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Luthercare’s ‘Heroes Program’ Recognizes Frontline Staff during COVID-19 Pandemic

At Luthercare, our team members have truly gone above and beyond during the last 11 months. Under normal circumstances, working in healthcare can be tiring and difficult, but add in the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the work can be physically and mentally exhausting.

To recognize and appreciate our Healthcare Heroes – nurses, aides, support staff and more – Luthercare established a special “Heroes Program” in 2020. The program had three components:

  • Hourly employees working in locations with COVID-positive cases received “Hero Pay” added to their regularly hourly rate;
  • They earned a “Hero Day” for every 160 hours worked per month that could be used as time off or cashed out at the end of the year;
  • For every 80 hours worked in a pay period, they received an entry in a raffle for a “Hero Getaway,” $5,000 toward a vacation of their choice!

Luthercare’s “Heroes Program” was born out of discussion among the Luthercare Leadership Team as they sought ways to recognize the difficult and exhaustive work that our direct-care givers were providing during the dark days of this pandemic.

Carl McAloose, Luthercare President & CEO, explains that they wanted and needed to provide something more to staff than purely financial considerations for working above and beyond on a daily basis. As they looked within the organization and in their personal lives, at the “normal” things they were missing in 2020, it led to the idea of what kind of vacation those who work in healthcare would hope for when this pandemic ends.

“That sprouted the idea of giving our team members in these direct-care environments something to look forward to, while also helping to ensure that we had staff available to provide this critical care. The ‘Heroes Program’ was born of these two needs,” Carl says.

In January, our “Hero Getaway” raffle winners were selected and awarded their $5,000 prize. They are: Heather Craig, a Licensed Practical Nurse in the Luther Acres Healthcare Center, and Brenda Murphy, a Licensed Practical Nurse in the Luther Acres Personal Care community.

Both Heather and Brenda expressed shock and delight upon learning they were the recipients of the “Hero Getaway” prize.

“I was so speechless, and I honestly had forgotten all about the ‘Hero Getaway’ prize,” recalls Brenda. “It’s been a crazy year, and there are so many people who deserve this. Our team is amazing here, and our team is a family. They are wonderfully supportive, and I feel very lucky.”

Brenda, who has worked at Luther Acres for five years, says she’s still thinking about what she might do with the prize. She and her husband have discussed taking a trip and doing something special together when there are fewer COVID restrictions.

For Heather, who has worked at Luther Acres since 2018, winning the prize was equally surprising, and she’s also still deciding how she will use the prize money. Through the pandemic, Heather has navigated distance learning for her five children and picked up double shifts or extended hours when needed at the skilled nursing Healthcare Center. The challenges of working through the pandemic and losing beloved residents to COVID-19 “has been really hard,” she says. But the sense of teamwork and how much the staff cares for the residents and their families – on top of their own families – is inspiring, she says.

The Luthercare Leadership team expresses its congratulations and thanks to our “Hero Getaway” recipients. “We hope the winners will truly enjoy the time away and the pride they feel for the care they provided during this truly difficult time,” Carl says

 

In the photo at left “Hero Getaway” winner Brenda Murphy (center) is shown with Luther Acres Executive Director Craig Shelly (left) and Personal Care Administrator Heather Dennis. In the photo at right, winner Heather Craig appears second from left, alongside (from left) Luther Acres Healthcare Center Director of Nursing Lisa Keppley, Healthcare Center Administrator Mark Kessler, and Luther Acres Executive Director Craig Shelly.

 

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About Luthercare:

Founded in 1949, Luthercare, a social ministry organization affiliated with the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of Lutheran Services in America, is a leading provider of independent, personal care and skilled care residences in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. Luthercare operates Luther Acres, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lititz, Pa.; Spang Crest, a rehabilitation center, skilled nursing and memory support personal care community in Lebanon, Pa.; and St. John’s Herr Estate, an independent living and personal care community in Columbia, Pa. Additionally, Luthercare operates PA Keystone Stars-accredited child care and early learning centers in Marietta, Reamstown and Annville. Luthercare, a pioneer in Child Care Programs, also offers a Mentoring Program, which aids home-based child care providers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

 

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