Editor's Desk: Health scare is unlikely to sideline Yarwood for long

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James M. Berklan, Editor
James M. Berklan, Editor

There are few people I've met in the business of long-term care who are more congenial, knowledgeable or well-connected than Bruce Yarwood. Someone might have the edge in one of those characteristics, but nobody has the package of traits like he does.

As president and CEO of the nation's largest nursing home association, such traits serve him, and providers, extremely well. That's what made his recent unexpected absence from the office for more than two months all the more worrisome.Halloween Day was definitely a frightening time for the Yarwood household. With Yarwood not looking or feeling right after stepping off his exercise bike, his wife, Margarete, anxiously dialed 911. Twenty days later, he finally was moved out of intensive care, the recipient of surgery to repair a burst brain aneurysm. A week after that, he was out of the hospital altogether, although balance, vision and physical stamina problems continued to pester him into the new year.

The man ranked No. 25 on a list of the most important people in U.S. healthcare did not set foot in his American Health Care Association office until the first week of January.

The really good news is, the 67-year-old Yarwood seems back on the road to a virtually full recovery. Typically full of quips, he spoke soberly and gratefully with me last month about his ordeal. He was effusive with praise for AHCA staff and others who, he said, covered the bases admirably well during his prolonged absence. They include AHCA Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Shimer, VP of Policy & Government Relations David Hebert, Board Chairman Bob Van Dyk and numerous others. Many AHCA members never realized Yarwood was ever out of the picture.

Yet that's not to imply that Yarwood was or is expendable. Although the association operated well in Yarwood's absence, he was unequivocally missed for his “intellect, strategic thinking and charm,” noted AHCA Vice President of Public Affairs Susan Feeney. As of early January, she added, he was already “e-mailing and responding, giving thoughtful approaches to various things. He's definitely back in the game.”

Yarwood said as soon as he gets the go-ahead from doctors, things are only going to get better. He might want to approach personal health matters a bit more conservatively, he said, but he definitely has plans. And retirement is not one of them.
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