Open letter to Tidewater Jewish community

November 6, 2015

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In 1979, as chairman of the UJFT allocation committee, I was appointed to the “Federation’s seat” on the board of the incipient Beth Sholom Home. My dear friend Morty Goldmeier, of blessed memory, was chairman of the board, ably supported by two other stalwarts, Jack Barr and Larry Brenner. I remember well the lively meetings held under exposed beams as the building underwent construction. The dedication ceremony of the Beth Sholom Home of Eastern Virginia was held outdoors on a blistering August day in 1980 (so hot the asphalt was melting under our feet!).

Last month, after 42 days in hospitals and desperately in need of rehabilitation, I instinctively opted to be transferred to The Lee A and Helen G Gifford Rehabilitation Pavilion at Beth Sholom. Some questioned my decision in the light of much newer and much closer to home facilities to which I could have gone. It never entered my mind to choose anywhere else than Beth Sholom; for me it was like coming home after 36 years.

When I arrived I was so weak I could barely lift a leg out of the bed. In the course of medical and physical care, occupational and physical therapy, and good food, within five days I gave up my wheelchair for a walker and within 10 days I was washing and dressing myself—as well as using my walker to go outdoors for some sunshine and fresh air. After two weeks I was discharged to home, a week or two earlier than expected.

I don’t know what contributed more to my regaining strength and confidence, the occupational and physical therapists (kiddingly dubbed by me as “physical terrorists”), or the unfailing attention and kindness of the entire staff. From the thoroughly attentive care of the physicians of the EVMS Glennan Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology to the professional work of the nurses, to the remarkably dedicated Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) who cheerfully (yes, “cheerfully”) attended to my every need, it was clear that I (and every other rehab patient) mattered to them. I marveled at the way staff, enroute to other duties, would stop and provide assistance whenever called upon.

Hardly a day went by when a member of my family did not join our table in the dining room for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here too, the wait staff was welcoming and helpful. Finally, although not supported by scientific data, there is no question that a rehab facility serving lox and bagels (with cream cheese and onion) contributed immensely to my healing.

I, and my family will always remember my rehab visit to Beth Sholom with gratitude and esteem.

Cdr. Harold H. Sacks, USN (ret)

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