John O’Connor

Over the years, the New York Times has earned 130 Pulitzer prizes. That’s quite a haul. In fact, one could argue the Gray Lady (as some called the paper before it began using color photos) just might be America’s best newspaper.

But there’s no arguing this: The so-called paper of record sure has it in for nursing homes. 

The latest love note arrived Thursday, under this anything but flattering headline: “Push for profits left nursing homes struggling to provide care.”

The piece is about what you might expect: Another hatchet job that accuses the industry of putting profits before patients, while hiding in the shadows.

It’s an accusation, by the way, that all-too-often happens to be true.

Just as earlier reporting in the Times about high death tolls in nursing facilities (thanks to the coronavirus pandemic) was also true.

I’m not questioning whether those stories deserved to be reported. They did.

But it is fair to ask why a news organization so eager to constantly reveal this industry’s challenges fails to hold others similarly accountable?

Does the paper routinely go after hospitals for the high death rates or obscene number of medication mishaps that take place within their walls? Or regularly post stories about executives at these “non-profits” who routinely earn many millions of dollars each year?

And what about docs who regularly run afoul of the Hippocratic Oath, or Medicare billing rules? That’s to say nothing about the rampant fraud and abuse so evident across the home care industry. Where is the prominent display of those stories?

Nursing homes are like the kid in the classroom the teacher can’t stand. If it seems like he’s always being picked on, it’s because he is. Meanwhile, others doing far worse go unpunished. Sound vaguely familiar?

Does the nursing home sector have more than its share of rascals and problems? Absolutely. But the field hardly has a monopoly in either category.

Perhaps the Gray Lady needs new eyeglasses? Or maybe she just needs to open her eyes.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.