When Lynn Rozen’s husband Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a loving wife instantly became a caregiver. In her new role, Rozen researched how to find help while tending to her husband’s healthcare needs. Rozen will now be using her experience to serve others, as a volunteer at the new Marsal Caregiver Center at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, the first caregiver center at a rehabilitation hospital in the United States.
“A caregiver center would have been a lifeline to me when I was feeling like my life was disappearing,” Rozen said of her experience. She isn’t alone.
When a person has a life-changing illness or injury, it affects not only the patient, but his or her family, friends and support system as well. The average inpatient stay at Burke is about 18 days — roughly two weeks longer than the average stay at an acute care hospital. This additional time spent in hospital care requires a greater level of support from a patient’s family and loved ones, who are an integral part of a patient’s rehabilitation.
Most family members are not prepared for the intense physical, mental and emotional responsibilities associated with being a full-time caregiver. Up to 70 percent of caregivers have symptoms of depression. Studies have also found that caregivers have diminished immune responses, due to stress related disorders.
“Having the nation’s first caregiver center in a rehabilitation hospital will enable Burke to strengthen our ability to improve the lives of patients, their families and the community,” Burke President and CEO Jeffrey Menkes said. “Resources like this will help keep Burke at the forefront of rehabilitative care.”
The 1,657 square foot Marsal Caregiver Center will be the fifth caregiver center in Montefiore Health System. Montefiore’s nationally recognized Arthur D. Emil Caregiver Support Center is housed on the Moses Campus. Jack D. Weiler Hospital, Montefiore Wakefied Hospital and White Plains Hospital also feature caregiver centers.
“Burke is opening the Marsal Caregiver Center to expand the definition of caring – beyond our primary patients to the care of their dedicated family members and loved ones,” Vice President of Patient Experience Colleen Borrelli said. “Caring for the caregiver will enhance the recovery of our patients; and help caregivers be in a better physical and mental place, themselves, enabling everyone to adapt to new physical challenges, limitations and demands.”
Carla Assenza, LCSW, will be the director of the new caregiver center. Assenza will be joined by a team of highly-trained volunteers—Rozen included—who will undergo a training that will focus on active listening and rapport building.
The caregiver center is made possible by a generous donation from former Burke patient Bryan Marsal and his wife, Kathleen. Bryan is the co-founder of the global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal. Their personal experience at Burke is the driving force behind this project.
Those who are interested in seeing the center can call Carla Assenza at (914)-597-2826. Members of the media who are interested in attending the ribbon cutting and press conference on Wednesday at 10 a.m. must register by calling (914)-597-2848.