Takoma Wellness Center opened their doors on August 1, 2013 in memory of Jules and Libby Reifkind; the parents of Stephanie Kahn(Founder of Takoma Wellness Center). The Reifkinds grew up in Washington DC and Jules only lived a few blocks from what would become Takoma Wellness Center. In the early 60’s, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and spent years looking for relief, as there was no medication that could help him.
In the early 70’s one of his doctors recommended he try cannabis. He was reluctant to do that. Cannabis in the 70s wasn’t like how it is perceived now. However, he did try it and found it very helpful with his nerve pain, muscle spasms and overall quality of life. It was difficult to get cannabis, but he used it when he could until he passed away in 2005. Shortly, after four years of his passing, Libby was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and passed just a few months later. Her doctor recommended cannabis for her severe lack of appetite, but she was unable to obtain it as it remained illegal. The law to allow medical dispensaries in DC passed a few months later, when the Kahn family was trying to think of what they could do in their memory. Stephanie, already being a nurse and Jeff, a rabbi, decided to open a medical dispensary.
A place Stephanie’s parents should have had access to. They asked Josh Kahn(their son who was living in Israel) to help them open up. He came to DC, helped for two days and returned back to Israel. He knew his parents needed him, but they were reluctant to ask. On the next day, he returned to help his family with Takoma Wellness full time, and they have been opened ever since.
The first and longest continually open dispensary in Washington DC. we tell our patients this story so they know how personal this is to us. That were not corporate nor hold a corporate mindset. We want every single patient to have the best experience possible here. We are carrying on the legacy of Stephanie’s parents. It’s not about the dollar value, it’s the value we receive knowing that we are helping those who really need it.
Stephanie Reifkind Kahn, BSN, CPHQ, has a 25-year history of executive level leadership in quality and regulatory compliance in large hospital systems, community hospitals, mental health centers, and chemical dependency treatment centers. Stephanie has been working closely with the D.C. Department of Health since 2009(Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration(ABRA) has now taken over the DC Medical Marijuana Program as of October 2020). Her knowledge of patient care and administrative systems as well as regulatory compliance in a variety of health care organizations will ensure that TWC is on the cutting edge of patient centered care that respond to patient feedback in a timely and professional manner.
Jules & Libby Reifkind
Jules Reifkind grew up in our Takoma neighborhood. He attended Whittier Elementary and graduated from Coolidge High. He met his Washington D.C. sweetheart, Libby Kramer here, and after marrying, they lived on Georgia Avenue, then on Jefferson Street. He thought he was living the American Dream. Jules and Libby had two children before Jules was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The Reifkinds went through years of turmoil, as they sought physician after physician, always searching for some relief from the severe spasms caused by MS. Many of his physicians recommended that he try marijuana, something almost impossible for this middle-class businessman to obtain. On the rare occasions he was able to use it, his tremors, stiffness and spasticity relaxed. He experienced great relief. Jules died in 2005.
In 2009, Libby fell ill with cancer. Chemo robbed her of her appetite, and she fought constant nausea. The physicians again recommended marijuana. She couldn’t find it. She died two months after her diagnosis, having lost 45 pounds. Jules and Libby were my parents. Growing up in our home meant repeated visits to hospitals and physicians. I became a nurse, and then a hospital administrator because I wanted to effect change, to improve patients’ lives. The Takoma Wellness Center seeks to provide for others the relief my parents never found. Its creation will honor my parents’ memory and help others who face similar challenges.
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Kahn, M.A.H.L., D.D., has three decades of experience serving as the spiritual leader of four synagogues – in Adelaide Australia, Rockford Illinois, Miami Florida, and Central New Jersey. Ordained a Rabbi on June 5, 1981 – the day the CDC reported the first AIDS patient – he devoted his career to ministering to families and individuals struggling with the devastating effects of serious illnesses. Rabbi Kahn has been fully engaged in the development of Takoma Wellness Center since 2010 and now works full-time at the center.