When faced with resident mental health problems and loneliness because of the COVID-19 pandemic in its facilities, ML Healthcare took an innovative approach to the issue and created the Parlor.

The company, with four communities across Texas, was able to find a way for family members and friends to visit senior living residents in person with as close to zero risk as possible. This included tempered glass, UV lighting, a separate entrance and a new air conditioning unit.

This kind of innovation has never been done before, company leaders say, and it helped earn ML Healthcare the Gold Award in the Innovator of the Year category for the 2021 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards Skilled Nursing division. 

“We weren’t allowed to bring family members in and they weren’t allowed to go out,” explained Vice President of Development and Strategic Alliances Cindy Peters. “What that created was a massive loneliness in not only the patients but the community in general.”

The Parlor involved a huge undertaking for the community, including building a new entrance to the four senior living communities and new heating and air circulation systems. The finished unit resembles a storefront, with tempered glass from floor to ceiling, preventing any air flow from the residents to the visitors. Hospital-grade UV lighting was installed in order to sanitize the room after everyone exits, removing the need for extra human hands doing it. 

“Customer satisfaction is clearly reflected in the overall increase of 14%,” Peters noted in nominating her organization. “Rehospitalization rates decreased in our communities from 23% to 9% in December of 2020.”

“We are really humbled and really honored to be able to have done something like this,” Peters said to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “I’m super proud of the company that we work for. This is a company that knows if there’s a problem and if there’s a need.”

Other Innovator of the Year awards in the Skilled Nursing track include:

  • Silver: Neptune, NJ-based United Methodist Communities; For implementing VSTAlert and VSTOne through a partnership with Virtusense, which led to a significant decrease in falls.
  • Bronze: Rushville, NE-based Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home; For installing the SUREnursing Advisor system, helping employees more effectively monitor those at risk of falling.

Read about the Innovator of the Year category winners in the Senior Living track on the McKnight’s Senior Living website and the Home Care track on the McKnight’s Home Care website.For more on the 2021 Tech Awards program and this year’s finalists, visit here.

Sponsors of the 2021 McKnight’s Technology Awards + Summit program are Consensus, iN2L, Medline and SimplyConnect. To view the awards presentation and recordings of the webinars, visit mcknights.com/techawards2021.