Carla Creegan has worked with her team to create socialization kits

Congratulations to our July Impact Award winner, Carla Creegan, manager of the Suncoast PACE Day Center, a member of Empath Health.

Creegan joined the organization in 2010 and has been in the role of center manager for almost five years. During that time she has built a high-performing team of RNs, LPNs, social workers and personal care attendants to meet the care needs for more than 300 participants.

“I thought I found my dream job as a hospice nurse, however that all changed when I walked into the PACE center to meet my new team. This is a role that I was built for. I love having the resources to make an impact in our community,” says Creegan. “Our PACE team is awesome and I could not work effectively without them.”

The monthly Impact Award recognizes and celebrates staff for their positive impact on others, demonstration of our values and above-and-beyond service.

Here is an excerpt from Creegan’s nomination:

 Carla has met a variety of challenges head on, never batting an eye while quickly pivoting to address what came her way. All the past challenges she’s addressed, however, pale in comparison to what she is currently faced with: meeting the care and social needs of 325 high-risk participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, when no cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Florida, let alone any southern state, Carla anticipated the needs she and her colleagues would need to address to continue to provide care to PACE participants should Florida experience a surge in positive cases. Prior to any talk of a state-wide shut-down, she was having ongoing and intense collaborative discussions about ways to meet participants’ needs with her colleagues. Carla was focused on coming up with innovative ways to ensure PACE participants’ needs would continue to be met should Florida be overrun with a COVID-19 surge.

When the state shut down, Suncoast PACE was ready! Carla pioneered strategies to support the care and social needs of our participants while they could not come to the Adult Day Center. These strategies included:

  • Making socialization kits filled with activities (e.g. word searches, books, coloring books and color pencils) that were delivered to over 150 participants to ensure they were socially active while they remained at home
  • Delivering bags of food – on an ongoing basis over the past four months – to over 150 participants to ensure their nutritional needs were met
  • Providing key information to the Suncoast Foundation grants department, resulting in the application for multiple grants and being awarded over $20,000 in funding to purchase more food for delivery
  • Quickly incorporating a newly-acquired mass communication tool, VoiceFriend, which allows for continuous and just-in-time communication to all participants, caregivers and staff related to important messages (e.g. social distancing instructions)
  • Incorporating Zoom meetings as part of socialization for participants; a variety of activities are now done through Zoom…Bingo, current events and Spiritually Speaking to name a few
  • Sending out cards for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
  • Regular phone calls to participants above the usual weekly tuck-in calls

These are merely a small representation of everything Carla has facilitated to meet the needs of PACE participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. These strategies continue to be applied because the Adult Day Center remains closed while Florida experiences significant surges in COVID-19 cases.

I am so proud to work with Carla. She is innovative in her approach to meeting care needs and she is passionate about her job. During such unprecedented times, Carla has not backed down. She is brave in her approach to the pandemic, knowing the importance of continuing participant care because many PACE participants have no one else to rely on. Carla is truly a pioneer in the PACE field of healthcare.

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