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AHCA, NCAL Release Statement on Vaccine Mandate Injunction <p>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have released the following statement regarding the United States District Court in the Western District of Louisiana issuing a nationwide injunction on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. <br></p><p>The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL president and chief executive officer. <br></p><p>“We appreciate the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Louisiana issuing this injunction. We have always supported vaccinating as many residents and staff as possible. However, we are deeply concerned that the current mandate issued by CMS will cause nursing homes to lose staff at a time when we are already grappling with a historic labor crisis,” Parkinson said.</p><p>“We continue to urge CMS to allow a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff and, therefore, support any legal remedy or CMS action that would bring about this solution.” <br></p><p>There are currently four active cases regarding the CMS interim final rule staff vaccine mandate&#58; the Louisiana litigation, which was filed by a 14-state group, the Missouri litigation filed by 10 states, and individual cases filed by the states of Florida and Texas. Florida’s request for a preliminary injunction was denied by the District Court last week and is being appealed. A hearing in the Texas case is scheduled for Dec. 2.</p><p>While the interim final rule is, as of Dec. 1, prevented in all states from going into effect, Medicare providers should continue to prepare to have policies and procedures ready so that if the government’s arguments prevail, they can be quickly implemented, AHCA/NCAL said. As employers, providers should consider what policy they want to have in place until a government mandate requires it, which is not certain, the association said.<br></p>2021-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0220_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;PolicyJoanne EricksonAssociation supports vaccination for nursing homes, but fears critical loss of staff members under current mandate.
Roy Christensen, A Man For The Ages<p>Roy Christensen, a major innovator and 58-year veteran in the long term care profession, died peacefully on Nov. 11, 2021, at the age of 87.</p><p>Christensen, along with his son, Christopher, founded the health care company Ensign Group Inc. in 1999, and he served as a member and chairman of its Board of Directors until 2019, when he became chairman emeritus and director. Ensign Group Inc. is the parent company of the Ensign group of 245 companies that invest in and provide skilled nursing, senior living, and rehabilitative care services in 12+ states.</p><p>“It’s difficult to sum up the influence Roy had on our industry and the little company we started 22 years ago,” said Christopher Christensen, Ensign’s executive chairman. “He truly was a pioneer and a visionary who has impacted so many that knew him and even more that did not.”</p><p>At the core of Ensign’s vision was achieving a culture of leadership and values in individual facilities that would better serve patients and their families, Christopher said. His father was “especially honored when he talked about all of the thousands of co-founders and heroes that strive every day to carry out this collective mission,” he said. “Words can’t describe how much he was loved and will be missed.”</p><p>Barry Port, Ensign’s chief executive officer (CEO), added, “Roy once told me that his involvement in helping to form this Ensign family was one of the crowning achievements of his entire life. Roy’s place in the culture of Ensign is irreplaceable, but our entire company is joined together in our determination to honor his legacy.”</p><p>Prior to founding Ensign, Christensen was founder and chairman of Beverly Enterprises in 1963, which grew to be the largest nursing home company in the country, with more than 1,000 facilities. He also served as chairman and CEO of GranCare, which later merged into Mariner Post-Acute Network. In 1994 he founded Covenant Care, another successful long term care company.</p><p>In the course of his long career, Christensen also taught at Brigham Young University and served as a member of President Nixon’s Advisory Task Force on Medicare and Medicaid. He spent four years as a member of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare’s Advisory Task Force.</p><p>“Roy Christensen was an absolute giant in the long term care industry,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living. “In developing Ensign with Christopher, he proved that a very large company can provide exceptional care to residents and create phenomenal jobs for employees. The lessons of Ensign will survive for many years.”<br></p>2021-11-22T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/Roy%20Chirstensen%20head%20shot.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />ManagementJoanne EricksonAn eminent entrepreneur in long term care is remembered for the gift he left behind.
