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Year: 2023

Creating a Sustainable Future for Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

by Kimberly Fuson, Chief Executive Officer

Three years ago, our trustees offered me the privilege to return to Cedar Sinai Park to help steer the organization on to a path of sustainability. With all my heart, I want Cedar Sinai Park to find and take steps to a solid future that will adapt maturely to the changing times and carry us into our next century.

At the core of our mission, always, is caring for our beloved elders, with no compromise. That was the intent of our forebears when they met for the first time on January 4, 1920, to plan for the Jewish Old People’s Home—the first iteration of assisted living—and the Jewish community can be proud of the gemstone that was created and is dearly cherished.

Across the nation, single-site, faith-based, not-for-profit elder care communities are being challenged. Many are failing; hundreds closed last year in the United States. Others are merging or affiliating with bigger corporations.

Decades before the Covid pandemic, the 103-year-old Robison Jewish Home (dba Cedar Sinai Park) has contended with decreasing Medicaid reimbursements. Medicaid does not cover overhead, and only reimburses a certain percentage of each resident’s stay, per day. The reimbursement rate has ranged from 60 to 80 percent over the past decades. Given that the majority of our residents at Robison Jewish Health Center and Harold Schnitzer Center for Living utilize Medicaid, there is a significant gap in what we are paid, and what we have to spend to meet our high standards of care.

Our supportive community has subsidized resident care and services to offset some of the losses. Cedar Sinai Park received significant PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funds during Covid, which directly subsidized staff wages.

We’ve also known since 2007 that the number of individuals approaching retirement age was rapidly increasing while the available population of caregivers was steadily decreasing. There are not enough nurses in the pipeline because Oregon has the third fewest graduates in nursing programs, and we rank last in the country for degrees awarded from public institutions. Nationwide, we are in a care crisis of monumental proportions.

Despite the ever-changing regulations of short- and long-term nursing care, historically, Robison stayed ahead of the labor curve, thanks to its excellent wages and benefits and terrific culture of community.

However, roughly 15 percent of the national nursing home workforce left the sector when the pandemic began. Finding qualified staff for Robison Jewish Health Center who want to work has been a major hurdle, despite a wage study we conducted during the summer of 2022, which resulted in substantial wage increases for our health professionals. With lower than desired numbers of staff, we haven’t been able to utilize all of the 44 beds in Robison Jewish Health Center short-term skilled nursing since the pandemic hit.

To maintain the quality care for which Robison is known, we have been relying for the past few years on “agency” health professionals, that is people contracted temporarily as nurses, licensed nurse practitioners, and certified nursing assistants. Agencies demand salaries for their professionals two to three times higher than what our employees receive, depending upon the shift they are asked to work.

Our significant staffing shortage coupled with the crushing cost of agency labor means Cedar Sinai Park is facing critical shortfalls monthly. If we continue on our current path, we determined our expenses would soon exceed our cash reserves and given the current climate, we believe we must act now.

With strong support from our trustees, on March 6, we suspended admissions to our post-acute and rehabilitation services at Robison Jewish Health Center until further notice. All of the short-term residents currently at Robison Jewish Health Center are recovering well, and will soon go back to their full lives at home. The five long-term residents in Robison Jewish Health Center have been invited to select an available private suite in the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living.

The 48 private suites in the four households of the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living will remain open, and skilled nursing referrals will continue to be accepted on a very limited basis. We are consolidating all of the Robison Jewish Health Center clinical staff into the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, and have virtually eliminated all agency health professionals.

All of our Robison Jewish Health Center nursing department positions are preserved. All staff wages have been preserved.

We are consolidating culinary services, and all food production will occur at the Rose Schnitzer Manor kitchen, which will return us to an all-kosher campus.

Seven important humans, who will always be part of our Cedar Sinai Park family, are affected (reduction of hours/lay-off) by the suspension of Robison post-acute care services. We love all our staff and have made every effort to ensure they are cared for and supported during this transition. All staff affected by the suspension of admissions will be offered coaching/counseling, job referrals and letters of recommendation.

Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, Rose Schnitzer Independent and Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Sinai In-Home Care are fully functioning and open to the community. We continue to find ways to enhance our care and services, and to improve the quality of life for our residents.

Above all else, Cedar Sinai Park must remain viable for the elders and vulnerable who rely upon us. We have a long tradition of high-quality care and staffing, and we want to maintain that reputation in the community. The decision to suspend Robison admissions was not made lightly; we believe it is the best way to achieve our long-term goals.

Cedar Sinai Park is working with two expert advisory firms to help develop scenarios for sustainability. HJ Sims is an investment banking and strategic consulting firm specializing in senior housing financing. Clifton Larson Allen is an accounting firm whose focus is market analytics for senior care and other industries. We are also consulting with our industry peers and trade associations.

Once those analyses are conducted, Cedar Sinai Park will be in a better position to make decisions about its path to sustainability. We are a strong and sound organization. Cedar Sinai Park must change in order to be responsible and serve the needs of the Jewish community.

Thank you for your generous support of the Home for all of these years. We appreciate your gifts, your guidance, and your grace as we go through this important transition.


Caregiver’s Family Woven into Cedar Sinai Park Tapestry

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Jasmine Lohn, L.P.N., C.N.A., is a prime example of the interconnectedness and tradition that is Cedar Sinai Park. Her parents worked at Robison Jewish Home when Jasmine was a young girl! So did her grandmother and aunt!

“She looked just the same,” said Harold Schnitzer Center for Living Resident Joeen Rodinsky (z”l), whose mother lived at Robison in the mid-1990s and was cared for by Jasmine’s mother, Aura. “When I came her to live, I looked at her, and she said, ‘Do you know who I am? I am Aura’s daughter.’ It was immediate love. I adore her.”

Jasmine was born in California where her parents, Aura and Luis, worked at a Jewish community in Sylmar. When they moved to Oregon in 1991, they joined Robison and Jasmine remembers coming to Robison as a child. Aura’s mother Julia also worked at Robison and so did Luis’s sister, Maria.

“It was a cozy place,” remembers Jasmine. “When you walked into the reception area, they used to make cookies, and it smelled like home.

“I remember one resident in particular who used to make necklaces out of beads. She had a big sunflower on the back of her chair, and she would always come and talk to me. And I had my little dog with me.

“So I would sit there and eat the cookies that they would give me at reception, and talk with her, and she would show me her collection. She had bags and bags of beads.

“It was always really inviting.”

Jasmine occasionally read to the residents and put lotion on their hands. Later, she attended Beaverton High School and visited Robison as a teen through their Health Careers program. She said her upbringing definitely influenced her decision to go into health care.

After becoming a certified nursing assistant, she worked at West Hills Village, and then she managed a foster home.

“And then in 2010, my mom was like, ‘Come apply at Robison! We can all be together. So I ended up coming here and applying and got hired.”

Jasmine and her parents all worked at Robison together for the next eight years. She’s mainly worked on the Robison side of campus, in post-acute and rehabilitation, and the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living households.

Though Aura is mostly retired, and Luis is working closer to home, Jasmine has stayed on. She attended Portland Community College for her prerequisites to nursing school at Sumner College, but became a licensed practical nurse in 2016.

“I enjoy the residents,” she said. “The relationships that I’ve built with the residents here, especially in long term care, they’re just like family. They’re like my grandma and grandpa’s, so I really enjoy being around them. I eat dinner with them, and communicate with them about what they’re doing.

“And every morning, I go say ‘hello’ to Joeen. I let everyone know that I’m here and then do computer work until the residents are up, and it’s time to do blood sugars and meds and then make phone calls.

