If there is one team member who is beloved by both residents and the 600+ Team members at Jewish HomeLife, it is Nareen Bennett. Nareen started at Jewish Homelife in December 2019 as the Director of Quality and Training. Within 3 months of starting her position the pandemic hit, and with it came the most challenging time for senior care organizations like Jewish HomeLife. Utilizing her nursing skills and her time in the military, Nareen was tapped to lead Jewish HomeLife’s Incident Command Center (ICC) alongside then Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Gopen, JHL’s around-the-clock COVID command team for the entire organization. Nareen became the 5-Star General in our fight, leading daily meetings with the directors and clinical teams for all business lines, dietary, housekeeping, and maintenance to identify, predict and implement infection control practices. Nareen became an academic, advocate, advisor, and guard dog over the entire organization, keeping up with constantly changing federal and state regulations, guidelines, and protocols on visitation, testing, PPE, and in current cases, both residents and staff, in each of our residential communities and business lines. She was a vigilant enforcer of infection control, always trying to ensure residents and staff were protected. During our two devastating outbreaks, Nareen worked around the clock with the teams on the front lines helping staff and guiding leadership. A true servant leader, she led by example working 24-7 to make sure all JHL residents and staff were protected and felt safe leaving their own families to take care of ours. She worked with the teams to ensure all residents and staff were tested per state and federal guidelines—which changed almost daily.

In the fall of 2020, when the Jewish organizations needed testing to get back to school and work, Nareen and her team were there to respond—she personally stayed at AJA for two days to test all their staff so the school year could start on time and in person. When the vaccine first came out in December 2020, Nareen and her team were on the front lines, coordinating with pharmacies, and setting up procedures to effectively and efficiently vaccinated all of the JHL residents and staff. She also led the education efforts that helped JHL fully implement our staff vaccine mandate before most other healthcare organizations in the country.

By 2021, The William Breman Jewish Home made a change in leadership, promoting a new administrator from within. This also left open the Director of Nursing (“DON”) position. With the pandemic “under control”, Nareen agreed to shift directions to serve in this role for a year as an Interim to support the new administrator, while also training her colleague to become the next permanent DON. Nareen spent the next year working as the Interim DON and mentoring her colleague while maintaining expertise in the constantly changing infection control regulations.

In January 2023, Nareen returned to her original position as Director of Quality and Training. With the same vigor that she had for infection control, Nareen turned her attention to improving quality metrics that would bring our residential communities to pre-COVID excellence. She ensured all staff continued to follow safety protocols, but now also leads our regulatory training and retrained all staff in the I’m Still Here Approach to dementia care. After only three months back in her position, Nareen has continues to push the bar higher. In addition to going above and beyond in her day-to-day job, Nareen is a highly respected mentor, friend, and true colleague to all. She is always willing to lend a hand, day or night, to make sure the wheels keep on turning here at Jewish HomeLife.

Jewish HomeLife is thrilled that Nareen Bennett is a 2023 Marilyn Shubin Professional Staff Development Award winner. She will be honored at Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 31 at 7:00pm.