John O’Connor

Well, it sure looks like Bill McGinley hit a raw nerve.

In a recent McKnight’s blog, the president of the American College of Health Care Administrators goes all medieval on the second-class status, unfairness and outright prejudice those in this field are being forced to endure, yet again.

 “Nursing centers have been last on the list to receive needed protective supplies, testing and support,” he wrote. Meanwhile, the reward for those on the front lines putting their lives at risk while a pandemic rages is to “be vilified in the media and punished by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,” he added.

Adding insult to injury, this comes as hospital workers are being praised as heroes. As for those in long-term care, meh.

“Is it any wonder that staff are stressed and some in leadership positions are contemplating leaving the field?” McGinley asked.

Chances are pretty good you’ve already seen his piece. If not, it’s available here. 

His comments are spot on and, frankly, long overdue.

It’s hardly a secret that long-term care often eats at the proverbial children’s table. The reluctance of the federal government to ensure adequate supplies during the current pandemic is but the latest insult.

Operators in this sector were passed over for needed IT breaks, and routinely are not afforded the kind of deference given to hospitals, physicians or other healthcare professionals.

Nursing home providers are treated like beggars at a banquet. Or, more accurately, the bastards of healthcare. That may be a bit of a shocking statement. The bigger shock is how well it applies.

As for the reasons why, there are many. Here are my top two: bad marketing and bad actors.

The bad marketing issue is pretty obvious. Hospitals are places where sick people get well. Doctors make sick people better. As for nursing homes. Well, those are places where sick people go to die. At least, that’s the general perception.

By any objective measure, it’s an unfair and misleading comparison. Yet it persists.

As for bad actors, where to begin? Look, I realize most in this field are doing amazing work day in and day out — often under excruciatingly difficult circumstances. But there always seem to be those few outliers giving everyone else a bad name. Google “nursing homes” and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

Fixing either of these challenges will be no easy task.

But until both are remedied, skilled care will probably never get the respect or credit it deserves. And as Bill makes clear, the field could use a lot more of both.

 John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s