Gary Tetz

After desperately and unsuccessfully seeking a non-pandemic-related topic to blog about, I’m reflecting on the ratio of COVID-19 news headlines over the past few months to those on all other long-term care issues. My scientific conclusion: It’s extremely high. 

This isn’t a criticism. News sources aren’t creating the news, just reporting what’s important, and that simply reflects the degree to which this dastardly plague has taken over our entire lives and professions. 

But how fondly I remember the old days, pre-2020, when Googling “long-term care news” yielded different results. In addition to the weightier articles about PDPM and the usual regulatory or reimbursement challenges, I used to have my pick of lighter, weirder stories to riff on (wheelchairs as dangerous weapons), or wacky scientific research to mock (the benefits of ear tickling). Not anymore. 

Now in healthcare journalism it feels like COVID-19 all the time, like an Air Supply Greatest Hits album stuck on repeat, and I’m left without much serviceable fodder for my typical prattle. So when I serendipitously came across a news story that actually had nothing to do with the pandemic (or long-term care either, for that matter), it washed over me like a healing rain, and I lifted my face to the heavens in gratefulness.  

According to the Associated Press, a mechanical problem caused the ventilation system at a Lindt factory in Switzerland to spew cocoa powder into the sky, spreading a fine dusting of chocolate over the local community. 

It must have seemed a gift from the gods for the residents, like tastier snow on Christmas morning. In my mind, I’m imagining the sleepy populace awakening to the unexpected candy storm, and running around in their bathrobes licking sidewalks and cars. The article does not confirm that fantasy, but I choose to believe it happened. 

Maybe this true story doesn’t seem important, or relevant. Maybe you think there’s no practical takeaway, or deep motivational lesson to be gleaned. 

But maybe there is. When will our chocolate “snow” day come? Will we be ready for it, and, more importantly, will we recognize it — in whatever form it might take? In these surreal times, it’s vital to look for the bright spots. Any bright spots. They are out there, and we’ll all do our jobs better when we start seeing them.

At a minimum, look at it this way: At least for however long it took to read the previous paragraphs about one town’s chocolate adventure, you had something to think about besides COVID-19. You’re welcome.  

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.