James M. Berklan

When I saw it earlier this week, I was immediately charmed. It was a local news story about a nursing and rehab facility that decided to share with its small surrounding community in a pretty big way.

We’re not talking a bowl of punch, bag of popcorn or even a public barbecue or open house.

We’re talking fully functioning, medical-grade hospital beds. For anyone with a suddenly sick or disabled loved one who has needed special accommodations to remain at home, there can be no mistaking the value of such medical equipment.

So the generous gesture of Elk Haven Nursing Home in St. Marys, PA (population 13,400), should not go unheralded.

The leaders at Elk Haven decided to give away 100 beds it was replacing. First, it took care of a local teaching institution with a donation of some units, and how genius is that? Everyone needs more trained nurses, aides and people used to working in a medically oriented field. This can help them on their way.

Next, leadership decided to put out notice that any local citizen who needed a bed could put his or her name on a list to get one. The only caveat: They need to pick it up promptly when it becomes available since Elk Haven has no extra storage space.

Look, I know other providers have donated beds and other equipment in the past. It’s probably been worth tens of thousands of dollars more in some cases. (Some LTC-related vendors also have been saints in responding to natural disasters and other charitable causes with loads of equipment and supplies.)

But this feels different, and hundreds of readers who have clicked on the story this week seem to agree. (Full disclosure: I do not know anyone affiliated with Elk Haven and frankly have not been in touch with anyone there, so this cannot be viewed as suspicious cheerleading.)

What I do know is that Elk Haven is probably like a lot of operators out there: It tries to do the best it can and deals with bumps in the road many, if not most, days. The 120-bed nonprofit currently sports a 3-star average rating on Nursing Home Compare. That means some category rankings are above a 3 and some are, well, not.

But they’re 5-star in my book for reminding that just about anybody anywhere can be both generous and smart. Although it seems it’s not the reason it was done, this is the kind of good marketing one can’t otherwise buy through nearby media.

When the users of those donated beds need to look for a skilled care or rehab facility for themselves or a loved one, can there be any doubt where they’ll first turn?

Good headlines are often hard to come by in the long-term care business. We hear it all the time.

Thank Elk Haven and its leaders for showing just one way to turn that line of thinking on its head.

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.