Remembering Paul Willging
EDITOR'S NOTE: Former American Health Care Association leader Paul Willging died Saturday after a battle with cancer.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to work alongside Dr. Paul Willging quickly learned of the depth of his commitment to long-term care and to those people who dedicate their lives to providing such care.
I had the privilege of beginning a personal and working relationship with Paul in 1994 when I joined the public affairs division at the American Health Care Association. Like today, the challenges facing long-term care at that time seemed never ending. Paul always valued the input of his colleagues and employees, so he often met with leadership and staff to strategize how the association could best meet those challenges and what positions AHCA should take on pressing issues.
My memories of those meetings and my interactions with Paul center on how much he taught us. As freshman staff, we learned about the profession from listening to those discussions and seeing the value of true leadership and guidance. Paul and his leadership team took the time to explain the intricacies of complex rules and laws.
It was a tremendous opportunity for us to develop in both personal and professional capacities, and I believe Paul enjoyed watching us grow in our understanding of long-term care. He was an unmatched teacher and always nurtured those who had a passion for the profession.
Through his work at AHCA, Paul pushed initiatives that helped make great strides in improving quality in America's nursing homes. He was a true visionary in this area. He had the insight to support the creation of the National Center for Assisted Living, which I now have the privilege to lead.
He was a good man who was deeply devoted to his wife and two daughters. He adored them and was immensely proud.
Paul's professional legacy lives on in the accomplishments of the many people he taught and the minds he shaped in his lifetime. AHCA and NCAL will honor his legacy by supporting the education of the next generation of long-term care professionals.
George Washington University has a special program dedicated to providing students an educational opportunity to come to Washington and learn about long-term care on the national level. For those who would like to honor Paul's memory, AHCA/NCAL suggests making a tax-deductible donation to:
GWU Scholarship Fund for National Emerging Leaders Summit for LTC Administrators
c/o Robert E Burke, Ph.D.
George Washington University
2175 K Street, NW, Suite 320
Washington, DC 20037
I encourage readers to post their memories here of Paul and his many contributions to the long-term care profession.
David Kyllo is the Executive Director of the National Center for Assisted Living.