James M. Berklan

If anyone wants any further proof we’re living in twisted times, consider the current lot of a nursing home operator.

Spring is blooming and overall COVID-19 infections and deaths have plummeted. Census levels generally are inching up. Even staff vaccination rates — not everywhere, but on average overall — are creeping higher. 

A time for happiness, right? Well, yes, but …

It’s more like the period after a hurricane finally clears — and then the swarms of mosquitoes descend. 

Only in this case the bugs aren’t so small and can’t be swatted away too easily.

First, there are President Biden’s plans for sweeping reforms causing plenty of heartburn. Then, there’s the administration’s proposal to take back $1.7 billion it says it overpaid at the start of the Patient Driven Payment Model.

In addition, the feds said they are promptly sunsetting some special COVID-era waivers. Batch one goes away in about two weeks and another round, including valuable nurse-aide training flexibilities, will evaporate four weeks later.

On top of that, the federal government, which is not usually known for doing anything quickly, on Wednesday announced it has already started publishing transaction data about nursing home and hospital deals for the last six years.

While it can be said that’s just a list of facilities changing hands, the intended implications are not necessarily good, nor even neutral. More than 3,000 nursing home transactions took place, which on one hand may signify facilities are being shed. But on the other hand, it’s like baseball owners complaining about business conditions but then having no shortage of suitors lining up to buy from anybody who wants out.

Further, on Wednesday a federal health official revealed regulators are considering mandating minimum amounts for how much providers must spend on certain staff. It’s not exactly your Grandma dictating how you have to spend her big birthday check, but you get the idea.

So nobody can blame you if you’re yearning for some good news. I’m here to remind you that it exists.

One of the best examples is the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards ceremony and forum May 12 and 13, final details of which were announced this week. On Tuesday, we revealed the seven long-term care heroes being given the 2022 Spirit Award. 

One left headquarters to wrap herself in PPE to grieve with a lonely, sick COVID patient who had just lost a spouse to COVID. Others saved lives by draping their bodies over patients while a deadly tornado was obliterating the nursing home around them.


And there’s more.

In the 2022 McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards, you’re getting 54 women at various stages of their careers who are the pride of the industry. They’ve either already put in decades of outstanding service or are on their way to doing so.

In the case of the Spirit winners, some have brought pride to the profession in national mainstream media accounts as nobody else.

One of the best things about this is, this entire proud scene is not just about or for “them.” This is all for all long-term care stakeholders. Everyone is invited to rub elbows with these inspirational colleagues, and then celebrate them for all the good work they do — on all of our behalf. 

Let the painting with a broad brush take place for a good reason for once.

We — male and female alike — also can learn from this august gathering, in more than one way. There are opportunities to pack on three continuing education units at the May 13 McKnight’s Forum. 

Nationally respected presenters — both male and female — will lead the way. Check out the line-up and be further impressed.

Amid all the tough breaks for long-term care professionals out there, it’s important to remember there are reasons to smile too.

Find a bunch now when you check out the online Women of Distinction gallery.

Then consider joining us in the fun and learning. Hundreds of us will be there and we’d love to have you there too.

Learn more about attending the 2022 McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards ceremony and next-day forum. Tickets are available for both, or on an individual basis.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Executive Editor.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.