William "Bill" McGinley
William “Bill” McGinley

To Nursing Home And Post-Acute Administrators,

I will not even pretend to say that I know what you are going through.  I am no longer on the front line. My NHA license no longer hangs on the wall of a skilled nursing facility. I have been in nursing home administration since 1980 and nothing in my experience compares to what you are going through now. These days my contact with other nursing home administrators is through phone calls, email and Facebook forums.

In a video message to American College of Health Care Administrators members last week I said that this pandemic is taking a toll on all of us, but perhaps none more so than our leadership. I can tell that the levels of stress are off the charts. My heart breaks when I see Facebook posts from administrators saying that they are drowning and that they feel like they cannot go on. Many have voiced a desire to leave the field when the crisis is over.

I would never presume to tell someone what to do with their life or career.  You must take care of yourself first or you will never be able to take care of others. I do know that big decisions are not best made in the heat of the moment. 

Consider this — you are now uniquely qualified in a way that those who came before you and those who will come later are not. You are managing through and surviving an unprecedented  pandemic health crisis. You have had to learn on the fly, adapt to changing and conflicting regulations and multitask like never before. And you are doing this without adequate resources and with no proper recognition. No one has ever done what you are doing.  Do not let this experience go to waste. This situation will be over someday, and you will be much stronger for it.

Leadership is never more important than in a time of crisis. This may be the most challenging time of your career. Your teams, your patients, your families and even the community at large are looking to you, the administrator — they are looking for leadership. Going to work each day has now become an act of courage. But remember that your patient’s families sleep well at night knowing that you and your teams are on the job caring for their loved ones.

We are running out of superlatives.  These are unprecedented times, this is an extraordinary situation, you are doing a tremendous job.  Words can no longer adequately describe what we are going through.  

Stay focused on your residents and your teams. Everyone wants to go back to normal. There is no going back. You are now the leaders best equipped to manage the new normal; to educate future leaders. Every decision you make, every plan you implement changes how your team moves forward. You are literally changing the world. Model the leadership that inspired you to become an Administrator. We will always need strong leaders. Be strong. Stay safe.

My best,

Bill McGinley, FACHCA

Bill McGinley is president and CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators.