What started out 15 years ago for Mendy Coen as a courtesy to help friends and family care for beloved elderly family members has blossomed into a full-grown and much-needed healthcare business serving the needs of the growing elderly population in Brooklyn and beyond.
The company is called WUK, the acronym for Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge; a true testament to what the company strives to achieve for its patients.
“It was my wife actually who convinced me, ‘Mendy, why not start this as a business?’ She asked me. It then really dawned on me after weeks of receiving all the letters, checks, and gifts that maybe I should turn the volunteering I’ve been doing into something more,” said Coen, rising from his chair and pulling a rather big and heavy frame from against the living room wall and bringing it to the large round dining room table.
The picture frame was still wrapped in cellophane, the brown molding marked with gold streaks portraying the words Eishit Chayil [woman of valor] in white bold letters. A thank you present from someone who had been taken under the care of WUK.
WUK’s mission statement is simple but poignant, to help the elderly be the healthiest they can be through activity, proactivity, and action. Providing over 15 different services under the categories of medical, daily living, and patient advocacy, each program is dedicated to ameliorating the hardships that may come with old age and enhancing the lives of the elderly through the individual care they provide.
Dr. Marvin Brody, the medical director on the WUK Leadership Team, was witness to this care first hand when Coen started caring for his parents in their old age.
“He’s totally and personally involved in the whole process. Everyone always had the impression that his concern and care was paramount. He built such a warm relationship with my father beyond what anyone could imagine was needed. When he would visit my parents he was always so concerned that they were getting the best possible care, whether it was nutritionally or making sure the nurse was giving them the best supervision- It was way beyond the call of business. You don’t sign up for this kind of personalized service. It’s really a tremendous attribute that Mendy gives to his patients,” said Dr. Brody.
One initiative under the daily living portion is the “Every Day a Good Day Program” where WUK researches to find activities and projects particular to each individual’s interest. Many retirees often find themselves with too much time on their hands. Studies show that intellectual and physical activity better our health, decrease our chances of experiencing loneliness, mood swings, and depression.
In one case, WUK set up a weekly visit where two high school girls came to the home of an elderly WUK member to interview him, chronicling his memories in a book that was eventually published.
WUK also aims to advocate and coordinate care for their elders, research the best healthcare options, and monitor activities of daily living. WUK acknowledges the difficulty of navigating the healthcare system and the complexity of insurance approval and denials; particularly when dealing with a system that’s designed to be confusing. That’s why WUK promises to do all it can to fight for the proper health care and insurance the elderly need and deserve.
“I know this big family a while ago,” Coen recalled with an intense look on his face, “all the kids were older and lived far away from home – sent on Shlichus [emissaries] by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The father of this family was elderly and not feeling well. They called me over, asking if I can help. Of course, I did. That year when all the kids came home for the Kinus Hashluchim (a gathering for all the Shlichum around the world), the father’s condition became critical and an ambulance was called. When I come downstairs from helping the elderly man get dressed I saw his daughter crying hysterically. I remember what she said- “Is this what’s going to happen? My parents are just going to just die here – alone?”
So I turned to her as a realization settled on me and said, “No, they won’t. I will take care of them like they are my own parents. That is why I am here.”
To learn more about WUK and the services they provide visit http://www.wukhealth.org/ or call (646) 606-3770.