Change is Never Easy

Angie SzumlinskiAnnouncements

Among the many long-standing issues that COVID-19 exposed in long-term care, the design of the facilities themselves stands as one of the most obvious. With new development of long-term care facilities almost non-existent, nursing homes frequently rank as the oldest health care properties in their given markets. “Semi-private” rooms with up to four beds remain common in many areas, a reality that made COVID cohorting difficult and also puts a serious strain on residents’ overall dignity and quality of life.

“The elephant in the room is that for patients and employees, and quite frankly, for operators as well, the incentive for building and replacing obsolete buildings hasn’t been there for 35 years”, Eric Tanner, CEO of skilled nursing and home health provider OnPointe, said during a presentation at SNN’s virtual Payments, Policy and Capital Summit. “The incentive in our industry is actually to hold on to older buildings, and almost drain them of operating capital”.

Acknowledging that despite its position as a less intensive setting than a post-acute rehabilitation facility, long-term care still has a significant care component that can fail with disastrous consequences, as the COVID-19 crisis illuminated. It may be a long time before we see investors buying properties and improving the physical plant and we know the current physical plant in most centers, was not and is not intended to care for the types of residents we were caring for in 2020. Maybe we need to fix that first, be sure that if we are told to accept a certain type of resident that we are truly able to provide the care safely and appropriately. But that is a political hot potato discussion so we will end it here! Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!