State of the HomeLife
Jeffrey A. Gopen, President & CEO
First, I’d like to congratulate our honorees, Founder’s Award recipient Deborah Maslia and Chair’s Award recipient David Herskovits.
Both of you bring such unique perspectives, incredible intelligence and unwavering support of Jewish HomeLife and the leadership team. Your peers could not have picked two better people to acknowledge with these awards. Thank you for your support and your service.
Time flies when you love what you do.
I have been serving this great organization for almost 6 years. When I arrived here from Boston to be Jewish HomeLife’s first Chief Operating Officer, the organization had undergone exponential growth under Harley Tabak’s leadership and vision. As we added business and services lines, we had increased our capacity to serve the aging community of greater Atlanta. The focus on growing resident capacity and client capacity paid off.
Both Berman Commons and The Cohen Home neared full. We were enjoying significant growth in our home care services and were treating more people in our palliative and hospice programs. The William Breman Jewish Home’s rehab program was a revolving door of patients coming in and returning back to the community. As a whole, Jewish HomeLife was serving more people within our residences and in the community than ever before, and while we had opportunities for improvements, Jewish HomeLife was beginning to enjoy the recognition as the Jewish community’s complete network of senior care services.
Back then, one of my first projects was to build a more effective communications channel between our entity leaders and management team. We participated in a team building program based on Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. We grew stronger together building bridges and support structures to leverage each other’s talents.
Each month we would tackle one of the dysfunctions and learn to work better together. The lesson that stuck with me most from that book was a simple one in theory… ”If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.” This has been my mission ever since.
Where is Jewish HomeLife today? My friends, this staff, this team, has emerged from what was the worst healthcare crisis this country has seen in modern time and we ARE definitely rowing in the same direction.
Our At-Home Care Services are stabilized and growing.
- JHL Medical Services has grown to three nurse practitioners and today see’s patients at 3 facilities in addition to our own campuses.
- Weinstein Hospice had 4 very successful virtual education programs this year and has continued to serve an average of about 50 families each month
- Our home care service organization was completely reorganized and renamed to Eckstein Home Care this year. A service that was heavily impacted by the pandemic is now thriving. The changes in management have made a huge difference in customer service and client outcomes.
Our residential communities have also evolved with the times, adjusting our teams to better meet the opportunities for growth. While the public is just beginning to feel comfortable with communal-style living again, we have made significant strides in developing our staff, adjusting our wage scales and benefits, and making our communities excellent places to both live and work.
- At our Assisted living communities, Berman Commons and The Cohen Home, we are undergoing the first management change in 5 years. This will give us an opportunity to find leaders who can help take us to that next level of service and fill our buildings with residents who need us.
- The Jewish Tower is about to embark on a transformational renovation—the first in its storied 40 year history. It’s been three years of work, getting through more red tape than I ever thought possible (thank you Harley), but it looks like we will finally begin construction near years end. The result will be two communities offering lower income seniors a place to live and get support if they need it, for generations to come.
- At The Jewish Home, we had a management change in January. This created a growth opportunity for many of our team members who really showed their leadership and their love for this organization.
- Maryam Mullen, who came to us as our Admissions Director, shared that she had ambition to become an administrator. With the whole team behind her, Maryam passed her certification exam and in a few short months has inspired her entire team.
- Nareen Bennett and Latoya Clarke, who expertly led our Corporate COVID team, also ran our Quality and Risk Team for the entire organization. They agreed to move over to The Home to support Maryam as Director and Assistant Director of Nursing.
- We promoted our Unit Secretary to Admissions Director and one of our Social Workers to Director of Social Work Services. Both team members earned these roles and have thrived.
- Maryam helped bring on board a new Director of Food services, who has transformed our dining services as you can see from today’s luncheon.
- We even have a housekeeper who wanted to seek growth and opportunity and sought this by learning new skills working as part of our maintenance team. She is thriving.
Investing in our staff is one of our highest priorities. While we may not be able to compete with for-profits, or even the Amazons of the world, with $25/hour wages, we can offer better staff to resident ratios, which translates to less stress and better work-life balance. We have hired some amazing clinical supervisors and are focused on increasing training for all.
Thanks to generous donors we are looking at programs that offer career-ladder opportunities for caregivers and CNAs to become med-techs or even funding to help pay for school if they would like to become nurses.
As a Jewish sponsored organization that provides healthcare and housing to older adults, this year we are also exploring what it means to serve Jewishly. What does that look like and how can we do that better? Serving Jewishly is about more than keeping kosher and offering Jewish religious services. How can we infuse our communities with Jewish culture and values in a way that is inclusive to all, and also brings the warmth and ruach, or spirit, that makes us the best of who we are.
We have much to do this year and as we look forward, we do so with excitement. Though his name has been mentioned already, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the person who got us here. Harley Tabak. Harley, you have built a tremendous legacy in your 18 years. This city and our community will be forever indebted to you. Your vision and your tenacity have brought so many services and opportunities for families to get the care they need. I will do my very best to carry the torch you have passed. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank our Board for having the faith in me and in my leadership team.
My friends, the state of our HomeLife is solid. We are still rebuilding in a market that doesn’t look the same as it did just two years ago. But the future is bright. Thank you to everyone who is supporting us with your time, your money, your positive google reviews and your kindness.
We have the right team in place, and are rowing in the same direction.