AHCA/NCAL COVID-19 Honors Program Celebrates Caregivers<p></p><p>Beginning in March 2020, COVID-19 swept through long term care facilities almost overnight. Facility leadership and staff were faced with unprecedented challenges. Not even proven existing emergency preparedness and infection prevention plans could contain this new and unknown virus.</p><p>Despite all of the unimaginable challenges brought on by the pandemic, long term care staff across the country have shown incredible determination and dedication to the residents they care for every day.</p><h2>An Idea is B​orn</h2><p>On Nov. 12, 2020, after hearing about various Veterans Day celebrations that had taken place the day before, Stacy Cromer, divisional director of operations at Life Care Centers of America, recognized a resemblance between these veterans and long term care workers.</p><p><img class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="Stacy Cromer" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/Stacy%20Cromer-%20CHP.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px 15px;width&#58;135px;height&#58;189px;" />“I felt we were also in the middle of a COVID war.&#160;A war just as bad, only we couldn't see it, and our staff really needed to be celebrated as well.&#160;Life Care did a great job celebrating folks; however, I wanted it bigger than Life Care, bigger than a state would do,&quot; Cromer recalls.</p><p>This prompted her to reach out to Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) with the idea of a national recognition program. Fully supportive of such an initiative, Parkinson and AHCA/NCAL set out to create and execute something meaningful for the long term care sector.</p><p>In March 2021, AHCA/NCAL launched the COVID-19 Honors Program (CHP) for long term care facilities to recognize their heroic staff who demonstrated strength and co urage in the face of COVID-19.<br>Program merchandise included a pin for individuals who work in a long term care facility that experienced a COVID outbreak, a medal for staff who contracted COVID-19 and survived, and a medal to the families of those staff members who passed away from the virus.</p><h2>Providers Embrace Program</h2><p>National HealthCare Corp. (NHC) placed the largest order for all of its 75 skilled nursing centers, 25 assisted living communities, five independent living communities, and 35 home care agencies, totaling nearly 15,000 employees across 10 states.</p><p>Denise Alvis of NHC who placed the order notes, “As a member of AHCA/NCAL, we embraced the opportunity to recognize our health care heroes through the CHP. Each of our locations hosted a unique ceremony to recognize each staff member's commitment to our patients and each other throughout the pandemic. Staff had the opportunity to share personal experiences of hope and loss.</p><p>“Recognizing the teamwork and individual efforts of our NHC staff was a special way to help boost morale as we move forward,&quot; she says.</p><h2>'Staff Wear Them Every Day'</h2><p>Christopher House, an independent nonprofit skilled nursing center in Worcester, Mass., opted not to hold a ceremony. Instead, each department manager or supervisor handed a pin to each staff member individually to thank them personally for their service.</p><p>“Staff still wear them every day, and we give them to new employees. It's still a pandemic, and they're still facing the challenges of COVID-19,&quot; says Sandra Mahoney, Christopher House administrator. “People were touched and felt appreciated by the gift. They see it as a true recognition.&quot;</p><p>Since its unveiling, the program has been met with overwhelming success. AHCA/NCAL has received numerous messages from participating facilities that the program has helped lift spirits and assured staff that they are truly valued.</p><p>The program will conclude at the end of December 2021. However, facilities are encouraged to continue honoring staff and conveying appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices they make every single day.</p><p><em>Natalie Visnick is senior manager of Public Affairs for the American Health Care Association.​</em><br></p><p>​</p>2021-11-17T05:00:00Z<img alt="" height="740" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/Medal_survivor.jpg" width="740" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingNatalie VisnickAcross the country, long term care facilities recognize their heroic staff who demonstrate strength and courage in the face of the pandemic.
