Alaris Health Participates in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But for many New Jersey residents, October was about more than just raising awareness, but also taking steps to help save lives of friends, families and all women affected by the disease. Alaris Member Health Centers took a very active role in getting involved and organized fundraising events and breast cancer awareness seminars. All proceeds raised during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month were donated to the American Cancer Society.

To show their support, Alaris Health at Rochelle Park held a two-day Breast Cancer Fundraiser event. Staff, residents and family participated by giving a donation and wearing a pink top.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser at Alaris Health at Rochelle Park

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Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser at Alaris Health at Rochelle

Alaris Health at Belgrove showed their support by organizing a publicly-opened bake sale where all proceeds went towards breast cancer research. During the event, staff, residents, families and visitors enjoyed a wonderful variety of delicious baked goods.

Several Alaris Member Health Centers marked the culmination of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month by participating in the Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk – an event that helps unite the community and honor and celebrate breast cancer survivors, raise money and awareness and help the American Cancer Society save lives. Thanks to the contributions and efforts of participants and volunteers, the walk was a great success and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Valerie Anderson, a breast cancer survivor and the Admissions Director at Alaris Health at Jersey City is an inspiration for her family, friends and co-workers. Supported by her family, husband and daughter as well as friends and colleagues from Alaris Health at Jersey City, Valerie successfully completed the walk and raised close to $2,000.

Valerie Anderson with her husband and daughter

Valerie Anderson with her husband and daughter

2015 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

2015 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

2015 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

2015 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Valerie Anderson, Admissions Director at Alaris Health at Jersey City and her colleagues

Valerie Anderson, Admissions Director at Alaris Health at Jersey City and her colleagues

While the month of October has come to an end, the fight against breast cancer remains alive and strong. Alaris Member Health Centers continue to support the cause and help raise awareness. Visit the Events page on our website to see all upcoming events and remember to follow us on social media!




About American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks are the largest network of breast cancer awareness events held in the country. Passionate walk participants raise critical funds that enable the American Cancer Society to fund groundbreaking breast cancer research; provide free, comprehensive information and support to those touched by breast cancer. It also helps people take steps to reduce their breast cancer risk or find it early when it is most treatable.

About Alaris Health

Founded on a tradition of health care excellence, Alaris Member Health Centers are leading providers of short-term post-hospital rehabilitation and long-term and specialty care, with Member Health Centers throughout the state of New Jersey. From Five-Star Quality ratings to a dedicated and caring staff, resident care and satisfaction are always on the top of our Member Health Centers’ priority list!

Today, Alaris Member Health Centers are setting new standards in quality, service and innovation. Using their innovative focus, Alaris Member Health Centers will continue to lead the way in an evolving health care environment. Our Member Health Centers always make sure residents are treated with the most advanced care and provided with an ever-increasing range of services and care options.

Proudly Recognizing Melissa Alford’s journey from homeless to Alaris Health at Cherry Hill

Melissa Alford became certified as a nursing assistant after landing in a homeless shelter last year. WANDA THOMAS / Staff Photographer

Melissa Alford became certified as a nursing assistant after landing in a homeless shelter last year. WANDA THOMAS / Staff Photographer

Aspiring nurse Melissa Alford has big dreams for her future.

Only two years ago, that future appeared bleak for the mother of three, who landed in a homeless shelter after losing her job.

With help from the Camden County One Stop Career Center, she has started to put her life back together with the hope of fulfilling a childhood dream. She became licensed as a certified nursing assistant, got an apartment, and found a full-time job.

Alford was recognized last month as Camden County’s honoree at a statewide program that recognizes those who have overcome extraordinary obstacles. She was selected to share her story with crowd of more than 300 people.

“I don’t mind telling people where I came from. Just like I don’t mind telling them where I am going,” she said in a recent interview.Alford and 14 others from across the state received the Sharon Dutra Memorial STAR Award at the annual Garden State Employment and Training Workforce Development conference in Atlantic City. Jerome Mason Sr. was selected for Gloucester County. There was no Burlington County recipient this year.

Alford, 47, was nominated by Sharon Stephens, her counselor in the One Stop program. She was the hands-down favorite. More than 600 people transition through the program annually.

“I am so proud of her. She set a goal, and she’s working on it,” Stephens said in an interview last week. “She’s worked very hard.”

Alford’s journey began around 2007 when she moved to Camden from Georgia to escape an abusive relationship. A nursing assistant for many years, she thought she could easily find a job here.

She was surprised to learn that New Jersey would not accept her out-of-state license. So she became an assistant manager at a fast-food restaurant and was employed for several years.

