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CW 78: Jerald Cosey

With Thanksgiving around the corner, senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, focuses on the importance of thankfulness. He sheds light on senior living professionals, senior healthcare organizations, and those involved in the senior living community industry, thanking them for their service and sacrifices.

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 this is your first time listening, Josh, Lucas, and the Bridge the Gap podcast team have put together a terrific lineup of contributors. Contributing content every week, every Wednesday, specifically designed for the senior living senior healthcare space. Speaking a language you understand. Every third Wednesday I’m charged to honor and inspire from an operational leader’s perspective. I ask that you share, like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join the Bridge the Gap nation. You know, being asked to honor and inspire, that is a very tough challenge for me. I enjoy it because it gives me a chance to recognize and show a high level of respect for the industry that I love so very much. The month of November is the time of year when seasons become magical.


If you think back perhaps all the way to your childhood as a kid, my mom enjoyed preparing Thanksgiving meal, a Thanksgiving meal for my family, my favorite as a kid. The month of November, is a time of year when seasons become magical. If you think back perhaps all the way to your childhood as a kid, my mom enjoyed preparing our Thanksgiving meal. As an adult, my wife and I both enjoy preparing the meal. My favorite as a kid was my mom’s macaroni and cheese. Now I know there are many people in this world who enjoy mashed potatoes, but on the south side of Chicago in Elizabeth Cosey’s house, she had macaroni and cheese and I loved it. My most significant memory though, was the sense of family, the memories of fellowship, as I matured the Thanksgiving holiday began to expand around the appreciation for the feelings of thankfulness.


Well, was it because I understood that provisions can’t be taken for granted or was it because I realized really that others were contributing to my life or giving of something to me? As an adult, I feel to my core, the expression of thankfulness is one of the highest forms of respect. I would argue it’s reasonable to equate it to the expression of love. As a parent, it’s imperative to teach our children how to formally express appreciation. I remember a family member would, would send clothes that she would gather, used clothes, and she would mail them to my mom’s specifically for me. And as a, as a snot-nosed kid, I’m like, ah, I don’t want that, that’s not new. My mom would say emphatically, there are no days like that. Pick up that phone and extend a thank you. And of course I followed suit. It was instilled at an early age, the importance of recognizing appreciation for when something was done for you. 


Looking back to when my kids were just toddlers, what do parents often say now? Now, what do you say? That was very nice. What, what do you say? You say, thank you. With that, how do you genuinely express thankfulness to a person or people, a professional who has decided to sacrifice for the welfare of others? As an undergraduate, I became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, and throughout the pledging process, we learned the definition of altruism. It was defined as the unselfish concern for the welfare of others. That seed was planted at a, at a young age and little did I know the significance of the word and how it would continue time and time again, to serve as a, a compass, if you will, for the sacrifice. As a compass, if you will, for focusing on others. 


This month, as we approach Thanksgiving next week, I would, as a senior living professional, I would like to take some time to pay a few thankfulls within our industry. See, I enjoy being thanked myself, and I also enjoy thanking others. So I’m willing to bet that many would agree with me. So, so with that, I like to speak on behalf of you, my listener, on behalf of my peers within the senior healthcare industry. Let’s begin with a big thank you to our revered elders, those who we serve as professionals. Thank you for allowing us to care for you. A few years back, I went through seasons of illness, moments in time when my body was up against the wall as I competed against ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease. A disease that wreaked havoc on my life. Over 30 hours of surgeries, over three different episodes within the hospital, I became very aware that others were providing care for me. I’ve always hated being dependent upon somebody. But guess what, what I learned during this time is it’s a privilege to allow others within your spear of care.


It’s, it’s, it’s an honorable expression. I think about the residents who deal with the exact same illness as I, and have went through the exact same surgeries as I, who were dependent upon care within our communities. But there’s a difference. See, I was younger and at a certain point, I could care for myself. That brings me back to this Thanksgiving season. And I want to thank all of our residents for allowing us to care for you, for allowing us to serve you. We love you, and we appreciate you. We do not take that expression for granted. 