“We have a good team. Everyone is passionate about what they do, and they’re caring and reliable. Even when we had the last winter storm, people were staying over and working extra shifts, and being accommodating for other staff members that couldn’t come in.”

Jasmine lives near McMinnville and spent five hours on the road during the snowstorm going “23 miles an hour and taking it really slow” to get to Robison to make her shift (“I was a little late,” she confessed). Jasmine even spent a night in the Holzman household to ensure she would be here to work the following day.

In her free time, Jasmine enjoys walking and hiking with her fiance, Duncan. She has three children (Aimee, 11; Allyson, 9, and Ailis, 5), and three dogs (a pug, a standard poodle, and a St. Bernard) and Aura and Luis live a block away. “They run back and forth to help,” said Jasmine.

“It’s beautiful,” that she is here, having grown up here with her family, said Joeen. “She is the sweetest young lady. She has a special quality to her. I love Jasmine.”

Added Jasmine: “I really like it here.”



Going Above and Beyond in Maintenance

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

There isn’t much Aaron Farrar hasn’t taught himself about fixing stuff.

“I wasn’t really much of a handyman until I took an opportunity at another facility several years ago as the director of maintenance,” said Aaron, who became Cedar Sinai Park’s lead maintenance technician almost two years ago. “The former director quit and walked off the job, so there wasn’t anyone I could turn to for advice. I had no training whatsoever. They just threw me in and told me to figure it out.

“It was just me and YouTube back then, and now over the years, I’ve done all kinds of different repairs. I truly have learned so much these last several years.  I’ve found that sometimes, the best way to learn something is just to get in there and do it.”

Aaron grew up in southern California and moved to the Northwest 17 years ago for a change of scenery. First landing in Seattle where he worked in commercial and industrial heating and air conditioning, then on to Portland where he obtained jobs at memory care and assisted living facilities.

He joined Cedar Sinai Park in April of 2020, during the height of the pandemic.  “The Jewish community seems to really look out for their own people, but happily welcomes people of many other backgrounds and ethnicities as well, and that was kind of cool to me.” said Aaron.

Aaron drives to Cedar Sinai Park from Vancouver every day, what can be a long drive given traffic, depending upon his hours.

“It’s not a thing of convenience,” said Aaron, with a laugh. “I enjoy coming to work. I enjoy what I do, helping residents and staff.”

“I’ve been treated well since I’ve been here. Vacation hours accrue quickly, and we even get free employee meals, which is always a plus. It seems real family oriented here. There are a lot of people who have worked here for over 20 years, which in my opinion speaks volumes. Things have gone well.”

The day we spoke with Aaron, he was troubleshooting an electrical issue on a couple of baseboard heaters in the 600 Hall of Robison, but most days, he is all over campus.  Some days, his tasks are as simple as moving a bed or repairing a shelf.  But he’s also dealt with extinguishing a dryer fire, repairing broken water lines, and is the backup for Building Services Director Tammy Heard.

“Tammy offers the team a lot of support, and so we do our best to support her, as well.”

When asked about the work he does on a typical day, Aaron explained: “You try to stick to a plan, which some days works fine, but then on other days, you’re not even close,” he said, laughing. “Sometimes, a repair that you thought would be a simple job ends up taking much longer. I help out here and there with the normal day-to-day tasks, but I also deal with the slightly more technical and complex issues that arise, which often require not only technical know-how, but also time spent researching      effective solutions, and a lot of patience.

“For example,” said Aaron, “since starting at Robison nearly three years ago, I’ve taught myself, and others on the team, how to troubleshoot and repair hospital beds, mobile and ceiling-based patient lifts, and even the control operators that open and close many of the automatic doors in the facility.  Prior to my arrival, most of that work was handled strictly by outside vendors.”

Last year, Aaron played a key role in obtaining approvals for both Robison and Rose Schnitzer Manor to receive $200,000 in state funds from the Oregon Department of Human Services, as part of their Long-Term Care Capital Improvement & Emergency Preparedness Program. As a result, both buildings received much-needed major repairs on their HVAC systems, and Robison was equipped with more than a dozen medical grade, high-efficiency HEPA air purifiers.

