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September 09, 1988 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-09

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Quest For Survival

Sinai Hospital is re-examining its Jewish roots
as it maps out a business strategy for the
volatile health care world


Staff Writer

my Brown, like other Sinai
Hospital officials, wants to
make sure that members of
the Jewish community feel a
bond to the hospital.
So Brown, director of volunteer
services, is launching the hospital's
first adopt-a-floor program, which
aims to reach out to the Jewish corn-
munity by bringing temple and
synagogue volunteers into the
hospital regularly to visit patients
and assist medical personnel.
"There is a commitment, a feeling
that we are a Jewish hospital;' Brown
says. "Sinai carries a sense of owner-
ship among members of the Jewish
community, who say Sinai is my
"We want to strengthen the
linkage to the Jewish community," ex-
plains Brown, who is coordinating the
adopt-a-floor program with the Sinai
Guild. "We want to make patients'
stays a little brighter."
The Guild program is one of
Sinai's newest Jewish community
outreach projects. In addition, a
recently formed panel of Jewish


DB . • • •

• •

leaders is planning free brit and baby
naming ceremonies in a suburban
satellite facility. They also are study-
ing ways to offer a health care plan
to members of the Jewish community.
The outreach programs come
amid uncertain relations between
Sinai and the Jewish community,
whose leaders have criticized the
hospital for de-emphasizing its
religious heritage. Sinai was built at
its West Outer Drive site partly with
Jewish philanthropic grants from
wealthy families with close ties to the
Jewish Welfare Federation.
Observers have criticized 'Sinai
• They allege Sinai provides more ser-
vices to the neighboring black com-
munity, which makes up a majority
of its patients, than to the Jewish
community, which has moved to the
northwest suburbs;
• They say Eli Apt, formerly an assis-
tant chaplain and part-time
mashgiach at Sinai, should not have
been fired during the budget cuts;
• They say Christmas decorations
should not be prevalent during the
holiday season;
• Critics suggest Detroit Medical
Center's purchase of the Woodland

Sinai President Irving Shapiro reads into the future.

Medical Centers, formerly a leading
referral service for Sinai, shows wan-
ing loyalty by Jewish physicians to

inai President Irving Shapiro
shuns criticism and stresses
the importance of the
hospital's suburban outpatient
satellite facilities to Jewish communi-
ty relations.
He agrees with board of trustee
members, who say the hospital was
created, sustained and led by the
Jewish community to provide health
care for all people. Among those peo-
ple, he says, is a vibrant black com-
munity that deserves the best possi-
ble medical attention Sinai can
Shapiro's goal is to follow the
hospital's original Talmudic mission:
He who saves a single life is as if he
would have saved the world.
"As a place of care, we may not be
all that different from other
hospitals," Shapiro says, adding that
differences are visible during Shabbat
and Jewish holidays, which are
celebrated openly. "That makes it
unique. The roots are there."
Many Jewish doctors and com-


munity leaders agree that Sinai is, in
fact, a place to call home. Sinai is the
only Michigan hospital with a kosher
kitchen supervised by a rabbi. It also
has a predominantly Jewish medical
"I would love it if members of the
Jewish community felt as if they own-
ed a piece of Sinai. I feel it is home:'
says Pola Friedman, Sinai director of
supportive services. "Our attachment
comes in thousands of years of tradi-
tion. We provide apartments for Or-
thodox families visiting sick relatives
on Shabbat; we outreach to Jewish
youth; we offer religious education to
"We have to keep reminding the
Jewish community that we are a
Jewish institution," she says.
Sinai's problems have intensified
•during this volatile health care era
that leaves Michigan hospitals
scrambling to survive. Like
southeastern Michigan's other 69
hospitals, Sinai is struggling to re-
main independent as financial 'pro-
blems abound, and its leaders are
mapping out a game plan to guide it
through the medical profession's most
comprehensive transition.
In the past five years, hospitals

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