Meanwhile, Alford applied to the One Stop program, which offers grants for training. But she needed remediation with her reading and math skills to move forward.

By 2014, Alford found herself unemployed after an illness and living in a Camden homeless shelter for three months. She had no immediate family in the area.

“I knew that I had to get out of that shelter,” she said. “It’s life, and stuff happens.”

Alford resumed training to boost her basic skills scores, while working odd jobs part time. She eventually was awarded a grant to enroll in the Brooks Alternative School for training as a certified nursing assistant.

She completed the 90-hour program in four weeks and became certified. She landed a job at a Deptford nursing home within weeks, got off public assistance, and moved into an apartment in Camden.

“The bottom line is to help people get jobs,” said Jeffrey Swartz, president of the Workforce Investment Board for Camden County. “Jobs are still the most important goal for many Americans who are struggling to find jobs and a career path.”

Alford said her deep faith sustained her during the tough times, then and now. She focused on work, her family – three adult children – and her church, she said.

“Prayer is the only thing that keeps me going,” she said.

Her swift transition from homelessness to gainful employment on a promising career path stunned the counselors at One Stop, Stephens said. The state provides training through the program for about 5,700 annually.

“Her commitment and determination definitely were a standout for us,” said Frank Filipek Jr., director of the Camden County One Stop Resource Center. “She pushed herself.”

Alford has set her sights on nursing school. She completed additional training to become an EKG and phlebotomy technician.

As a youngster growing up in Georgia, she decided to pursue nursing after her grandfather suffered a heart attack.

“I just called 911 because I didn’t know what to do,” Alford said. “I said, ‘I’m going to be a nurse.’ ”

She currently works at Alaris Health in Cherry Hill, where she frequently works double shifts to earn extra money to pay for nursing school and buy a home.

“I have a long way to go,” she admits. “But I’ve got a plan.”

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Alaris Health at Cedar Grove holds art show inspired by resident

Calligrapher Chitfu Yu, a resident of Alaris Health in Cedar Grove, displays examples of his work at an art show Aug. 5.Resident Margaret Walsh returns from the terrace with her new portrait.On the terrace outside, Walsh sits for a portrait by artist Lissanne Lake.

Calligrapher Chitfu Yu, a resident at the Cedar Grove Alaris Health, displays examples of his work. (Photos by Adam Anik/Staff Photographer)

Who would guess that Alaris Health at Cedar Grove had a famous artist among its residents?

An art show at the health center on Grove Avenue Aug. 5 featured local artists from the Hackensack Art Club, and Fort Lee and Montclair residents. The event was inspired by Chinese-born artist Chitfu Yu, who recently suffered a stroke and began painting again during his recovery at the facility.

Calligrapher Chitfu Yu, a resident of Alaris Health in Cedar Grove, displays examples of his work at an art show Aug. 5.Resident Margaret Walsh returns from the terrace with her new portrait.On the terrace outside, Walsh sits for a portrait by artist Lissanne Lake.

Resident Margaret Walsh returns from the terrace with her new portrait by artist Lissanne Lake. (Adam Anik/Staff Photographer)

“When he first came here, he would lie down in his room and do absolutely nothing,” Alaris Health at Cedar Grove Recreation Director Olga Shneyderman said. “It took a while to get him working again. I would bring him to every art lesson and now he paints every day. I’m so happy for him.”

Shneyderman had to continually encourage Yu to begin painting again while he was recovering at the center, but he starting working four months ago and now twice a day, he “religiously” visits a studio she built especially for him, she said.

Calligrapher Chitfu Yu, a resident of Alaris Health in Cedar Grove, displays examples of his work at an art show Aug. 5.Resident Margaret Walsh returns from the terrace with her new portrait.On the terrace outside, Walsh sits for a portrait by artist Lissanne Lake.

On the terrace outside, at Cedar Grove Alaris Health, resident Margaret Walsh sits for a portrait by Lissanne Lake. (Adam Anik/Staff Photographer)

“When he’s painting and drawing, he’s creating with his heart,” said Lucy Majry, a part-time aide at Alaris Health at Cedar Grove.

Yu was born in 1943 in Guangdong, China, and moved to the United States 40 years ago. He began calligraphy and works in the sumi-e style, which he began practicing at the age of 9, Yu said.

Sumi-e is an eastern Asian style of painting commonly referred to as ink wash painting, where the artist tries to convey the emotional aspect of an object using black ink and water. Yu has painted all kinds of animals, objects and most recently, a series called “Faces” in 2011.

At the art show, Yu displayed portraits and calligraphy work he completed while at the health center.

