It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the healthcare sector. Healthcare providers are adapting the way they deliver services and many sub-sectors of the industry, including hospice and home health, are relying on creativity to reach patients who they typically would’ve connected with in a hospital or facility setting.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on all of us in some way; however, as months go by, it is becoming evident that our senior loved ones residing in long-term care facilities are suffering from the prolonged isolation. They have not been able to visit with their loved ones and families in the ways they were able to pre-pandemic and many are now facing emotional health challenges.
Shilynn Renner, marketing liaison for Concordia Hospice of Washington, hopes to provide joy and hope to our senior friends living in local long-term care facilities by gifting them bird feeders. Known as the Cardinal Project, Shilynn and her team launched the initiative in early October as a way to share Concordia’s faith with others while also providing life, hope and restoration to long-term care residents in our community.
We recently spoke with Shilynn about how the pandemic has affected the daily operations of Concordia Hospice of Washington and the unique opportunity the Cardinal Project provides for community members to connect with our senior friends to in a responsible way, given social-distancing requirements.
Q. What is your role with Concordia Hospice of Washington and how long have you been a part of the Concordia team?
A. I am the marketing liaison for Concordia Hospice of Washington. I have been blessed to be with the company since June of 2019. I provide assistance by explaining the benefits of hospice directly to patients and families, facilitate referral needs, and help maintain relationships with local hospitals and facilities.
Q. How has the pandemic reshaped how Concordia Hospice of Washington delivers services to the patients and families who entrust us with their care?
A. The pandemic has been so difficult on everyone! Concordia Hospice of Washington has been wonderful in adapting to the changes. We started a concierge program to call and check in on our patients. We have increased our volume of outbound calls to ensure the needs of our patients and families are being met. Also, we have utilized our Donnell House more frequently to provide a safe place for our patients and families.
Q. What drew you to work in the hospice environment?
A. I have always been in the “helper” field. I have worked as a direct caregiver, program specialist for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, one on one for mentally ill patients, and as an operations manager for a waiver program for physically disabled individuals. My grandmother actually fell ill and passed away at the Donnell House on Valentine’s Day in 2017. My family had such a heart-touching experience that I knew on that day that I wanted to work for Concordia Hospice of Washington. When the job opening for a marketing liaison became available, I jumped on it because I felt God had aligned everything in my life to guide me here.
Q. Concordia Hospice of Washington launched the Cardinal Project earlier this month, which was an initiative you have been passionate about. Can you give us an overview of the project?
A. The Cardinal Project was launched in hopes of bringing some happiness back into everyone’s lives during this pandemic, in a responsible way! The project provides a way for community members to donate bird feeders to our senior friends living in local long-term care facilities so that they can enjoy some beauty during this uncertain time. Many people believe that cardinals serve as reminders that our loved ones who have passed are still watching down on us and I think that brings comfort to a lot of people.
The Concordia Hospice of Washington team will collect all donations, supply the feeders with seed and deliver to local long-term care facilities. Each donation will include a gift tag noting that the gift is from a special friend – you can choose to include your name or donate anonymously.
Q. What are your long-term goals for the Cardinal Project?
A. I view the Cardinal Project as a long-term endeavor that Concordia Hospice of Washington does all year round – I want people to say, “Hey, that’s the hospice with the Cardinal Project!” Once the pandemic is under control, I really hope to expand the project into something larger for the community. I would like to see us partner with home improvement stores to provide workshops for kids to make feeders, bird boxes or even treats. I eventually want to incorporate a “Baby Bird” aspect so that children can be hands on and hopefully hand deliver their creations to loved ones. I want this project to be fun for the whole family and have a positive impact on our community.
Q. Are you a bird watcher? And if so, what is it about the activity that you think resonates with people?
A. My mom always had bird feeders and bird houses in the garden outside our house. We always enjoyed the visitors, especially the cardinals. She watches my 2 ½ year old son while I’m at work and now he knows all of the different types of birds! I think bird watching is one of those things that brings a general calmness. It’s a simple reminder that despite all of the negative things within the world, God has blessed us with so many small blessings and beauties.
Concordia Hospice of Washington offers in-home hospice care serving patients living in Washington, Greene and Allegheny counties as well as in-patient hospice care, offered exclusively at the standalone Donnell House in Washington County.
Learn more about the Cardinal Project and how you can make a difference in the lives of some really special people in our community by visiting: www.ConcordiaCardinalProject.org.
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