2020 November

Is Telehealth Here To Stay?

Dianne Piet

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of telehealth, and it is here to stay. Community leaders know that ignoring telehealth is not an option and are now incorporating telehealth strategies into their communities. Are you currently faced with selecting a technology platform that will elevate resident care, as well as address workflow and operational obstacles, reporting and tracking requirements, personnel challenges, regulatory and liability considerations?

Third Eye Health, a CPS vendor partner, has developed a white paper that outlines the considerations for evaluating telehealth platforms and incorporating the technology into your care delivery strategies. Third Eye Health is the nation’s leading virtual care platform, empowering communities to reduce hospital readmissions and provide higher acuity care. When a resident is in need of immediate medical care, with the touch of a button, the nurse can contact a specially trained physician through secure video and text messaging. This service allows for immediate care and attention to be given to the resident any time, day or night. To learn more about the Third Eye Health, give me a call, Dianne Piet, your dedicated CPS Client Account Manager. 603-935-7923, email:

2020 November

Nancy Hopkins-Garris to Retire in January

Nancy Hopkins-Garris, Executive Director at Pleasant View, Inc. (PVI), is scheduled to retire in January after 35 years with the organization – 29 years as Executive Director.

During her time at the helm, PVI has grown in the number of services and the number of people supported. They have been innovative in their services in advocating for those who have disabilities.

When reflecting on her time at PVI, Hopkins-Garris shares, “Pleasant View offers opportunities for the individuals we support to be truly part of the larger community through jobs, volunteer opportunities, and community-based living in a variety of places and settings.”

She adds, “We have developed a spiritual service to our services which provides a pastor who assists those we support in spiritual growth based on their goals and desires.”

In her retirement, Hopkins-Garris plans to spend time pursuing several of her hobbies, such as gardening, working with fiber, music, travel and church connections. She also hopes to find ways to give back in meaningful ways.

When we reached out to Hopkins-Garris, she told us, “The opportunity to be part of the MHS community has added so much to my life and work over the past years. I have received so much support and inspiration from all the leaders and members of MHS. It has been a blessing to be able to call on this MHS community as we work together in service. You have all truly been a blessing.”

2020 November

Making employees happier, healthier and more productive during COVID-19

by George Finney, CRPS
Everence Director of Retirement Services

Everence logo

One significant stressor challenges many employees

Many organizations are trying creative ways to help employees stay positive during the pandemic. Yet, these methods often don’t address one key cause of their employees’ underlying stress: personal finances.

Companies need to look at this issue if they want to retain high-quality workers through these challenging times and beyond.

Pandemic accentuates one stressor

This significant stressor among employees existed before the pandemic and has only grown this year. COVID-19’s historic impact on the economy has only increased the number of people with financial challenges.

An employee’s socioeconomic background affects how they experience their financial situation. However, it may surprise you to know that even high earners often struggle financially. 

Life stage is also an important factor in one’s financial stress level. Young adults, with fewer assets to draw on, often feel the stress of uncertain finances more than older employees.

But study after study shows that all employees with unstable personal finances are more distracted and less productive at work.

What employers can do

So how can employers begin to help their employees feel better about their finances?

First, start with getting an understanding of where your employees are on their financial journeys. For instance, a workplace assessment that anonymously surveys employees about their personal finances would show how many are struggling to make ends meet or pay off debt. And, you would learn how many others are saving enough but are concerned about how to make financial decisions in their transition to retirement.

No matter where an employee might be, it’s important to meet them where they are and help them advance toward financial well-being.

Financial wellness programs at work

Ever since the Great Recession, many employees have struggled to reach long-term financial stability, even with the improved economy in the years since. To help address this financial insecurity, employers have begun to turn to financial wellness programs. These programs typically provide employees with personal finance education.

PwC released a significant long-term study on the effectiveness of these programs, its 9th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, 2020 COVID-19 Update. This study also documents the significant stress of unstable finances among employees, which is greater than even job and health concerns.

Employers often implement financial wellness programs when they notice their employees are not taking full advantage of their retirement plans. When employees are struggling to address short-term financial needs, they have a hard time thinking ahead about their long-term financial future, like saving for retirement.

Recordkeeper financial wellness solutions

Many retirement plan recordkeepers now offer online financial wellness education and services. Most of these programs aim to help employees put enough money away for retirement.

These solutions rely on employees to seek out these online programs. But many employees need more assistance to truly improve their financial situation.

Making real change that lasts

We see customized workplace education – along with access to a financial consultant – as a combination that helps employees with financial stress. This focused education and personal assistance is free to employees if the consultant is paid through the retirement plan to help them participate fully in the plan.

