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CW Ep. 43: Jerald Cosey

Senior healthcare operational leader Jerald Cosey, HFA, dedicates this episode to honor the senior healthcare professionals from Texas. When disasters impact our world, service professionals embrace the responsibility of providing care to others while also providing for their families at home.

Welcome to Contributor Wednesday on Bridge The Gap Network. In this series, you’ll hear from thought leaders on a variety of topics, dedicated to inform, educate, and influence the senior living industry.

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 monthly contributors, creating content every week, every Wednesday, specifically developed to serve the senior health care industry. speaking the language you understand. Every third Wednesday, I am charged to honor and inspire from an operational leader’s perspective, of course. I ask that you share, like, and invite other senior healthcare professionals to join the Bridge The Gap nation. I want to dedicate this episode to the people living in the great state of Texas. First and foremost, I want to assure all Texans that our thoughts have been focused on you. We know people, families, communities, and cities have all been impacted terribly.

At the time of recording this episode, we are thankful to hear the progress, the hope, but we know both come with a great deal of pain. We pray for your peace beyond circumstance. As a senior healthcare leader, when natural disasters occur, my mind immediately begins thinking about the senior communities located in the affected area. The hurricanes and the flooding impacting our coastal states, numerous times, Texas included. Wildfires impacting the West coast, numerous times. Whatever occurs in our world always forces our minds to think about our beloved senior health care industry. It’s impossible to do otherwise. The loss of power is devastating but add to it, the occurrence during the winter with freezing temperatures when heat is such a critical need for survival. I grew up on the Southside of Chicago. The Hawk is no joke, especially when combined with the wind chill factor, but you know, tough winters have a way of developing processes and procedures for cities, states, and regions regularly impacted by severe weather. It’s part of our DNA, but we still need heat.

We still need electricity and water. When I think of winter temperatures, wreaking havoc, I generally think of the Northeast, the Midwest, but regardless of where you live, the lack of water, hazardous road conditions, pipes bursting and destroying your personable valuables, homes and shelters without heat. That’s a real difficult season for all. I think about our seniors and I find some level of comfort in knowing senior living communities are backed by generators. Moreover disaster preparedness is an expectation in healthcare. Intentionally exercised on a regular basis. Natural disasters, they have a way of grabbing our attention instantly as we witnessed their brutal effects and the end results. The devastation, the fear of the loss, all has a way of awakening our minds and shaking our souls. Lives are changed and the world, other states, other parts of the country, we watch it unfold.

But let me ask you, how can something so awful, bring out so much very good. The good is apparent in the people, the people who have accepted the posture of serving others in a time of need. The good has been apparent every day, as we feel and see the honor that comes from serving others through this difficult time. Good old-fashioned, regular folk showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others. We cherish that demonstration of altruism by those directly serving the impacted communities. I ask you, what type of impact would the Texas power outage have on your professional responsibilities? My professional responsibilities, had it occurred in our own backyard. We continue to witness the inexperience, wildfires and floods and blizzards and hurricanes and tornadoes.

I wonder what if it were me? What if it were me experiencing that reality? How would I find honor in serving others through a very difficult time? A few episodes back, we talked about the power of the penthouse perspective. If you missed that episode, go back and give it a listen to episode 35. In a nutshell, the big idea of the penthouse perspective is your position determines your perspective. And that perspective is powerful. Imagine the different views a football coach requires to process and make game-winning decisions. The skybox and the sideline views are equally important, but offer the vantage points critically needed to process, to assess, and implement a plan of action for the very next play. The penthouse perspective challenge and inspire this podcast episode. See, honor comes from serving others through a difficult time. I think of the local and state disaster professionals behind the scene orchestrating real-time. The firefighters, the service recovery teams, tow truck drivers, police officers, red cross hospitals, and medical professionals.

I think of the neighbors whose names I’ll never know. I’m certain our Texanlisteners are probably thinking of specific names and people, right this minute. People who offered their home, their power, their service to others. One example, just one, the grocery delivery driver, Chelsea Timmons, who spent six days with total strangers after her car became stuck in their driveway. Now, this wasn’t some regular neighborhood driveway y’all. This was a driveway. The home said, lore than the main road. Timmons wrote on Facebook that she had traveled to Austin, Texas from her hometown of Houston, Texas, to deliver groceries and, “make some extra money, as everyone tried to prepare for the winter storm.” This story isn’t about earning money. This story is about service to others. For what I understand, she planned to leave the Houston area about noon that day after making her final delivery and traveling the three hours needed to get back home.

