As BridgingLife’s first director of Jewish hospice and palliative care, registered nurse Chaya Lasson’s role is multi-faceted.
But, to put it simply, she’s a connector.
First, she is a liaison between the medical and faith-based communities; in Judaism, the rabbi often guides individuals in life decisions, and some will want their rabbi involved and informed by the physician from the start, Lasson explains.
She also provides continuing education to healthcare providers and clinical staff about how to align the care of the patient with his or her Jewish values. “There’s a tremendous comfort in knowing that there’s someone there that ‘gets’ it, that their life has been built on the same values and rituals and the same culture,” Lasson says. “Even if the religion is observed differently, there’s a certain comfort knowing that we’re one in the same. We may look different, but we’re so much more similar.”
Lasson has nearly 30 years’ experience in nursing; she was a neonatal intensive care unit nurse for two decades before becoming a health educator in the Jewish community. “That’s been my passion, helping people make the best decisions possible with the information that is aligned and accurate,” she says, “and then letting them own it.”
When Lasson educates staff about caring for Jewish patients, she says two things are important to keep in mind:
Number one: Just ask. “It’s so comforting when [patients and families] hear, ‘I see that you’re Jewish. Is there anything that would be helpful for me or my colleagues to know so that we can best support you and your family as you navigate through this time?’” she advises.
Number two: It’s personal. “Often in Judaism, the family’s Rabbi guides them in making complex decisions along with crucial clinical details from the provider. You’re going to have different rabbis having different opinions. And they’re both correct,” she explains. “It’s personal. Even someone with the same disease, the same age and the same gender … according to Jewish law, the details and the nuances matter.”
Lasson is planning community outreach events to educate the public about the services BridgingLife provides for those facing serious illness and those at the end of life, dispelling common hospice myths and sharing how hospice and palliative care can be utilized while still abiding by the tenets of Judaism.
“Our Jewish community is rich and diverse and beautiful,” Lasson says. “We’re not all the same, but we all come from the same. In my experience, even if someone has not observed traditionally their entire life, it’s often very, very comforting at the end of life to be able to have these rituals and customs to hold on to in a more traditional way.”
Learn more and connect with Chaya Lasson, R.N., by calling 410-871-8000 or emailing email@example.com