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 Jack MacDonald, Pioneer And Mentor, Dies After Long Battle With Cancer

Jack MacDonald, an executive who helped shape one of the nation’s premier long term and post-acute care companies and who served as the quiet mentor to countless of the profession’s leaders, has died after battling cancer.

MacDonald, who was executive vice president and chief public affairs officer at Golden Living, was a veteran provider advocate at the vanguard of his profession’s continuing revolution. A Renaissance man who studied history, political science, international relations, and law and trained as a banker, he founded or helped found companies that relied on sophisticated financing, corporate business models, rigorous quality metrics, and even international relations.

He was also, and most importantly, a mentor and friend to countless providers.

“We grieve this loss on many levels,” Golden Living President and Chief Executive Officer Neil Kurtz said in an email. “Jack leaves a significant footprint and lasting legacy in the policies he helped shape, the long term care advocacy he championed, and the wisdom he imparted to all of us. He mentored many at Golden Living and left an indelible mark.”

MacDonald seemed to be everywhere in the profession when important changes were underway. He served as executive vice president for the National Council on Health Centers and top lobbyist for the American Health Care Association (AHCA), negotiated what became a joint venture between U.S.-based Beverly Enterprises and Shimizu Corp. of Tokyo, co-founded a company called WILMAC that specialized in capital finance and quality assurance programs, and—for more than 30 years—was Golden Living’s go-to person for legislation and regulation.

Fifty-nine of Golden Living’s centers are top rated by the U.S. government, at least in part because MacDonald was one of the earliest in the profession to understand that a commitment to quality wasn’t just good for residents, but good for business, too.

In 2005, AHCA gave MacDonald a Joe Warner Patient Advocacy Award, given to those who embody a professional commitment to quality care.

“Jack’s contributions to the profession are too numerous to recount,” says Mark Parkinson, AHCA’s president and chief executive officer. “His commitment to AHCA, and me, at times when neither may have been easy or popular, have allowed us to grow to what we are.”

Parkinson recalls a rough time in 2011, when regulators came down with a “historically bad” payment rule. “Jack called me,” Parkinson says, “and told me to forge on—there would be better days. We did, and he was right. I really appreciated the call.”

Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.

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