Cobble Hill

Cobble Hill Health Center 40th Anniversary rocks aging

November 18, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pastor Emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, Dr. Paul Smith, accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award from Cobble Hill Health Center. Eagle photos by Andy Katz

Innovative Long-term Care Center Honors Trailblazers in Health Care, Medical Supplies and Religion

“I’m going to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Cobble Hill Health Center CEO Tony Lewis told the mesmerized audience. “I’m going to be the first CEO to undress!”

Moments later, to the sound of gasps and laughter, Lewis’s jacket, shirt and tie lay scattered behind the podium, and the London-born CEO proudly puffed out his chest to display the Union Jack T-shirt worn underneath.

This was “Rock of Aging,” the Cobble Hill Health Center’s 40th anniversary gala, which was held in Red Hook’s Liberty Warehouse on Thursday. Well known for innovative and unconventional approaches to the problems of aging in general and for the treatment of persons with dementia in particular, Cobble Hill Health Center used this night to honor Dr. Parag H. Mehta, GeriMedix Corp. and Pastor Emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn Dr. Paul Smith.

“In the wacky world of health care, the only constant is change,” Donny Tuchman, Cobble Hill LifeCare administrator reminded the audience, “and we’d better get comfortable with it.”

Tuchman presented the Healthcare Partnership Award to GeriMedix CEO Harold Rubin and President Yossi Green. With headquarters nearby in Red Hook, GeriMedix is a major supplier of medical products for long-term care.

“GeriMedix is more than a vendor,” Tuchman declared. “They’ve been our partner for years.”

Dr. Stephen J. Peterson, medical chair of Methodist Hospital, then presented the Healthcare Leadership Award to Dr. Parag H. Mehta, former chair of Kings County Medical Association and current vice chair of Internal Medicine at Methodist.

The evening took on a somber tone as CEO Emeritus of Cobble Hill Health Center Olga Spitzer Lipschitz stood at the podium to honor Smith. Lipschitz held the audience spellbound as she recalled a childhood encounter with SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the principle architects of the Holocaust and the man held almost solely responsible for the deportation of Jews from Lipschitz’s native Hungary.

“He looked at me and he touched me, and that was the face of evil,” she told hushed listeners. “My friend, Dr. Smith,” she went on, “is the face of goodness. When he opens his mouth all of the good things come out.”

Smith earned his doctorate in sociology and theology in religion at Eden Theological Seminary with a dissertation on the relation of Jewish and black college students. Shortly after graduating, he introduced Andrew Young to Martin Luther King Jr. and he participated in the march from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. King. The second African American ordained in what is now the United Church of Christ, in 1986 Smith became the first African-American pastor of Brooklyn’s venerable First Presbyterian Church at 124 Henry St.

Accepting the award with an embrace from Lipschitz, Smith spoke passionately on the subject of unity, urging listeners to strive together as one.

“Rather than accept the things I cannot change,” Smith told the audience, “I am changing the things I cannot accept … We are one people, and we believe we can accomplish anything we set out to accomplish as long as we recognize our oneness!”

 

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