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July 23, 1993 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-07-23

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Landgarten receives the first JFS
ews who face destitution.



Bruce and Michele Landgarten.

ichele and Bruce Land-
garten know firsthand that
illnesses can have a cata-
strophic effect on people's
lives — and financial wel-
The Landgartens, who
currently live in West
Bloomfield, met at the
Jewish Community Center
in the mid 1980s. They fell
in love and married.
Less than a week after
they returned from their
honeymoon, Michele con-
sulted doctors about a lump
in her breast. It was diag-
nosed as malignant and she
was given a 20 percent
chance of surviving.
Eight years have passed
since medical specialists
made their gloomy predic-
tions. Mrs. Landgarten, 37,

has been in and out of hos-
pitals. She has undergone
several different types of
chemotherapy and experi-
mental treatments. The
Landgartens estimate they
owe between $75,000 and
$100,000 in medical bills.
If it weren't for the
Medical Care Emergency
Fund, set up three weeks
ago through Jewish Family
Service, the Landgartens
would be destitute.
The fund was established
to provide assistance for
chronically ill individuals
who are financially
strapped or indigent. Mrs.
Landgarten, the first recipi-
ent of the fund, so far has
received money from
friends, relatives and others
who sympathize with her

"The fund is so important
because a typical middle-
class family can find itself
on the verge of homeless-
ness with just one serious
medical condition in the
family," said Reuben
Rotman, JFS director of
community resource devel-
JFS set up the Medical
Care Emergency Fund
because its budget is too
small to adequately assist
the chronically ill. Since the
beginning of 1993, the
Jewish Family Service has
received more than 100
requests for medical care
funding (not including
requests from new
Americans). Some people,
like the Landgartens, have
incurred exorbitant debts .
from years of treatment.
Some requests come from
elderly citizens with fixed
incomes and costly prescrip-
JFS officials hope that by
publicizing the needs of
local individuals they will
encourage others to donate
to the fund. Contributors
can give money to specific
people who qualify as recipi-
ents, or they can write a
general check to the overall
Donations, JFS staff
members say, should be
mailed directly to the
agency, and checks should
be made out to Jewish
Family Service. Contri-
butors who want to donate
to a particular person, like
Michele, should write the
name of the intended recipi-
ent on the bottom of the
No payments will be
made directly to individu-
als. JFS will pay the health
care provider or prescrip-
tion vendor, although the
fund recipients will be able
to direct where the money
should be applied.
JFS staff members will
choose recipients of the fund
— but only after they assess
the sick person's medical,
psychological and financial

"This is not just a way for
people to pay their medical
bills," stresses Alan Good-
man, executive director of
JFS. "Access to the fund is
limited to those situations
that are serious enough to _(
warrant assistance through
this program."
Mrs. Landgarten was cho-
sen as a recipient of the
fund after JFS staff mem-
bers determined the couple .
had exhausted other possi-
ble sources of funding. For
instance, Mr. Landgarten,
who works as the assistant
executive director of the
Jewish Community Center,
has insurance. But it
doesn't cover many of the
medical expenses.
Although Mrs. Land-
garten responded positively
to a special type of chemo-
therapy, her insurance corn-
pany did not. The proce-
dures are new and consid-
ered experimental. What's
more, some of them were
performed out of state,
which means expenses asso-
ciated with the treatment
are even less likely to be

"A typical middle-
class family can
find itself on
the verge of

Reuben Rotman

Creditors have called
warning the couple that
treatment will stop until
they pay their bills.
"It's unfortunate that it
takes considerable money in
order to take advantage of
opportunities that could
save lives," Mr. Landgarten
Mrs. Landgarten is deter-
mined to be in the 20 per-
cent of patients who survive
her type of breast cancer.
While she battles her dis-
ease, she is grateful to oth-
ers who are helping her
overcome the constant
financial struggle. El

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