Profile — In his own words: Larry Lane, VP, Govt. Relations, Genesis HealthCare
Those who have spent an appreciable amount of time in long-term care probably have had occasion to speak with Larry Lane. And that means encountering Lane's unique vocabulary."Lane-isms" are terms the 35-year industry veteran believes most aptly describe situations inherent to long-term care.
For instance, non-institutional refers to care administered outside the nursing home; dis-savings describes the baby boom generation's potential wealth erosion as they face their long-term care future; and longitutional (combining longitude and institutional) draws a vertical line in the healthcare continuum.
These linguistic mutations left a lasting impression on Monsignor Charles Fahey, who first met Lane back in 1971 at the White House Conference on Aging.
"Larry was a diamond in the rough – highly motivated and full of enthusiasm," said Fahey, professor emeritus of aging studies at New York's Fordham University. "His intelligence and abilities were camouflaged by his lack of mastery of the King's English."
Semantic chiding aside, Lane and Fahey helped shape the mission orientation of the American Association of Homes for the Aging (the predecessor to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging), for most of the 1970s.
"What I learned from him was the whole value of caring," said Lane, who admires Fahey as an industry leader. "I began to appreciate that at the point of care – regardless of whether a system is for-profit or nonprofit – we are fortunate to have a very sincere population who takes value out of that caring mission."
In reality, Lane himself has taught and mentored many over the years, said Peter Clendenin, president of the Washington-based National Association for the Support of Long Term Care.
"Larry is a guy who really cares, who really understands the relationships, the law and the clinical side of the business," said Clendenin, an acquaintance for nearly 30 years. "He generously shares his knowledge with others rather than hoarding it."
Lane's affinity for wordplay is nearly as evident as his magnanimous, towering presence in the industry. Some may be surprised to learn that the genial wordsmith has three older brothers who served in the Marine Corps and that he served in the Army as a research analyst in the late 1960s. More recently, he has spent vacations on cultural exchange activities, such as serving as an adviser to Nelson Mandela when he assumed the South African presidency in 1994 and being a part of a U.S. contingent that visited China after the rebellion of 1989.
His military and international diplomacy experiences resonated with his two children. Larry, 28, is serving in the Army in "parts unknown," while Danielle, 23, is working on her master's degree in international conflict and peace resolution. While Lane is preoccupied with recasting English, his wife of 34 years, Michelle, hails from France and speaks several languages well.
His considerable context on long-term care comes from years spent at organizations that serve the industry's various constituencies: first, the senior population, at the American Association of Retired Persons; next, non-profit housing operators, at AAHSA; for-profit companies, at the American Health Care Association; and, finally, provider organizations themselves, at NovaCare and, since 1999, at Genesis.
This well-rounded experience has given the 60-year-old West Haven, CT, native different perspectives, all of them rich. They feed into his core mission of serving the elderly.
"From the time I started, I realized that people, through no fault of their own, are outliving all their planned income as well as health, shelter and social needs," Lane says.
"I have always believed very strongly that it is my role – and the public's role – to assume responsibility for them."
Lane doesn't see things changing much over the next decade and doesn't plan on retiring during that time, either.
"I'll still be around," he quips, "probably being wheeled into a nursing home of my own."