HEALTH, SAFETY OF ITS MEMBERS WAS KEY DECISION FACTOR

Alex Estroff
STAFF WRITER

The Weinstein Center for Adult Day Services, located on the MJCCA campus, has issued a notice to the families who benefit from their services, informing them that the center will be closing at month’s end. The decision to do so was the final product of a careful analysis of the Weinstein Center that was a year in the making. According to Chief Executive Officer Gail Luxenberg, this analysis, as mentioned in their published yearly strategic plan, was carried out by the board of the MJCCA. Various factors were considered before coming to the ultimate conclusion that the most viable option was to close the center.

The primary influence on the board’s rationale was that the center, initially started as a recreational facility, simply was not equipped to properly care for its members, many of which suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Because the center is not a true medical facility, it is severely restricted in the services it could provide to its members, most of whom require special treatment and care. Luxenberg emphasized that although the staff at the Weinstein Center is second to none as far as caring for the members, they are not experts at providing the specific medical service that many of these people need.

Although not a factor taken into consideration by the board, Jews have come to represent only a small minority of the population at the Weinstein Center. Despite the small population, the Jewish members and their families saw the Weinstein Center as an invaluable service that is irreplaceable.

Howard Friedman, who has a family member who regularly goes to the Weinstein Center, called it a “Life-saving program,” claiming that it, “allows people with disabilities to receive care, gives them socialization, and gives the caregivers time off.” As the only kosher facility of its kind in Atlanta, Friedman thought the center was the best adult day service center in the city for him and his family. From the great staff to the outstanding services the center provided, Friedman states, “people say it has saved their life.”

In a letter sent out to each of the affected families, the MJCCA stated that they, “are committed to helping all the participants find a supportive setting.” The letter also explains that a case management team has been hired to assist each member personally to decide on the best possible option moving forward. Representatives from other adult day services have also been invited to come meet the families and discuss what services they can provide for them. The MJCCA is striving to ensure an easy transition for each family as well as each staff member. The staff members are receiving additional training and assistance with finding a new job.

Though many people’s initial thought, when informed of the center’s closing, was that it must have been due to lack of funds, Luxenberg reassured that it was not a matter of finances. The health and safety of the seniors carried far more weight in coming to the ultimate decision. Luxeneberg also added that no decision was made until the board was confident that each member could be relocated.

The MJCCA began the Weinstein Center in 1982 and then brought it to its current location in Zaban Park in 1987. Since its formation, the center has offered social, recreational, and educational services to elderly members of the community who require special assistance and nursing. At this point in time, it is uncertain what the space in Zaban Park will be used for once the center is gone.