Los Angeles Jewish Home's Blog

Q&A with Molly Forrest

After 15 years as CEO-President of the Jewish Home, Molly Forrest reflects on the Home's achievements, financial challenges, and future.

Looking back, what stands out as the most notable achievements for the Home?
The expansion of the Home's capacity to help more seniors — both in-residence and through our community-based services — has been a significant accomplishment.

In 2002, we opened our award-winning Goldenberg•Ziman Special Care Center, to treat seniors with dementia. In 2007, the Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center opened, offering a 10-bed acute geriatric psychiatric hospital and 239 skilled nursing beds. Last years, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, featuring luxury living for independent seniors, opened.

The Home also developed a number of community-based programs. These include Skirball Hospice, the Jewish Home Center for Palliative Medicine and short-term rehabilitative care for seniors. In total, last year the Jewish Home helped over 2,300 seniors, either on our campuses or in their own homes.

Opened in 2007, the Annenberg School of Nursing has prepared almost 60 vocational nursing students to start new nursing careers.

What have been your greatest challenges as you led the Home to expand services and build new facilities?
With a population of 600,000, the Los Angeles Jewish community has the smallest capacity for seniors of any Jewish Home in the nation on a per-capita basis. The senior population grows daily, with Baby Boomers swelling the numbers. And, thanks to benefits of modern medicine, we enjoy longer life spans and have more "super elderly" (85+), many with complicated medical or social needs.

Adequate funding to maintain our quality programs and services has been, and remains, a challenge. 70% of our residents are on government assistance or welfare. The proposed Federal and State cutbacks in Medicare and Medi-Cal will impact us. In particular, the recently passed California budget will reduce our welfare payments by about $3-3.5 million.

Our "greatest challenge" becomes how we can expand responsibly, and serve more seniors with less reliance upon governmental support for long-term care?

How is the Home responding to these financial pressures?
Our mission — to provide excellence in senior healthcare reflective of Jewish values — is our cornerstone.

The cutbacks and limitations in benefits for seniors have hurt. We have implemented difficult changes. We re-assigned staff, reconfigured positions and, unfortunately, laid off about 20 from the 1,100 staff we employ. We also renegotiated contracts and continue to spend money prudently.

With careful planning and support from our wonderful board and valued friends, we continue providing exceptional senior care and have grown to serve more, while reducing reliance on governmental funding.

What does the future hold for the Jewish Home?
Next year, as we celebrate our Centennial, we will open the first site for the Brandman Centers for Senior Care (BCSC). This is a new program that combines Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits to assure needy seniors can live safely at home with coordinated, quality healthcare and services.

We have plans for the Gonda Health Aging Westside campus, as well as new projects for the Grancell Village and Hirsch Family campuses in the Valley. We are also planning for an in-home concierge program focused on helping seniors live in their own homes.

Once all our plans are completed, our Home will serve 5,000 seniors every day! It is up to us to meet the needs of an aging population with careful foresight, management and, yes, the ongoing generosity of hands, hearts, and dollars.

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