James M. Berklan

I’d be willing to bet Dr. Anthony Fauci’s poll numbers rank ahead of almost any other serious figure in the public eye.

And why not? He is a man of science and says his principles guide him. It is not infrequent when he disagrees with his boss. Sometimes he keeps quiet about it, biting his lip or bowing his head to conceal looks of disagreement or astonishment. But he still shows a distinct level of grace and restraint while doing it.

By the same token, he has exposed provocateurs who would look to widen any rifts. He dismisses them with the observation that such talk isn’t helpful to finding solutions.

His most valuable statement must be when he recently said he wasn’t political but rather holds views guided on principles and scientific truths. The man tells you what he knows, which is considerable, and sticks by his guns when challenged. He has earned our attention the old-fashioned way — by earning our respect, and giving it in return. How refreshing from someone in the Washington sandbox.

In this day of shoot from the lip, and then from the hip, before ever fully engaging the brain, I say we need more like Fauci.

Anthony Fauci
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID

Well now’s your chance, long-term care friends. Maybe you’ve heard about the administration’s new nursing home quality and safety oversight panel. Word came Thursday that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is now taking nominations for it.

An independent contractor will be conducting the candidate collection, review and selection, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. 

Nominations are due by a week from today — 5 p.m. ET May 22, to be exact. Selections will be announced by the end of the month and the esteemed group will first meet in early June. Two or three more meetings will take place and a report will ultimately be produced by Sept. 1.

If only all summer jobs were so interesting, and all government initiatives moved so promptly.

LTC armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers

CMS says it’s looking for all kinds of individuals to sit on the panel — providers, consumers, clinicians, consultants, ethicists and more. The task is to review the COVID-19 response so far and to build a better one for the future. So here’s your chance, LTC armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers.

Want to make a better LTC future? Don’t be shy. Put your hat in the ring. Perhaps it will be chosen and you’ll get to have a voice in shaping future nursing home policy and procedure.

There’s no guarantee the commission will move the needle much in the long run. But it’s 100% guaranteed that things aren’t going to get better if an earnest effort isn’t put into improving systems and processes.

Let’s use Fauci’s testimony at a Senate hearing Tuesday as guidance. As for increased COVID-19 testing, something “much more aggressive than has been done in the past” is needed, he said. That was shortly after he testified that everyday testing of all nursing home personnel and residents wouldn’t be practical.

Instead, intermittent testing of staff at regular intervals is the compromise he suggested. That’s being properly pragmatic, if nothing else.

“In the long range, we will have to have infection-control capabilities in nursing homes that are really pristine and really unassailable,” he added. Hello to your stringent “new normal,” providers.

There are other truths that don’t need a committee to validate them. Providers, for example, have until Sunday to submit their first round of COVID-19 infection data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If they can’t get their act together to report data by June 7, they’ll be subject to well-earned fines.

So, think you have a better plan, for this or any other regulatory measures? You know what you have to do. Get moving.

And if you want to get a jumpstart on seeing what stakeholders around the country are doing to cope with various COVID-19 operational challenges, do yourself a favor and check out CMS’s newly released 74-page toolkit. The provider that doesn’t come away with at least a couple good ideas to try will be about as un-Fauci-like as they come.

Follow Executive Editor James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.