Daily Editors' Notes

More evidence that long-term care operators are not simply heartless bottom feeders

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor
What matters most to long-term care operators?

Certainly, remaining in business is a top priority. A look at the McKnight's webpage stats for the past month reveals as much. Articles about the fiscal cliff, partnerships with hospitals and convicted felons were among our best-read pieces. That should not be much of a surprise, as these articles potentially have bottom-line implications.

Historically, regulatory, legislative and workplace articles have scored well for us online and in print — probably for the same reason.

Cynics might argue that such reading habits prove that facilities are just in it for the money. But if more recent findings are to be included, such an allegation seems a bit flimsy.

In the week that just passed, three of our top four stories were about threats to residents' health. In fact, Friday's article about a new norovirus strain received more page views than anything we ran all week. That may be because nearly two thirds of the outbreaks tied to the GII.4 norovirus strain (better known as GII.4 Sydney) have been linked to nursing home residents.

Next on the charts was a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the current flu season has been especially rough on the elderly. In fact, hospitalizations related to laboratory-confirmed flu cases among those 65 and older have reached a rate of 82 per 100,000 people. The rate for all age groups is about one-fourth as high, or 19 per 100,000, according to the CDC.

Another top story noted that aspirin might be tied to age-related macular degeneration. This vision problem tends to take a toll on seniors, especially nursing home residents.

So what conclusions can be drawn? One is that this is not a scientific inquiry, just a slice of visitor preferences in a business-to-business outlet. Fair enough.

But if we are to make the hardly outrageous assumption that most McKnight's readers are connected to the senior living field, it seems fair to draw an inference: Providers are not just fixated on the bottom line. They are in fact very curious about new developments that can affect the well-being of the people they take care of. Otherwise, why would they be so attracted to stories about viruses and vision threats?

That's something to keep in mind the next time you hear someone talk about the ills of for-profit healthcare or the heartless nature of the nursing home operators.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

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