Unfunded Nursing Home Mandates in 'Build Back Better Act' Will Worsen Historic Staffing Crisis<p>The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) said that two provisions in the <a href="https&#58;//">Build Back Better Act</a> (HR 5376) will have a devastating impact on nursing homes and could force thousands more facilities to further limit admissions or possibly close their doors.</p><p>The provisions, one that would require nursing homes to have a registered nurse (RN) on-staff 24 hours a day and another that would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study on minimum staffing ratios and implement the regulations within one year, are unfunded mandates that, conservatively, would cost the nursing homes industry billions of dollars a year and require hiring more than 150,000 new caregivers.</p><p>“We strongly support having an RN on staff in nursing homes 24 hours a day, as we originally proposed in our <a href="https&#58;//">reform agenda </a>earlier this year. However, <a href="https&#58;//">current data</a> show that nursing homes are facing the worst job loss among all health care providers. We’ve lost 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic, and recovery is a long way away,” said AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Parkinson.</p><p>“Nursing home providers are doing all they can to attract and retain new workers, but the applicants simply aren’t there. The provisions in this bill do nothing to help us strengthen our workforce and will only force thousands of nursing homes to further limit the number of residents they can serve,” he said.</p><p>AHCA/NCAL estimates that if the HHS study found that nursing homes need to increase clinical and direct care staff by 25 percent, it would require hiring more than 150,000 RNs, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and certified nurse assistants (CNAs), costing $10.7 billion per year.</p><p>Current requirements mandate that nursing homes have an RN on staff eight hours a day. Under the proposed mandate in the legislation, AHCA/NCAL estimates it would require hiring 21,000 more nurses, costing $2.5 billion a year.</p><p>Phil Fogg, president and CEO of Marquis Companies, who operates more than 20 long term care facilities in California, Nevada, and Oregon, said if Congress enacts these provisions without the necessary resources and recruitment programs, it could have a devastating impact on nursing homes and the residents they serve across the country.</p><p>“The workforce and economic crisis long term care providers are already experiencing is unprecedented. Lack of qualified workers is forcing providers to limit their admissions and, in some cases, close their doors permanently. Providers simply cannot attract more caregivers to our profession and meet the requirements of these mandates without financial support from Congress,” said Fogg, who is also the chair of the AHCA Board of Governors.</p><p>&quot;We all share a common goal, and that is to strengthen our workforce and provide the best possible care for our residents,” said Len Russ, operator and administrator of Bayberry Care Center in New Rochelle, N.Y. “But these unfunded mandates could further exacerbate the challenges we face and ultimately limit access to care for millions. </p><p>“We are eager to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers to find meaningful solutions that will ensure seniors continue to receive the highest quality care and caregivers have access to good-paying, rewarding jobs.&quot;<br></p>2021-11-17T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/capitol_blue_skies_flag.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Policy;WorkforceJoanne EricksonBill could force thousands of struggling nursing homes to further limit access to care to millions of seniors.



Treating Trees as Medicine in a World of Lockdowns Trees as Medicine in a World of Lockdowns<p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/Masonic-Campus-Photos-90.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:300px;height:194px;" />​March 2020 is a time that no one will soon forget. The fundamental way people lived their lives changed overnight, as all across the world people collectively went into lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As people were urged to stay home, particular caution and care were afforded to those who were deemed especially susceptible to the virus: the immunocompromised, frontline workers, and, of course, the elderly. <br></p><p>Health care facilities reacted swiftly to lockdown and secure their campuses in a conscious effort to protect their vulnerable populations. Nursing homes and assisted living communities have had a challenging time during the pandemic, as these facilities rely on a consistent flow of volunteers and family members visiting the residents.</p><p>Suddenly the residents found themselves cut off from the rest of the world, and these facilities had to find ways to help them adapt. They had to work to find new ways to keep their residents’ minds engaged and uplifted throughout the lockdown. </p><p>Masonic Homes Kentucky’s Louisville Campus turned to an unexpected outlet of healing and comfort during this time: Trees.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">About Masonic Homes’ 82-Acre Arboretum</h3><p><span><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/Masonic-Campus-Photos-311.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:150px;height:225px;" /></span>Trees and the green spaces the trees create play a massive role in the landscape for Masonic Homes Kentucky. In particular, the Louisville Campus was designed in 1927 by renowned landscape architectural firm, The Olmsted Brothers.</p><p>It was established by the sons of the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who is best known for his work in designing the grounds of New York City’s Central Park, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. </p><p>“Masonic has taken great care and consideration to preserve elements of the original design and to replicate it whenever possible,” says J Scott Judy, chief executive officer, Masonic Homes Kentucky.