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MJHS fosters cultural awareness

From left, are Marilyn Hecker, RN; Nillie Lau, RN; Mary S. McCarthy, RN; and Tatyana Zuyera, RN.

The Brooklyn women credited with founding what is now MJHS would be proud of the array of services it offers. The agency has begun two unique programs for patients in its Asian and Orthodox Jewish communities.

Asian communities

Geared toward MJHS’ Asian patients, the One Dragon program provides home care to seniors. One Dragon teams consist of three members who walk the area to find seniors in need of services. The first visit is an assessment provided free of charge courtesy of the MJHS Foundation, MJHS’ philanthropic arm. “We’re on the street, so we’re the first faces they see,” said Nillie Lau, RN, One Dragon nurse manager. The teams also set up at senior centers where they do patient teaching and perform blood pressure checks, referring those with high counts to physicians or making appointments. “We can see as many as 50 patients a week and cover all five New York City boroughs,” Lau said.

In addition, Lau and her team are in Confucius Plaza in Brooklyn between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday to teach patients tai chi and partake in story time. “It’s a great social time for the patients,” Lau said.

MJHS also offers a hospice program that caters to the particular needs of Asian patients, specifically their cultural norms and beliefs. The program tailors materials and care to the community and works with patients and families to make the best choices, said director of special projects Lily Wang, RN. For example, it’s a common Asian belief that committing one’s parent to hospice means one is not a good child.

MJHS’ Asian Caregivers Dinner is a way of thanking family and explaining what hospice is all about through panel presentations and open forums. Part of the hospice program, the Ang Lin program is committed to providing patients and families with culture and language-appropriate, end-of-life care that includes a tailored care plan that meets each patient’s and family’s wishes in a dignified way, Wang said. “We care for the patient clinically, psychosocially and spiritually,” Wang said. “Our Ang Lin fundraiser dinner paints a picture of light, not death.”

Orthodox Jewish communities

For its Orthodox Jewish patients, MJHS Hospice & Palliative Care and MJHS Hospice offers a halachic pathway that includes the Halachic Living Will. The document is designed “to help ensure that all medical and post-death decisions made by others on [the patient[‘]s] behalf will be made in accordance with Jewish law and custom (halacha),” according to the document.

Along with his or her physician and the hospice care team, patients have the option of selecting a rabbi to be involved in his or her medical decision-making or a halachic adviser provided by the hospice. The halacha are guidelines by which the community members live their lives, said Audrey Waters, director of public relations. “For example, once an Orthodox Jewish patient is put on a respirator he or she cannot be removed,” she said.

MJHS’ hospice programs are the only ones in New York state that operate within halachic guidelines.

For more information on MJHS, visit

By | 2020-04-15T13:12:51-04:00 September 12th, 2011|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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