WEST ORANGE, NJ – Jessica Israel, MD, a resident of Matawan who has been a practicing geriatrician with RWJBarnabas Health since 2002, was recently appointed as Corporate Chair of Geriatrics for RWJBarnabas Health.
In this new role, Dr. Israel will be working alongside geriatricians and interdisciplinary teams from across the system to develop innovative, cohesive programs with a specialized focus on geriatrics and senior care across RWJBarnabas Health.
According to Barry Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer for RWJBarnabas Health, Dr. Israel has proven to be “an exceptional leader in geriatric care” through her work at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, where she established the first outpatient palliative care program in New Jersey and a nationally recognized geriatric medicine program.
“Her compassion, dedication and full understanding of the spectrum of physical, psychological, medical, social, and spiritual issues that older adults and their families face make her well suited for this additional leadership role,” said Ostrowsky. “Under her guidance and her compassionate vision, we will enhance and grow our geriatric services to help improve the health and wellness of our senior community.”
According to RWJBarnabas Health, Dr. Israel has served as both the vice chair and interim chair of the Department of Medicine at Monmouth Medical Center. In 2015, she became the regional director of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, expanding her program to Monmouth Medical Center’s Southern Campus, where she developed and served as the director of The James and Sharon Maida Geriatrics Institute.
The Maida Institute is a landmark program in geriatrics incorporating both inpatient and outpatient care in the same location and providing evidence-based best practices through on site physical and occupational therapy, audiology, specialized nursing, pharmacy, social work and education. The Maida Institute is also home to the Better Health senior membership program focused on bringing both educational and social programming to more than 1800 Ocean County residents.
As Corporate Chair of Geriatrics at RWJBarnabas Health, Dr. Israel will take what she has cultivated at the James and Sharon Maida Geriatrics Institute and use it as a model program for enhancing geriatric services and senior care across the system.
Dr Israel said it was her grandparents who inspired her work in geriatrics. As a young woman, she said her grandmother, Mary, founded United Cerebral Palsy in Philadelphia with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
“She helped so many people through her work, but as an older woman she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Israel. “None of her doctors knew of her previous work or understood the kind of person she was—and she couldn’t tell them herself. This is what fuels my passion in caring for older adults: I know, first hand, how important it is to really see the person in front of you.
“It allows us, as providers, to take the best care of the lives entrusted to us. I am so excited for this new opportunity and I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to provide meaningful and personalized care to our aging population. I look forward to improving care for New Jersey’s seniors as a whole, and to establishing RWJBarnabas Health as a leader in this important work.”
Dr. Israel completed her medical school training at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY where she also completed her internship and residency in internal medicine as well as a fellowship in Geriatrics and Adult Development with a focus in palliative medicine. She is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.
She also co-authored the textbook “Medicine: A Competency Based Companion,” a medical student and resident text that focuses on medicine in the context of competency in communication skills, professionalism and system based practices. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer to The New York Times sharing cases of patients near the end of life and the life-lessons each teaches.
Dr. Israel has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the Oksana Korzenowski Award for Clinical Excellence from the Drexel University College of Medicine, and is the past recipient of the Hospice Medical Director of the Year award from the NJ Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing Association. She has been recognized as “Best Doctor” from both New Jersey Magazine and Inside Jersey Magazine for Geriatrics, Palliative Medicine, and Cancer Care and has been named a Castle Connolly Top Physician.
Her areas of clinical interest included geriatrics, dementia and behavioral management, palliative care, end of life care and doctor-patient communication.