rosenblum, JFS president. “In addition to home care services provided by LPNs and aides, we are enhancing and further developing case management and concierge services to support people who want to remain in their own home.

“We are also exploring new ideas to expand our clinical services programs. During the pandemic, JFS has been able to treat clients remotely, through telehealth services,” says Rosenblum. “I am so proud of the staff. They are always finding new ways to reach people who are suffering from isolation, grief, loss, and depression. JFS is working hard to prepare for any additional challenges ahead.”

Kelly Burroughs, JFS executive director and CEO, is focused on building the clinical counseling program into a premiere community resource. “People can’t be with their loved ones right now. It’s having a big impact on mental and physical health. We want them to know we’re here,” says Burroughs. “Our therapists are excellent, and specialize in grief, loss, and transition—issues which have really impacted a lot of people through this pandemic.

“We are also focusing our energies on older adults who need support,” says Burroughs. “The Embrace Home Care case management model will allow us to coordinate care for people out of the area, but whose parents live here. Our case management model will give them peace of mind knowing that we are looking after their loved ones, which is even more essential when restrictions imposed by COVID on hospital visits keep people away.”

But, the future growth required a tough decision by Jewish Family Service’s board of directors.

A drastic drop in orthopedic surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic was the last straw. Declining referrals in recent years and changes in Medicare and health insurance reimbursements were also factors that prompted JFS to wind down its Skilled Nursing Care program on December 31, 2020.

Burroughs is comforted knowing that JFS fulfilled a thoughtful transition that took to heart all the people impacted. “We hate to wind down any program,” says Burroughs. “People counted on it for 23 years and we wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of in the community, as well as our staff. We worked well with Generations Home Health to get staff interviews set up. People were given time to plan their decision whether they would continue by joining Generations, by continuing with JFS in its PAM program, or seek comparable positions elsewhere.”

“The skilled home health program was a valuable agency resource for 23 years. But COVID hit us particularly hard,” says Burroughs.

“Our professional staff of registered nurses and therapists always provided the highest quality of care to our patients,” says Jan Ganderson, JFS director of nursing. “Their dedication and commitment to JFS was unwavering. In turn, the community supported JFS by choosing us as their agency of choice and by recommending us to their friends and family members for so many years.”

The program was also dependent on physician referrals for orthopedic and elective surgeries, which were adversely affected in the past 10 months due to COVID.

Multiple other factors such as competition, group bundling, regulation, and ability to bill for certain services/procedures made it difficult to sustain the program.

“As the healthcare arena has continued to evolve,” says Betty Ann Levin, who served as JFS executive director for 15 years, “JFS has positioned itself to change with it to ensure that all community members, often our most vulnerable neighbors, receive needed services.” Levin is now executive vice president/CEO for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

PAM is the Personal Affairs Management program that provides court-appointed guardian and conservator services to adults (18 and older) who have been found by the Circuit Court to be physically, cognitively, and/or mentally incapacitated.

Skilled home health services, which include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and skilled nursing (wound care, IV treatments, etc.) are available through Generations Home Health, a partnership between Beth Sholom Village of Virginia Beach and Beth Sholom of Richmond.

“As we move into a new decade,” says Levin, “JFS’ continuum of care remains strong, and the agency is positioned to continue the mission and work begun so many years ago by the Hebrew Ladies Charity Society.”

- Lisa Richmon

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