Health Care Misses

And the lessons we can learn

So this will be one in an occasional series of posts where I sift through the toxic news of healthcare events and expose you to some of the waste, corruption and greed that perculates to the top of the heap. I will summarize some snippets from news sources, link to the original and offer lessons along the way.

From WAPO - “Buffeted by covid-19, struggling with crumbling finances, one of America’s largest nursing home chains gave its CEO a $5.2 million “retention payment” in late October, just as the second big wave of the pandemic was rising. Under George Hager Jr’s leadership the more than 300 Genesis nursing homes experienced 14,352 confirmed cases of covid-19 through mid-December, according to reports the company made to Medicare officials. The total number of residents who died of the disease was 2,812, as of Dec. 20. Both figures are higher than in comparable nursing home chains.”

So would you send mom or dad to a rehab that had below industry metrics and put management salaries first? It’s OK to research how organizations are structured, the layers of legal structures, the layers of management, the salaries of same. In long-term care it has been a long-standing stat that for-profit corporations have poorer quality and fewer staff per patient. So ask the uncomfortable questions.

From NYT - First of all, Diana Wiener (above) is one of the good gals! As reported by my friend John Leland in the New York Times.

“Ms. Wiener, a former furniture store owner, lives with her husband in the Five Star Premier Residences of Yonkers, just north of New York City, a retirement community that provides multiple levels of care. When the novel coronavirus hit New York last spring, and the building management confined residents to their apartments, Ms. Wiener felt a frustration that has become common among those who live in buildings like hers. Residents had no idea which neighbors or employees were sick with the virus, which had died, which had moved out or been exposed during a visit to the doctor. Management refused to provide names, citing privacy laws.”

Diana did something about it by starting a community newspaper.

One of the reasons senior living occupancy is down to record lows is the pandemic. It disproportionately impacted care homes. However, a lot of senior residences did themselves no favors. Lack of open communication and transparency fuels speculation and increases rumors. It also takes away from the experience of care. Bad enough being cooped in your home. Worse to not know what is going on. Choosing a place for mom or dad. Ask around. What places have the best reputations? Visit them. Then talk to residents. Get a feel for how responsive management is so that you don’t have to move mom or dad out later.

This is not aimed at a specific entity. Google - vaccine reluctance nursing home staff - and there will be a long list of articles showing the high percentage of workers saying they will not be vaccinated. As an examples, as of January 26 only about 58 percent of the doses allocated to nursing home staff and residents in Maryland had been administered. Anecdotally, I have lots of friends in senior living and many are not opting in.

My colleague Howard Gleckman talks about how to get more to take the shot in this Forbes article. There is a bigger issue.

If we have all of the residents vaccinated and not the staff, how safe is it and how endangered are already compromised residents? Then what if we get to 100% compliance for staff and residents, do we require visitors and vendors to be compliant? You see where this goes. I would say this. Choosing care or considering moving mom or dad out of senior living as many are? At some point we have to start asking about vaccination rates of residents and staff. Make that a point for choosing. Would you want mom or dad to go to a place that is 33 percent compliant or 88 percent?

See you next time!

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