Thursday, June 4, 2020

Do Justice - A Letter to the LSC Family

Dear Lutheran Services Carolinas Family,


Communication is hard.  LSC does a great job of sharing, even over-sharing, but it can never be enough.  The death of George Floyd and the international demonstrations for justice underway are a good example. 


When African American’s faith in humanity is in doubt, or any group is marginalized, LSC needs to respond.  LSC has been responding for years, but I need to communicate even better!  LSC has a long history of justice, diversity, and inclusion.  Black lives matter.  That statement doesn’t dismiss anyone or any other group; it acknowledges four hundred years of injustice and white privilege.  I realize to some those words may be triggers, but when Jesus left to look for the one sheep it didn’t mean the lives of the other sheep didn’t matter, it meant he needed to focus on the one in immediate danger.  Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Christ that are in danger.  Their lives matter.  Sadly, in this world we need to say it.


LSC’s response begins, as always, with our Vision Statement from John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Christ called for abundant life for everyone!  He did not reserve abundant life for one group over another.  Our Mission Statement, “Empowered by Christ, we walk together with all those we serve,” puts our vision into action, again with Christ leading as we walk together with all.  Our Vision and Mission guide everything we do.  All of our positions, policies, and actions flow from those headwaters.  One doesn’t have to be a Lutheran or Christian to be served by or work for LSC; our guide star is Christ.   LSC serves without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, disability or veteran status, or any other legally protected status. The world will, like the song says, “know we are Christians by our love.”


Many initiatives flow from our core beliefs, like our values:  Faith, Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Collaboration, and Compassion.  LSC’s Dignity and Respect Statement was developed from this to tell the world:


At Lutheran Services Carolinas, we believe our family of residents/clients, their families, teammates, and friends each have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. If you ever feel you have not been treated with dignity and respect, we encourage you to discuss this with a supervisor or the administrator/executive director immediately. Everyone’s active participation is necessary for us to live by Christ’s admonition to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Our Dignity and Respect Statement is polite, but be assured the words carry great weight.  LSC unequivocally denounces racism, discrimination, intolerance, and oppression.  We have a zero tolerance for any form of racism, discrimination, or oppression. 


LSC’s initiatives span inclusion of diversity and inclusion in LSC’s strategic plan; creating The LSC Way, a strong culture of service for all teammates; the LSC Diversity Council, open to every one of LSC’s over 2,000 teammates; adoption of the Just Culture philosophy to console the teammate who makes a mistake, to counsel a teammate exhibiting at- risk behavior, and to punish the reckless; a strong Cultural Competence plan; the creation of Lutheran Services University to lead and share diversity training for all teammates including all supervisors;…


LSC’s justice and diversity efforts don’t stop at the front door.  We are a corporate citizen, and each member of the LSC Family is a member of their community.  LSC has been actively involved with the N.C. Lutheran church’s African Descent Strategy Team since 2003.  Multicultural ministries, LGTBQ efforts, and Hispanic outreach have all influenced LSC.  A few years ago, the Ku Klux Klan leafleted our Columbia, S.C Office neighborhood to protest LSC’s refugee services.  We were okay with being targeted by the KKK; we are on the right side of history.  All those collaborations and events have influenced LSC’s learning, sharing, and serving. 


Our national Lutheran church has likewise been a leader in justice and diversity.  LSC’s first response to the death of George Floyd was to widely share Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s statement affirming the Lutheran church’s commitment to combat racism and white supremacy.  Bishop Eaton began her statement by quoting Micah 6:8,


“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”


Since that has been my personal mission statement for many years, her statement spoke to me deeply.  I am a person of privilege, which is all the more reason to use my voice to lift up those who are less privileged and who have been marginalized.   


Please let me end with a call to action.  I urge every member of the LSC Family to mourn the death of child of God George Floyd and others that have died and been brutalized; pray for our country; learn and study more about Black Lives Matter, justice, diversity, inclusion; and, if you are called to it, to stand up or lie down in peaceful demonstration for liberty and justice for all as is our first amendment right.


Peace be with you.

Ted W. Goins, Jr.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

NC Lutheran Synod and LSC Update

I was invited to join a Zoom call with Lutheran Bishop Tim Smith & 40 Lutheran pastors & deacons this morning, 5-27-20. They invited me to share a update on LSC, specifically Covid-19 information.  I was throwing my notes in the trash, when it dawned on me these notes would be a good update for anyone interested.  My talking points are appropriate for any reader:

  1. Thank you all for your prayers and support!  Many of you have participated in window visits, parades, etc.
  2. Covid has been devastating to our residents, our mission, and our model of hospitality.
  3. Nursing homes are not the cause of Covid-19; nursing homes are the canary in the coal mine of our communities.  If there is Covid in the community, it will attack the most vulnerable seniors.  That is who we serve!
  4. Shockingly, LSC senior communities as still Covid-free!  It is hard to believe since it is all around us!  And we are more vulnerable now since people are not being as safe or careful.  We have had a number of staff affected, but no residents, so far.  We have had three clients in a S.C. group home, thankfully, asymptomatic.
  5. Nursing homes may have 12-18 months of this, until a vaccine is created and distributed!   We have a long row ahead of us still.
  6. We are beginning to slightly open up our Independent living apartments; residents can now come and go.  We are strongly encouraging them and everyone to practice the 3 Ws:  wear mask, wash hands, wait 6 feet apart!
  7. How can pastors and congregations help?  There is a nursing home or assisted living near you, doesn’t have to be a Lutheran home.  You can:  organize or participate in a car parade, window visit whether you know the residents or not, make cards for residents.  Call your local nursing home or assisted living and offer.
  8. LSC is assuming 15% ownership in PACE of the Triad on June 1, 2020, giving LSC a larger presence in the Greensboro area!  LSC is assuming 50% ownership of another PACE program this summer, but cannot announce publicly until federal approval is received.  Exciting growth of the LSC mission.  Learn more about PACE at

A number of questions were discussed around immigration (halted), foster care (great need but no families being approved during shutdown), nursing homes in S.C. (about the same story as NC), can we deliver food (if you are family/friend for residents, yes to feed teammates), financial impact (difficult, massive expenses, but we are getting some additional funding),  etc.