“The very first art lesson here was all because of Mr. Yu,” Lauren Kaiser said, a fine artist and instructor who gives lesson to center residents. “He didn’t participate much at first, but I knew he was taking it all in. It warms my heart to see his recent work.”

Kaiser began as a volunteer at the center six months ago with its dog therapy program, and once Shneyderman found out she was an artist, she asked Kaiser to conduct art lessons once a month, Shneyderman said.

Yu was not the only one showing off his creations during the event. Shneyderman was able to secure works for display from about 20 different artists, she said.

Kaiser brought out some of her artwork, as well as some of her student’s computer graphic pieces and paintings. Fort Lee resident Jane Sklar also displayed her and her art partner Max Cartagena’s unique creations, described as “manipulated mixed media based on photographs.”

“It’s great to see a consortium of a bunch of art clubs get together and see each other’s work,” said Peter Rossi, president of the American Artists Professional League Inc. in New York, as well as a member of a number of local art clubs in Fort Lee and Ridgewood. “By doing this art show, we get to give back.”

Artist Miguel Gonzalez, a 36-year-old retired Newark Police Department officer, has been a common face around the halls of Alaris Health, frequently volunteering to help residents, and painting a massive wall mural of New York’s Central Park for the facility’s sensory room.

Gonzalez displayed a large canvas painting of a tropical landscape at the art show, and was all smiles entertaining the residents.

“If I see them happy, then I’m happy,” Gonzalez said.


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Art show at Alaris Health in Cedar Grove Pictures

Art was on display at the show at Alaris Health in Cedar Grove Aug. 5.

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Alaris Health at Riverton resident Nancy Hill Celebrates her 106th Birthday, and is featured in Our Town Rahway

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Nancy Hill was born in 1909 in Crawfordsville Ga, She lived in Westfield, NJ for 60 years and currently resides at Alaris Health at Riverton located on Lawrence Street in Rahway , New Jersey.
The Riverton staff hosted a 106th birthday bash for Nancy where she was surrounded by her family and over 2 dozen of her neighbors from Riverton.
Rahway Mayor Samson D. Steinman attended to the celebration. Nancy, whose parents also lived to close to 100, always loved to have fun and dance .
She danced at the Cotton Club, loved cooking, gardening, knitting and crocheting. She was very sociable and belonged to several organizations throughout her life.
She sang in the choir of Antioch Baptist Church in Springfield NJ and is a long-time member of the Westfield Elks Club.

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Alaris Health at St. Mary’s resident turns 105 and is featured in Essex News Daily


Samuel MacFoy gets some help blowing out the candles on his birthday cake at the birthday party for him where he lives at Alaris Health at St. Mary’s in Orange.

ORANGE, NJ — Orange resident Samuel MacFoy celebrated a major milestone, his 105th birthday! Family, friends, fellow residents and staff threw him a birthday party at Alaris Health at St. Mary’s, 135 S. Center St., Orange, where he resides. MacFoy has lived at St. Mary’s for more than four years.

Samuel received an unexpected “Happy Birthday” this year from the president and first lady. A letter arrived for MacFoy, straight from The White House, congratulating him on this milestone and stating, “Your story is an integral part of the American narrative.”

Even at age 105, MacFoy remains passionate about his daily morning socials, as well as the variety of musical performances happening at the facility. He was born in Sierra Leone in 1910, where he grew up to be an accountant and eventually becoming the assistant minister for finance in the Department of Justice in Monrovia, Liberia. He moved to the United States in 1990 with his wife. He has several children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

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Dr. Lukenda, Medical Director of Alaris Health at Riverton, featured in Our Town Rahway

Dr. Kevin Lukenda1 Dr. Kevin Lukenda2

My Loved One Needs More Help Than I Can Give — What Now?
Submitted by Dr. Kevin Lukenda, Medical Director at Alaris Health at Riverton in Rahway, N.J.

In my family practice, I often counsel family caregivers to look for tell-tale signs to figure out when an elderly parent requires more assistance than is available at home. There are unpaid bills lying around. You discover your dad is going out less and less. When he fell recently, your mom couldn’t pick him up and had to call the paramedics. There was an accidental overdose of one of medication. All indicate that a delicate decision must be made.

Sometimes the demands of care quickly and alarmingly become too great. In other cases, it might not be so obvious. At first, we can provide what is needed to keep loved ones safe with home health visitation, but there may come a time when it is in their best interest to consider other options, such as nursing home care. The bottom line is, we need to know that our loved ones are safe, comfortable and happy.

Today, people are living longer, and although we may not want to admit it, we all are likely to require additional care from people other than our family later in life. May 10 – May 16 is National Nursing Home Week, the perfect time to learn more about the benefits of nursing home care and evaluate if it is right for you or a loved one. While in-home care often makes sense for some adults and seniors, here are four signs that might indicate that transitioning to a nursing home may be the more appropriate choice.

