Phil Fogg, chief executive officer, Marquis Companies, Milwaukie, Ore., and vice chair of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), offered his take on COVID and the pandemic’s impact on his organization, as well as other insights into the issues affecting long term and post-acute care providers this fall.

In an interview with Provider, Fogg answered the following questions:

Provider: Where does Marquis stand in the COVID battle? Are you confident in your processes and procedures to help prevent infection to the best ability possible?

Fogg: I believe that we are all doing better with preventing COVID in our buildings. The POC [point of care] testing solutions will add greatly to our efficacy. Having said that, community infection numbers/rates will remain our biggest risk until there is a vaccine. The virus can spread so quickly asymptomatically, even if you are the most diligent operator and testing routinely. 

Provider: How did the recent forest fires in Oregon impact your operations?

Fogg: The forest fires in Oregon put three of our communities into Level 2 evacuation status. We had not ever had more than one at a time at that status, so it did raise some logistical challenges. However, the team did great, and we were able to avoid full facility evacuations. The smoke and air quality subsequent to the fire containment was just as challenging and required an extra level of grit on top of managing COVID.
Provider: What have you learned during this pandemic as far as dealing with a crisis?

Fogg: We have dealt with a lot of crises over the last 31 years. So, dealing with this crisis itself was not too big of a deal. I think it is the duration of the crisis that is unique and requiring us to really focus on how to keep morale up for residents and staff. We have developed a lot of creative ways to do that, and it is helping, and we have had to use more social media, videos, and other nontraditional approaches to accomplish this.
Provider: Talk about your staff and how they have stepped up during these trying months.

Fogg: The staff are heroes. They have been there throughout the entire ordeal. They have put themselves at risk while demonstrating courage, grit, compassion, and a positive outlook.
Provider: What is the status of PPE [personal protective equipment], and have you found new ways to obtain and maintain PPE?

Fogg: PPE was very challenging in the beginning of the crisis thru May. It has gotten better since then. The biggest challenge has been managing consumption demand with federal/state mandates and/or a facility outbreak. We have also had to develop a new emergency PPE supply system so that we could more effectively deal with the demands/loads if an outbreak occurred.
Provider: Has technology played a key role in how you adapt to the pandemic and providing care for your residents?

Fogg: Yes! We immediately deployed a text alert system and linked web pages for our staff and families and used wireless technology to accommodate family communication and telemedicine. And, we also have used Microsoft Workflow to accommodate more efficiency in new processes around PPE and testing.