Some Washington institutions more entrenched than others

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

When it comes to educating their offspring, the richest and most powerful people in Washington have a virtual cornucopia of top-shelf choices.

There's the Washington International School, the Potomac School, the National Cathedral School and, of course, Maret School. All ensure a world-class educational experience.

But for sheer cache, Sidwell Friends School stands alone. It's where President Obama's daughters are being educated, along with other children of the upper crust's most upper crust. It truly is a Washington institution.

And what does all this have to do with long-term care? Well, Sidwell Friends recently purchased the Washington Home in an effort to consolidate. As for the current residents who will have to skedaddle, sayonara and good luck.

At first blush, this would appear to be yet another case of the haves (a school that can write a check for $32 million) turning the screws on the have-nots (more than 100 Medicaid-dependent residents will essentially be evicted).

Interestingly, that allegation is not being levied by the underclass or others sporting indignant posters. Instead, it's coming from school alums. Their beef: The affected residents did not get ample warning of the sale, or sufficient help from Friends with the move. They seem particularly irate that Friends has put the onus on the sellers.

“We respectfully disagree with the hands-off — see no harm, hear no harm — approach that we have witnessed so far concerning the relocation process and the people affected,” noted a letter from the 15 alums.

They have asked school administrators to make such transitions as seamless and stress-free as possible. In a response, school officials said they “advocated staunchly” for the needs of the facility's residents, but felt they lack the expertise in nursing and hospice care needed to get the job done.

So has a grave injustice once again been perpetuated on the downtrodden?

I wouldn't go that far. But clearly, things could have been handled better.

Perhaps the Washington Home shouldn't have denied that they were selling the building up until, apparently, they did sell the building.

Perhaps school officials should have acted more as if they were in God's presence when they considered how best to relocate more than 100 Medicaid-dependent residents. After all, the school certainly claims to be an advocate of creating such awareness in its marketing materials. And perhaps the offended alums should have been more involved. Was there anything to stop them from taking action to make sure the residents were and will be treated as well as possible? No.

Finally, perhaps some additional perspective is warranted here. Sidwell Friends is located in Washington. And if we've learned anything about the general mindset of those who exercise power in the District of Columbia, it's this: When in doubt, point the finger.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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