But not the thousands struggling with serious illness, special needs, or other substantial challenges. These people, who are assisted at ordinary times by Ezer Mizion’s huge support system, continue to cope now, too, with the illness, the special need, or the mental disorder. As difficult as it is for everyone, for them the situation is virtually impossible.
How can parents take care of the children who are at home, without any school or day-care, and at the same time be with their child hospitalized with cancer?! What can they do with a family member who is battling mental illness, when this tense situation triggers his terrible outbursts, and they can’t even take him outside a bit so as to calm him down?! How do you occupy a child with special needs in the confines of four walls, when he can’t sit quietly for even a minute?!
Ezer Mizion’s hotline is the answer to these and many other such questions. With the outbreak of Coronavirus in Israel, Ezer Mizion understood that the services given all year round would need to be adapted to the situation according to Health Department directives, and they immediately got to work on doing so.
A special counseling and support hotline was opened at *2236, providing a response in a range of areas: mental health, the elderly, cancer patients, special needs, and more.
In collaboration with local municipalities and Social Services departments, Ezer Mizion branches across the country began functioning as emergency stations and vital services were stepped up, in accordance with needs as they arise.
The Phones Don’t Stop Ringing
Print and digital media ads were published, listing details of Ezer Mizion branches, hours, and contact information of branch directors and service providers.
The phones don’t stop ringing. Hundreds of calls are coming in on a range of subjects. They are responded to and addressed with Ezer Mizion’s trademark efficiency, graciousness, and professionalism.
There are also the responses given before the calls: Along with the ongoing support for cancer patients and their families, hundreds of special craft kits were delivered to the families of patients across the country, to keep kids busy and free up parents to deal with the battle for their loved one’s life. One-on-one mentoring continues (as long as it will be permitted by the Ministry of Health) and individual therapies and personal emotional intervention for cancer patient families are also provided. Hot meals are still being brought to families homes. Deliveries will continue as long as permitted.
In addition to hotline teams that are responding to incoming calls, the Mental Health division initiates contact with mental health patients and their families, helping maintain calm and picking up on distress signals in time, ensuring provision of a timely, appropriate response. There has been an understandable unprecedented peak in requests for assistance in cases of anxiety and depression, relating to the unstable health, social and financial impact of Covid-19.
The Geriatric Services Division provides homecare attendant services and extensive support to the elderly, maintaining their daily routine, meeting their unique needs, and assisting this high risk population. Special supervision is given to ensure that the attendants fulfill Ministry of Health requirements and do not abandon the patients for whom they are responsible.
While all group meeting and activities have been suspended by the Ministry of Health, the Tzipporah Fried Alzheimer Family Support Center is busy reaching out to hundreds of families and caregivers of dementia patients who are part of the service network, with guidance and support during this incredibly trying time. They are also manning the hotline, fielding incoming phone calls and requests for help.
Babies and toddlers who attend Ezer Mizion’s Judith Pfeuffer Day Care Center network, along with all the children who attend Ezer Mizion’s kindergartens for special needs children, are currently home, in accordance with Min. of Health directives. The teaching and therapy staff is in touch with each family, who are monitoring the children remotely. Each child received a personalized instruction and work program, sent to the homes of countless children, all delivered by volunteers!
The ambulance fleet is flooded with requests and at the ready to provide an optimum response to the many callers. Drivers are of course equipped with appropriate protection.
Medical and rehab equipment loan center services have been intensified to provide a response to the many requests coming in. The Augmentative and Alternative Communication Equipment Loan Center is continuing business as usual, lending out urgently needed communication equipment, counseling for speech and communication issues, and trouble shooting for equipment. Just last week, a device was lent to a young Corona patient….
Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life volunteer driver division, has embarked on a massive volunteer recruitment campaign. This is to preempt a situation in which there is no one available for an urgent need of delivering stem cell tests, medications, medical and rehab devices, and such. Ezer Mizion has been amazed at the response of volunteers, and thanks to them, the system is working full strength ahead, despite the fact that many volunteers who are currently in isolation.
A special call from Chananya Chollak, Ezer Mizion’s International Chairman, went out to the thousands of Ezer Mizion staff and volunteers: “The mitzvah that is forefront in our minds during this period is “V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem,” to guard our health. I am certain that each and every one of you is doing the maximum to guard his health and the health of his family, and, at the same time, to stretch out a helping hand to those who are in special distress and need our support. It is our prayer that Hashem should watch over everyone and remove this plague from us and from the entire world.”
Many volunteers responded on the spot to Rabbi Chollak’s heartfelt plea and expressed their readiness to volunteer on behalf of patients, the elderly, populations with special needs and their family members. At Ezer Mizion, we are praying along with the entire Jewish people that G-d should put an end to this pandemic and bring us the complete redemption.