Let's Give Credit Where Credit is Due - Managing COVID-19 in Long-Term Care

By Roberto Muñiz

Parker's executive leadership team holding signs of thanks for essential employees

Like many of you, I have been spending much of my days with an ear toward the news and although we still have a long way to go, I'm pleased to see signs of recovery at all our Parker communities, as well as within the state of New Jersey with the COVID-19 pandemic. Any good news has me optimistic.

Some of the more shocking media coverage about the small number of New Jersey nursing homes that have mishandled their response to COVID-19 has me deeply saddened and I share the criticism from various sources. These incidents should serve as a wake-up call across the long-term care industry - a further reminder that all aging service providers have the unbreakable responsibility of providing the best care possible, under any circumstance, to residents and their families. 

It should also be a wake-up call for State and Federal government regulators. During normal circumstances they need to pay the necessary attention and continually monitor those nursing homes that are not in compliance with proper regulatory requirements, nevertheless under these unprecedented times. These few providers tarnish even more, the image of our industry, as if it wasn't already a problem. It is also the responsibility of our legislators and our government agencies to continually assess the needs of the current long-term care industry, making sure that adequate funding is available for the many great providers. This will allow them to properly resource their organizations and address the care and needs of every individual that utilizes these services; the most vulnerable individuals.  

With more than 112 years of serving our world's most vulnerable populations, I am pleased with how Parker has handled this outbreak. Yet, while we have done everything possible to swiftly respond to this crisis with a singular focus to reduce the infection rate and begin the necessary steps toward recovery, we are not alone. We are among the many long-term care organizations who have stepped up to this challenge.

I believe this is a time when long-term care providers need to support each other. Most of us are doing all we can to navigate through this storm while keeping residents and staff healthy and safe, families informed and staying in compliance with local, state and federal health agencies.

I encourage those great providers (you know who you are), our amazing staff, our families and our residents to not let the negligence of a few tarnish our reputation. I encourage providers to stay strong and keep on going. We will get through this together, and I believe come out stronger than ever.

I also urge you to continue supporting those on the front lines of our long-term care industry. These are our "aging services heroes", in many cases forgotten by others! In the past couple months, I have witnessed our heroes step up to meet the needs of the COVID-19 crisis in our nursing homes and assisted livings in heroic ways. Their commitment, compassion and resilient spirits are inspiring. This is what the work we do is all about and it's through adversity like this one, that it shines the most. Even while dealing with their own challenges and responsibilities at home, these health care professionals continue to demonstrate superior character qualities such as integrity and commitment.

With this week being National Skilled Nursing Care Week, I ask you to recognize the amazing work that is happening at long-term care organizations across our country and let's give credit where credit is due. Long-term care workers, thank you for all you do; your dedication and tireless contributions are appreciated and are an inspiration to us all.

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