As Miami Jewish Health Systems expands far beyond its original mandate—from a home for the elderly to a comprehensive treatment and care campus—new steps are necessary to expand its infrastructure and continue to provide top-notch service to patients and residents. At Miami Jewish Health systems, a staff of medical and personal care professionals provides assisted living accommodations for the elderly as well as timely medical care to anybody living on or off the campus.
To better serve individuals in the Miami area and beyond, the organization has started construction on the S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village, a state-of-the-art facility designed to cater to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory issues. Sussman, a Florida-based philanthropist and financier, stated that his funding of the village was spurred by a community need for better methods of caring for populations living with dementia—a growing concern in the United States.
EmpathiCare is intended to provide a humane setting for those with Alzheimer’s to live their lives while still having access to the treatment and medical professionals they need. Construction on the facility’s garage began in early May as part of phase one of the project, and more work is expected to be completed over the summer and the next year and a half. When all is said and done, the facility is slated to provide a 438-bed nursing facility, 95 living units, 81 assisted care living units, a memory care facility with capacity for 19, and an acute care facility with 32 beds.
However, EmpathiCare goes beyond just another assisted living facility. The idea behind EmpathiCare was pioneered by Dr. Marc E. Agronin, senior vice president for behavioral health and chief medical officer for the Miami Jewish Health Memory and Research Center. Agronin wishes to provide a space in which individuals can feel as if they’re living in a genuine community instead of just a treatment center.
“One important factor is that it will have residences there for people to live but it will also will have programming and unique centers for people to come from the community to participate,” Dr. Agronin said.
To that end, EmpathiCare is building out many comforts for resident use, including a cafe, theater, fitness center, and garden. Additionally, many of the garden courtyards of the village contain medical equipment on-hand but concealed, with nurses on hand in non-traditional garb. Dr. Agronin hopes to give a measure of dignity to those living with dementia and empower them to take part in life-affirming activities even when undergoing treatment.
Though families may face difficult questions when it comes to securing care for a loved one with dementia, EmpathiCare provides both a safe living space and an innovative care model that caters to the growing population of individuals with Alzheimer’s. With different levels of treatment and a naturalistic approach to recovery, the new facility will be unique in the long-term freedoms it affords patients living there.