‘Different just takes time’: Leinassar takes the pandemic one day at a time

Cyndi L Holds a picture of a family wedding.

How do you stay connected when gatherings stop, priorities change and a once bustling hospital campus seems eerily quiet? 

When meetings are online and cafes are empty, how do we stay connected? Longtime nurse Becky Ruppert wanted to show our community firsthand how our hospital family is doing — so she began Connections, a series of candid interviews with people on the front lines at Salem Health. 

Today’s featured employee is Cyndi Leinassar, our community relations liaison.

What is your typical workday like?

I get the great pleasure to help invest Salem Health’s time, talent, and treasure to help make Marion and Polk counties better/healthier places to live. I oversee community investment grants, sponsorships, community benefit investments of our time in various external ways — and enjoy telling our community about how wonderful Salem Health Hospitals and Clinics are.    

Many of my community meetings and conversations have converted to Zoom meetings, which is good to keep conversations going, but not as meaningful as face-to-face relationship building. Rocky, my cat, usually attends these meetings and is becoming a celebrity!

What is something uplifting you’ve experienced during the pandemic that has surprised you? 

I have always known that our community is different. We care about each other — and in a time like COVID-19, the caring poured into Salem Health. Many businesses contacted me to donate PPE and thousands of needed resources came to us. Then businesses and citizens began emailing me on how they can feed the heroes that worked here. Over a span of three months, my team coordinated more than 26,000 meals for our staff. 

Over 100 donors fed more than 120 different units and shifts across our clinics, hospitals, and service lines.

Then there were the snacks! Pallets and pallets of snacks were donated, and we created the Community Cares Store for managers to collect individually wrapped snacks for their breakrooms.

What are you doing to maintain a healthy balance at work and home?

These times are hard for sure. Work and home are combined so finding the right balance is difficult sometimes. In mid-March, I started walking 3 to 5 miles several times a week and golfing 2 to 3 times a week. I enjoy getting outside! 

If you had one message to share with everyone, now that we’re five months into the pandemic, what would that be?

I know it is hard, but we have to remain focused. Our community needs us. My motto is “Today is a Great Day to have a Great Day.” Starting the day with a message of hope gives me hope and strength to continue moving forward. 

What have you learned about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This is hard, the pandemic is hard, and it’s OK to say it’s hard. Get those feelings out there. It’s the only way to begin to deal with them.

I remember in a CHEC presentation by Andrea Shoun a year ago on mindfulness, she said you need to center sometimes and block the world out. She recommended to have a date with yourself, go to the movies or go out for dinner. We all thought that sounded crazy. Then the pandemic hit. I started with all the easy stuff – going for a walk, FaceTiming with friends and family, and then playing golf by myself. 

Life hasn’t stopped. Life is just different. Different just takes time.