He isn't just a nursing home director -- he is a friend to residents and families Bernard Fishbein to retire after 33 years in industry

July 23, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

After a lifetime of work, and more than three decades in the hTC nursing home business, Bernard Fishbein is going to miss waking up every morning and having someplace to go.

"I've been working all of my life, since I was 8 years old," Fishbein said. "It's going to be strange not having to be here every day."

On July 31, Fishbein will retire from his position as executive director of the Jewish Convalescent & Nursing Home in Pikesville, where he has worked since 1978. After 33 years in the nursing home industry -- first at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, later at the convalescent home -- Fishbein is bidding farewell to a building whose construction he oversaw and to the residents and families he has come to know.

"I've spent a lot of time with them, especially the families," said Fishbein, who plans to do consulting work for other nursing care facilities. "It's very difficult for them to place their loved ones in a facility."

Fishbein became controller and personnel director at Levindale in 1964, the same year Maryland passed requirements for the licensing of nursing home administrators.

One of the first in the state to be licensed, he has since gone on to head the Maryland Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators.

"Nursing home administrators have to know what they are doing," said Fishbein, who was named to the board four times by two governors and has served on a national panel that creates the licensing exam.

"If a person goes into management, he has the lives of his patients in his hand because he makes decisions that affect their lives every day."

Residents and their family members say that what has made Fishbein such an effective director are his care and concern.

Anita Klawans, who placed her mother, Tillie Reiser, in the home 14 1/2 years ago, said she felt very comfortable discussing her concerns with Fishbein.

"I've dealt with him very closely, and whenever I went to him he helped me right away," Klawans said. "He always seemed to genuinely care and be interested. He was more than the director -- he was a friend."

Striding through the 151-bed facility on Scotts Level Road recently, Fishbein greeted each resident by name and paused to chat with a few. He and his staff work hard to create a comfortable atmosphere for residents, he said.

"For many of them, this is their last home," Fishbein said. "It's miserable when you have to go into a nursing home, and we try to make it as unmiserable as possible."

As far as Reiser is concerned, both Fishbein and the home are the greatest.

"He's a wonderful person," she said, smiling. "Around here, the surroundings are beautiful, the people are nice and the food is good. What more could you want?"

Pub Date: 7/23/96

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