RX for Success: How the Los Angeles Jewish Home Pharmacy Advances Education and Boosts Resident Care
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / RX for Success: How the Los Angeles Jewish Home Pharmacy Advances Education and Boosts Resident Care

RX for Success: How the Los Angeles Jewish Home Pharmacy Advances Education and Boosts Resident Care

Feb 17, 2021

As senior residential care facilities nationwide have adapted and developed emergency protocols for administering the coronavirus vaccine, the Los Angeles Jewish Home has been at the forefront. Its secret weapon: an on-site pharmacy in one of its buildings, with a clinical pharmacy residency program that enables the Jewish Home to acquire, dispense, and monitor medications effectively and efficiently for the residents of that building. During the pandemic, the existence of this program has resulted in an organized vaccine clinic, allowing more people to get immunized, at a faster rate, than at many other senior care homes across California and around the country.

"It's unusual for an organization like ours to have in-house pharmacists, but I believe it's the future for all long-term care facilities," says Noah Marco, MD, chief medical officer at the Jewish Home. "Among the many things doctors at a place like the Jewish Home do in caring for patients is prescribing needed medications, and as a physician I think there's no better resource than having a pharmacist stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you to improve care."

Having an established pharmacy gave the Jewish Home an important advantage when it came time to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. "We were well positioned because we have essential equipment like medication refrigeration for the vaccine, and we also meet all the compliance requirements for pharmacies, which means we're able to handle and distribute the medication in the proper way," Dr. Marco says. "Many other facilities that had not invested in that process are currently struggling."

The benefits go well beyond COVID-19, notes Aida Oganesyan, PharmD, the Jewish Home's director of pharmacy services. "The pharmacists are a timely resource for our clinicians where time is often of the essence," she says. "Since caring for Jewish Home residents is our full-time job, we can rapidly and proactively communicate important information when the prescriber and patient need it."

Based at the Jewish Home's Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center, Dr. Oganesyan serves the entire organization, across multiple campuses. She got her start at the Home eight years ago, fresh out of pharmacy school.

"I was the Jewish Home's first pharmacy resident, in 2013-14," she recalls. "Geriatrics had always been of interest to me, and when I heard about the program at the Home, I was immediately excited to learn more. As it turns out, I loved it so much, I decided to never leave!"

The pharmacy residency program is a joint effort of the Jewish Home and Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) College of Pharmacy, located in Pomona. Each year, the program accepts one resident—a recent pharmacy school graduate—who spends 12 months at the Jewish Home gaining critical hands-on experience. WesternU also sends its current pharmacy students to the Jewish Home for six-week clinical rotations during the academic year. The program is run by Janice Hoffman, PharmD, who splits her time between WesternU and the Jewish Home.

Dr. Hoffman says the Jewish Home has been an ideal site for this accredited residency program. "The Home is a special place. You feel part of the family here. And everybody wants to do what's best for the patient, regardless of what that requires. It's not stagnant, everyone is willing to try new ways, and there is a willingness to listen and adapt."

Since the program launched in 2013, the clinical services that pharmacy residents provide at the Jewish Home have continued to grow exponentially. "In the beginning, we were just working with the Auerbach Geriatric Psychiatry Unit (AGPU). Then we created an antibiotic stewardship program for our Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer (JEK) Medical Center residents. Our first project outside of the JEK building was an anticoagulation monitoring program that was developed for all Jewish Home nursing residents. After that, we pioneered a program wherein residents who experience a fall get a comprehensive medication evaluation by our pharmacists. Our current fellow, Rachel Stone, is running our new hypertension medication management program, which we're piloting in JEK to try to reduce the number of medicines seniors take and the number of times they have their blood pressure taken daily and weekly. Most people do not need to have their blood pressure measured as often as it typically is; perhaps once daily or weekly may be enough," Dr. Hoffman says.

For Dr. Stone, who graduated with a PharmD from the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy at the University of Pacific in May 2020, being at the Jewish Home is an opportunity to develop her knowledge of geriatric psychiatry, which she plans to make her career specialty. "At AGPU, I'm able to participate in interdisciplinary team rounds with psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, activities coordinators and dieticians. It's great because I get to contribute my recommendations from a pharmacy perspective as I'm learning about the whole continuum of care," she says.

She is also a central part of the Jewish Home's vaccination effort, supervising the pharmacy interns from WesternU and leveraging her expertise to help immunize residents and staff. "I always feel great when someone tells me they didn't feel anything after getting the COVID shot—it means I've done my best with my technique to make sure people don't get hurt!" she says.

Dr. Stone administered the second dose of the vaccine to Dr. Marco. "While she was preparing the shot, I was reflecting on how unique the Jewish Home is," Dr. Marco says. "Through our fellowship and pharmacy, we're simultaneously able to help train up-and-coming professionals and to benefit our residents with access to a fully licensed pharmacist. As far as I'm concerned, it's just another reason the Jewish Home stands heads and shoulders above the rest!"