Two weeks ago, during Portland’s big snowstorm, Aaron drove the Cedar Sinai Park van to collect dozens of employees from their homes and got them to work safely, and then home again after their shift.

“Cedar Sinai Park has equipped its two vans with really nice, studded tires, so we were practically the only ones on the road who were still moving,” said Aaron. “There were busses in the middle of the road, completely abandoned, while other vehicles were sliding uncontrollably into each other like bumper cars. It was intense and quite stressful, for me at least.

“Jack [Hellyer, the other maintenance technician who drove for the winter weather shuttle], on the other hand, didn’t seem to be bothered one bit by all the driving he did in such icy conditions,” said Aaron. “He apparently enjoyed it. But overall, the driving went well. We just made sure to drive really, really slow, making sure to get everyone to and from work safely.”

Aaron loves to read in his off time, mostly nonfiction such as politics, global affairs, and history. He’s computer savvy—he can build a website from scratch and knows how to code— and is currently learning how to use one of the many distributions of the Linux operating system.  Last summer, he piloted his first plane, a small Cessna. He is a mentor to other employees on the maintenance team.

“I do my best to mitigate issues, put out what fires I can, and do whatever it is Tammy needs done at the moment.

“I really like it here.”



Manager Loves to Cook and Care for Cedar Sinai Park’s Kehillah Residents

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Nathan Burgess was a care provider at Jewish Family & Child Services in 2014, when he was asked by a parent there to apply for the role of in-house manager at Kehillah.

“I used to come here to take folks out in the community to do fun things,” said Nathan. “I met a parent here and she said they were looking for an on-site manager.”

That was eight years ago, and Nathan has been managing the apartments of Kehillah’s 14 residents and tending to their needs ever since.

“I love it here,” he said. “The residents are like your family. Some need a little more help than others, but we still love all of them.”

Kehillah Housing—a project of Cedar Sinai Park in collaboration with Jewish Family & Child Services—is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Its’ mission is to care for adults with development disabilities who need affordable housing and access to social services that support their ability to live independently in the community.

Ground broke on the facility in 2012, and opened a year later on September 1, 2013, with management through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There is little resident turnover at Kehillah, said Nathan—11 of the original residents remain–and the wait list is long, an indicator of the lack of housing for adults with special needs.

Current residents’ ages range from 30 to 50, said Nathan, and there are 10 males and four females. Most work at least one day a week at a job off site.

Nathan also works outside of Kehillah, full-time at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, supervising and training GED tutors and helping inmates with their training, often in the facility’s computer lab. Friday night through Sunday he is fully concentrated at Kehillah, coordinating cooking classes, movie nights, crafts, games, parties, and more.

“I try to get the residents out of their rooms to try new things,” said Nathan. “People love to eat and their favorite foods are pizza and tacos.”

Nathan grew up in southeast Portland near Mt. Tabor. His office is lined with space Lego’s and he confesses his Kehillah apartment has many more completed Lego sets, décor that is okay, he says for his new fiancée, Brandy.

The self-described “solid cleaner who is good with a plunger,” Nathan is supported by Cedar Sinai Park’s Facilities team on bigger fix-it projects.

“Everyone is really friendly here, and it’s a good community,” said Nathan. “We all get along, and I’m a big fan of the activities where people are enjoying themselves.”





Annual Meeting for 2023 is June 29

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Cedar Sinai Park’s annual meeting of the members* for 2023 is on Thursday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting is in-person at Rose Schnitzer Manor, in Zidell Hall, 6140 SW Boundary Street, Portland, Oregon, 97221.

Join us for dessert and a lively performance by Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Mazel Tones, followed by the Annual Meeting of the Members and Board of Trustees.