Well, that drive home apparently didn’t happen. She was stranded at her last delivery location. No tow truck. She stayed with total strangers for six days. Let me be Frank. I am not so sure I could welcome a complete stranger in my house even for one night. I’m just being transparent. I can’t imagine me, myself staying in a stranger’s house for one night. Can you imagine? Think about the magnitude of that compassion, that service, the unification of people galvanized through tragedy. You can’t tell me hope doesn’t exist in this world. My perspective on national disasters changed when I made a career change eight years ago, going from a pharmaceutical sales executive role to a senior living executive role. I began to witness chaos from a different vantage point. The vantage point of a care professional, responsible for serving seniors and caring for someone’s mom, dad, sister, brother, with every disaster.

My concern immediately goes to the senior communities of that specific area. At the core of that community are the revered elders. Some still living at home, some living with family, and some with professional family members within a senior living community. I think of these baby boomers first and foremost, the senior citizens of our world, who we love, cherish, and respect. The same citizens who served mankind in a variety of honorable ways. The same people that raised families taught children, policed neighborhoods, put out fires, made gadgets, built cars, designed bridges, cleaned our businesses, fought for our country, fixed our wounds, and righted all wrongs. I can’t even begin to capture the honor these seniors have earned from serving others through difficult times. With all disasters, my perspective places on the horizon, the entire professional senior living communities of Texas, including skilled nursing homes, assisted livings, independent senior communities, more of our home health agencies, and hospice, as well as hospitals. With these communities come those that lead these special places, the skilled nursing administrators, hospital administrators, home health and hospice leaders, assisted living and senior community administrators, and directors of nurses that serve alongside.

What a season these Texan service professionals have had both personally and personally professional. I see their honor from afar as they all serve others through a difficult time. I think about the culinary and dietary teams, the nurse AIDS, charge nurses, unit managers. I think about the laundry and housekeeping professionals, the maintenance teams, the activities professionals, social services, office staff, and admissions. I think about home health professionals, all leaving their homes to serve others. Hospice workers, providing end-of-life care for others when their life is also in need of care. I’m going to calm down a little bit because this just gets me excited to be quite honest, but when providing care for others, the honor comes in the willingness to place their profession alongside their family.

Many care professionals are charged with securing their home first and then making sure their professional home is secure. Think about it. If the disaster strikes while at work, you have to secure your professional home first and then maintain constant communication with your family. I think of all of the family members of those that serve for I am certain, this has been a tough time the past few weeks. This perspective and posture are consistent within the service profession. I can confidently recognize that from afar. As a senior healthcare empowerment speaker, one of my early keynote presentations was entitled, “Leading through the storm when lies depend on you.” Oh my goodness, when disaster strikes, healthcare leaders have a great deal of responsibility. Again, both professionally and personally. We have our professional family, people depending on us. And we have our personal family, wives, husbands, children, parents, depending on us.

After hurricane Harvey, I interviewed a senior healthcare professional by the name of Phil Sterling. At the time he was a regional vice president of operations for the East region of Texas. Beaumont, Texas, a coastal city was part of his responsibility. I asked about the various perspectives from his vantage point. Phil shared with me how his family had recently moved to Texas just prior to the hurricane and how they too were forced to evacuate their home. At the same time, he was posted at a command center, if you will. A dry location where he could get the best possible signal to communicate with his family and his professional family, his leaders, his communities, those that are serving others. I’ll never forget him sharing with me, “He says I had been up for three days Jerald, but when my family was secure, when I was able to put eyes on them, at the hotel, I could honestly finally get a short amount of sleep.”

He said, “Jerald, when I knew that my family was safe, I was refreshed. I felt as though I could conquer whatever challenges my team or our communities had to face.” If one of our listeners out there knows Phil Sterling, please make sure to ask him to listen to this podcast. Phil, I just want to thank you. Thank you for making time for me as a young budding speaker. I have shared your insight with so many healthcare leaders. It was after this interview with you feel that I decided to list hotels between my community and where my family is located. Places that my wife and I could immediately call in the event of a natural disaster. Natural disasters, tough times, they’ll always exist. As healthcare professionals, we are charged with a great deal of responsibility. Please know you have chosen an honorable profession.

We know, I know, your personal families are critically important. They’re your everything. And I also know that we serve elders on a daily basis. People who depend on people in order to move forward with life. I hope my perspective gives a little insight on what service providers think when running to disaster. Now, you know, I’m not going to get off of this podcast episode without a call to action. So I had three requests that I would like to make of you today. Number one, let’s continue lifting up the entire state of Texas as they transition out of this horrible challenge. Number two, if you know a senior healthcare professional, anywhere in this world, but especially in Texas, please recognize their service and their family sacrifice to support that service. And last but not least, I’m asking you to pick up the phone call a senior. Maybe it’s a family member. Maybe it’s a neighbor check in on them. Have a simple conversation. Isolation is real folks and everybody wins when engagement with others begins. Thanks for listening to this week’s Bridge The Gap Contributor Wednesday, please connect with me at btgvoice.com.

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CW Ep. 43: Jerald Cosey