[by Shiela Steiman Wallace]
Four Courts at Cherokee Park has a long history as part of the Jewish community, but in recent years, as the facility has changed ownership, those ties seemed to weaken.
Three months ago, when Steve Robison became administrator of the Signature HealthCARE facility, he decided that Four Courts rich Jewish heritage is too important to lose. So he is reaching out to the Jewish community to reestablish those ties.
“When I looked back at the history of the Hebrew Home for the Aged and its transition to Four Courts’ at Cherokee Park, I was fascinated with the course the facility has taken,” Robison said. “I’ve not seen any other facility in my 30 years in the industry that has a tradition of service – not only to the elderly and senior citizens but to the Jewish community – half as long.
“I believe in honoring that history and that tradition,” he continued, “and feel that we still have great value to the Jewish community.”
While tradition is important, to stay viable the facility must also change with the times. To meet today’s needs, Robison explained, Four Courts is focusing on post-acute care, transitioning the patients from the hospital to home. To accomplish this, Four Courts’ goals include improving their competency of nursing care and preventing rehospitalization.
“We discharge a very high percentage to home,” he continued, but the facility also wants to ensure that the transition is successful. Four Courts will “follow how the patient does at home, working with them on doctors appointments and other things to promote their best health and keep them from returning to the hospital.”
Going a step further, Robison plans on doing some remodeling on the lower level as well. “Downstairs had 10 very huge private rooms that we’re going to make into a private rehab center,” he explained. “It will have a private entrance and private parking.” Two big rehab areas are also planned – one for short-term patients and one for those with more complex, long-term issues.
That does not mean Four Courts is abandoning its original mission. Half the building is still dedicated to long-term care. “We still have a commitment and
bligation to those types of patients,” Robison said, “many of whom have been here for quite some time.”
Of those long-term patients, about half are Jewish, and Robison is committed to ensuring that their spiritual needs, as well as those of patients of other faiths, are met.
“We’re the only facility that I know of in this part of the country that still provides kosher meals and services for the Jewish population,” he said. “We welcome bar and bat mitzvah candidates to lead services here; we recently hosted a matzah bakery; and we have regular visits from the students at the Louisville Jewish Day School.”
Rabbi Laura Metzger coordinates Shabbat and holiday services at Four Courts and Rabbi Baruch Sussman serves as the kosher dietary manager and interfaith chaplain.
Robison has taken that commitment a step further. “I’m taking it upon myself to learn a whole lot about the Jewish faith. … I’ve learned so much in my short time here.”
As he has explored the facility, he has found many places to start his studies, from the Harold Berg mosaics and other works of art on the walls to a stash of archival documents that tell the story of the facility and its Jewish roots.
“The synagogue is just incredible,” Robison observed. “I’ve gone in there in the quiet and just stood and looked and learned and felt the value of not only Four Courts, but the Jewish people and culture.” The windows in the synagogue were made by William Fischer.
“We want to reconnect with the Jewish community and to improve our care and services,” he stated, and he’s looking for new ways to reach out into the community.
In discussions with Jewish Community of Louisville President and CEO Stu Silberman, Robison is exploring the possibility of offering some free wellness education, health screenings and other services at the Jewish Community Center and Shalom Tower on a monthly basis. “We want to be a resource to the JCL,” he said.
Robison would like the Jewish community to be involved at Four Courts as well. “We need volunteers to enhance the environment for the residents,” he said. “Volunteers who read to and visit with residents are greatly appreciated.” There are also opportunities to help with crafts and other things of interest to the volunteer that would contribute to Four Courts’ Quality of Life program.
For more information or to volunteer at Four Courts, call 451-0990.