1. Your Loved One Struggles with Daily Activities
Despite a sense of pride and a need to feel independent, we may notice that over time our loved ones need more help than usual with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, taking medication, walking, etc. If your loved one has mobility issues, is bathing less frequently, or has trouble cleaning or doing laundry, it is important to think about the future. Anticipate your loved one’s needs and begin thinking about nursing home care before the situation rises to crisis levels.

2. You’re Increasingly Concerned About Your Loved One’s Safety
Safety concerns could range from a neglected pot on the stove to a fall or stroke. One of the biggest risk factors for stroke is age, so be on the lookout for its symptoms. If you notice that your loved one has weakness or numbness in his/her face or limbs, or has sudden vision loss, he/she might have had a stroke. A sudden loss of speech, sudden, severe headaches, or sudden unsteadiness can also signal stroke or could be the result of a severe fall. If you notice any of these conditions, get medical attention immediately and initiate a conversation about full-time nursing home care with your loved one’s physicians.

3. Your Loved One Starts to Appear Withdrawn or Depressed
Whether caused by physical disabilities or the loss of a spouse and dear friends, a descent into isolation should raise flags. People who have previously enjoyed a robust social life may miss the experience of having visitors and friends to connect with every day. For them, a nursing home can provide more contact with others than a sole caregiver in the home is able to give. If that is the case for your loved one, consider a nursing home that offers a broad and full calendar of therapeutic activities, such as card games, communal dining, live performances and devotional services, which can help him/her enjoy life and the company of their peers.

4. You’re Experiencing Caregiver Burn-Out
Sleep deprivation, anger, resentment and guilt can all become part of what happens to a family caregiver. Caregivers may wonder if they could or should have done more; they may feel separation anxiety in moving their loved one to another location. If you are the sole caregiver for a loved one and you start to have conflicting emotions of “I’m not doing enough” while at the same time feeling that you’re living for your loved one rather than yourself, it is time to take a step back. Juggling the demands of an aging loved one along with the responsibilities of raising your own family isn’t easy. You want your loved one to get the best care possible, and if you’re exhausted it can be difficult to provide that care.

Most families wait too long to make the decision to move their loved one to a nursing home, possibly for reasons of guilt. If any of these reasons resonate with you and your family’s situation, don’t wait. Learn about the options available and come up with a plan you are comfortable with, prior to it being urgently needed.
It’s never easy to discuss other living arrangements with your loved ones, but the sooner you’re able to recognize the signs and discuss alternatives, the safer and happier everyone will be in the long run. If you know your loved one is in the early stages of physical illness, cognitive decline or emotional distress, it’s important to have someone help them collect the right paperwork and make critical decisions, whether it’s a friend, family member or physician. Planning ahead, getting informed, and involving the appropriate persons in the decision will ultimately help ease the process when it’s time to move your loved one into care.

The best way to be there for your loved one is to know that they are in the proper setting and getting the care that they need. From understanding a health center’s capabilities to learning how to pay for services, do some research and talk to your physician or staff at a local facility such as one of the Alaris Member Health Centers in New Jersey to help you navigate through each step of the process. Visit several nursing homes before choosing one, and make sure they have activities and medical support appropriate to your loved one’s needs. Many nursing homes also offer support groups and other resources for families. These resources can help you come to terms with the idea that sometimes the best decision for the health and happiness of both parties is putting your loved one into someone else’s care.

* * *
Kevin E. Lukenda, D.O., is Medical Director at Alaris Health at Riverton in Rahway, N.J., and has specialized in Family Medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. Lukenda graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1989. He grew up less than a mile from his Linden, N.J., practice and takes pride in the fact that he has been able to build life-long relationships with his patients and their whole families.

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Paul Cohen Receives ACHCA’s Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award



American College of Health Care Administrators

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Ph: (202) 253-6522 |



Paul Cohen Receives ACHCA’s Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award

Alexandria, VA — May 7, 2015 – The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) is proud to honor Paul Cohen, , Administrator of ALARIS HEALTH AT THE FOUNTAINS in Secaucus, NJ as a 2015 recipient of the ACHCA Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award. The award, named in memory of visionary ACHCA member Eli Pick recognizes administrators whose teams have achieved dimensions of organizational quality that few others have been able to reach. Two hundred and fifty seven administrators were awarded leadership awards nationally.

