Whole Life Magazine

December/January 2014

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/426101

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Page 11 of 43

I n his work as both a senior architect at Warwick Group in Los Angeles and a Disney Imagineer, and in his personal life, Gabriel Gelbart frequently expressed his reverence for nature and the outdoors. He and his partner, Mitcheal Metzner, a research scientist active during the early 1980s AIDS crisis who was dismayed at the discrimination that occurred, envisioned creating an all-embracing, non-medical hospice in Topanga where those transitioning could be at one with nature. Its name: Anam Cara, meaning "soul friend." Ironically, as renovation began on a private home they purchased for their dream hospice this past June, Gelbart suffered a fatal heart attack. Metzner is now pressing forward with Anam Cara as a living legacy to Gelbart's commitment. This past October the Topanga Folk Fest was staged as the fi rst major fundraising event for the hospice, which is slated to open in 2015. "We shared the desire to create Anam Cara even before meeting each other," recalls Metzner. "Gabe's past experiences living on a kibbutz and being a brilliant organizer informed his intention to create a sanctuary/refuge. In coming together, we exponentially had the courage and resources to pull off a non- medical, social model for a hospice encompassing mind, body and spirit through various holistic therapies, such as meditation, yoga, music and art." Metzner points out that the current prevalent model of hospice care—where patients either receive services in their home (adapted for end-of-life) or in nursing homes—is out of step with the needs and preferences of the aging population. Experienced at forging new approaches to life transitions, Baby Boomers are leading a welcome trend toward more holistic hospice settings that offset the multitude of medical appointments, medications and often, interventions involved in end-of-life care. At Anam Cara, which will operate under license by the Los Angeles Department of Social Services, medical necessities will be balanced with the tranquil setting of the home and its surroundings. It will include six beds—two at full price (comparable to board and care homes in the area), two at an adjusted rate, and two community beds free of charge. There will be state-licensed administrators and a contracted certifi ed nurse assistant (or equivalently trained as the regulations require) provided by a licensed mobile Medical Home Health. Metzner himself is an experienced hospice trainer and is already readying volunteers for the non-medical functions, including cleaning, cooking, music and art therapy, reading to residents and providing companionship. Determined not to repeat the mistakes of the AIDS crisis, Metzner promises that, "Our hospice will not discriminate against any population and will admit anyone over 18 with a life-limiting illness that can be managed in a home environment or outside of a medical setting." And as anyone who has ever spent time in Topanga can attest, its beauty and magic is about as close to the mythical Elysian Fields as we're liable to get on this earth. For more information, visit www.AnamCaraLA.org. city of angels A holistic hospice takes root in Topanga Canyon By Elyse Glickman LAST DAYS IN NATURE Above Left: Graduating class from the Hospice Volunteer and Professional Training program. Above: Gabe and Mitch singing bedside with a patient. 12 wholelifetimesmagazine.com

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