The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society’s 98th annual operations conference looked a bit different this year.
While the event is normally held in-person, leaders from the long-term care provider decided to hold it virtually from June 16-17, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nate Schema is the vice president of operations, and said the health care organization considered canceling the annual conference, but instead elected to move it to a virtual setting.
“It’s been such a rich part of our history. We couldn’t imagine a situation or scenario where we canceled it,” said Schema.
Schema says the theme of the 2020 meeting is “strong roots.” It’s fitting, given the background of the health care provider, and longevity of the conference.
“It’s important because we need people to stay connected, and we want them to understand what it means to be a servant leader within the Good Samaritan Society. The annual meeting allows us to remember that, and stay connected to our roots.
“We want people to remember that they’re part of something bigger. Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society truly formed a unique combination. We’re an integrated health system like no other,” said Schema.
“I think we have an obligation to deliver on that promise moving forward. How do we truly transform the way that care is delivered from birth to our seniors, who are being cared for in some of their final days,” he added.
The annual meeting also allows leaders within the organization a chance to review what’s worked, and what issues they’re facing.
“We have the ability to not only share with one another the opportunities of what’s working, and what’s not working. We also have the ability to plan for our future. We’ll use this time to celebrate the past, our successes, but also outline the things we have to look forward to,” said Schema.
Successes during the pandemic
Schema says access to testing and personal protective equipment during the pandemic are two big wins for Good Samaritan Society. Widely available access can be attributed to the partnership of Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society, says Schema.
“It’s pretty awesome when I can call up Rochelle Odenbrett (at Sanford Laboratories) and say, ‘Rochelle, we need some tests in Brainerd, Minnesota,’ or, ‘Hey, we need them down in Prescott, Arizona.’
“She can have them there, it’s been awesome to work with her to get them there,” said Schema.
“Then, of course, working with Dean Weber and the supply chain team. Everybody was focused on masks, gowns and hand sanitizer. I can honestly say really early on, we didn’t have to worry about it. They were all over. They were working day and night to get us the resources that we needed, and continue to do so,” he added.
While the organization has experienced success during the pandemic, Schema says COVID-19 remains the biggest issue leaders face.
The conference allowed for both continued COVID-19 education, and addressing other topics such as:
- Offering financial, quality measures, and nursing updates
- Listening to a COVID-19 research presentation from Dr. David Pearce, Sanford Health president of research and innovation
- National Ever Forward Champion Awards — a time to recognize the leaders, employees, caregivers, and volunteers who demonstrate Good Samaritan Society’s values and consistently live out its mission and vision
The desired outcome of the meeting for attendees? To walk away knowing they’re cared for.
“I want them to know they’re supported. Being here at our national campus, we often talk about that we’re here to support the field. I want each and every one of our leaders to know that they’re not alone. Especially during COVID-19.
“They’ve got an army of people behind them cheering them on,” said Schema.
‘Make it a fun day’
Schema adds that this conference is a good reminder to focus on the lighter side of life, even during hard times.
“It’s important that we have some fun through all of this. I want all of our folks to have fun. You’ve got to find the joy in those little moments each and every day. Make it light for your residents. Our residents didn’t lose their sense of humor just because they got a little older.
“Go out and do something silly. Put some music on, and just make it a fun day.”
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