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First New Jersey Hospital to Open Center for Caregivers
Summit, NJ, September 2011 – Overlook Medical Center is the first hospital in New Jersey to have a Center dedicated to the caregiver of loved ones with extended hospital stays. The Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center opened its doors this week. A place of respite and resource for the chronic caregiver, it is a beautiful space, located off the main hospital lobby with massage rooms, a library, computer stations, private waiting areas for larger groups, and a kitchen supplied with refreshments, snacks and soups.
“The Caregivers Center provides a tranquil environment designed to help family caregivers effectively manage the stress and special needs associated with caring for a critically, chronically or terminally ill loved one during a hospital stay,” says Susan Thomas, R.N., B.S.N, manager of the Patient Experience and Volunteer Services.
Approximately 90 million Americans are living with serious illnesses, and this number is expected to more than double over the next 25 years with the aging of baby boomers, according to a new analysis released on July 15, 2011 by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). The report stated that in addition to the rise of palliative care needs are the overwhelming realities of care-giving faced by patients' families. In the practice of palliative care, these challenges are addressed through a strong partnership of patient, family and a palliative care team.
The New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) and 24 acute care hospitals, including Overlook Medical Center, recently completed a collaborative that focused on improving end-of-life care provided to ICU patients and how to best provide compassionate and supportive services to patients and families.
As part of the collaborative, ICUs identified a proxy decision-maker and held family meetings within 36 hours of admission. The results showed substantial improvement in patient and family care.
Despite the surge in the growth of palliative care, 70 percent of the public has a lack of knowledge about it. Yet once informed about palliative care, more than 92 percent of consumers were extremely positive about it and wanted access to palliative care if they needed it.
The Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center at Overlook Medical Center is at the cornerstone to this philosophy.
“Once caregivers know we are here for them and have a center dedicated to their needs, they are extremely willing to let us help,” says Thomas.
The concept behind the Thomas Glasser Caregivers Center was inspired by Kathryn Fusco, loving wife and mother to Claude E. Fusco, Jr. and their children, Diana, Emily and Claude. Fusco lost her courageous battle with cancer in 2006.
Mr. Fusco, a long-time resident of Westfield, suffered a stroke following his wife’s death. After his recovery, he recognized the need for the Caregivers Center.
“There are so many life changing events that happen when you drive up this hill to the medical center,” says Fusco. “I wanted to help sustain families during one of the most difficult times in their lives.”
The Caregivers Center at Overlook is staffed with a social worker and specially trained volunteers, pet therapy teams and certified massage therapists from Atlantic Integrative Medicine. Complimentary massage is available to the family caregivers three evenings per week.
Gerry Glasser, of Westfield, is a current trustee of the Overlook Foundation and former Chairman of the Board. On behalf of the Thomas Glasser Foundation, Glasser pledged $700,000, the lead gift, to kick off the fundraising for the Caregivers Center. The Thomas Glasser Foundation is named after Glasser’s son Tom, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Tom lived with his wife Meg, and their two sons, in Summit. After his passing the foundation was formed to carry on Tom’s legacy of caring and support for his community.
“The Caregivers Center came together as a community partnership,” says Alan Lieber, president, Overlook Medical Center.
The Caregivers Center was made possible with the vision and dedication of the Fusco family, the Glasser family, the Williams family, the Westfield Foundation, the Summit Area Public Foundation, Merck, the Overlook Auxiliary, the Overlook Community Benefit Committee and many others.
“My children and I, we feel the difficult journey we had, had some purpose,” adds Fusco.
About Atlantic Health System
Atlantic Health System is one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, comprised of Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center in Summit and Newton Medical Center. The three medical centers – all accredited by The Joint Commission – have a combined total of 1,308 licensed beds and more than 2,750 affiliated physicians providing a wide array of health care services to the residents of Northern and Central New Jersey. Specialty service areas include advanced cardiovascular care, pediatric medical and surgical specialties, neurology, orthopedics, and sports medicine. Each of these programs has earned top ratings and recognitions in their respective fields. Atlantic Health System is the official health care partner of the New York Jets and an official health care provider of the New Jersey Devils.
Morristown Medical Center’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute performs more heart surgeries than any other hospital in New York or New Jersey, and is one of 20 facilities across the country to perform catheter-based repair and replacement of valves on both sides of the heart. Atlantic Health System’s spine program – where surgeons perform more spine surgery than anywhere else in New Jersey – is one of just 13 hospitals across the country that has received the Gold Seal of Approval™ from The Joint Commission, achieving Disease-Specific Care Certification for cervical and lumbar spine treatments. With the Atlantic Neuroscience Institute based at Overlook Medical Center, the hospital serves as the hub for the New Jersey Stroke Network, and serves about 40 percent of the state’s stroke patients. The system’s Goryeb Children’s Hospital offers more than 100 board-certified physicians in 20 pediatric specialties. Morristown Medical Center is verified as a Level I Regional Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons and designated a Level II by the state of New Jersey.
Atlantic Health System has been chosen for the past three consecutive years by FORTUNE® as one of the magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For®.” The organization has also been recognized four times by AARP as one of the “Best Employers for Workers over 50.” Inside Jersey magazine partnered with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. and ranked Morristown Medical Center as the No. 1 hospital in New Jersey and the No. 1 hospital for treatment of heart failure and coronary surgery in the state. The survey findings also establish Overlook as No.1 for the treatment of neurological disorders and No. 2 for stroke treatment in NJ. Atlantic Health System is a Major Clinical Research Affiliate with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and is the primary academic and clinical affiliate in New Jersey of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and The Mount Sinai Hospital.