The Journey Here: Sean (June 2024)

At Concordia Lutheran Ministries, we are blessed with a dedicated team of compassionate employees who help us carry out our mission of caring every day.

Through our series of employee testimonials, “The Journey Here,” we’ll introduce you to team members, profiling their Concordia journey. The piece will be supplemented with a Q&A featured in our Faith in Caring magazine, offering further perspective on how our employees work as the hands and hearts of our mission.

We’re excited for you to meet Concordia of Monroeville Physical Therapist Sean Crandell:

As he spurs his feet into the bicycle’s pedals, Sean leans forward and pushes himself. A brickless, intangible wall of undiscernible height looms over him. The familiar obstacle exists merely in his mind.

Sean often experiences hitting the “wall” when he bikes for miles or runs marathons. But, the wall, or something like it, exists beyond physical endurance.

A Vast Barrier

After finishing his graduate degree at Chatham University in 2019, Sean saw this mental barrier morph into the form of a pandemic, as COVID-19 blocked many from entering the workforce.

“It was kind of sparse in terms of job selection,” Sean said.

Looking for a way forward, Sean looked to familiar doors, which led him to Concordia and Kermit Bateson, Concordia’s corporate director of therapy. During his final year at Chatham University, Sean met Kermit while gaining on-the-job experience at Concordia at Rebecca Residence.

“As a student at Rebecca Residence he made everyone feel comfortable around him: patients, therapists, nurses and aides,” Kermit said. “I saw Sean’s desire to do the right thing clinically for the patient. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does. It’s obvious.”

Sean riding his bicycle in a race. Photo: Mike Briggs
Sean poses at the finish line of the Rabid Raccoon, a 62-mile race he completed in Spring 2023.

Changing Shape

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sean began treating Concordia patients. He saw the obstacle of finding a job replaced by another in the form of pandemic protocols and turmoil. Sean experienced firsthand the adversity senior care facilities faced daily, even beyond short-term rehabilitation.

Sean weathered the PPE, the masks, the gowns and all the new safety precautions and procedures. Yet, the biggest challenge remained keeping people in high spirits. He saw the metaphorical walls change again, this time much smaller and personal. On the other side of them, his patients stood isolated from friends and family.

“It was tough. You could tell it was that much harder for them,” Sean said. “That challenged me to be there for someone at a low point in their life.”

A Hopeful Place

In his work with Concordia, Sean helps patients regain their strength following illness or injury. One of the most common injuries he sees are hip fractures, often from falls. He also sees many patients who struggle with chronic conditions, such as COPD and heart failure.

“Ultimately, people have lost strength and are unable to take care of themselves. That’s why they’re here,” Sean said. “Often, the goals are pretty similar across the board. People want to leave here and go home, whether that’s an apartment, their house, personal care, assisted living or independent living.”

Sean said each patient deserves to have their treatment tailored to them. Beyond that, he wants each patient to feel heard, respected and connected to the treatment plan. He wants to show them his investment, so they can invest in their own recovery.

“I want to be there for them and remind them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Sean said.

With the help of a colleague, Sean demonstrates a therapy exercise using stair equipment in the gym at Concordia of Monroeville.

More Doors Open

As Sean progressed through the pandemic, he found the many obstacles less daunting. He saw new doors opening. Sean began working full-time at a private practice. He also started teaching at Chatham University, as well as the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned an undergraduate degree in athletic training.

Still, Sean appreciates the flexibility Concordia provides. He feels free to bring his own style of practice to his patients. It’s also a way he can help people who need him most.

According to Kermit, Sean fully focuses on each patient and their needs. He brings an infectious positive attitude to his patients and colleagues, and he has a knack for connecting with people on many levels.

“His varied settings and clinical evidence-based approach mean the patients are getting the best possible care,” Kermit said. “In turn, his presence and approach in the gym is seen by his peers, and it sets a standard of care we would like all to embody.”

The Connector

As a connector, Sean leverages all of his experiences into an e-newsletter. It often contains personal anecdotes or triumphs, professional information and even book recommendations.

“It’s more of a creative outlet for me, and it keeps me honest in the sense of trying to find what’s most applicable to people,” Sean said. “Also, I think it’s important that we show our personality as healthcare workers because otherwise we’re just robots. Our value is that we’re human. It’s a way to present myself.”

Between the newsletter’s lines, one might catch glimpses of Concordia’s impact on Sean. They may also learn from Sean’s countless encounters with the walls and obstacles he regularly faces. To Sean, they seem less scary now. In retrospect, maybe they never did.

View all open careers at ConcordiaCareers.org and connect with us on social to learn more about our employee culture! And, to learn more about Sean’s perspective on his Concordia career, check out the March issue of Concordia’s Faith in Caring magazine.

Subscribe today by emailing giving@concordialm.org.


Founded in 1881, Concordia Lutheran Ministries is a faith-based, CARF-accredited Aging Services Network and recipient of the inaugural Pennsylvania Department of Aging Excellence in Quality Care Award. As one of the largest nonprofit senior care providers in the country, the organization serves 50,000 people annually through in-home care and inpatient locations.

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