After 24 years working with families facing the end of a loved one's life, Kevin Corrado now works with them after a death.
Corrado was a clinical social worker in hospitals for 30 years, 24 of them in the Trauma and Life Support Center at UW Hospital. There, he helped people who had a family member facing death, or who had suffered traumatic injuries or a suicide attempt.
"My job was to help families navigate the system and coordinate a family meeting," Corrado said.
He also would advocate for the patient even though often the patient was too ill to interact with him. His advocacy included ensuring patients had power of attorney and knew their rights as a patient, and help ahead of their release from the hospital.
"I was often involved in the early stages of pre-planning for discharge so that I could inform the families of the range of options available to them," he said. "I also talked about crisis intervention with families when needed."
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Corrado retired in June 2011 and was hired a year ago as the natural burial facilitator at Natural Path Sanctuary in Verona, the first green cemetery in Dane County. The 25-acre sanctuary opened in June 2011 at the Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability (www.farleycenter.org). It provides a natural burial option to those seeking to be environmentally friendly after death.
Working with families to ensure the deceased receives a green burial; Corrado gives tours of the property and explains the guidelines for green burial.
"We don't allow the body to be embalmed as chemicals from the embalming fluid can leach into the soil," he said.
Simple coffins made from pine or other non-precious woods are allowed but cannot be lacquered, have vinyl coatings, metal handles or have a concrete vault under the wood. Ecopods — coffins made from recycled paper — are allowed, as are those from willow and switchgrass. Instead of a coffin, a biodegradable shroud can be wrapped around the body.
Gene Farley created the sanctuary after his wife, Linda Farley, passed away in 2009. "Linda wanted to be returned to the earth to contribute to the ongoing cycle of life," Corrado said.
Three cremains and five full bodies have been buried at the sanctuary. Kevin and his wife, Susan Corrado, have known the Farleys for over 20 years. Susan is the facilitator at the Farley Center after a career as a parish nurse, and the Corrados live on the property.
Big Career Moves appears on the second Tuesday of each month. column features people who have made a big career change or who left a career to follow their dream job. To suggest someone, contact Jill Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.