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Montefiore in the News

Only Center of its Kind in NYC Offers an Oasis in the Hospital for Caregivers in Need 

NEW YORK (April 6, 2016) — Feeling like you are falling apart while sitting in a hallway chair looking up as people walk by and wishing you had someone to talk to, is an eerie but familiar feeling for too many people sitting in a hospital with a loved one. Five years ago, when Montefiore Health System opened The Arthur D. Emil Caregiver Support Center, the goal was that no caregiver would experience that feeling again.

The only center of its kind in New York City, Montefiore’s Caregiver Support Center has provided emotional support and practical assistance to several thousand caregivers in an oasis like setting within its hospitals.

“The family is the unit of care,” said Randi L. Kaplan, LMSW, director, the Caregiver Support Center. “Our center was established so that trained volunteers and staff members throughout the hospital help people handle the stress, anxieties and challenges of providing care to a loved one.”

Since opening its doors, the Center has recruited 30 volunteers, many of whom are former Montefiore patients or who had loved ones cared for at Montefiore and had firsthand experience with the center. Volunteers are from a host of different cultural backgrounds to represent the diversity of the patient community. Volunteers are trained to take the initiative to seek out individuals who are in need of support and to help them take care of themselves while advocating for their love ones.

“My sister came from Mexico to help take care of me,” said Aurelia Suchilt, a liver transplant survivor and Caregiver Support Center volunteer. “She spoke so highly about the wraparound support that the caregiver center provided that I wanted to give back and provide that same support to someone else in need.”

Montefiore’s experienced staff supports a wide range of caregiver needs, from listening to their concerns and connecting the caregiver to wider resources within both the hospital and community.

Montefiore opened its first Center at its main campus in April, 2011. As Montefiore continued to grow, it opened its second Caregiver Support Center at the Jack D. Weiler campus in 2014. Each Center occupies a space within the hospital building that is strategically designed as a comfortable, calming and quiet environment to allow a caregiver to meet privately with a social worker or trained volunteer or to simply decompress, relax or even nap. The vision is that each campus at Montefiore will have its own Caregiver Support Center.

The distinct style of training at the Center and compassionate staff at Montefiore has been recognized nationally by the Caregiver Action Network, the nation’s leading family caregiver organization, as one of the "25 Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement." Volunteers were also honored last month by the United Hospital Fund at its 23rd Annual Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Awards.

To get more information on how to become a volunteer at the Caregiver Support Center visit www.montefiore.org/caregiversupport or call 718-920-8080.