Today’s Front Line Hero: Samaritas

April 13, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Samaritas, and the staff at their affiliate, Adrian Affordable Living. Due to the need to social distance during COVID-19, Adrian Affordable Living was forced to cancel their annual Easter party. Each year, Adrian Affordable Living hosts an Easter party on the property for the community, including an Easter egg hunt for the children. They saved money by cancelling the Easter party, and decided to use that funding to provide a necessity for their residents instead: toilet paper.

In the spirit of giving, staff at Adrian Affordable Living provided toilet paper to every household, which was greatly appreciated since toilet paper has been in short supply and many families have had trouble finding the needed product. One of their residents called the office to thank them for the gift, saying she had “prayed to the toilet paper gods just that morning,” since her family had run out and did not know how they would find more toilet paper.

Hats off to Samaritas and Adrian Affordable Living for using their resources to help their community! Though Easter parties had to be cancelled this year, we appreciate that you are looking to build community in other ways.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

April 14, 2020

Today’s Front Line Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, and the Project IMPACT staff. Project IMPACT is a behavioral health crisis program, operating in five hospital emergency rooms in Chicago. The crisis mental health counselors and social workers of Project IMPACT provide psychiatric evaluations, and place patients needing psychiatric care in behavioral health facilities, ensuring that ER beds are available for those who need testing and acute medical care. Those ER beds are especially critical now, during the COVID-19 crisis.

Project IMPACT staff cannot work from home, and have courageously answered the call to serve their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Counselors and social workers are taking on extra shifts to cover for their colleagues who are worried about exposure, unable to work due to illness, or staying home with children. Some staff who are temporarily unable to work are spending their time sewing masks to keep their colleagues safe.

Thank you to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and the Project IMPACT staff! We recognize that you are working in increasingly challenging conditions, and we appreciate your dedication to bringing healing and wholeness to your communities.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Nevada

April 15, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Nevada (LSSN), for expanding their digital food pantry services during the COVID-19 pandemic. LSSN has operated a food pantry for more than ten years, serving members of their community who are food insecure. The food pantry offers fresh produce, meats, dairy, bread, and an array of non-perishable food items, and provides low-income shoppers with the dignity of choosing the foods they wish to eat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity in vulnerable communities, and LSSN is rising to the challenge of meeting that need. LSSN launched the country’s first digital food pantry, DigiMart, in 2016, allowing clients to select their food items from any electronic device connected to the internet, including desktop kiosks at LSSN.

DigiMart has become a necessity in the era of social distancing, allowing low-income families and homeless populations to select groceries online. LSSN is expanding the size of the DigiMart food pantry from 750 square feet to 3,058 square feet, and suspending registration requirements so they can serve more people who are facing food insecurity.

Thank you to Lutheran Social Services of Nevada for working hard to promote food security in Southern Nevada during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota

April 16, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota (LSS SD) for their creative solution to supply their community with much needed protective equipment.

LSS SD hosts a learning center for children, and they are providing childcare services during the COVID-19 crisis. When the children saw one of the learning center staff, Sarah Anderson, sewing masks, they were eager to help. Sarah taught the children how to sew using a sewing machine, and they were enthusiastic to use this new skill to help keep the staff safe at LSS SD.
The children at the learning center at LSS SD have spent the past few weeks sewing good quality, three layer masks for the staff, their family and friends, and their teachers. LSS SD is now asking parents if they know of anyone in need of masks, and expanding their reach into the community. The children are suggesting they make masks to send to retirement homes, since they know the elderly population is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. LSS SD is seeking donations to help cover the cost of supplies as the children continue using their new-found skills to provide much needed protective gear.

Kelo Land, LSS SD’s local news station covered this uplifting story:…

Thank you to LSS SD for your dedication to serving and protecting your community, and for instilling community service in the next generation!

Rising to the COVID-19 Challenge

April 20, 2020

A Q&A with Wartburg President and CEO Dr. David J. Gentner

We all are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is creating unprecedented challenges for people, health professionals, and organizations alike throughout America. We sat down for a Q&A with Wartburg President and CEO Dr. David J. Gentner to get his thoughts on much-needed work Wartburg professionals have underway when it comes to caring for people at their most vulnerable, the importance of related reporting, and seamless communication with people affected during this crisis.


A: Wartburg is operating in a region that has become the epicenter of the nation’s Covid-19 pandemic.  As the deadliest pandemic in a century sweeps through the region, Wartburg is working tirelessly to play a key role in protecting the population it serves, most of whom are elderly, or suffer from underlying medical conditions and at high risk should they become infected with Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel Coronavirus. 