Tammy Jones West led the group in prayer for all of LSC, for residents/clients and teammates/heroes.  Participants were invited to add names or prayers in the Chat feature and Tammy read those off too!  Very powerful!  It is nice to know that we have so many people praying for us and supporting us! We Are The Church Together!

And to all of you, thank you for your prayers and support! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Oh, The Places You'll Go

LeadingAge NC shared a leadership lesson that I enjoyed and customized to LSC. I know you will enjoy, and you might want to finds ways to share with all of LSC:


“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go,” wrote Dr. Seuss in Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Every LSC teammate is a leader.  You are in charge of your life, your dreams, your goals, your destiny. You build your skills; you define your talents. LSC and the residents and clients for whom you care rely on you. What is the next step in your professional growth? When are you going to take that step? What additional skills, training, or resources do you need?  I hope that growth and development is within LSC, but if you decide to go off and conquer the world, we will support you in that too!  Where do you want to go?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trying to be proactive and transparent.  Lutheran Services Carolinas has, since this letter, had two teammates test positive for Covid.  They are not working, being treated at home, and further testing shows that no residents/clients have been infected.  Thank you all for your prayers!

April 15, 2020

Dear LSC Family,

     Lutheran Services Carolinas nursing homes, assisted and independent living communities, group homes, and other health and human services are still free of COVID-19 as of this moment. We all are prepared for that to change, since so many people have it and it is so easily spread, especially in congregate housing.

     So far, LSC has had COVID-19-type symptoms or suspicions in all of our senior services communities, but no positive tests. Last week at Clemmons and Salisbury, we tested a total of 30 residents and teammates. All tests were negative, thank God!

     LSC’s over 2,000 teammates are working hard and selflessly to keep our residents and clients safe. God bless and protect each and every one of you!

     I also want to lift up the unsung, invisible infrastructure that is supporting our resident/clients and front-line heroes! Our administrative teams are serving on state-level committees, participating in daily conference calls, and then implementing changes. Daily changes are difficult to manage, but the LSC family is being forgiving and understanding.

     Behind our administrative team is a strong wall of government and professional associations who are gathering all the disparate information and feeding it to us. The Centers for Disease Control and our NC Department of Health and Human Services have been true public servants.

     We could not do this work without our professional associations. American Health Care Association, North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association, LeadingAge, LeadingAgeNC, Benchmarks, and Palmetto Association for Children and Families have all worked hard to get us providers the information we need to do our work.

      Lastly, thank you all again for your prayers and support as we face the greatest threat to our residents and clients in modern history. And please remember, social distance and stay safe!

Yours in Christ,

Ted W. Goins, Jr.

President and CEO

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Stop Sign Abused

The federal government has started using a red stop sign on the national nursing home website, if inspectors cite abuse.  The stop sign might mean a health care community has a problem, or it might mean you should stop even reading the national nursing home website. 

Recently, a top flight community had an incident.  A nursing assistant was accused of being rough transferring a resident from one chair to another.  Even though there was a difference of opinion about whether it was rough or that the resident was struggling, making the transfer difficult, out of an abundance of caution the nursing assistant was terminated.  The community immediately reported the incident to the appropriate government agency.  The agency responded that they were not going to investigate further.  

Six months later during an inspection, the inspectors reviewed the incident and fined the community approximately $100,000 for abuse.  Their rationale was that they have a zero tolerance for abuse, so any abuse must be penalized.  Lutheran Services Carolinas and every other health care organization had a zero tolerance for abuse before the government did. The person was immediately terminated and reported.  Events will happen, but how health care providers address an event is the test.  What more can an honest provider do?  The broken federal system is running good communities and good people away; do we want to leave our elders in the hands of who’s left?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Nursing Home Clarification

WCNC published a story about seven Charlotte area nursing homes on 2-11-20. Unwittingly, WCNC shared just part of the story.

The federal government system for inspecting and reporting on nursing homes is flawed,inaccurate, and antequated. The government recently added a stop sign to its system, which purports to warn people about nursing homes where abuse occurs. And the government definition and guidance on abuse is byzantine.

While the nursing homes noted may have had problems, they could also be among the best. If a rogue employee neglected or verbally abused a resident and the nursing home immediately fired the employee, the nursing home would still be cited for the abuse, and would have received a "red stop light." In all fairness, it is possible that a nursing home did not take appropriate action and should be punished.

There is no substitute for being actively involved in your community nursing home. If your friends are there, if you visit there regularly, you'll know where you and your family will want to go if and when the need arises. And the need will arise. Go visit your local nursing home this week!

One cannot reduce a person to a sheet of paper, and one cannot reduce a nursing home, a health care community, to a piece of paper. The old saying is "seeing is believing," not "reading is believing." Please don't believe everything you read.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Orpha Shuford. Well done, good and faithful servant.

We lost Orpha Shuford this week. Mrs. Shuford worked at Trinity Village, the Lutheran Home in Hickory, NC, for most of her 50-year nursing career. Mrs. Shuford was a saint! Wife of a Lutheran minister, Mrs. Shuford's ministry was seniors. She ministered to the people who called Trinity Village home. She was professional, quiet, kind, and always at work! Mrs. Shuford died with week at the age of 96, living where she served so diligently, at Trinity Village. Well done, good and faithful servant.