</p><p>“One of the many beauties of Kentucky is the changing of its seasons. Masonic’s parklike setting offers four miles of paved walking paths that intertwine the historic and the contemporary community buildings.”</p><p>The Masonic Homes Kentucky community hires certified professional grounds staff who are responsible for all of its three campuses, each with its own unique landscape. These professionals understand trees and green landscapes as an investment in the well-being of the residents and staff of the communities. </p><p>In addition, the Louisville Campus will soon add walking paths that will line the campus to help encourage employees and residents alike to spend more time outside.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">Recognized By Arbor Day</h3><p>Masonic Home Louisville is recognized as a Tree Campus Healthcare facility to highlight its dedication to trees and nature. Tree Campus Healthcare is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation, the world’s largest membership nonprofit dedicated to planting trees.</p><p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/Masonic-Campus-Photos-99.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:199px;height:299px;" />Launched in 2019, Tree Campus Healthcare is one of the newest recognition programs from the Arbor Day Foundation that aims to recognize any health care facility purposefully using trees and green spaces to promote good health and well-being for its employees and occupants.</p><p>For Masonic Home Louisville, its designation as a Tree Campus Healthcare facility serves as an opportunity to remind its leadership to continue investing in these types of greening projects and as a general reminder for everyone of the close relationship nature can have for the care and healing of residents. <br></p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">The Healing Benefits of Trees</h3><p>Trees can help more than just the environment; they help with human health. Research shows that patient recovery improves when there is interaction and incorporation of green spaces, gardens, and parks. Natural areas help patients reduce stress, help restore physical health, and shorten the overall recovery process, according to R.S. Ulrich, reporting in Science magazine. <br></p><p>Spending time outside in hospital gardens is highly beneficial for the patient and additionally, hospital window views of natural scenes have been shown to reduce post-operative hospital stays. Having trees on a health care campus is a natural partnership. </p><p>“Outdoors is a respite for so many residents during the pandemic,” says Judy. “The vast grounds offered residents a safe sanctuary to enjoy fresh air, exercise, and beautiful scenery while allowing social distancing.”</p><p>To curb the risk of exposure during the pandemic, the facility decided to close its campus to all nonessential visitors. However, Masonic Home Louisville took a creative approach to share the beauty of its facility campus. It created a virtual landscape tour, which highlighted unique trees and interesting landscaping. The trees and green spaces served an essential purpose for the residents and staff: They provided hope during the lockdown.</p><p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/Masonic-Campus-Photos-July-2019-68.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:288px;height:197px;" />It is evident that trees are a priority for the Louisville Campus, but the community ultimately prides itself on its commitment to caring for its residents. Masonic Home Louisville is not only a Tree Campus Healthcare facility, but it is also part of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).</p><p>The facility enjoys being a member of the association because of the relationships cultivated and the resources provided. AHCA/NCAL’s values encouraged Masonic Homes Kentucky to rise above and beyond the regular standard of care for its residents, even if it means extra care routinely given to maintaining and cultivating the landscaping and greenery of the grounds. <br></p><p>Little did Masonic Home Lousiville know that this dedication and love of nature would provide a safe space, six feet apart.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">Make Trees a Priority </h3><p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/Village_Adams-Hall.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:277px;height:190px;" />More trees mean more benefits for everyone. Trees take care of the air, water, and wildlife everywhere they exist. Trees are considered the lungs of the earth because they take in carbon dioxide and release fresh oxygen. Trees help reduce urban runoff and the amount of sediment, pollutants, and organic matter that reach streams.</p><p>Planting trees is also a great way to encourage local biodiversity in urban communities. The list of good things trees accomplish can go on and on, but the message is the same: Trees deserve to be a higher priority on everyone’s list.</p><p>To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus Healthcare program, go to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. </p><p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/LoganDonahoo.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="Logan Donahoo" style="margin:5px;width:140px;height:140px;" />As program manager, Logan Donahoo leads the Tree Campus “family” of recognition programs at the Arbor Day Foundation, which includes Tree Campus Healthcare. In her role, she focuses on growing participation in each program, creation of resources for program participants, and cultivation of relationships with collaborating organizations and networks. Donahoo can be reached at <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p><br></p>March 2020 is a time that no one will soon forget. The fundamental way people lived their lives changed overnight.2021-11-30T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2021/700_3576.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />COVID-19;CaregivingLogan Donahoo

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