JFS Hires New Finkelstein-Cohen KMOW Coordinator

JFS is pleased to announce that it has hired a new Finkelstein – Cohen Kosher Meals on Wheels program coordinator, longtime JFS volunteer, John Jantos.

John first got involved with JFS more than a decade ago when he started volunteering through the Two’s Company program. “I have a soft spot for the elderly,” says John. “What more important way to help them than to ensure that they have nutritious meals?”

John retired several years ago from his career but has stayed active through volunteer work, and of course, his dog, Frankie, whom he takes on walks five times a week. “Anyone who has a dog knows that you become more active than you would be!”

John, whose professional background is mixed and included owning multiple small businesses, hopes to increase the scope of the program. “There are currently 22 people in the program and we’d like to get that closer to 30. Of course, we can’t do that without our volunteers.”

Using his background in marketing, John is looking to get the word out about the program throughout the community. “I will be exploring some ideas to see how we can market the program better,” he says. “There are definitely folks in the community that are not aware but who would want to participate.”

Still, he hopes to continue the success of the program and its reputation for high quality and reliability. “Goal number one is ensuring that folks get these nutritious meals delivered on time on a regular basis,” John says. “The meals go out three times a week and the participants receive the meals the day after they are prepared.”

John is excited for the new role and is touched by the welcome he has received since beginning in April. “The way I have been received here by staff has been so welcoming and wonderful. They’ve helped me get started and feel the sense of the community. The word, in and out of the office, is ‘community.’”

The Public Health Fight of Our Lives

By Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health

The opioid crisis is the largest public health issue of our time.

While the crisis has affected the entire country, Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard. In 2017, more than 5,400 people died from an overdose. That is more than 13 people dying from this crisis each day.

It is important for people to know that opioid use disorder, or substance use disorder, is a disease. It is not a moral failing.

Governor Tom Wolf, in January 2018, declared the opioid crisis a disaster in Pennsylvania. This created the Opioid Operational Command Center, which brings together 16 state agencies and offices on a weekly basis to break down silos and allow for the sharing of ideas and information.

The declaration helped set forth a three-pronged approach to address this crisis: prevention, rescue, and treatment. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is one of our prevention methods and has cut down on physicians prescribing opioids by more than 20 percent. We also have worked on educating physicians on the importance of opioid stewardship, the cautious and judicious prescribing of opioids. For someone who has broken their leg, they need an opioid. But many patients who have received opioids in the past may not need them, and we also must be sure to only prescribe opioids for the length of time necessary.

Our efforts surrounding rescue are led by the use of naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that reverses an overdose. That is all it does. The Surgeon General of the United States has recently said that all Americans are first responders and should carry naloxone, and we support that. I have signed two standing orders to allow the public to get naloxone without a prescription at their local pharmacy.

The final approach is through treatment. We have been working through a number of avenues to get those with substance use disorder into treatment. Key areas in this effort is the warm handoff from the emergency department to a drug treatment counselor, and the Pennsylvania coordinated Medication Assisted Treatment (PacMAT) efforts at local hospitals, including several in the Harrisburg area. The Department of Human Services also operates more than 45 Centers of Excellence to assist in treating those with substance use disorder.

This crisis has had an effect on our children. Nearly 2,300 children have been born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, an opioid dependency. We have grandparents raising grandchildren because parents were lost to this crisis.

While this crisis is one that will take years to overcome, there are reasons for hope. We have heard from many counties that their opioid deaths are down. In addition, I am an optimistic person. Treatment works, and recovery is possible for those with the disease of addiction.

I look forward to meeting you and speaking further about this topic at the April 28 ‘Turning Crisis into Hope’ event.

Dr. Rachel Levine is the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health. Dr. Levine and Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg will visit the Harrisburg JCC on Sunday, April 28th for Jewish Family Service’s program Turning Crisis Into Hope: Opioid, Trauma, and Raising Resilient Children. For more information on tickets and sponsorships, click here.

Collaboration and Reaching Out: Creating Change in Harrisburg

Recently, I was asked to reflect on a recent collaboration with Brethren housing association.  Brethren Housing Association (furthermore referred to as BHA) is a transitional housing program for homeless single mothers working to get out of poverty.  Its methods are behaviorally solid in terms of how to help individuals make long-term changes in their lives.  I believe these answers also shed light on the powerful important work we do at Mynd Works counseling, as well.