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Vaad Refuah: Saving Lives Everyday

When Vaad Refuah administrator Leah Krausz goes to work every day, she knows, for someone in a hospital bed, her job is a matter of life and death.

New York based non-profit Vaad Refuah (also known as Consumer Health Advocacy Group) passionately educates patients and their families about the unintended dangers of the hospital system. Vaad Refuah was founded in the early 21st century by doctors, lawyers, Rabbis, and businesspeople.

“Truly, our initiatives have saved lives and continue to save lives to this day,” Leah said.

First Non-Profit Foundation supported Vaad Refuah with a $50,000 grant to complete one of their largest and farthest reaching programs. A program very much in line with the lifesaving mission they have promoted time and time again throughout their history.

Vaad Refuah’s first, lifesaving initiative

At the very beginning of Vaad Refuah’s mission, Leah visited patients in New York hospitals. What she saw there horrified her.

Blackened and bloody bedsores—the size of cantaloupes. Patients in top New York hospitals were dying from these infections.

For patients that can’t move on their own, a simple in-bed adjustment prevents the dangerous sores. Yet busy nurses often forgot to turn patients. Visiting family members didn’t know when to do so — or the importance of it.

Instead, people were suffering and dying from this 100% preventable issue. Something needed to be done.

Vaad Refuah offered a low tech solution: a plastic hand-turned clock in every hospital room. When a family member or nurse turned the patient, to prevent bedsores, they would adjust the clock accordingly. This would indicate to nurses or family members when the patient next needed to be  moved or turned.

The program worked in several New York trial hospitals. Now these plastic clocks and other bed sore countermeasures can be found in hospital rooms across the country.

“That’s an issue where we were ahead of the curve,” Leah said.

Persistent Danger

The CDC estimates that 722,000 Americans develop infections during a hospital stay every year. Of that number, approximately 75,000 die.

As is the case with the fatal bedsores, many of these deadly infections are entirely preventable.

As long as people still suffer from—and die of—preventable illnesses in hospitals, Vaad Refuah will continue to fight.  That fight matches the beneficial, passionate mission of the organizations First Non-Profit supports.

Tragedy Sparks a New Campaign

The mother-in-law of a Vaad Refuah founder recuperated from surgery in a rehab facility. During her recovery she became ill, some minor stomach distress, it seemed.

No one thought anything of it.

Not the rehab facility charged with her care. Not the founder, who dedicated much of his life to keeping people safe during their recovery.

Tragically, she had actually contracted Clostridium Difficile (C. diff), a deadly bacterial infection commonly spread in medical facilities.

The rehab doctors discovered the truth too late. By the time an ambulance rushed her to the hospital, she only had hours to live.

In the eyes of both Vaad Refuah and the rehab center, her death was completely preventable. Spurred to action by this tragedy Vaad Refuah launched their farthest reaching campaign yet.

The Campaign: “Surviving Your Hospital Stay”

Beginning in 2010, Vaad Refuah sought to spread awareness of these dangers on a grand scale. To do that, they planned to create a comprehensive safety manual and training program for patients in the hospital system.

“People are so desperate when they’re in the hospital or emergency room. They don’t know what to do and what to say.” Leah said of a scene she had observed many times. “There are people so desperate for support they’ll stop anybody, including the guy who mops the floor. The needed a real resource to help them.”

The members of Vaad Refuah worked tirelessly. They brainstormed, first out of their own experiences of the dangers that hid in plain sight. Next, they researched tirelessly, reading everything they could get their hands on and interviewing doctors and hospital administrators.

They compiled material for a training program and a publication titled: ”Surviving Your Hospital Stay”

Read Surviving Your Hospital Stay.

The partnership with First Non-Profit Foundation

Five years later in 2015, Leah and the other dedicated Vaad Refuah members were thrilled at what they accomplished. Yet they needed to reach more people and “Surviving Your Hospital Stay” needed polishing to reach that larger audience.

“The book needed an overhaul,” Leah thought. “The content and heart was in the right place, but it needed to be nicer looking. It needed to be more user friendly.”

She had heard of First Non-Profit Foundation, and decided to submit a grant request. Vaad Refuah had so many ideas that they knew would save lives. Yet they didn’t have enough funding to accomplish it.

“Without the grant, it was all great ideas without implementation,” Leah recalled.

When they learned they had been selected for a $50,000 grant to expand and overhaul “Surviving Your Hospital Stay,” their spirits lifted. They felt ecstatic.

The Success

“The grant came at truly the right time,” Leah thought to herself.

Supported by the First Non-Profit grant, Vaad Refuah hired a graphic artist to redesign the book. They hired writers and editors to update the message. Finally, they printed out numerous copies to hand out to patients and leave as a resource in hospitals, where they can do the most good.

Leah recalled a standout success story of Vaad Refuah . An elderly woman called and asked for training and a copy of the book. Her husband required an extended hospital stay; she wanted to be prepared to keep him safe.

Her husband made a full recovery, without complication. After that, she trained a friend, a few states away, completely over the phone. Finally, she mailed that friend her well-read copy of ”Surviving Your Hospital Stay”

“That was able to happen wholly because of the foundation grant.” Leah knew.

Generosity Moving Forward

In the coming years, Vaad Refuah will continue to provide life-saving education, and First Non-Profit will continue to provide crucial support to worthwhile organizations across the country.

To learn more about their mission or to support them, contact Vaad Refuah.

If you believe your organization might qualify for a partnership, contact First Non-Profit.