The community will be better equipped to respond to these growing needs through a unique partnership between TMC, the TMC Foundation and Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging.
The recent grand opening celebration of Handmaker’s new 20-bed memory care unit marks the completion of the first half of a facility made possible through a $3 million challenge grant from the Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz Foundation of San Francisco.
The second piece of the collaboration – the new TMC Geropsychiatric Center at Handmaker – opens in January and will serve as a short-term, acute stabilization center for seniors with behavioral disorders who are experiencing emotional and psychological distress.
With a specialized team and proximity to great medical care, the Center will serve older adults who also may also be experiencing cognitive impairment, such as dementia, as well as age-related physiological disabilities.
“We are here today because two great local nonprofits who have been in our community forever, came together around a common mission – and that common mission is so important to our community,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said at the grand opening celebration.
“It is really a tribute to this community that we are here today,” Mayor Rothschild continued. “It should make us all proud as Tucsonans that we collectively care so much about the health of our elders.”
Dr. Hirsch Handmaker, whose father, “Murf,” started Handmaker to fulfill a commitment to his late wife, turned the first shovel at the1963 groundbreaking and then was present at the admission of the first resident at the opening of the facility. Mae Bloom Handmaker’s mother, Pearl, had been living with the family in Tucson and developed Alzheimer’s, but because of her observance of traditional Jewish dietary laws and rituals, needed to return to New York for her care.
The Emeritus Board member since has watched the facility steadily grow from its modest beginning into a state of the art facility that cares for nearly 200 residents of all denominations along an entire spectrum of care, from adult day care and independent living to skilled nursing needs.
“This is the dream my mother envisioned, a true non-denominational care facility, respectful of all residents’ religious practices and values, for Tucson,” said Handmaker, who also was actively involved in the fundraising campaign, alongside co-chairman and long-time family friend, Lowell Rothschild. “And now, for the next generation of those individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s and dementia, what’s here is truly remarkable, a tribute to our entire family and the Tucson community.”
The relationship between TMC and Handmaker didn’t just start in 2011 with the announcement of the grant opportunity, noted TMC Vice President Michael Duran, adding the professional synergies date back decades and continue today. “But as the healthcare marketplace continues to evolve, it’s through partnerships like this that we will be able to meet community need for many years to come.”
The Geropsychiatric Center is another resource that TMC is bringing to the field of geriatrics, building on the other senior services, including a new health assessment clinic providing comprehensive health evaluations, compassionate end-of-life care and a multitude of educational, social and support programs.
*Photos by Frederick Clark Photography