I think back to a good friend of mine, Dan. Dan was the resident council president at the community in which I led during the pandemic. Dan was a tall man with a quick wit. It wasn’t uncommon for Dan to buy flowers for all the ladies on Valentine’s day. Those professionals at Greenwood Meadows, I know you remember Dan so vividly. Well on Wednesdays, he and his wife would love to attend their church. It was common practice for Dan and I to stop in the middle of the hallway, look at each other, hug and say, I love you brother. This revered elder was my friend. We began a Bible study together. Well, back in March of 2020, I know the timestamp because during that time, the state of Indiana had our first confirmed COVID positive case. For those outside of the industry, you may not know, but our residents have what we call a resident council, and they meet on a regular basis. And as the executive director of the community, I have to be invited to attend. Basically, I can’t just show up. 


During this early part of the pandemic across the country, communities began limiting visitors inside and within a sphere of influence or within a physical space of, of our residents, I mean, it’s an invisible virus, only essential people. So it was a really big deal and it was a decision that didn’t come lightly. So I asked for the ability to speak with the resident council. The situation had warranted the request. I look around the room and I see our residents, I see our elders, people who we love and we care for on a regular basis, and I did my level best to explain the situation. I talked about how we would not be able to allow visitors at this moment and how we would keep everyone updated. And then I explained the why. Now keep in mind, we all have residents that receive guests on a regular basis. Many of our residents are married and their spouses visit on a regular basis. Our elders, they watched the news, believe me. It was a big deal, when we went high-def in the community. They understand the magnitude of the problem.


Well, on this day, as I explained, Dan, who was a resident council president, he looked around the room and you could see his, his friends giving him the permission to speak. Dan says, Jerald, we trust you as our leader. When one door closes, another door will open. As we move forward to celebrate Thanksgiving, and on this episode today, on behalf of all senior living professionals, I want to thank our seniors for allowing us to serve you through this pandemic, which still exists. Many of you have made sacrifices. Many of you have demonstrated time and time again unselfish concern for the welfare of others. And it’s truly our pleasure and honor to serve you. 


Staffing has been the big challenge for the service industry across our country. Much time, energy and resources have been exhausted, trying to recruit and retain professionals. Our healthcare industry is exactly the same. Today though, I want to talk about those professionals that come to work and continue coming to work on a daily basis. I want to recognize the senior living professionals who have major plans, personal plans for a weekend and time and time have put that aside so that they could pick up a shift and, and serve, and serve our revered elders. I want to take time to thank those employees who, who may not work a great deal of overtime, but are 100% committed, and attend and not just show up, but deliver excellence each and every day, without calling in. Happy, enthusiastic, and ready to serve others. 


See in the senior living space, you just can’t shut down. There is zero room for error, because a career choice has become a career duty. I want to thank every employee at the facility level, at the tip of the spear for your contributions. I thank your families. Your families are indeed heroes. They support you. They put plans aside so that you can continue to go out and serve others. Thank you so very much. I want to recognize our senior healthcare organizations, senior living post-acute care organizations. The weekly requirements, the changes that continually happen, week after week can wear you out, but you found a way to procure the resources, you continue to. You, you footed the bill to pay for those resources. Our home office professionals, you ran your lane, you maximized your skill set, and you brought value from afar. And for that, we are continuously thankful. So on behalf of our industry, we want to thank you. You senior living organizations, home and hospice, home, health and hospice. You know who you are, everyone within the senior living space. Thank you for your commitment and your service. Thank you for your sacrifice.


As we get ready to, to exit off of this, off of this podcast episode, I wanted to share something with you and I, I do my best to, to stay away from faith-based messages, because I just want to be respectful to the entire audience, but John Maxwell has this leadership Bible, which I just think is incredible. And he shares in here, in the book of Philippians, he says, and this is in a commentary, “A personal sense of purpose works in two ways. First we work on it and then it works on us. When we surrender to our circumstances, we have good days and bad days. We are at the mercy of what happens to us. But when we surrender to the cause or the purpose, we have good days, wherever we go, the purpose never dies. Paul, he’s talking about the apostle, his attitude helped his purpose to go forward. Then his purpose helped his attitude go forward. His attitude helped him conclude that it didn’t matter what happened to him or others. So long as the mission continued.”


This Thanksgiving, I just want to recognize a senior living industry. Thank you for staying focused on the mission, not the problem. Thank you for staying focused on advancing senior health care. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your love. You are respected. And remember this: there is nothing more honorable than placing the needs of someone else before your very own. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. Please connect with me at

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CW 78: Jerald Cosey