Miami Jewish Health announced a $15 million gift from financier and philanthropist S. Donald Sussman during the recent groundbreaking of the EmpathiCare Village, a revolutionary residential community for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“The transformative power of philanthropic giving is evident today as we set in motion an innovative and cutting-edge project on behalf of a growing segment of our society,” said Jeffrey P. Freimark, president and CEO at Miami Jewish Health. “With the generous gift from Donald Sussman, we are on our way to realizing our dream to positively alter the way in which people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia experience many of the joys of daily living.”
Sussman’s donation will assist in construction of The S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village, the first memory support community of its kind in the United States.
“To be part of such a revolutionary change in the treatment of the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is an honor and a privilege. I have long admired Dr. Agronin as a caregiver and a visionary, and truly believe The EmpathiCare Village has the potential to radically improve the way those suffering from dementia experience daily life,” Sussman said.
The S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village is scheduled for completion in 2020 at the Miami Jewish Health campus at 5200 NE Second Ave. The novel village concept will create a living space with a secure perimeter for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment, giving them the freedom to live as normal a life as possible.
They will live with dignity in home-like settings managed by empathic caregivers who serve as “house parents” to help structure daily living based on the unique needs and strengths of each resident.
Individuals who live or visit the village will be able to participate in vital and life-affirming activities that are not always possible in existing memory care settings, such as roaming freely through a town square and beautiful gardens, shopping in a store, exercising or getting a spa treatment in the wellness center, or participating in a variety of creative arts programs — all of which are designed to leverage their strengths.
“Anyone who has a loved one with dementia knows that they need supervision and assistance that not only limits their activities, but may increase over time as the disease progresses,” said Dr. Marc Agronin, founding director of the memory center and Alzheimer’s clinical research program at Miami Jewish Health whose vision led to the creation of the EmpathiCare Village.
“Our empathic caring-centered approach will enable us to best discover and engage with their unique needs and limitations as well as their strengths and aspirations,” Dr. Agronin added. “This philosophy will help to create a dynamic, caring community in which everyone can share a meaningful and joyous life together, even in the face of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.”
S. Donald Sussman is an American investor, philanthropist and advisor to cultural institutions, media and policy nonprofits, and scientific institutes in the United States and Israel. He is the founder and chief investment officer of the Paloma Fund, and in 2013 was named to the Institutional Investor-Alpha Hedge Fund Hall of Fame. Sussman is a member of the board of trustees and executive committee and co-chair of the Investment Committee of Carnegie Hall. He is a member of the MIT Sloan School Finance Group Advisory Board and a trustee or board member of ProPublica, Emily’s List, and the Center for American Progress, as well as an honorary trustee of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
Sussman attended Columbia College and received a BS and an MBA from New York University as well as an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute of Science. He was the recipient of Hedge Funds Review’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 and Institutional Investor’s Alternative Investment News Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Miami Jewish Health is one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the United States treating annually more than 12,000 people of all ages, ethnicities, and religions. The 77-year-old institution draws patients from across the nation and around the world for its pioneering Centers of Excellence that include: Rosomoff Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center; Memory Center; Rehabilitation Services at Miami Jewish Health’s’ Nursing Facility, and the Florida PACE Center (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly).