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CW 48: Jerald Cosey

As spring unfolds, renewal is in the air.  Families are being reunited and residents are enjoying the spirit of community!  Senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, HFA, dedicates this episode to honor the commitment of senior living service professionals.


Welcome to Bridge The Gap on Contributor Wednesday, I’m Jerald Cosey, AKA J Cosey, your senior healthcare empowerment speaker. Thank you for joining us today. If this is your first time listening, Josh Lucas and the Bridge The Gap podcast team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors. Contributing and creating content every Wednesday, designed and developed to serve the senior healthcare industry and speaking a language you understand. Every third Wednesday I’m charged to honor and inspire from an operational leader’s perspective. I ask you to share, to like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join the Bridge The Gap nation. I am recording this week’s episode on Easter Sunday. For Christian believers, this day celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On this beautiful day, I reflect upon how the entire week my soul has experienced a feeling of renewal. As we try to transition away from COVID, and yes, I know we’re still in this pandemic, but we are trying to transition away from it and say, COVID get behind us.

With that, there is a spirit of renewal in the air. Across the globe, people of all nationalities and ethnicities of different faiths and different professions, all are experiencing a renewal. Think about it. COVID had a way of hijacking if you will, so very much of our lives. People are getting back to work. Families are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. As senior healthcare professionals, we too are witnessing real-time, a renewal within our communities. A renewal of engagement, a renewal of activities, and watching our residents move towards some feelings of normalcy. To understand the full essence of renewal, it’s important to understand the loss. Why is renewal so significant now? Today? Exactly one year ago to the day, April 4th, 2020, a day I will never forget for the remainder of my life. It was a Saturday morning. I’m hanging out at home doing the Saturday morning thing.

My phone rings, I answer. It’s our director of nursing. She says, “Jerald,” in her very serious voice. “It came back positive.” You see a couple of days prior, we had a resident present with symptoms and of course, we immediately isolated initiated protocols, and we tested. Now as an interdisciplinary team, we prepared for this scenario. All leaders understood the possibility and what was needed by all. Remember, most of our families were sheltering at home safely. With that, let me just pause and say, thank you. Thank you to every listener out there for your sacrifices during this pandemic. Thank you to your families and the support at home. I don’t know how we would have been able to serve at the level in which we did without us being one senior healthcare and without the love and support that we receive from our loved ones. So like the remainder of the interdisciplinary team, I headed to the community. Now, this wasn’t an ordinary ride to work y’all! My thoughts, my emotions were all over the place. I felt the need to capture these feelings and I like to share them with you all today. So bear with me. The audio quality is not as great as I would like.

This is J Cosey. I’m on my way to work right now. Just have my first positive. I’ll probably show this video one day after the fact. It’s tough because we’ve done everything we can to keep this virus out of our facility. And yet, it’s still found a way in. Now, when you have people that need someone to care for them, then we have to take chances and we try to do the best that we can looking for symptoms. But when you have a virus where people are asymptomatic, who are caring, it’s basically a matter of when not if. So, I’m thinking about my family as I leave them. They’re worried about me.

I know they wish I were not going. But, I’m a healthcare professional and I’m a healthcare leader. I lead people. So in this type of situation I attack. This is real. I never in my life thought that I would have a career where I’m placed in a situation where I could literally die, going to work. Never thought that in my wildest dreams. Never thought I would lead a group of people, healthcare professionals, to a battlefield with such risk involved. So with that, I’m going to confront the reality that this stuff is real and go compete by making sure that I engage, I’m transparent, I’m honest. I’m always going to be honest, but I’m Frank and transparent. I’m going to pray a great deal. I’m going to ask God for discernment. I’m gonna love my residents. I’m gonna love my people. And I’m going to do my best. And when it’s all said, and done, I got to make sure that my family, I gotta come home to my family. Not coming home is not an option. I’m J Cosey. I’m a healthcare leader.

Today. I have only shared this recording from the stage as a senior healthcare speaker with my peers. Why? Because it’s personal. It’s intimate. But it’s not just my story. See, it’s our story. As an industry, as a senior living community. We learned very quickly through this past year, the year of loss, after loss, after loss, we learned that we’re a special industry. See tough times they can’t destroy us. They can’t divide us. See tough times, they galvanize us. As senior healthcare professionals working day in and day out, providing care for our revered elders. What many people outside of the industry may not understand is that whatever’s going on in this world is also impacting us and our residents within the communities in which we serve. Our residents, their heroes. Our professionals, their heroes. Our professionals families, they’re heroes. Our residents lost so much this past year.

The moving of their real estate, if you will, as we transitioned them from one room to another, trying to get ahead of this pandemic. The loss of activities and in the spirit of community, if you will. Yeah, we had activities in one-on-one scenarios, but it’s nothing like sitting next to your girlfriend and playing a good game of bingo or having that little dispute over who should have won and who shouldn’t have won. Think about it. We were stressed in the world. Can you imagine if isolation is real in the world, what do you think our residents experienced during this time? But renewal is in the air. See, we only look back at the loss and the sacrifice in order to better understand and appreciate this season of renewal. This past Friday, Good Friday as a matter of fact, our community had our professional photographer come in and take portraits of our residents.

And in many cases, our residents with their family members. When I say it was an incredible opportunity to witness families gathering as one, yes, masks and social distancing are still best practices, but hugs are back! To see our photographer, Jack Snap Jack Jones, interacting with love as he directed our residents and their families. You stand here, mom, I want you there, son I want you to do this. To see that, man, I was witnessing people having normalcy. To see our beautician, Judy, just beaming with joy, watching her latest customer smile for the camera. For a brisk sunny spring day, the joyful feelings of love radiated throughout our community. Renewal is in the air. What did it take to trigger this season of renewal? For one, it took people deciding to get vaccinated. We now have a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Those folks who got vaccinated. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You helped our senior communities open doors so that our residents and their families can enjoy some time together. It took a drop in the COVID infection rates for our local counties and cities and states. It took guidelines by the CDC and our local board of health authorities. It took senior living organizations and their resources to process and figure out new policies and procedures needed to keep their residents and our professionals safe. It took operational and clinical leaders, professionals at the community level, to implement these procedures and best practices all in the spirit of service to mankind. For that reason, I want to recognize the entire senior living community, including vendors and those that provide support services, including home health and hospice organizations and professionals. You have contributed to this spirit of renewal, what you do each and every day.

It matters. There is a purpose behind it. My call to action this week, I challenge you my listener to revisit your why. Write this down. What called you to the senior living industry in the first place? Now dig in deep because next, I’m going to ask you to look for ways to enhance or renew your why. What can you take out of this pandemic that’s going to strengthen your resolve as a professional, as a leader, as a contributor to this honorable profession? Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday. Please connect with me at btgvoice.com.

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CW 48: Jerald Cosey