By Steve Moran
On March 19, 2020, the Wall Street Journal published this story: Coronavirus Outbreaks Spreading in Nursing Homes (likely behind a paywall) with this tagline: Scores of cases have emerged at facilities from Illinois to Oregon and Wyoming following a deadly outbreak near Seattle.
You may think, not great but just WSJ. It is a story that will spread like wildfire. It is just too juicy for the media to pass up. This is, in my view, singularly, the most damaging quote from the article:
Health officials and researchers say they expect to see more coronavirus cases in elder-care facilities, despite aggressive steps by the industry and federal nursing-home regulators to limit visitors and isolate residents to avoid transmission.
The Senior Living Response
My initial thought was that Argentum, LeadingAge, AHCA/NCAL, ASHA need to jump on this, and AHCA/NCAL has been holding regular media calls about how they and their members are doing. It might be a great thing for the other senior living associations to consider doing.
While I think the national and state associations getting out there is good, this will not be nearly enough. We need every senior living organization and community to be reaching out to their local radio, television, and news outlets with stories and offering to be experts on older people and the impact of COVID-19 on older people.
I get that putting yourself out there is scary, and that some of you work for organizations that have policies that prevent you from doing this kind of thing. But, if every provider did this in every market we would make a huge impact in our cause of serving older people.
What’s even scarier to me is that in this time of social distancing, which, when it comes to older people, means social isolation, those older people staying home and afraid to go out will not get the things they need: nutrition, medicine, and medical care. It will be even worse for those who contract COVID-19 or something else. Who will care for them?
We can do that!
The problem is that if individuals at home fail to thrive or die, it is a sad story but doesn’t make anyone look bad except the virus and maybe the government. If they move into a senior living community and die it unfairly makes us look bad.
We need to tell this story, convey this message. We need to be saying, WE ARE SAVING LIVES, NOT TAKING THEM.
This is a time of great opportunity. It is our time to shine.