When you love what you do, it shows. Perhaps that's why so many team members at Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) in Cincinnati, OH, have an impressively long tenure with the organization.
One such team member is Virginia “Ginny” Uehlin. Ginny has served at ERS for over 20 years and is currently the Vice President of Residential Healthcare. She will be retiring in December 2021, but her legacy of compassion, dedication, and leadership will linger at ERS for years to come.
In her time with Episcopal Retirement Services, Ginny has provided exceptional leadership to our three continuing care communities and played a critical role in bringing person-centered care to the organization. She also served as the ERS Corporate Risk Manager — a role that has been indispensable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We recently sat down with Ginny to learn more about her time at ERS, her career in healthcare, and her plans after retirement.
Q: Will you describe your most current role at Episcopal Retirement Services?
Ginny: As the VP of Residential Healthcare, I oversee anything related to the mind, body, and spirit at our CCRCs. That includes nursing care, spiritual services, life enrichment, admissions, and more.
I have the pleasure of partnering with many other departments to serve our residents. My job is to work directly with the residents’ families and the staff, to support and be a resource for them.
I’m also the ERS Corporate Risk Manager. So, over the last year, I’ve helped lead in the development and adoption of our organization’s COVID policies.
Q: What was your experience prior to starting at Episcopal Retirement Services?
Ginny: I originally went to Illinois State University and got a bachelor’s in education. After graduation, I started working for a large for-profit chain as their admissions director, helping residents and families move into the communities.
Eventually, I was placed in the company's administrator-in-training program and became a licensed Nursing Home Administrator. It was a wonderful experience, and I stayed for about 18 years.
In 2001, an administrator position opened up at Marjorie P. Lee in Cincinnati, OH. A peer of mine called and said, “This is exactly what you should be doing. The organization is mission-driven, and I think you’d really excel there and enjoy it.” So, I applied and eventually became Marjorie P. Lee’s Administrator of Health Services. I served there until 2015!
Q: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in your tenure with ERS?
Ginny: I think one of the first ones is not to make assumptions. There's a story behind every resident, every situation, every staff member. You have to peel back the onion, so to speak, to really get to know someone.
Another lesson that I’ve tried to pass onto not only my colleagues but also my family is, “people may not always remember what you said or did, but they will already remember how you made them feel.”
Over the years, I’ve had to deliver really difficult messages. But you can say them kindly without having to tear the other person apart. You can and should treat people with dignity and respect.
Q: What aspect of your career at ERS did you find the most rewarding?
Ginny: Interacting with the residents, families, and staff. When I was an administrator at Marjorie P. Lee, I really got to know everyone in the building, and I found that really rewarding. Even now, there are residents and staff with whom I have close relationships and who have watched my daughter grow. She was only four years old when I started at ERS. Now she’s 25!
Q: What was your proudest moment during your tenure with the organization?
Ginny: I would say helping implement person-centered care at ERS. That philosophy is integral to the organization now. It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when we told people when to eat when to go to bed… But that was the industry at the time. I’m proud to have been a part of the team to bring purpose, choice, and freedom to our residents’ lives.
Q: During your time at ERS, you also helped design Deupree House’s Deupree Cottages and implement the Marjorie P. Lee Master Plan. The Episcopal Church Home is also undergoing a Master Plan. Can you speak to the importance of these kinds of developments?
Ginny: The purpose of the Master Plans is to make sure we’re giving residents what they need — today and beyond.
Needs change. Even if there are features our current residents don’t need, we have to consider our future residents. We have to build not just for the current state, but we also have to look ahead. They’ve always excited me for that reason.
ERS’s ability to transform into what the future needs are unparalleled. That’s something I think this organization and our CEO, Laura Lamb, does really well. We create environments that can pivot on a dime based on our residents’ needs.
Q: What are you most looking forward to during your own retirement?
Ginny: Traveling. My husband retired nine years ago, so we want to go on more trips together. When the first snowstorm of the year hits, we’d like to go somewhere warm like Arizona, Florida, or Texas. Or I’ve always wanted to pack a bag, go to the airport, and just flip a coin.
I also have this dream of taking each of my grandchildren somewhere special. I’d like to take my grandson to Antarctica and my granddaughter to France — she loves the Eloise in Paris books. I want to learn how to speak French too.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for families or current ERS staff members?
Ginny: There are so many different things I want to say. For staff, I’d just like to acknowledge the world we’re living in right now. It’s hard, but don’t give up hope.
ERS team members have been heroes in the last year. They should really take pride in everything they’ve accomplished. I don’t know of any other organization that has done what our staff has done.
To the families, I would say be kind to yourself. All too often, caregivers have high expectations and are rough on themselves. Don’t forget to show gratitude to both yourself and the staff.
If you can, send them cookies or gifts. Either way, let them know how much you appreciate them. The better the relationship between staff and families, the better we as an organization will persevere.
Thank you to Ginny Uehlin for more than 20 years of incredible service at Episcopal Retirement Services! If you have questions about our continuing care retirement communities, contact us. You can also click here to browse open career opportunities.