Are you starting to get more than a little overwhelmed by the non-stop flow of coronavirus coverage? Me too. So let’s change the subject a bit and address something even more important.
But first, some background: If you are in the long-term care business, you probably do an awful lot of work-related reading. Updates on regulations, memos from the top, tons of email, and industry news — and that’s just for starters. You may also like to do some reading on the side, should time and any leftover energy allow.
When it comes to me-reading, it’s hard to beat the late, great Charles Krauthammer. I was never crazy about his political leanings, and disagreed with much of his advice. But, my gosh, could that guy write.
I always found him to be well informed, insightful, clear and tenacious. (I guess you’d better be pretty determined should you expect to get through med school while paralyzed from the waist down.)
One of my favorite Krauthammer columns was reprinted in his book called “Things that matter.” The piece was “Winston Churchill: The Indispensable Man.”
In it, he takes on the question of who was the most important person of the 20th Century, and anoints the British Bulldog.
“Take away Churchill in 1940 … and Britain would have settled with Hitler — or worse. Nazism would have prevailed. Hitler would have achieved what no other tyrant, not even Napoleon, had ever achieved: mastery of Europe. Civilization would have descended into a darkness the likes of which it had never known,” Krauthammer aptly noted. As they say in tennis: game, set, match.
So what does this have to do with long-term care, or more importantly, you?
Well, as you might have noticed, we are in quite a battle of our own these days. The COVID-19 pandemic has now killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. That frightful tally includes thousands of nursing home residents and their caregivers. This virus has challenged this sector like nothing else in our lifetimes. And, arguably, could become an existential threat.
So all things considered, this is a good time for us all to become indispensable.
What does that mean? The answer probably varies by person and position. But here’s one way to think about it: Do the things that not only should be done, but must be done. Help residents, help colleagues, keep yourself well. Stay the extra hour or two or three that makes a difference.
Now I realize that for many readers, that request is a bit like reminding a dog to bark. The routine heroism we are seeing by overworked and underappreciated caregivers and leaders in this field is simply off the charts.
It is truly inspiring to see. It’s also reflective of the kind of effort we will all need to demonstrate in order to win this fight — which we will.
John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s