Mr. Cohen was one of 227 receipts who received the Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award with virtual recognition. This award recognizes the administrator of record who provided leadership throughout the award year. Eligibility for this award is based on three years of skilled nursing facility (SNF) survey data, including the Health, Fire (Life Safety), and Complaint Surveys, as well as top quartile performance on designated Quality Measures. The criteria also included an 80% or greater facility occupancy and a three year avoidance of a Special Focus Facility status.

“Advancing leadership excellence is at the core of our mission,” commented Marianna Grachek, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACHCA. “There is a close relationship between facility leadership and quality outcomes-and, ultimately, between quality care and operational success.”

The ACHCA firmly believes that long-term care facility excellence is a reflection of leadership excellence. The prestigious Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award is made possible with the support of eHealth Data Solutions.

Founded in 1962, the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) is the only professional association devoted solely to meeting the professional needs of today’s post-acute and aging services leaders. Focused on advancing leadership excellence, ACHCA provides professional education and certification to administrators from across the spectrum of long term care. For more information about ACHCA, contact the national office at (202) 536-5120 or visit


For more information contact Shauna Stevenson: or (202) 253-6522.


Eat Right Open House @ The Atrium

Today Alaris Health at The Atrium had a very successful “Eat Right Open House” which was presented by our registered Dietician, Erica Novota. Erica gave everyone very useful and informative hand-outs on healthy eating and she discussed each page in detail with great suggestions and examples.  After each category, the audience was given an opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts. One of the highlights of the Open House was the opportunity to introduce, Rose Caulfield, an Alaris at The Atrium resident, who had also worked as a registered dietician, to Erica Novota for a snap shot. Rose Caulfield graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and went on to work in the original, Jersey City Medical Center as a registered Dietician. Rose Caulfield can be seen in the first photo attachment standing to the right of Erica Novota.

After the Open House, the audience enjoyed the fresh sliced fruit and yogurt while they chatted about healthy eating.

Check back here for future open house events at The Atrium

Alaris Health at Castle Hill employees lead Guardians of Healing mission to Dominican Republic. Alaris Health Foundation supports this worthy cause.

union city dr union city girl

A team of local physicians, case workers and volunteers recently returned from the Dominican Republic as part Guardians of Healing, a non-profit that embarks on an annual philanthropic trip to the Dominican Republic to provide medical supplies and surgical treatments free-of cost to the sick and the poor.

Two employees of Alaris Health At Castle Hill in Union City, one of whom graduated from high school here, accompanied the philanthropic mission. The program was started by Damaris Collado who has worked in Union City for 14 years. Her coworker, Yohandra Martin, also went on the journey. Yohandra works in Union City and lived there from 1983 to 2004. She went to Gilmore Elementary School in Union City and Emerson High School.

The program began in 1997 as the vision of Collado, the external case manager for Alaris Health At Castle Hill in Union City, who began returning to her hometown where she was born in the DR every year to donate expensive medicine to underserved communities and provide education on HIV to locals. Damaris realized the medical need stretched far beyond HIV education.

As Collado garnered local political support, the program grew and was officially launched as Guardians of Healing in 2008, as a non-profit with a team of more than 25 New Jersey volunteers.

Collado began recruiting volunteers from Alaris Health, including close friend and Alaris Health At Castle Hill Admissions Director, Yohandra Martin. With many of the physicians and volunteers also joining from Alaris Health, this year, the Alaris Foundation donated $2,000 to Guardians of Healing to show their support for the employees embarking on this giving back trip. Thanks to the donation, the team was able to treat more than 1800 patients – the most of any previous trip.

Martin joined the expedition because she has a 9-year-old daughter and wanted to instill in her a sense of giving back at a young age by setting an example.

To date, Collado and her team have treated and educated more than 12,000 patients, performed more than 1,000 complex surgeries, and raised more than $300,000 in funds for medical supplies and medicines.

The free-of cost surgeries ranged from hernias and gallbladders to complex urological and plastic reconstructive surgeries from the waist down – anything that could be performed using an epidural.

Some more quick facts about the program’s impact in the Dominican Republic:

• Dominicans suffer from many of the same chronic illnesses that are common in the US such as diabetes and hypertension; however, the team also encounters conditions more common in underdeveloped countries such as HIV, tuberculosis and parasitic infections. Thousands of locals die every year from simple afflictions due to a lack of access to surgeons, proper health education, money and/or transportation to a medical center.

• The program goes beyond similar treatment programs such as Doctors without Borders by including an educational component, where the team teaches local surgeons advanced techniques and empowers patients with health, safety and nutrition tips.

• With the mission site always being a rural, grossly underserved community, the team also arranges for transportation for patients who require more advanced treatment to Santo Domingo and sometimes even to the doctors’ hospitals in New Jersey.

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