Winter storm leads us to warm stories, and a plan

James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

It would be reasonable to think that a storm that caused dozens of deaths and the shutdown of federal government offices is a terrible event. But you would be only half right: A late-January blizzard in the mid-Atlantic states and its extreme conditions presented a prime opportunity to show the dedication of long-term care professionals.

Take, for example, the heartwarming story of a young, single mother who walked for an hour through blizzard conditions to take care of residents at the job she began only six months earlier. Others at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale in New York basically camped out for the weekend to cover for colleagues stranded with no way to get back to work.

Similarly, more than 100 employees at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital in Baltimore arrived at work Friday morning and stayed through Monday to take care of residents.

And then there's the administrator at Oakview Care and Rehabilitation Center in Kentucky who stayed a few nights at the community because the unusual snowfall might create special needs. She wound up bringing an elderly resident an unforgettable thrill, leading him outside in the middle of a sleepless night to rediscover snow — and the joy of throwing a snowball at someone (her!).

The reason the snow survivors mean so much to you is simple: By going above and beyond, and in many cases waaaaaay beyond, these creative, hard-working LTC sisters and brothers have brought honor to the profession. These are the good guys making headlines. 

Tens of thousands of people, possibly hundreds of thousands, know some of these stories, thanks to mainstream and digital media accounts. This is crucial to realize, and hopefully to emulate.

Which raises the point: When's the last time you sought out and shared the good news of your hard-working employees? Does it take a blizzard or a hurricane? 

As a long-term care operator, food and labor are your biggest cost centers. But remember this: Telling a pan of lasagna or a plate of chicken tetrazzini that it's doing a good job isn't going to get you much.

Complimenting your staff, however … now that's going to hit the jackpot. 

Recognize your star performers — and even those who might wear “just” a “darned good” label — and it will pay off many times over. For you and the profession.