Big names, ideas mark AAHSA, AHCA conferences

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Now that the inbox is cleared, and the suitcase is (somewhat) unpacked, there’s time to reflect on the latest national nursing home conferences held by the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and the American Health Care Association. There were definitely some highlights.

Aside from the informative and thought-provoking education sessions, and the opportunities to meet our spectacular readers, a few moments stand apart for me personally at the back-to-back October conventions.

First, looking back at the AAHSA show held last week, it’s hard not to smile. They were two reasons why: The “Chef Challenge” and The “Last Designer Standing.” They were not major events at this conference, but as you’ve probably read online, these two spectator sports were big favorites with the crowd on the exhibit floor.

And they were with us at McKnight’s as well. We are still new to this medium resembling television, but we shot both events with our hand-held camera. For the first time we were able to add some 3-D color and sound to our conference coverage.

Other great videos that emerged from this conference included interviews with Larry Minnix, David Walker, Robyn Stone, Doug Pace, Bruce Rosenthal, Dr. Bill Thomas and Lauren Shaham. You can see all of these under the “Videos” section on our Web site. Go to

Keeping with tradition, the speakers at the AAHSA conference were nationally renowned. While I unfortunately missed Whoopi Goldberg, who attendees said gave a heartfelt speech, and other must-sees, I did catch the aforementioned Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General, and Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel. They offered interesting takes on technology and government’s lack of fiscal responsibility.

I’ll also admit that Dana Carvey, formerly of Saturday Night Live, was a bright spot. A last-minute replacement for Aretha Franklin for an evening show, he delivered astute impersonations of everyone from John McCain to Tom Brokaw. And, of course, the lovable Church Lady character.

AHCA’s conference, which was held just the week before, also offered memorable moments. McKnight’s snagged some key interviews with long-term care experts, including Bruce Yarwood, Larry Lane, Bill Hartung, Charlotte Eliopoulos, Peter Clendenin and Susan Feeney. We also scored an exclusive with Dr. Neil Kurtz, the new CEO of Golden Living.

A round-table discussion held by the affiliated National Association for the Support of Long Term Care featured CEOs of major long-term care companies: Paul Diaz of Kindred Healthcare, Rick Matros of Sun Healthcare Group, George Hager of Genesis HealthCare, and John Short of RehabCare. They provided some great insights into the economy, technology and the caregiving staff.

Lucky for us, they were willing to go on-camera. Their interviews now represent some of the gems in our fast-growing video archive. (You can see all the videos from the AHCA conference in our "Videos" section, as well.)

Finally, as a journalist, it was a thrill to hear Ted Koppel, a keynote speaker during AHCA’s opening general session. He moved seamlessly from reminiscing about his correspondent days decades ago to giving incisive perspective on the economic crisis. I will not soon forget that experience.

I always learn a lot from industry conferences. This year I found them particularly exciting and rewarding.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.