The consultant serves as an accountability partner for an employee so they can use what they learned to meet their personal short-term and long-term financial goals. Ultimately, the program helps an employee create a reasonable path to increase their immediate financial stability, so they can save more for retirement.

COVID-19 gives employers a new reason and opportunity to support their employees with enhanced benefits that truly make a difference in their lives. Feel free to contact me about your financial wellness questions or learn more about our services.

2020 November

Save the Dates for 2021 Mennonite Health Assembly

Our 2021 Mennonite Health Assembly will be completely online on Tuesday, March 9 through Thursday, March 11 from noon to 3:00 pm Eastern Time each day.

We will have three excellent keynote speakers: Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, author of Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others; Philip Gulley, author of 22 books, including the Harmony series recounting life in the eccentric Quaker community of Harmony, Indiana and the best-selling Porch Talk essay series; and Ted Swartz, a playwright and actor who has been mucking around in the worlds of the sacred and profane for over 20 years.

As more information becomes available, we will post it on our website at

2020 November Your Words

Your Words Responses for November

What Are You Thankful For?

I am thankful for both positive and negative opportunities to more fully embrace the growing edges of my leadership skills.

Missy Kauffman Schrock Center for Healing & Hope, Executive Director

Good leadership during difficult times. This is a period of great challenges but also great opportunity. It takes good and thoughtful leaders to help us through the former while leaning in to the latter.

Mark Regier, Center for Healing & Hope Board Chair

I am thankful for co-workers with a strong sense of TEAM. Working together in harmony is so much more productive than each one working only for themselves.

Dan Kauffman, Mennonite Friendship Community Director of Environmental Services

These days, I am thankful for a caring community that meets virtually and sometimes physically. I am aware of these global connections and conversations which keep me focused on the innovative possibilities and doable as an adaptive leader. It keeps my spirit saying, “yes, I can!” In a time of racial injustice and economic disparities, I am thankful for a teachable spirit, an ear to listen, and a gentle heart that is in tune to God’s Spirit that leads us collectively to level and just places for everyone (Psalm 143:10). These trusting relationships energize me in my creative community work. Together, we help one another breathe and hope even as we face the difficult days ahead of us.

Lori J. Witmer, Menno Haven, Inc. Executive Director of Spiritual Care

The Light that shines in the darkness; that grounds and sustains and encourages in surprising ways.

Gail Graber, Bethesda Home Chaplain

Generous donors who believe in our mission, love our organization, and appreciate the work of staff to keep them safe during the pandemic.

Amy Cummings-Leight, Frederick Mennonite Community DBA Frederick Living Director of Advancement

I am extremely thankful for a Board that is very considerate of our resident’s needs and the needs of our staff. They are very supportive and helpful throughout the year and I know they are praying for our property. I thank God for them.

Cheryl Luli, Harmony Village, Inc. Project Administrator

The sustaining and keeping power of our God during a time of chaotic turbulent divisive politics with a threatening pandemic all around us.

Warren Tyson, Frederick Living Board Chair

I’m thankful for a dedicated team at Landis Communities, guiding the organization through this challenging COVID time, but also keeping their sights on the long term values, mission, and plans for the organization.

Allon Lefever, Landis Communities, Lancaster, PA Board Chair

It’s been a stressful year, but I am thankful I can work in a Christian environment where I can openly pray and I am thankful for a great team that displays Christ-like values. I am also thankful for the residents that call Fairmount home!

Jerry Lile, Fairmount Homes President/CEO

God’s guidance in my life for 59 years. I am so grateful.

Leland Sapp, Peaceful Living CEO

I am truly thankful for the extraordinary team members I have the privilege to work with every day in the execution of our mission. Our residents are the reason I am in this business and the team continuously confirms that commitment.

David A. Gentry, Menno Haven, Inc. CFO
2020 November

Thoughts on Employee Retention

Karen Lehman, President and CEO of MHS

While participating in LeadingAge (national nonprofit senior living association) sessions this past week, I noticed employee retention along with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) were the hot topics on the program.  The issues around employee engagement and retention are at a critical point and strategic focus on this is a high priority. There are DEI implications within the employee retention issue which is why I believe they should be addressed together.

The most common thread in everything I’ve heard or read lately is that our lowest paid employees, comprised mostly of front-line workers, need to know you care. Creating listening circles, organizing focus groups, walking the floor and talking to your staff, asking how they are doing, working alongside them when it’s appropriate, and showing that you care about their well-being is probably the most impactful thing that can be done – and it doesn’t cost any money! But it does take time.

