James M. Berklan

The current rush to look inward is not exactly what famous philosophers of past and present day have had in mind, of that I’m sure.

The “inward” look I’m referring to includes various federal initiatives to restrict immigrant access to certain social benefits in this country, as well as other immigrant-focused campaigns. Some of them include restricting job opportunities in this country. Long-term care operators clearly are, pardon the expression, acutely aware of the pinching feeling that produces.

Low unemployment rates are causing financial pressures seemingly everywhere. I’ve heard tales of nursing executives having to offer thousands of dollars in signing bonuses, and then having to revise salary structures repeatedly during a given quarter (not year).

Some state officials are so upset by moves that could restrict healthcare access to elderly immigrants, they’ve gone to court over it. In fact, as we wrote this week, 13 states, are testing the administration’s Public Charge policies.

That addresses immigrant seniors who could become facility residents. But what about workforce issues? Waivers to allow in foreign workers, even ones for certain healthcare positions, have been harder to come by. Certain legislators have railed against the restricted access.

When we discuss immigrant workers, we’re not referring only to nurse aides from Haiti or other poor areas, or Filipinos who might occupy loftier nursing positions.

In May, for example, the long-term care community honored Winsome Bent, who emigrated from Jamaica in 1990 and worked as a nanny to become a certified nursing assistant, as a member of the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Hall of Honor. Today, she oversees 600 employees as a regional director for The Bristal communities.

There’s also the example of an upcoming Profile subject in the September issue of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Angela Jalloh is currently a “workaholic” director of nursing at The Admiral in Chicago. In 2000, she emigrated from Sierra Leone with her husband, seeking a better life and gainful employment. She became a certified nursing assistant and then added LPN, RN and BSN credentials to her resume in steady fashion. By all accounts, she is a credit to her family, profession and employer.

This world, and the post-acute care environment, would be a much less rich place without dedicated professionals like these, and many others. Let’s hope inward thinking becomes synonymous with deeper thinking and then upward lifting. And that it allows life, love and the pursuit of happiness — and good long-term care positions — without costing us the likes of Bent, Jalloh and untold others.

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program’s exclusive Platinum sponsor is PointClickCare. 

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.