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jul 5

With 100 Years of Excellence in Senior Care, Los Angeles Jewish Home Transitions to New Name More Reflective of the Broad Spectrum of Senior Care Offerings Available to All

With a new name and continued focus on meeting diverse senior needs, Los Angeles Jewish Health meets seniors where they are in life, providing a customized senior experience. (RESEDA, CA – July 5, 2022) As it continues to build on more than a century of providing an array of high-quality residential living options and care for Southern California seniors, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is unveiling a new name: Los Angeles Jewish Health. The updated identity reflects Los Angeles Jewish Health’s commitment to offering area seniors a full complement of exceptional programs and services and a comprehensive continuum of care, whether that care is at home, in the community, or on one of their beautiful campus settings. “Over the years, as the needs of our community members have expanded and changed, we have evolved, too, expanding the scope of healthcare services we provide. It is now the right time to transition to a name more reflective of the vast array of senior care services and living options available through Los Angeles Jewish Health, while still remaining true to our mission and Jewish values,” said Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of Los Angeles Jewish Health. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a national leader in senior health and wellness. Established in 1912 in East Los Angeles to assist Jewish men seeking shelter, today Los Angeles Jewish Health cares for a diverse group of thousands of seniors each year through independent housing, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, and more. What began as a modest residential facility at the turn of the previous century has grown into a leading senior health system, providing for a rapidly growing elder population with a broad range of geriatric and specialty healthcare needs. By 2030, one in five Americans are projected to be older individuals. Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of this population and are expected to increase fivefold over the next 30 years, from four million in 2000 to 21 million in 2050.“Shifting demographics demand that we sharpen our focus to ensure we are an available senior care resource for every member of our community,” Surowitz said. “As we have for more than 100 years, we look forward to contributing Los Angeles Jewish Health’s extensive experience and medical expertise toward better health outcomes for all seniors.” About Los Angeles Jewish Health: Founded in 1912, and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. Thousands of seniors benefit from the Los Angeles Jewish Health’s community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include: PACE (A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly); hospice; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Four campuses (Eisenberg Village, Grancell Village, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, and Fountainview at Gonda Westside) serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and memory care. In addition, Los Angeles Jewish Health is home to the Annenberg School of Nursing.
Read More
Mar 15

Los Angeles Jewish Health Resident and Holocaust Survivor Celebrates Bat Mitzvah, and 92nd Birthday, during 100th Anniversary of the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

(RESEDA, CA – March 15, 2022) History will be made at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Thursday, March 18 as beloved resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Thompson turns 92 on the same day she will be called to Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. This date also marks the 100th anniversary of when Judith Kaplan, at age twelve, became the first American girl to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922. Frieda Thompson, whose parents were murdered by the Nazis, still recalls that one of her mother’s final actions was to ensure her brother was called to Torah for his Bar Mitzvah even as there was chaos all around. Frieda studied for her Bat Mitzvah a few years ago, but COVID-19 prevented gathering as a community at that time. Now, with family flying in for the big day, Frieda will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah during the weekly Shabbat Eve. Service, in the Weinberg Courtyard of the Jewish Home, in front of loving family, caring staff, and dozens of fellow Jewish Home residents. When asked what this day means to her, Frieda offers, “Moses was loyal to his family and to the Jewish people. I too have always felt loyal to my family and the Jewish People.” In commenting on the significance of this lifetime milestone Rabbi Karen Bender commented, “As a small child, Frieda was forced to raise her hand and call out ‘Heil Hitler’. Today her voice rings out as a cherished leader among her peers.” Note: Media interested in attending the Service/Bat Mitzvah must be fully vaccinated/boosted/masked – and must RSVP in advance.
Read More
Mar 12

Los Angeles Jewish Home Accepts New Resident Applications

After pandemic-related pause, premier senior living facility reopens its doors (RESEDA, CA – March 12, 2021) The Los Angeles Jewish Home announced it is accepting applications for new residents, as well as participants in its community-based programs, after an extended pause in admissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown resulting from the coronavirus. Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of the Jewish Home, says welcoming new seniors will enable the organization to continue its century-long tradition of providing for the region’s frail elderly. "Seniors in Los Angeles depend on us for care. During COVID, ensuring their continued health and safety meant refraining from bringing people in. But now that 99 percent of our residents (as well as the large majority of our staff) has been fully vaccinated, we’re relaunching the admissions process so we can serve even more members of the community." The Home has immediate openings for seniors who need hands-on skilled nursing assistance. "The Jewish Home typically has wait lists for available spaces in our skilled nursing facility; it’s uncommon to have availability as we currently do," Surowitz says. "This represents a rare opportunity for people to get into the Home now, before we reach capacity, which will happen quickly." With the easing of the pandemic, the Jewish Home is also welcoming seniors to its Brandman Centers for Senior Care, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Through the program, residents and seniors who live on their own receive medical services, physical therapy, social services, and nutritional counseling, as well as exceptional adult day healthcare that engages them intellectually, physically, and socially. Applicants to the Jewish Home have access to a broad range of programs and services beyond PACE and skilled nursing. From short-term rehab to hospice, independent living, home health, and memory care, the Jewish Home provides support to residents at their varying levels of need. Through the Jewish Home, seniors are also eligible for the organization’s new Brandman Health Plan. Designed for the chronic patient with special needs, the plan offers benefits to anyone in Los Angeles County who is Medicare-eligible and has diabetes, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia. Seniors and their families can reach out to the Jewish Home for more information about current openings and availability. "We’re here for new applicants, whoever they are and whatever their needs," Surowitz says. "We look forward to learning how we can help."
Read More