Parkinson, Former CMS Chief Agree: ‘Nightmare’ COVID-19 a Chance for Providers to Learn, Improve
While lamenting senior care’s lack of preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, two of the biggest U.S. long-term care health authorities agreed Tuesday that operators can still come out ahead when the carnage clears.
“We were completely unprepared for the first wave” of COVID-19, said Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association.
He explained that the insidious rates of asymptomatic transmission upon an unknowing nation were especially harmful. With more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths attributed to long-term care facilities, COVID-19 has been a “clinical nightmare and a business disaster.”
“Horrendous policy mistakes made at multiple levels created the challenges we had,” he added, referring specifically to lack of access to testing and personal protective equipment while speaking at the online annual meeting of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).
He was resolute, however, in that lessons have been learned, and that puts the industry and fellow caregivers in a much better position to contend with any future threats. In addition, possible vaccines are racing toward approval and the federal government also seems to have acknowledged the industry is an essential sector, delivering it billions of dollars in relief funding.
“People need our services. We have a growing demographic really exploding in the age group we take care of,” Parkinson said. “The demographics are compelling. We will win the public’s confidence back and this will be a good space to be in eventually.”
COVID-19 has been “a nightmare beyond any worst case scenario” but the overriding message is “we’re going to get through this,” he concluded.