Editor’s note: As part of the 40th anniversary of McKnight’s, McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News are recognizing 40 notable newsmakers. Each week, the brands will highlight a new, high-profile leader from the past four decades. Previously published installments of the series are posted here.
Long-term care may be constantly changing. Still, some issues never seem to vanish.
Take uneven survey and enforcement practices. A recent problem? Hardly. In fact, it was one of Sheldon Goldberg’s chief concerns as executive vice president of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (a position now called president and CEO at the organization now called LeadingAge), where he served for more than 17 years, beginning in 1982.
“This process is never uniform, consistent, or even fair,” he said during a 1997 interview.
Goldberg’s time at AAHSA aligns with some of the more challenging years the industry has ever faced. He was at the helm when a landmark federal nursing home law was passed and implemented. Nursing home quality was under constant scrutiny throughout his tenure. And Medicaid reimbursement levels in many states were at or near $100 a day when he began.
Goldberg earned a reputation as an honest broker. To be sure, members always were a top priority. But he was not afraid to speak out against operators who consistently failed to meet minimal quality standards, repeatedly stating they should be shut down.
He regularly testified before Congress about quality, reimbursement and caregiving issues.
But his greatest accomplishment may be that he helped build the organization into a long-term care juggernaut. In addition to quadrupling membership (largely through outreach efforts with state-based organizations), he helped put AAHSA on sounder fiscal footing. He also helped launch the AAHSA Development Corp., which made it easier for members to tap into sorely needed capital. His AAHSA years also saw the launch of the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission (acquired by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities [CARF] in 2003), which helped raise the quality of caregiving and other services.
Despite these and other notable accomplishments, Goldberg always was quick to credit others, especially members.
“They are extraordinary, the best people,” he said. By all accounts, the sentiment appears to have been mutual.