Executive Director Elsa Redding passing the torch to Lisa To

Succession Planning in Action

Executive Director Elsa Redding is embarking on a new stage in her life – retirement.  And what a well earned retirement it is.  Elsa has been the Executive Director of Hospice of Warren County for most of the 28 year life that she has been involved with the organization.  Elsa leaves a beautiful legacy through her leadership, mentoring and service to the community over these years.  That legacy, the sincere desire and focus on improving the quality of life for people in this wonderful community of ours, couldn’t be embodied any more deeply than in our new Executive Director, Lisa To.    

Elsa shares, “Quality of life is something that we strive for in all stages of our lives. It is especially important to assure that the final stage of living is filled with dignity, respect, caring, and love.  Now, as I reach this retirement time, it is with gratitude for the opportunity to have been a part of this wonderful organization. And it is with complete confidence and peace of mind knowing that Hospice of Warren County, under the outstanding leadership of new Executive Directive Lisa To, will grow to new heights and provide even higher quality of Hospice and Palliative Care to Warren County patients and families.”

Elsa offers thoughts and thanks:

“My twenty-eight years with Hospice of Warren County have been wonderful ones.  I had first learned about the program when Judy Cerra, the first coordinator spoke at our Irvinedale School PTA meeting.  When I later learned that Judy was accepting a full time position at the hospital and applications were being accepted for her Hospice position, I was immediately interested.  I submitted my application, was interviewed, and then started in the position on March 1, 1985.

Judy was my mentor and friend and the Hospice office was in an upstairs bedroom of a hospital owned house located at 108 Cayuga Street. Judy had served for five years as the first Hospice coordinator, beautifully carrying out the program created and developed by founders Roger Mesmer and Joseph DeFrees and an incredible Board of Directors.  The mission of providing the highest quality of life for individuals dealing with life limiting illnesses was paramount and under her leadership the program had flourished.  

Education and training are still priority requirements, and I had the privilege of attending both state conferences presented by our Pennsylvania Hospice Network and national conferences put on by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.  I also had the privilege of serving on the PHN Board of Directors including serving as board president for two terms.  It was an honor to receive the PHN Nancy Bohnet Award for Excellence, a Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2006.  It was a privilege to have invited Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern day Hospice Movement to our 1999 PHN conference in Erie and when she accepted to meet her at the airport and escort her to the events. 

But it is the work we have done together right here in Warren County that has been the most fulfilling and rewarding.  Our committed staff, volunteers, and board members have made it possible to expand and enhance and carry out our mission statement: “Compassionate end-of-life care assuring dignity for body, mind and spirit.”  

We expanded our volunteer intensive coalition based program to became a comprehensive Medicare certified program in 1991, established a Transitions Program (the DeFrees Support Program) in 2001, a Palliative Care Service in 2006, the John and Orpha Blair Hospice Residence in 2010 (one of only four in the state). The Mangus family in 2012 graciously offered a lovely home for visiting out of town family members, similar to Ronald McDonald homes in bigger communities.

Our Bereavement Services have always been a strong part of our program.  Since we see the patient and the family as the unit of care, it follows that once the patient dies, the care does not stop for the family.  Rather, bereavement follow up is offered for thirteen months after the death of the loved one.  

We are fortunate to offer so many services to our patients in addition to all of the care provided by our highly trained and incredibly committed staff members and volunteers.  Bedside harp music, massage therapy, pet therapy, Reike, luxury limousine transports, and Veterans pinning ceremonies are examples of the things that add quality of life to our special patients and their families.  

Thanks go to all of Warren County for the generous and committed support that so many have given throughout the years.  Our community has been known for supporting worthy organizations and Hospice indeed has been the recipient of many generous gifts.  In 2001, our future looking Board of Directors had seen the need for developing an endowment, the Roger Mesmer Endowment Fund, to assure the future of Hospice of Warren County. 

Warren General Hospital has from the time of our incorporation in 1979 supported us in all of our efforts and we are blessed to be their affiliate. Also supportive of our efforts since 1979 has been the United Fund and we thank them.  

We are fortunate to offer so many services to our patients in addition to all of the care provided by our 150-plus highly trained and incredibly committed staff members and volunteers.  They are the heart of Hospice of Warren County.

Quality of life is something that we strive for in all stages of our lives. It is especially important to assure that the final stage of living is filled with dignity, respect, caring, and love.  Now, as I reach this retirement time, it is with gratitude for the opportunity to have been a part of this wonderful organization.  And it is with complete confidence and peace of mind knowing that Hospice of Warren County, under the outstanding leadership of new Executive Directive Lisa To, will grow to new heights and provide even higher quality of Hospice and Palliative Care to Warren County patients and families.”

Thank you Elsa for all you have done, for being the person you are, and for what you have helped us become!

Announcement: New Executive Director, Lisa To

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