Membership status applies to those who have donated to Cedar Sinai Park in any amount since July 1, 2022. Only members are entitled to vote at the annual meeting, but all members of the community are welcome to attend.


Caregiver Loves Family Feel of Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Talea Windsor is fairly typical of a Cedar Sinai Park caregiver, many of whom join the Home for its reputation and then stay on due to the family feel.

“I’d always heard about this place being amazing and having great food from my friends who worked here, so I thought I’d give it a try,” said the medication aide, who joined Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living more than two years ago. “I like the households, the family living. It’s cozy and we get to know the residents intimately. They become like family.”

Talea grew up in Oregon and found herself caregiving at a young age for her Hillsboro high sweetheart who had chronic health issues.

“When we went to the prom, he was really sick with swelling on the brain and was admitted to the hospital the day after the dance,” she remembers, a quiet sadness in her voice. “When he got out of the hospital, he had a pick line inserted, and I remember going to concerts with him carrying a cooler full of IV stuff and I’d hook him up when we were at the concert. It got me started in the medical field.”

Though Talea’s first love passed away a decade ago, his family is still part of her life, and he is especially in her memory as she is caring for others.

Talea taught preschool for a few years before turning to senior living facilities. A typical day for her now at Robison is checking vitals, giving medications and supplements, and helping residents in the Stern and Barde households with whatever they need. She was selected Employee of the Quarter in late 2022, and hopes to grow her career this year at Robison by heading to nursing school.

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fuson fondly recalls Talea rightly following the rules to a T even if it means standing up to others.

I’m big on integrity,” said Talea. “You have to do what’s right.”

Talea said she thinks Cedar Sinai Park caregivers overall share her values, and loving, nurturing personality.

“The residents become like family members and we go out of our way to do little things for them to make them feel special,” she said. “Like one resident mentioned they needed hair gel and I went and bought him hair gel.

“Little things like that are so important.”




New Residents Enjoy Welcome Breakfast

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Interconnection is what Cedar Sinai Park is all about, and a number of new connections were formed at Rose Schnitzer Manor’s welcome breakfast last week.

“Where did you live in Connecticut?” asked Resident Welcome Committee Chair Harriet, of new resident Ann. “Where?! Hamden?! You’re kidding, I lived there!” The ladies proceeded to share common shops they frequented and laugh over the potential of paths crossing.

Forrest and Sandy were celebrating their one-month anniversary at Rose Schnitzer Manor during the welcome breakfast. “We like it here,” said Forrest. “We came because the cost was more reasonable than other places we toured. Now that we’re here, we like the food, and the people are very nice.”

Ann, who had been with Cedar Sinai Park for seven weeks at the time of this writing, said she came to Rose Schnitzer Manor because her son lives in Portland. “People take me places and I’m so grateful,” she said. “The food is good. I am a nutritionist so I appreciate the food.”

Added Norma, “The food is wonderful, and the people here have been friendly and the service is great. I’ve been very happy during my one month here; people have been very kind.”

The new resident welcome breakfast is also an opportunity for people to connect with Rose Schnitzer Manor leaders to ask questions, said Erin Hickox Acker, Resident Transitions and Experience Director. Invitations are sent to new residents, and the welcome committee distributes the invitations.

“We want people to feel comfortable as they become acclimated to Rose Schnitzer Manor, and to have access to leadership so they can find talk about any needs that have come up in their first few weeks,” said Erin. “We also want residents to come out of their rooms and get to know one another in a fun way, and the welcome breakfast is one good way to make that happen.

For more information about Rose Schnitzer Manor, or a tour, please call Erin, (503) 535-4004, or email,




Sinai In-Home Care Offers Former Stay-at-Home Dad Flexibility

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

There comes a time when many stay-at-home parents decide to re-enter the workforce, and it was that moment in 2019 that brought Michael Gettel-Gilmartin to Sinai In-Home Care.

