Monday, January 21, 2019

Rabbi Kanner at the entrance to Alaris at the Chateau. (Credit: Bracha Schwartz)

Rabbi Kanner next to a poster honoring Alaris at the Chateau. (Credit: Bracha Schwartz)

A therapy game at Alaris at the Chateau. (Credit: Bracha Schwartz)

One day, you may have to make a crucial decision. Where should you send your loved one when he or she no longer needs hospital care following an accident or illness, but is not ready to go home?

Three factors are vital when choosing a facility: personal care, medical care and religious care.

Alaris at the Chateau in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, is working hard to be your go-to place for after-hospital rehabilitation care. A 73-bed, sub-acute care facility, Alaris at the Chateau is small enough so that every patient’s needs are accommodated. Physical, occupational and recreational therapies take place daily with cutting-edge equipment. And the needs of Orthodox patients are being addressed with the addition of Rabbi Chananya Kanner, community liaison, who recently joined the staff.

Rabbi Kanner is helping Alaris at the Chateau institute enhancements to make Orthodox patients and their families feel comfortable and welcome. He oversees a Bikur Cholim room with kosher food, as well as the delivery of kosher meals for patients from the organization Chessed 24/7. A house on the grounds is being outfitted with a kosher kitchen and bedrooms so guests can visit over Shabbat. Rabbi Kanner also teaches; he is currently learning with a patient one on one.

Rabbi Kanner’s unusual background has made him the perfect person to interact with staff and patients, in addition to talking to outside rabbanim and social workers about why Alaris at the Chateau is an excellent choice. Born in Mexico, he learned in Israel at the Mir for over a decade. Afterwards, he trained to do kiruv and received semicha from Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz. He worked in kiruv and education for almost 10 years in cities around the globe such as Melilla in Africa and Buenos Aires in Argentina, before coming to America with his wife and children. A friend heard about the opening at Alaris at the Chateau and knew Rabbi Kanner would be the right person.

“Many well-known Torah authorities have stayed here because of the excellent medical and therapeutic care, including the Sanz Zviller Rebbe; Shlomo Goldman, zt;l; and the mother of Rabbi Heshie Hirth, principal of Yeshiva Ketana of Passaic,” said Rabbi Kanner. “We want to ensure that the religious needs of our Torah-observant population are met.”

Rebbetzin Weissman, principal of Bnos Bracha Hebrew Elementary School in Passaic, sent him a letter about the excellent care her mother received: “The nursing staff dealt with my mother with the utmost respect and kindness,” she wrote. “We also appreciated their professionalism and caring attitude.”

Professionalism starts with a Monday staff meeting for all department heads. Coming together ensures that the facility runs smoothly and any issues are discussed and solved.

Edith Jimenez, director of nursing, said that professionalism in the nursing staff is the result of an emphasis on education and training. She frequently brings in specialists for “in-service” workshops to sharpen skills. She also instills a team approach to patient care. “When my staff sees me being hands-on with patients, it inspires them as well,” she said. “And I show them my appreciation.”

The caring attitude cited by Rebbetzin Weissman begins with an assessment of each new patient so the staff understands the whole person, not just the condition he is being treated for. Regina Pinkney, director of recreation, said that knowing what the person was involved in before coming to the facility helps guide his or her treatment plan. Pinkney said they try to note little things like a patient’s favorite flowers or scents, so they can bring them into the patient’s room. The recreation therapists and the nurses continually monitor the patients and report changes so they know if a patient is getting better or declining—and discuss what to do next.

“With our senses, we use them or lose them,” she explains. “Even when patients have advanced Alzheimer’s or dementia, we are always trying to reach them and get them to respond. We focus on what the patient can do, not what he can’t do.” Audio books, iPads and assorted media are all made available for patient use. Speakers and visitors from the local schools keep patients engaged.

Pass by the therapy room and you’ll see patients in all phases of participation. Remember the arcade game where you threw a virtual baseball pitch? That technology is now being used in therapy. The patient stands at a specific spot and practices throwing the ball at a moving target.

If you have to make the choice for post-hospital short-term care for a loved one, visit www.alarishealth.com for a full description of Alaris at the Chateau’s facilities and services. And talk to Rabbi Kanner about how he can help.

By Bracha Schwartz