If organizational leaders show how much they care by following some simple steps and processes, the impact on the culture can be great. Listening to your team and then following up on what they’ve told you creates trust and also shows the employee you value them. Exit interviews tell you what you could have done but pulse or random surveys or interviews tell you what is happening now. This is communication that gives you a chance to find and correct problems.

Employees may be balancing children at home and other work/life challenges. In these cases, flexibility will be welcomed. Letting employees have more autonomy over their schedules, making scheduling transparent and using technology that supports easily picking up shifts and/or options to rearrange or change shifts Think of strategies that can make things easier for the employee and that focus on a trusting relationship.

Focus on mid-level managers. Do they have the information and skills needed to lead those who report to them? Are they feeling supported from above and is there an open channel of two-way communication? Remember, employees tend to choose a job based on the organization but they tend to leave a job because of their relationship with their direct report

Employee perks work too! Pay is important but it’s not always the most important issue for an employee who feels their boss cares about them. Ideas could include providing gift cards, free meals, extra uniforms, transportation, childcare and other perks that may be easy to give. More than anything, these perks can make life easier for your employee and the simple act of a gift shows that you care. Another idea that I’ll end with relates to finding ways to bring fun, celebration and joy into the organization.  Everyone needs things to look forward to! Creating activities and small celebrations can bring some lightness to the work day when there are many heavy things that are happening in our world. Get creative!

2020 November

Thankful During the Pandemic?

by Clare Krabill, MHS Chief Operating Officer

Clare Krabill, MHS Chief Operating Officer

By now you have all heard the following questions on more than one occasion:

  • What are you thankful for during this time?
  • What changes have you made that you would like to continue with following the pandemic?

Both of these are good questions designed to help us focus on the positives, acknowledge the good learning that has happened, practice gratitude and be forward thinking. Without a doubt these are things we should be thinking about and pondering them brings value. Yet, if I am honest with myself, some of the answers I provide when asked these questions feel more like an attempt at a consolation prize in the midst of great human pain and suffering rather than expressions of deep gratitude.

In the midst of this pandemic I find I am increasingly less able to make sense of the world. My reasoning brings me up short. I was not prepared for the inhumanity and suffering I would witness. Nor was I prepared for how this global event would lay bare the interconnectedness of all people and the vulnerabilities that this unearths.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the pandemic has been the questions I have asked myself.

In the quiet hours in the middle of the night and the hours previously taken up by activities and social times, I have had the time to pause and wonder at my own certitudes and the gains and privileges I have enjoyed in being a white collar, educated American woman.

In these quiet hours as I have brought my questions to God, I have been surprised by what I have learned.

Walter Brueggemann in his new book, Virus as a Summons to Faith, gives words to my thoughts when he writes, “Only rarely—like now!—do we collide with your hiddenness that summons us and embarrasses us. We peek into your awesome hidden presence; we find our certitudes quite disrupted.”

If you have had these moments, then perhaps you know that as you enter into lament and seek God’s forgiveness, you are met in brief instants by both His grace and His holiness. You begin to understand in an expanded and different way that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps 111:10a).

Brueggemann makes the point, that, “by that instant, however, we are changed…sobered, summoned, emancipated, filled with wonder before your holiness. It is for this holiness that outflanks us that we give you thanks.” That wonder and the glimpse into God’s holiness are eternal gifts for which we can truly be thankful. They aren’t the kind of gifts that feel completely comfortable in the moment as their intimate partner is deep conviction. There is, of course, a cost to real change even as there is something beautiful gained. May the wonderment come to you and may it drive you closer to God and entangle you more deeply with Him in His work of healing and hope. For these things may we be deeply thankful during the midst of this pandemic.

2020 November

Thank you MHS Members

Each October MHS contacts our members to update member information and to obtain information to calculate the next year’s dues. This year as MHS leadership considered 2021 MHS member dues we knew we needed to take a different approach.  Thus, a few weeks ago MHS reached out to members with this message: 

2020 has been a year that none of us could have predicted. As organizations, you have needed to make multiple, rapid changes on many fronts. We at MHS, admire and respect the extra-ordinary work you have done and continue to do.  We pray for your ongoing strength and guidance as you navigate the many challenges you are handling.

We are sensitive to the associated unexpected changes to your bottom line this year, and likely next year. To that end, MHS will not increase your 2021 membership dues.

We were touched when we received notes of thanks. Yet, it is the staff and board of MHS who wish to express our thanks to you, our members. Your dedication to those you serve and your teammates in the midst of perhaps the most trying times in our lives is inspiring. You are the reason we come to work each day and serve on the board of directors. You are truly heroes!


Karen Lehman, MHS President & CEO
Valerie Rempel, MHS Board Chair