Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Letter to Gov. McCrory Re People Who Live and Work in Nursing Homes

I wrote our Governor Pat McCrory a letter on March 18, 2014. North Carolinians can't just sit around and let our already weak safety net disintegrate. People who are indigent and live in nursing homes can rarely speak for themselves. Nursing assistants and other workers need to be paid a wage they can live on. They have little voice also. The two issues are one. It will take a leader like Gov. McCrory to speak for all these people and remedy this situation. The letter:

March 18, 2014

The Honorable Pat McCrory
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

Dear Governor McCrory:

Thank you for your service to the citizens of North Carolina. You have a tremendous responsibility and work in a challenging political and economic environment, to say the least. I have met you in person only twice, most recently at the grand opening of Searstone in Cary. Lutheran Services Carolinas has a small but important connection with Searstone, coordinating their sizeable community stewardship fund to serve indigent seniors in Wake County.

Many people approach you with their hand out, and I am no exception today. But my hand is out only on behalf of the people we serve, primarily one thousand mostly indigent seniors across our state. On January 1, 2014, the N.C. Medicaid rate for our citizens living in nursing homes was cut by 3%. Although nursing homes had not had a Medicaid rate increase since 2008, I felt we were being good citizens by understanding the state’s and nation’s great recession and its aftermath and making do with our meager reimbursement. Those rates are now the lowest in the entire southeast United States!

Now to get a 3% cut is disastrous to our care and services. This can only negatively affect quality and Medicaid accessibility for indigent seniors across North Carolina. I am at the point of pleading, so I plead that you at least restore the 3% that has been cut. As I write this, I lament a system so broken that I am forced to beg for substandard reimbursement. We need adequate reimbursement to care for our most vulnerable citizens, but the return of this latest 3% would at least allow us to limp forward.

Any increase we receive goes almost entirely to pay the wages of the people who actually care for those we serve. Nursing assistants and all staff deserve adequate pay to afford to live and for us to stay reasonably competitive.

Thank you for listening. I am available at your convenience to discuss this further.


Ted W. Goins, Jr.
President, Lutheran Services Carolinas

Monday, March 17, 2014

We Are Family

I was asked to give a combination faith-life talk and Lutheran Services Carolinas' temple talk Sunday at my own church, St. John's Lutheran, Salisbury, NC. While half of it is more personal, it does speak to the importance of families of all kinds.

Cheryl and I heard the song "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge last night. You won't find that in the hymnal, but family is my subject for today. In March 1958, Asst. to the Bishop Pastor Ernest Misenheimer came to Statesville and baptized the son of Sharon Lutheran Church Pr. Ted and Frances Goins. That would be me. My parents took their vows seriously, not because dad was the preacher, but because they were committed Christians with a lifetime contract. You will hear those baptismal promises throughout my remarks.

My earliest memories are looking out my window at the church cemetery, my play ground. I remember family trips, fishing, camping, covered dish dinners, Luther League, Scouting, helping church members haul hay and corn at harvest time, 30 boys playing football in the church yard.
Life was family based. My family was close and if the church was unlocked, we were there. My family extended to every member of the church and beyond. Not that I ever did, but if I had ever thought about stepping out of line, there seemed to always be a church member there to smile, reminding me that my family was always there. Sometimes that was confining, but it kept me safe and out of trouble, mostly.

I went to Camp Lutheridge every summer and went to Lenoir-Rhyne to college. Dad said I could go anywhere in the country to college but he was paying at LR.

I lived among God’s faithful people, my family and church families. We worshipped together and shared the Lord’s supper. We proclaimed the good news of Christ in word and deed by being family, supporting each other, raising $ for March of Dimes, painting the first Lutheran Family Services group home, growing up in the church. And church wasn’t just inside the walls.

I found my vocation, not a job, in serving the most vulnerable in our society. I founded another family with Cheryl, Sara and Meggie, and now a son-in-law and God’s best earthly gift to date: grandchildren!

My vocation led me the best job I could hope to have working with Lutheran Services Carolinas. Not only did my parents take their baptismal vows seriously, but so did millions of Lutherans around the United States. Proclaiming word and deed left us no choice but to do what Christ told us to do, to love one another, to care for the widow and orphan.

So together us 8 million Lutherans are only 2.5% of the US population, but we have the largest social ministry network in the US, serving 1:50 Americans! Just our little Lutheran Services Carolinas is still a $109 million ministry that resettles refugees fleeing death, finding homes for abused foster children, rents an apartment and provides services for a person with mental illness so he can not live in a mental hospital, and provide all the services you see right here in Rowan County: independent living, nursing home, assisted living, Alzheimer’s care, adult day care, and in home services. We don’t provide 3 hots and a cot. Our vision statement is from John, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We strive to provide more than the basics, the extras, the cherry on top!

All of us, this Lutheran family, proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ 24-7 through all that social ministry and in many other ways! We serve the larger family, our community. Christ said “just as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it to me.”

I am privileged to see Christ every day, especially in the eyes of the most vulnerable: the unresponsive nursing home resident, the frightened foster child, the abandoned child refugee, the friend with a developmental disability, a person with mental illness. And I get to strive for and with them for justice and peace. I thank the Big Family, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the other families that love and support a sinner like me that makes it possible for me to share this today: my immediate family, my church family, the Lutheran family, our Lutheran Services Carolinas family, and many others.