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 Coronavirus Commission Members Ready to Offer Their Expertise

A pair of Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Home members tell Provider they are proud to be part of the 25-member group charged with finding solutions to managing and preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the nation’s most vulnerable population.

MITRE, the not-for-profit organization managing the Trump administration’s commission, on June 19 named the 25 commission members, which include resident advocates, infectious disease experts, directors and administrators of nursing facilities, academicians, state authorities, clinicians, a medical ethicist, and a nursing facility resident.

Jay Schnitzer, MD, MITRE’s chief medical and technology officer, will serve as the moderator of the commission.

Among the commission members is Neil Pruitt Jr., chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of PruittHealth, a member of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

“It is an honor and a privilege to be selected as a member of this commission and to advocate for one of the most vulnerable patient populations, which PruittHealth has served for 50 years,” he says.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our company has practiced radical transparency. In this same spirit of open, honest communication, I am excited to collaborate with some of our country’s top experts to help enhance patient care and protect our loved ones.”

Debra Fournier, chief operations officer, Maine Veterans’ Homes, and AHCA/NCAL member, says she, too, is honored to have been chosen for the commission.

“It is my privilege to serve the commission through an organization that cares for our nation’s heroes—our veterans,” she says. “I believe my selection to the commission will help bring an experienced operations perspective to our discussions.”

Fournier says she has focused much of her career leading quality improvement in long term care.

“This aligns well with the primary task of the commission, which is to identify and communicate best practices for protecting nursing home residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Fournier says. “Through shared accountability and collaboration, I am hopeful that nursing homes will receive the support they need to successfully get through the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic.” 

Following the release of the commission member names, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL, said the association is pleased to see a variety of stakeholders, including dedicated providers and valued partners like Pruitt Jr. and Fournier, as well as Camille Jordan, Rosie Lyles, and Janet Snipes.

“These professionals have devoted their lives to serving our nation’s seniors and improving the quality of care in America’s long term care facilities. Their leadership at the national level, including with AHCA/NCAL, will serve the commission well as it evaluates ways to protect our most vulnerable from COVID-19,” he said.

Parkinson noted as well that as the commission begins its work, nursing centers and other long term care facilities are still in the day-to-day battle of keeping the virus at bay. Providers, he stressed, continue to face ongoing challenges in accessing and affording surveillance testing, personal protective equipment, and additional staff support.

“All parties need to wrap around nursing homes to support their abilities to effectively manage the rapidly evolving environment with the virus,” adds Holly Harmon, RN, MBA, LHA, FACHCA, AHCA vice president of quality, regulatory, & clinical services. “The collective goal of local, state, and federal agencies as well as other stakeholders should be to build up nursing homes to enable them to meet and overcome the challenges inherent in the presence of COVID-19.”

The commission members are:

--Roya Agahi, RN, MS HCM, WCC, chief nursing officer, formerly of NYC Health + Hospitals, soon to be of CareRite, New York

--Lisa Brown, PhD, ABPP, professor of psychology, Palo Alto University, California

--Mark Burket, CEO, Platte Health Center Avera, South Dakota

--Eric Carlson, JD, directing attorney, Justice in Aging, California

--Michelle Dionne-Vahalik, DNP, RN, associate commissioner, State Health and Human Services Commission, Texas

--Debra Fournier, MSB, BSN, ANCC RN-BC, LNHA, CHD, CPHQ, chief operations officer, Veterans’ Homes, Maine

--Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, president, The John A. Hartford Foundation, New York

--Candace Goehring, MN, RN, director, State Department of Social and Health Services, Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, Washington

--David Grabowski, PhD, professor of healthcare policy, Harvard University, Massachusetts

--Camille Rochelle Jordan, RN, BSN, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, CDP, senior vice president of clinical operations and innovations, Signature Healthcare, Kentucky

--Jessica Kalender-Rich, MD, CMD, AGSF, FAAHPM, FACP, medical director, post-acute care, University of Kansas Health System, Kansas

--Marshall Barry Kapp, JD, MPH, professor emeritus of law, Florida State University, Florida

--Morgan Jane Katz, MD, MHS, assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

--Beverley Laubert, MA, state long-term care ombudsman, State Department of Aging, Ohio

--Rosie Lyles, MD, MHA, MSc, FACA, director of clinical affairs, Medline Industries, Illinois

--Jeannee Parker Martin, MPH, BSN, president and CEO, LeadingAge California

--G. Adam Mayle, CHFM, CHC, CHE, administrative director of facilities, Memorial Healthcare System, Florida

--David Nace, MD, MPH, CMD, president, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, Pennsylvania

--Lori Porter, LNHA, CNA, CEO, National Association of Health Care Assistants, Missouri

--Neil Pruitt Jr., MBA, MHA, LNHA, chairman and CEO, PruittHealth, Georgia

--Penelope Ann Shaw, PhD, nursing home resident and advocate, Braintree Manor Healthcare, Massachusetts

--Lori Smetanka, JD, executive director, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Maryland

--Janet Snipes, LNHA, executive director, Holly Heights Nursing Home, Colorado

--Patricia Stone, PhD, MPH, FAAN, RN, CIC, professor of health policy in nursing, Columbia University, New York

--Dallas Taylor, BSN, RN, director of nursing, Eliza Bryant Village, Ohio

The Mitre Corp. is a not-for-profit organization that manages federally funded research and development centers supporting several U.S. government agencies.

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