By Bill Burgey, Health Care Marketing Communications Manager
I sat down with Rabbi Amy Goodman during her first week as Rabbinic Director for Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care. She hopes that this Q&A will help her engage with health care professionals throughout Greater Boston and encourages you to reach out to her and schedule a time to meet to continue the conversation. Contact Rabbi Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (781) 234-9950.
Q: What brings you to Hebrew SeniorLife?
A: I am very excited to join the Hebrew SeniorLife community as Rabbinic Director of HSL’s Hospice Care. This position is a beautiful marriage of my experience in non-profit management and education, and community outreach. I’m passionate about providing pastoral care at the end of life and in the context of advanced illness.
Q: Are you relocating?
A: It is quite a homecoming for me; I am relocating back to Metro Boston having spent the last seven years studying and working in New York City.
Q: Where did you work before coming to Hebrew SeniorLife?
A: I was the Associate Director of Development for the Metropolitan Jewish Health System Foundation in New York City for the past two years. In that position, I engaged with our hospice patients and their families in their desire to share their gratitude and to support our hospice and palliative care programs.
Q: Can you share a little about your education and background?
A: I received rabbinic ordination through Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (New York) and served for two years as rabbinic intern at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan as part of their Palliative Medicine Service. I also served as rabbinic intern at Zicklin Jewish Hospice Residence in Riverdale (Bronx), New York. I held various chaplain and rabbinic internships at congregations and in hospitals in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Long Island and Queens, New York.
Q: What goals do you have for your new position at Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care?
A: My short-term goals are to help grow the number of individuals with advanced and terminal illness who are receiving care from our hospice program. I think that we are in a critical position to change the conversation in our community about advancing age, and empowering patients and their families to make choices that match their values, goals for care, and wishes in the face of advanced and terminal illness.
My long-term goals are to help change the entire conversation we are having about hospice and care in the face of serious illness and increase the impact HSL Hospice has on the Greater Boston region.
This impact is both in the number of patients to whom we provide hospice care and in our reach into the community. Through education and counseling I hope to help people in our Boston community discover what their personal choices are for care at the end of life, and what options are available to them among and within hospice providers. We are in the best position to provide the right care, in the right setting, at the right time when patients and their families know what their wishes are.
Q: What are your first impressions of HSL?
A: I have been overwhelmed by my welcome and the number of people who greeted me with a smile, a hug and an outpouring of excitement. And more than one person told me: “I was told to come meet you.” I am so grateful for the warmth. This is the warmth and openness that I have observed my colleagues throughout Hebrew SeniorLife sharing with our patients, residents and their family members. So I guess it means I’m already a full-member of the HSL community!
Q: What words of encouragement can you offer to someone who is struggling with a major decision about hospice care?
A: Think for a moment – if you were told you had only a short time to live, with whom, where and how would you like to spend your time? If you had a serious illness, would this change your answer? Conversations about receiving hospice care are really conversations about how you want to live your life. None of us can live forever, and given our limitations there may be wishes that are unable to be fulfilled. But if remaining in the place you call home, spending more time with family and friends, and living free from pain and discomfort are your goals, hospice care can help you achieve all of those.
I would also encourage families to have discussions about care in the face of advanced illness even before you are facing illness. Talking about hospice and advanced care options can be really instructive in determining how you would like to receive care. And just because you talk about it doesn’t mean you are signing up!
Learn more about Hospice Care at Hebrew SeniorLife.