James M. Berklan

We always wondered how my wife’s former gynecologist did it.

One of the reasons he was so popular among the extended family was he was a darn good doctor. He brought thousands of babies into this world over his decades-long career before retiring. 

He and his wife also had 10 of their own. Talk about earning your street cred.

But we always marveled how he and his wife always figured out how to give each child the right amount of attention, and keep it up over such an extended period of time. 

As an editor of a publication serving members of 50 different states, I can identify at some level. You need to provide for the collective group but woe be to you if you show disproportionate attention to one too often while the others are watching. Yet it’s bound to happen at one time or another.

That’s how I feel about Thursday when the great state of Ohio emerged as the focal point of both of our top news stories. (And, no, neither of them had anything to do with how many thousands of days it’s been since the University of Michigan has beaten Ohio State in football, you Buckeyes fans.)

One article involved an intriguing state program that might wind up shrinking the nursing home industry in the state. Officials are hoping to take unused license beds off of providers’ hands via a new $50 million fund. Falling census levels due to the pandemic, rising preferences for home care, and a desire for more solo rooms has put operators in a tough spot in some areas.

Now, it’s up to stakeholders to determine if the price is right, and whether state capacity should be lowered. There is precedent, after all, for bashing nursing homes but then backing off. “Non-nursing home” exuberance tends to fade once it collides with the reality that a few visits a week by a traveling caregiver doesn’t nearly cover the needs of many elderly people with complex conditions.

It is, nonetheless, a classic example of a story that residents of other states should be following with fascination, for Ohio is not unique in its census and capacity issues.

The other Ohio-based story that showed long legs around the country involved the unfortunate discovery that some COVID-19 vaccines that had been injected had not been stored at cold enough temperatures.

At first feared to have affected hundreds of long-term and residential care patients, it turned out that only a portion of one batch was potentially damaged. 

Lousy to have to replay inoculations for dozens of residents and workers, not to mention extra anxieties for the people who run the buildings? Sure. But let’s choose to look at it this way: Walgreens learned what it did wrong through its internal controls process and owned it. You don’t see a lot of that today, in any walk of life or public service position.

It’s not believed that anybody became infected or was otherwise harmed by the storage mishap, which happened before the compromised lot ever made it to the affected facilities. Also, the manufacturer wasn’t even sure whether the doses would be useless.

You can be sure that priority will be given to the re-do (and maybe an extra plate of cookies at the same time? Just a thought.)

But for me, the really refreshing part of this drama is the reaction from one of the most inconvenienced players. When McKnight’s asked Clara Wukelich, the risk manager for Foundations Health, for her thoughts, she took the high road.

Errors happen, she said. Her management team appreciated the candor, quick notice and prompt corrective actions, she added.

“We’re grateful for that and we’re moving forward,” she said.

May we all show such grace in stressful times.

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.