A mission to Cuba about a decade ago with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland spurred Dr. David M. Rosenberg to step up his efforts to address the health care needs of those who are underserved in Cleveland.

Before leaving on the trip, Rosenberg decided to organize the collection of medications and supplies to help stock a clinic in Havana.

When he came home, the head of the University Hospitals Ahuja Lung Center had a revelation: If doctors in Havana living on low wages could extend themselves to help those living in poverty, so could he.

And he has – in a variety of initiatives.

Rosenberg, 72, helped establish Alyson’s Place, at the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland in Pepper Pike. The medical clinic embedded within a social service agency affords doctors the extra time and support needed to care for people with special needs.

Rosenberg is a board member of JFSA and MedWish International in Cleveland, and volunteers at Medworks in Lyndhurst. He especially enjoys acting as a catalyst in developing new programing for these agencies.

In winter 2020, he helped establish a free weekend clinic at MetroHealth System’s Severance Center campus in Cleveland Heights in partnership with Medworks and JFSA to serve those under or uninsured.

“We concentrated on the Jewish community on Sunday and the general community on Saturday,” Rosenberg said.

He also helped Medworks establish on-line clinics in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to connect the underserved to health care. Also, he heads Medwish’s local domestic giving program, designed to provide medical supplies and equipment to people of need within greater Cleveland.

On his second day as a medical student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Rosenberg got his white coat and was assigned to an expectant mother, whose progress he followed through his second year of medical school.

That experience taught him the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient. The program was disbanded in the mid-1990s leaving a critical gap from his perspective in the education of CWRU medical students.

In 2014, with the help of Susan Bichsel, JFSA’s president and CEO, Rosenberg helped establish a course for inter-professional health care students at CWRU called Aging in Place.

The course assigns a single JFSA client to a team of 3 health care students, including a medical student and with the current course design, the team follows their client over the course of an entire year. The curriculum is centered on learning about geriatrics, as well as the importance of relationship building, both with the client and among student team members.

When the initial course pilot ended after six weeks, “we found out that the clients viewed themselves as teachers, educators for the next generation of clinicians,” he said, adding both the clients and students wanted the program to continue.

“The students learned the importance of people’s life stories, along with the social side of medicine and how both affect health outcomes,” said Rosenberg, who is a preceptor in the program. “Everything is not based on performing tests and diagnostics. Teaching students the importance of the human side of medicine and relationship building is critically important for the total wellbeing of a patient.”

Rosenberg was born in Cleveland, raised in South Euclid and graduated from Beachwood High School in Beachwood, where he met Enid Baum, whom he married between their junior and senior years of college at The Ohio State University in Columbus.

The couple raised their daughter and son in Moreland Hills and Pepper Pike. In about 2014, the two established the David and Enid Rosenberg Family Foundation at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

“Our annual meeting takes on special importance when each grandchild gets up to discuss their suggested donations” he said. “Their explanations warm my heart and truly represent tikkun olam, making the world a better place, from one generation……to the next……to the next.”

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