By Sandy Eller

Amid the ongoing chaos and confusion, a Manhattan hospital is ensuring that coronavirus patients’ families are kept apprised of their medical conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak, bringing in a liaison to compile patient information and share it with their loved ones.

Lenox Hill Hospital, part of the Northwell Health System, has become a prime destination for coronavirus patients in recent weeks, a distinction earned for its stellar patient care. Hatzolah began transporting patients to the Upper East Side hospital after realizing that coronavirus victims were achieving positive outcomes at Lenox Hill, but the sheer number of infected individuals had doctors and nurses prioritizing medical care over phone calls, leaving family members frustrated and concerned.

After being apprised of the problem, Northwell Executive Vice president for Strategy and Analytics Jeff Kraut worked with Chayim Aruchim Care Navigator Mrs. Leah Horowitz to formulate a strategy to keep family members informed of their loved ones’ conditions while allowing doctors and nurses to focus on patient care. Northwell hired Matis Witriol to serve as a community liaison during the crisis, his fluency in both Yiddish and English and his medical background bridging the gap between patients, their loved ones and the medical staff. Witriol spends his hours walking the floors at Lenox Hill, conferring with the medical staff, making FaceTime calls with patients to their loved ones and sharing information with family members.

“It was a simple solution that worked for everyone,” said Mrs. Horowitz. “Because hospitals have no visitation policies in effect, people saw their loved ones taken away in an ambulance and couldn’t communicate with them at all until they were released from the hospital. Mr. Kraut understood the importance of establishing a line of communication that could provide family members with detailed medical information on their hospitalized loved one.”

Chayim Aruchim applauds both Lenox Hill and Northwell for appreciating the frustration and fear that left family members on edge night and day, and taking decisive steps to alleviate the situation.

“Northwell’s leadership historically has been extremely respectful and responsive to our community,” said Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, president of Chayim Aruchim, a project of Agudath Israel of America.

“It was clearly impossible for doctors and nurses to be answering phones while they were surrounded by crashing patients in need of their care,” added Mrs. Horowitz. “This was simply a communication issue that was thankfully resolved and we appreciate Mr. Kraut’s efforts in providing family members with relief and peace of mind during this difficult time. We hope that other institutions will follow his lead.”