VOICES OF ALEH’S PROFESSIONALS: NILI WITTMAN, HEAD NURSE
Nili Wittman is the Head Nurse at ALEH’s rehabilitative and residential center in Bnei Brak. Nili describes what it’s like to care for the medical needs of ALEH’s residents with severe complex disabilities and highlights the dedication of her exceptional nursing staff.
“I began working at ALEH after I met a staff member at a networking event who asked me to join the team,” recalls Nili. “At the time, my focus was on substance abuse and addictions, and I really enjoyed it. But after I started working at ALEH, I fell in love with the work, my team and the children. You feel like you are making a difference for these children who are so helpless and cannot do anything for themselves.”
Nili works with the long-term ALEH residents, those who call ALEH home.
“There are 87 children with severe disabilities that are in my charge every single day. Their cognitive abilities are extremely limited, and they need constant, full-time care. You feel like if you don’t do it, nobody will. You are making a difference in the most genuine, authentic way possible.”
Nili’s day begins at 8:00, at which time she begins her rounds. “I make sure that the residents are doing well, talk to the staff to see that everyone is cared for, and find out what happened during the night. I check to see if anyone is ill or needs hospitalization, or if any of the children need to go out for testing. The days are dynamic and full of action. You never know what to expect and must be prepared to take whatever the day gives you.”
“Working with the children of ALEH is like raising my own children,” Nili says passionately. “I am there every day, and I get to know them so well. I take care of the same kids day in and day out, so I learn how they are communicating in their own ways and what they can do. It could be a tiny movement – a flutter of an eyelid, a trembling of the lips, and we are able to understand what they want to say. My staff and I are able to learn these things about them and communicate with them because we are so attuned to their needs. That’s our job.” The pride in her voice is evident.
“At ALEH, we go above and beyond. We have shattered all of the medical predictions by providing the ALEH kids with boundless love. According to the initial prognoses, doctors don’t expect much from these children. They say that the child will only live 2 weeks. Yet, here they are 4 years later, changing and growing and thriving in the environment we provide. TLC contributes so much to the health and well-being of the patients. At ALEH, the kids really get the best of everything. The best treatments and therapies, anything that can help them progress.”
Nili describes the positive atmosphere at ALEH, something she had never experienced anywhere else before.
“When you walk into ALEH, you can feel the love. All of the staff members have been here for years, and it really is like a family. It’s the kind of place where you stay for a long time, because you don’t want to leave. It really feels like a home, it’s so warm and comfortable. I think it’s because we feel a sense of purpose, because we know that we are doing something meaningful and worthwhile.”
“At ALEH, we truly see beyond the disability. We bring out the best in every single child. They are so innocent, and it’s a real privilege to work with such pure children. You can’t help but love them once you get to know them.”
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