“A friend of mine had worked here, and she said it would be a great place for me,” said Michael, who recently celebrated his fourth anniversary with Sinai In-Home Care. “The kids were grown and didn’t need me as much, and it seemed like a good time to return to work.

“I think I found my vocation at my late age of almost 60!”

Michael was a volunteer caregiver for three years during university in Exeter, England, where he grew up. “It was a sweet connection with seniors in our community,” he said. “We’d have a cup of tea and chat.”

After graduating with a bachelor of arts in English literature, Michael moved to Japan where he met wife, Marie, an Oregon native. The couple have three boys, and Michael managed the children’s schedules and activities for 20 years.

Michael initially began with one client at Sinai In-Home Care, and now works about 30 hours a week. Currently, he has four clients, all male, ranging in age from 78 to 99. Typical tasks include driving, reading, helping with the computer, dressing, writing cards, going to the store, and helping to organize appointments.

“I just love it,” he said. “I love hearing their stories and I love being able to help them. One of my clients is a World War II veteran and self-made businessman, and he is just a hoot. I just loved him the minute I met him.”

Michael often provides respite care for his clients’ families who do the bulk of in-home care, but sometimes need a break.

“Everybody loves Michael,” said Heather Hess, Sinai In-Home Care interim director. “All of Michael’s clients would love more time with him because he is a man with a heart of gold. He is so dedicated to his clients. Even when he’s away on vacation, he will send emails asking how things are going with his senior friends.”

Added Michael: “It would be a nice thing if I were able to encourage people to try caregiving. I like listening to stories, helping people, and meeting others, so I would 100% recommend this job.

“I like working here. Everyone is very supportive and there’s good training and support.”

For more information about Sinai In-Home Care, call (503) 542-0088.




Meet the Torahs at Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Cedar Sinai Park owns three Torahs that are used for a variety of Jewish services and holidays, and resident Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

“We exist because of Torah,” said Board Member Eddy Shuldman, who is chairperson of the Religious and Spiritual Life Committee. “The Torah teaches us about honoring our parents, valuing our elders, and about choosing life!”

Eddy said all three Torahs have been with Cedar Sinai Park for a very long time. “I can’t begin to estimate the length of time we have had these Torahs,” said Eddy. “But the Torahs are all estimated to range in age from 50 to 120 years. We do know that the Nudelman family generously donated a Torah in memory of Alysmae Nudelman in 1997.”


Two of Cedar Sinai Park’s Torahs are typically housed in the Cogan Chapel ark in the Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, and one is generally in the Zidell Hall ark. We also currently have one Torah in the Zidell ark, which is on loan from Congregation Shaarie Torah.

Just prior to the onset of Covid, all three campus Torahs were inspected by a sofer (scribe) for the first time in their history with Cedar Sinai Park, a gift from Marcy Tonkin. Two of the Torahs are currently in Florida undergoing the necessary repairs.

The remaining Torah on campus is our smallest, a 16” medium weight scroll, written in a Nice Bet Yoseph script approximately 100 years ago in Germany. There are 42 lines per column. The scroll is called a “vuv” scroll, which means that almost every column starts with the letter “vuv.”

“Vacationing” in Florida, said Eddy, is our other “vuv,” a 21-inch, heavyweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph Sephard script approximately 50 to 60 years ago in Israel.

The other Torah under repair is a 16.25” lightweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph script approximately 120 years ago in Germany.

Eddy said that prior to Covid, Cedar Sinai Park participated in B’yachad, pairing Rose Schnitzer Manor residents with Portland Jewish Academy seventh and eighth grade students.

B’yachad means ‘together’ in Hebrew. One of B’yachad’s last activities was cleaning the scrolls before sending them off to Florida, one of the most “memorable activities,” said Eddy.

“These Torahs are treasured and have been lovingly used for Shabbat and holiday services for decades,” she said. “They are considered a part of our Cedar Sinai Park family!





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