This critically important effort is taking place on many fronts, because Wartburg serves a diverse population along the post acute senior care and housing continuum. In the best of times, the community depends on Wartburg as a service care and housing service provider, employer, and source of information. In the current crisis, Wartburg has become even more indispensable. 


A: As hospital capacity was a well-documented concern, we were proud to be able to receive a continuing flow of COVID-19 patients from area hospitals early in the pandemic. It was inconceivable to close our doors to people infected with the virus. We did this in consultation with the epidemiology office of the New York State Department of Health, and created isolated units separate from the rest of the facility.

Wartburg’s Medical Director and Administrative staff provided valuable guidance on this transition, and monitored its implementation and ongoing operations. Prior to any internal moves, families were updated on their resident’s condition and notified of that person’s transfer.


A: Epidemiologists are working with a variety of sources to ensure they have efficient and timely sources to help calculate infections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wartburg is working daily with public health officials to ensure all reporting standards are met. As reported cases of COVID-19 continue to grow throughout southern Westchester, good data are more important than ever. Testing, however, is still an issue in the greater community, as we are in the fifth-largest population density in the state with approximately 14% of the population over age 65, and there is not a satellite testing facility in Mount Vernon. This makes Wartburg’s efforts related to reporting COVID-19 positive or even presumed positive cases paramount, as it may help with regional supplies of personal protective equipment and testing resources, well documented to be rationed and in extremely short supply.

We believe case numbers are a critical piece of information to help determine supply prioritization, and we’ve made sure to do our part. While we strive for transparency, when it comes to patient confidentiality all providers are bound by federal guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protect the individual privacy of our residents, in their homes, who may not want their condition known.

Family communication is essential, however, and our clinical staff follows all established federal and state laws in notifying families and responsible parties of any change in the medical condition of their loved ones. We will continue to communicate all updates to constituents through a multitude of internal communication channels including on-going updates via our webpage and social media. All of our communications also include opportunities for questions and recommendations, both internally (via Wartburg’s Employee Health Hotline, and Corporate Compliance Hotline), and through New York State complaint options such as the New York State Regional Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the New York State COVID-19 portal.


A: We are heartened that at this time that the number of new positive cases is decreasing, many long-term residents are recovering from the virus, and some post-acute patients are returning home. Also, staff who have been sick are eager to return to service after their medical clearance. This gives us hope.

Our deepest sympathy, thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have passed away from the COVID-19 virus, a virus that disproportionately and virulently affected those in our community of advanced age and frailty. We are deeply saddened by this collective loss. Yet our commitment to service is unwavering, and we are tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support from families and the greater community who have offered supplies and words of encouragement, particularly for the heroic staff who have worked so tirelessly during this time.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Luther Home of Mercy

April 20, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Luther Home of Mercy in Williston, OH, which is working to meet the physical and spiritual needs of those they serve. Luther Home of Mercy serves adults with developmental disabilities through a variety of ministries, including residential options, supported living, and day programs.

Typically, residents at Luther Home of Mercy are able to gather for weekly Bible studies and chapel services, but the need to social distance due to COVID-19 has put those weekly in-person gatherings on hold. Expressions of faith remain important to many residents at Luther Home of Mercy, and staff wanted to provide them with ways to worship safely. Throughout Holy Week, Luther Home of Mercy streamed religious services so residents could participate, and a local church even donated palms for Palm Sunday! Residents could also see the Easter bunny on Easter Sunday morning, who kept a safe distance outside their windows.

Thank you, Luther Home of Mercy, for meeting the holistic needs of those you serve during the COVID-19 pandemic, and finding creative ways to celebrate Easter, and all of Holy Week.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran SeniorLife

April 21, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran SeniorLife, and their LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly) program, which is delivering thousands of meals to seniors in their community.

Lutheran SeniorLife manages four LIFE programs at locations in Western Pennsylvania, (LIFE Beaver, LIFE Lawrence, LIFE Butler and LIFE Armstrong), currently serving more than 760 participants. The LIFE program provides support and services that meet personal and health needs of the program participants. It is a managed care program that provides a comprehensive, all-inclusive package of medical and supportive services. The program is known nationally as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Each LIFE program has an Adult- Day Center housed in the county in which it serves. LIFE participants can attend the centers to receive not only medical care from the Interdisciplinary Team but also socialization, programming and wonderful hot meals for breakfast and lunch daily.

When Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the need to close many facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19, the LIFE programs, including the Nutritional Services staff, shifted their focus from serving meals at the centers to sending out frozen meals and food supplies to participant homes. Many of the seniors state that the only hot meals they eat are those received weekly at the LIFE centers.

The LIFE program already had systems in place to screen participants for food insecurity and provide frozen meals to those participants in need. The meals are prepared at the LIFE centers and hand delivered by LIFE transportation staff. Prior to the pandemic, they were providing an average of 350 frozen meals per month. Over the past five weeks, they have delivered more than 10,000 meals.

This has truly been a team effort by LIFE staff and a labor of love. They are receiving calls daily from participants and families thanking them for this service. One participant stated that she feels lonely at times being “stuck at home,” but when she sits down to eat her meal, she feels grateful and happy to know that “you all are thinking and care about me.”

Many of the participants who have not requested food assistance feel reassured just knowing food is available if they should ever need it. “I can sleep better knowing that you will help me with meals if I need them,” said one participant. “God bless you LIFE, I love you all,” said another.

This service helps fulfill the mission of Lutheran SeniorLife to continually transform and elevate health, wellness, and social services while fostering an Abundant Life for those they serve.

Thank you to Lutheran SeniorLife for your commitment to the seniors in your community, and for promoting food security during COVID-19!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Good Shepherd Lutheran Community

April 22, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Services in America member organization Good Shepherd Lutheran Community, a 71-bed nursing home in Blair, Nebraska. Good Shepherd has instated new protocols to keep residents safe from COVID-19, and adapted the way it engages with families to prevent residents from feeling isolated.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been particularly challenging for nursing homes, as seniors are especially susceptible to negative outcomes associated with the virus. To keep the virus from spreading in their facility, Good Shepherd Lutheran Community is bringing residents’ meals to their rooms, and checking each resident between two and three times per day for COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Good Shepherd also enacted new protocols for any employees or caregivers entering the building, taking their temperature and screening them for signs of the virus.

In addition to prevention, Good Shepherd is also prepared if the virus were to enter their community. Administrator Sharon Colling said they have established an isolation wing for anyone presenting symptoms of COVID-19. The wing is also used to house residents who return to the facility after leaving for outside business, such as hospital visits. Good Shepherd is utilizing protective equipment they have available, and is reserving donated fabric masks received from the community for emergency situations, as obtaining adequate supplies and protective gear continues to be a challenge.

The precautions Good Shepherd has taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their community means that the facility is closed to outside visitors. To keep residents connected to their families and loved ones, Good Shepherd is providing iPads with Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom so they can video chat. Families are encouraged to call as often as they wish, and to visit outside the windows of the residents’ rooms.

Thank you to Good Shepherd Lutheran Community for your commitment to keeping seniors safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and for ensuring they can stay connected to their families during social isolation!

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan

April 23, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, which is helping seniors in their community with the economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.

In addition to health challenges, COVID-19 presents significant economic challenges, particularly for vulnerable populations. Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is working to meet the economic needs of tenants in their affordable housing program, including senior citizens. This new outreach program provides budget support to tenants whose jobs and income have been temporarily paused due to the economic downturn associated with COVID-19.

LSS of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan is also raising funds to help their counselors continue their work in supporting the more than 5,000 people who rely on their services. Especially during the economic downturn, many families do not have access to mental health resources, addiction counseling, affordable housing, and other necessities that LSS is committed to providing. Donations for this important work are being collected here.

Thank you to Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan for your commitment to serving vulnerable populations, and response to the new needs presented by COVID-19 and the economic downturn.

Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Services Florida (LSF)

April 24, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) Health Systems, which is going the extra mile to ensure staff have access to much needed protective gear, in an effort to keep staff and clients safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lutheran Services Florida provides many crucial services across the state, including a robust network of behavioral health organizations. LSF recognizes that, despite the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing requirements, behavioral health needs are still present in the community. The demand for behavioral health services has actually increased significantly during the pandemic, and LSF continues to serve individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders who are indigent, under-insured, or have no insurance.

Unfortunately, like many health systems across the country, LSF is experiencing a shortage of protective gear, but is committed to continuing behavioral health services through the COVID-19 pandemic. LSF Health Systems leaders Dr. Christine Cauffield and Shelley Katz drove to Tallahassee to obtain two SUV loads of gloves and hand sanitizers so the behavioral health services could continue safely, and prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Thank you to Lutheran Services Florida for your commitment to serving your community safely during the COVID-19 pandemic!