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CW 52: Jerald Cosey

Like the Indianapolis 500, senior living professionals have competed on the racetrack of life. In this episode, senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, HFA, asks all senior living professionals to pull off the track for a brief pit stop. A stop designed to reevaluate, renew and recommit, all to advance senior living forward.


Welcome to Bridge The Gap, Contributor Wednesday. I am Jerald Cosey, AKA J Cosey, your senior healthcare empowerment speaker. Thank you for joining us today. If you are a first-time listener, Josh Lucas, and the Bridge The Gap team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors creating content every week, every Wednesday, specifically developed to serve the senior living industry. Speaking the language you understand. Every third Wednesday, I am charged to honor and inspire from an operational leader’s perspective. I ask you to share, like, and invite other senior living professionals to join the Bridge The Gap nation. This is a big week for race car fans here in my home state of Indiana, actually for fans across the world as the Indianapolis 500 approaches this weekend. I continue thinking about the race we have competed in as senior healthcare professionals from around this exact time last year.

Like in our personal lives, this worldwide pandemic has pushed the senior living industry in multiple ways to maximize our performance as we advance senior healthcare forward. Since March of 2020, we have gone around and around along a continuous loop and at very high speeds, navigating safety, infection control, and quality measures. Since March of 2020, we have revved up our engines trying to meet all regulatory expectations. We have gone around and around finding ways to deliver excellence while also finding a way to pay for that excellence. Through this pandemic, and as senior living professionals, we have rounded the track of life, both at home with our family and at work with our professional family. There’s something special about competing at the highest level. As we like to say in senior healthcare or healthcare in general, practicing at the top of one’s license.

This episode, I wanted to have a bit of fun if you will, and simply try and make comparisons between a worldwide sporting event and the worldwide profession of senior healthcare. Would you believe the first Indianapolis 500 race occurred May 30th, 1911? Over time, the race has evolved and continues to demand excellence from the best drivers and race teams from across the globe. Let’s call it what it is. Healthcare, in general, can be a demanding profession. A high-stakes race if you will, to deliver exceptional quality care on a continuous basis. Similar to the continuous loop around the track requires an intense focus and forces the driver, the leader, the professional, to think critically and process to make real-time decisions. But like most races, additional resources are always needed in order to compete well.

Maybe that resource is support from your home office. The multiple experts speaking into your headset with specifics on matters, like infection control, nursing, PDPM, culinary, social services, activities, housekeeping, therapy, all departments represented in our communities. Maybe it’s additional resources like ACA leading age affiliates, lobbying for support, and fighting causes so the industry may compete and compete well. The race requires a team approach for all though the driver is the face and the machine is the vehicle, races are won with teams that work in unison to execute and implement plans well. The Indianapolis 500 track is roughly 2.5 miles per lap.

Wow, that’s a huge track. You know, the track in our healthcare world, it’s a long course as well. With systems, regulatory oversight, quality measures, the track must have some symmetry for a solid, consistent baseline is needed in our work. The steady oval track is full of challenges and it’s everything but a simple surface. There are days when a track is hot consisting of real-life challenges with intense consequences. Some race days, the track is wet and the need for caution requires the driver, you and me, to adjust on turns. On the perfect day, the track is driver-friendly, allowing all competing to push their leadership as you enjoy the combination of high quality, high effort, and great teamwork. As operational and clinical leaders, you compete daily on your own racetrack. You know, the small bumps, the uneven surfaces, the best way to navigate and navigate in order to achieve maximum performance.

But like every field of play out there, race tracks, sporting venue, the track needs maintenance and upkeep. All of which allows the athlete or the leader in our case to compete at the highest level. When is the last time your track received maintenance? Think about it. We get so focused on the track and the field of play that we seldom find time to stop and tend to our playing field. In preparation for this week’s episode, I had the pleasure of researching little-known facts. Facts I’m sure many race car fans take for granted. The way it’s explained on paper, the Indy car is a formula of professional-level, single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel, purpose-built race car. As of 2020, all utilize a 2.2 liter V6, twin-turbocharged engine, tuned to produce a range of 550 to 700 horsepower. Wow! As a senior living professional, your car, if you will, is also more than just a car.

It is a racing machine. You, your teams, are expected to run at the highest level. Your Indy car requires many parts, all needed to maximize performance. Like with your community, you are a part of a team. No one position is ever greater than the other because we all work in unison advancing senior healthcare together. The perceived tiniest role could be the actual boat under the hood that no one can see yet keeps the car moving forward. Have you ever noticed how when one person leaves a community and you must bring someone else in, nobody is ever bigger than the community? The community will always survive. I had the privilege of speaking at a Memorial service earlier this month. It was almost a year since my friend and former resident council president made his transition. A loss like many citizens attributed to this worldwide pandemic.

While I sat in the audience watching a slide show of his life, I was reminded of how much of his life occurred in our skilled nursing community. I thought of his dry humor, his quick wit, our daily embraces. We crossed paths walking the hallways at the start of the day. Our experiences extended outside his battle with COVID for a consistent amount of time, we did life together. Emotions were starting to bubble up and as I walked to the front and looked out to see his family, his friends, his Bible study buddies from his local church, and his best friend, his wife, who he met at our community, I quickly realized I have yet to heal. I have not taken my machine off the track for a well-needed pit stop. What’s so interesting is that exact same week prior to the Memorial service, I spoke to another senior healthcare leader, a well-needed check-in, if you will, that organically moved to him making the final comment saying, Jerald, I haven’t healed.

You know, my team hasn’t completely healed. As a healthcare professional, whether you are at the hospital or in senior living, home health, hospice, have you taken the time to pull your finely tuned machine off the track for a well-needed pit stop? Like high-performance teams, we must waive ourselves and for rehydration and for renewal. Since the start of last year, we continue going around and around the track. But guess what? It’s up to you. It’s up to me to be intentional and pull it ourselves off so that we can recover, so that we can heal, so we can be the best possible senior healthcare professional we can be. Allow me to share some practical pit stops that will require intentionality and a willingness to act. Pit stop number one. Find a health care professional, someone with a similar role, whether over the phone or meet up after work for a cold one.

Start the conversation with this. How have you been since the pandemic? Pit stop number two. Your organizations, many of them have employee assistance programs, but you know what? They only work if you use them, maybe it’s time. You need to pick up the phone and take advantage of that resource. Pit stop number three. Does your organization have a chaplain service? I’m thankful to my employer, American Senior communities for securing a chaplain service with availability for our 90 plus communities. Shout out to Marcus at Workforce Chaplains of Indiana. He has been a prayer warrior for me as a leader, since the pandemic started. Marcus, if you’re listening out there, I want you to know how much I appreciate you. Love you brother. Pit stop number three. Revisit your why. As a speaker and a student of leadership development, I encourage my peers and audience members always to capture their why. What called you to senior healthcare in the first place? Whether you’re an avid race car fan or not as this Indianapolis 500 approaches,

I want you to think about how in life we go around and around with the same thoughts, the same actions, the same behaviors. But just as these well-trained athletes and these owners decide to pull their racing machines off the track. We too must do the same and take an internal pit stop. When we do, we allow ourselves to assess what behaviors do I need to change? What thoughts need to be eliminated and do I need to readjust my strategy? As soon as we can make those decisions, we can get back on the track and start pursuing the checkered flag. This month, I’m asking you to compete by making time for yourself to reevaluate your behaviors, reevaluate your goals, and reevaluate the strategy to achieve them. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday. Please connect with me at btgvoice.com.

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CW 52: Jerald Cosey