Thursday, January 31, 2008

Making Hospital Homecoming More Hospitable - ReServe's Health Navigator Program

ReServe has begun testing its Health Navigator program at two New York City hospitals aimed at creating a vital link between staff members and patients who might be frail or isolated or need assistance after discharge from the hospital. “In a nutshell, it enables us to stay in touch and minimize emergency situations,” Patrick Inniss, director of social work at St. Luke’s Hospital uptown, said. “Too often patients lose contact because no one is investigating how they are managing in the community.”

Navigators will be the “eyes and ears” for hospital social workers and will be advocates for clients. “The idea is to identify those who lack sufficient social support to navigate the health care system, which in this day and age is more and more difficult,” Beatrice Maloney said. She is the supervisor of geriatric services in the department of social work and home care at Beth Israel Medical Center downtown. She and Inniss are the top go-to’s for Laurie Hyman, ReServe’s Health Navigator Coordinator,who developed the program with Jess Geevarghese, ReServe’s program officer who focuses much of her attention on elder-to-elder projects.

There are many services for the infirm and elderly, but Claire Haaga Altman, executive director of ReServe, said that Health Navigators is unique in that it “is a unique opportunity for ReServe and our hospital partners, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and Beth Israel, to test the proposition that if assistance is provided to individuals discharged from hospitals to help them get the concrete services they need, they can remain in their own homes longer and avoid unnecessary hospital stays and emergency room visits.”

Another variation on health navigation in ReServe’s portfolio of projects is the Patient Navigator Project at NY Presbyterian’s Allen Pavilion where two ReServists, Chinmayee Chakrabarty and Maria Hermans, call patients who have been discharged the previous day to make sure they are managing at home well. This project has significant potential for growth and is poised to be an important link in the discharge process at NY Presbyterian.

Henriette Arzewski and Karol Stonger are assigned to St. Luke’s, and Judy Capel and Natalie Millner are the first team at Beth Israel. Both hospitals are part of the Continuum Health Partners Inc. Volunteers will visit client homes once a week and follow up with phone calls, looking for signs of physical, financial or emotional distress or well-being and assessing any safety issues. “Visits in the home might minimize emergency situations by providing assistance, helping to apply for benefits, making clinic appointments, preventing isolation and providing emotional support,” Inniss said.

The Health Navigators’ pilot project is funded by Continuum Health Partners, the MetLife Foundation, the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation and the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation. The Fan Fox Samuels Foundation provides wrap around support for ReServe’s Elder to Elder Projects.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Focusing on Your Passion - ReServe at Work at LaGuardia Community College

ReServist Paul Katz (pictured) has a hard time keeping his seat. He’s on his feet in his office at LaGuardia Community College, exclaiming, “I’ve seen the future!”

ReServist Paul Katz has a hard time keeping his seat. He’s on his feet in his office at La Guardia Community College, exclaiming, “I’ve seen the future!”

Paul sidles over to his desk and perches on the edge of his chair. He illustrates almost everything he says by pulling up a photo on his computer.

He’s excited about a small black digital camera.

“I’ve been shooting pictures for almost 60 years. I’ve shot combat, portraits, still life, stock photos. But this is the best camera I’ve ever had.”

Paul confounds stereotypes of retirees. His laughter booms across the room as he refers to himself as a “geezer.” He has no reticence in giving his age—he’s 72.

“I was an Army officer for 14 years. Infantry, some armor. And then as my photo skills improved, I asked for and received a branch transfer to the signal corps and became a photo officer. Best-kept secret in the Army! Took me to both Poles, North and South.

“I went on to support the White House Photo Office. I was supernuminary to the White House photo officer during the Kennedy and Johnson eras.

“By ’78 I had my own commercial studio here in the City. I shot a lot of book covers, magazine illustrations. A whole series of photos on Puerto Rican rum.

“And strange as it sounds, I also took per diem jobs with the U.S. Marshall’s Service all the way through the 90’s, running down the street—‘Get that guy! Get that guy!’ It wasn’t until I was 65, still wrestling someone down to the ground that I ever thought, ‘I’m getting too old for this!’ about anything.”

But Paul says he’ll never put his camera down.

“I’m an artist. And artists don’t retire. You do it! If I didn’t get paid for photography, would I still do it? Yes! This is my passion.” And passion brought him to ReServe.

“There’s a certain point where you don’t want to just sit at home in front of the television. I saw this little ad about ReServe in The Wire, which is a newspaper on Roosevelt Island where I live. I came in for the interview and they said, ‘La Guardia Community College needs a photographer.’ And here I am.

“Basically, I can shoot anything they need – pictures of students, photography classes. We did a series of big posters for bus shelters that I shot with this camera. They were recruiting posters for students. In fact there’s a smaller version right here . . .”

And just like that, Paul’s off his chair again, rustling through a pile of colorful prints across the room.

Katz’s post at LaGuardia is made possible by a commitment from CUNY Chancellor Matt Goldstein to engage 50 ReServists in positions across the CUNY campuses. The project began in October and ReServe is over halfway there in matching talented ReServists with CUNY’s needs.

A sample of Paul Katz's photographs can be viewed at our flickr site

You can jump directly to Paul's gallery by clicking here.