Judith Jedlicka Blends Current Gift and Bequest to Fund Caregivers Center
There are times a distant experience leads you down an unanticipated path. Such was the case when we began to talk about the need for caregiver services at Peconic Bay Medical Center during a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) meeting in the spring of 2017.
These discussions brought back memories of when I was a caregiver for my dad who had advanced lung cancer. I was running a national nonprofit organization, traveling around the country and internationally, and trying to manage his needs through various hospital stays, doctor appointments, treatments, and long-term care. It was an exhausting process. It was a time when the term caregiver did not exist. I was called the “go-to person,” expected to figure out most everything on my own. It was not easy. I did it, and I often wondered if I did it well.
This experience lingered with me for years. It made me want to find a way to ease the experiences of today’s caregivers. How to do it was not clear until I—along with several other members of PFAC—visited The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center in Northern Westchester Hospital. This Center offers caregivers cost-free support, resources, and educational opportunities in a home-like setting. Its professional staff encourages caregivers to allow themselves time to relax and reflect in a serene space. The staff also offers caregivers individualized guidance and assistance. This Center was the solution I was seeking. It quickly became the model we embraced to create a Caregivers Center at the Medical Center—the first hospital on Long Island.
The creation of the Caregivers Center—off the Main Lobby of the Medical Center—had to be totally donor funded, as did its programs. When I was asked to consider making the founding gift for the Caregivers Center, I said yes without hesitation because such a gift would fulfill one of my core values—a belief that we all have a responsibility to give back to our community—and my desire to make a caregiver’s journey just a little easier than mine.
As a member of the Heritage Society, I earmarked a bequest to Peconic Bay Medical Center for palliative and end-of-life care—two areas of personal interest often overlooked in health care. I decided to support the Caregivers Center by making a blended gift—financial support now to build the Caregivers Center and develop programs, plus a bequest for its future programs. I am thrilled with the results. Tara Anglim, Director of Patient & Family Centered Care, and her volunteer team of caregiver coaches have provided cost-free guidance and support to hundreds of caregivers since the Center opened on November 26, 2018. I am also thrilled that ten others have become Founding Supporters with gifts of $5,000 or more.
Looking ahead, I hope all Northwell Health medical facilities—as well as hospitals throughout the country—will follow in our footsteps and those of Northern Westchester by creating their own Caregivers Center to serve the needs of those caring for their loved ones.