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In Average Day at Work, Grandview IRA’s Joel Schnitzer Runs All Over the Place

July 12, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Hamaspik Group-home Manager Exemplifies Agency On-site Exactitude in Care

It’s another Monday at Hamaspik of Rockland County, and Joel Schnitzer, Manager of the Grandview Briderheim Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) is back at his desk.

Earlier in the day, he’d been across the Hudson River in Westchester County—having one of the boys with significant disabilities under his care seeing an excellent epileptologist.

But in the office now, plans for the rest of the group-home’s summer were on the table: A visit to Six Flags Great Adventure in August, brief stays in the Catskills for some, Brooklyn for others.

Not two week before that, Mr. Schnitzer had been at an onsite staff training—one of the several optional sessions that Hamaspik gives employees for that extra measure of professionalism.

Amidst the interactive class led by Director of Quality Assurance Eliezer Appel, the IRA Manager got a call from Grandview staff: State inspectors are here.  Schnitzer rushed over.

At that audit by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), auditors reviewed Grandview’s fire safety, medication closet, and outdoor grounds.

With the Manager on hand to answer several questions, the two inspectors also toured the facilities, scanned staff paperwork, queried the home’s RN, and even tested the fire alarm.

They also took note of the residents’ individuality-centered bedrooms, Schnitzer adds—taken by the theme of cars decorating one room and fish, both per residents’ preference, in another.

But Mr. Schnitzer’s day is not unlike the average Hamaspik group-home manager’s day—a day marked, in years of the Gazette’s observations, by energetic exertions on residents’ behalf.

Figuring front and center perhaps more than anything else continues to be those managers’ medical ministrations, with repeated trips to top docs near and far in providing residents care.

From routine well-visits and minor medical issues to full-blown surgeries and fortunately-rare emergencies, Hamaspik’s managers have long stalked the halls of New York’s best hospitals.

It’s a distance this hardworking cadre of devoted men and women at Hamaspik regularly go.  But, backed by equally-devoted Direct Support Professional (DSP) teams, it’s natural for them.

Grandview’s DSP team is David Einhorn, Avraham Fischer, Shmuel Glick, Levi Horowitz, Yoel Klein and Shimon Weiss.

For Mr. Schnitzer, as it is for managers from the 38th St. Shvesterheim IRA down south to the Acres Briderheim IRA up north, the job is anything but predictable and routine.

While the myriad rules and regulations governing IRA operations are largely inflexible, supporting the needs and wants of residents can demand vast reserves of flexibility.

Individual-centered support is the increasing call of the day, reforming the industry culture as it is into one where daily activities are driven by the individual’s choices, not staff directions.

That’s why, Schnitzer notes, summer plans for Grandview also include day-trip jaunts to The Castle, a family fun center in upstate Chester, and to the similar FunPlex: Residents want them.

And if that means that tickets must be bought, lunches packed and reservations made, then the Manager, like every diligent and tireless Hamaspik manager, will run all over the place, happily.