Marty Levine came to Seattle fresh from medical school about eight years ago. He completed his residency in family medicine and a fellowship in geriatrics, and is now Group Health Cooperative’s sole “consultative” geriatrician.
“There are lots of doctors at Group Health who have geriatric certification,” Marty points out, “but I’m the only person who is a full-time specialist for seniors.” (This doesn’t include GHC docs working in nursing homes, or their specialist in hospice care.)
“I like this work because it’s not just about the older people, it’s about families,” he explains. “You don’t see older people by themselves; they all have people who love and care about them.”
Aside from seeing patients he oversees two new programs. One has 7,000 of GHC’s 60,000 senior clients meeting with their doctor once a month for 90 minutes. The catch? About a dozen other people are there, too.
This “senior support web,” modeled on two studies, has been a huge success. Patients and doctors are happier and participants have a lower rate of hospitalization than their peers. The other program helps prevent re-hospitalization of geriatric patients with a nurse who follows their care from hospital to recovery.
Medical institutions need to prepare for elder care, says Levine, “because we are going to need a whole new system. There’s no big effort anywhere in the U.S. to deal with this.
“People in health care have mastered how to perfectly care for one disease,” he points out, “but no one’s figured out how you systematically, thoughtfully care for an age group that has a mixture of problems.”
Levine hails from Cleveland and although he says he grew up “secular,” he attended a Sunday school program and participated in a group Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Applying for residencies, he says, “was my chance to pick whatever city I wanted to live in,” and Seattle “looked spectacular.
“When I came out here and saw it, I felt bad for people on the East Coast.”
He and his wife, Kathleen, live in north Seattle with their two young daughters, Lucy and Dahlia. Lucy is a Kindergartener at the Seattle Jewish Community School. The family is synagogue shopping, but “with Lucy in school we’re learning a lot.”
When asked what he did in his free time, the busy doctor said, “I don’t have any free time! I’m just a dad and a husband.” He did tell me that B.K. (before kids) he and his wife enjoyed backpacking and sea kayaking — they met on a kayak trip — and hope to do more with the kids when they get older.
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Seattle Hebrew Academy sixth grader Dena Phillips was recently appointed to the nine-member national editorial advisory board of Babaganews, a magazine for fourth to sixth graders that presents the contemporary world through a Jewish lens.
Published by the Avi Chai foundation, Babaganews seeks to educate and inspire students, while the foundation encourages Jewish observance and better understanding between Jews of different backgrounds.
Dena receives a survey after each issue — published once per Jewish month — where she evaluates content and gives opinions on proposed features.
“They also ask me what kind of music I like and what I am thinking about the news and Israel. I can write things for the magazine,” she says, and they “send me cool free stuff.” She plans to submit a poem and hopes it will be published.
Her mom, Joyce Bloch Phillips, says she glanced at Dena’s most recent survey and was pleased to see she was bringing Torah and Jewish values to her feedback. “She integrates her knowledge of Judaism with the values highlighted in each issue of the magazine,” Joyce observes.
SHA librarian, Janine Rosenbaum and language arts teacher, Rick Monroe, recommended Dena for the job based on her writing, editing and her leadership skills.
Dena and Joyce both help raise money for the SHA’s ongoing capital campaign that funds repairs to the damage done in the 2001 Nisqually quake. Dena conducts an annual class fundraiser and serves as a table captain at the “Mitzvah Circle” breakfasts, at which members of the community come and learn about and tour the school.
A basketball player, Dena plans to play on two SHA teams this year. She is already looking forward to her eighth grade trip to Israel — another fundraising project. She earns money as a mother’s helper, and her parents match what she saves. She hopes to raise enough not just for travel expenses, but “so I can buy souvenirs for my family.”
This past summer Dena combined her academic and athletic interests at the University of Washington Robinson Center summer challenge program where she studied the physics of sports.
Dena is the daughter of Steve Phillips and the granddaughter of David and Astrid Phillips. Her family attends Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath.
Babaganews has a great Web site — you’ll get it on the first hit if you type that into your search engine — as well as a clever name. There is information at the Avi Chai Web site, too.
To attend a Mitzvah Circle breakfast at SHA, call them at 206-323-5750. Everyone is welcome.