Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Oh, The Places You'll Go

LeadingAge NC shared a leadership lesson that I enjoyed and customized to LSC. I know you will enjoy, and you might want to finds ways to share with all of LSC:


“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go,” wrote Dr. Seuss in Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

Every LSC teammate is a leader.  You are in charge of your life, your dreams, your goals, your destiny. You build your skills; you define your talents. LSC and the residents and clients for whom you care rely on you. What is the next step in your professional growth? When are you going to take that step? What additional skills, training, or resources do you need?  I hope that growth and development is within LSC, but if you decide to go off and conquer the world, we will support you in that too!  Where do you want to go?!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Trying to be proactive and transparent.  Lutheran Services Carolinas has, since this letter, had two teammates test positive for Covid.  They are not working, being treated at home, and further testing shows that no residents/clients have been infected.  Thank you all for your prayers!

April 15, 2020

Dear LSC Family,

     Lutheran Services Carolinas nursing homes, assisted and independent living communities, group homes, and other health and human services are still free of COVID-19 as of this moment. We all are prepared for that to change, since so many people have it and it is so easily spread, especially in congregate housing.

     So far, LSC has had COVID-19-type symptoms or suspicions in all of our senior services communities, but no positive tests. Last week at Clemmons and Salisbury, we tested a total of 30 residents and teammates. All tests were negative, thank God!

     LSC’s over 2,000 teammates are working hard and selflessly to keep our residents and clients safe. God bless and protect each and every one of you!

     I also want to lift up the unsung, invisible infrastructure that is supporting our resident/clients and front-line heroes! Our administrative teams are serving on state-level committees, participating in daily conference calls, and then implementing changes. Daily changes are difficult to manage, but the LSC family is being forgiving and understanding.

     Behind our administrative team is a strong wall of government and professional associations who are gathering all the disparate information and feeding it to us. The Centers for Disease Control and our NC Department of Health and Human Services have been true public servants.

     We could not do this work without our professional associations. American Health Care Association, North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association, LeadingAge, LeadingAgeNC, Benchmarks, and Palmetto Association for Children and Families have all worked hard to get us providers the information we need to do our work.

      Lastly, thank you all again for your prayers and support as we face the greatest threat to our residents and clients in modern history. And please remember, social distance and stay safe!

Yours in Christ,

Ted W. Goins, Jr.

President and CEO

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Stop Sign Abused

The federal government has started using a red stop sign on the national nursing home website, if inspectors cite abuse.  The stop sign might mean a health care community has a problem, or it might mean you should stop even reading the national nursing home website. 

Recently, a top flight community had an incident.  A nursing assistant was accused of being rough transferring a resident from one chair to another.  Even though there was a difference of opinion about whether it was rough or that the resident was struggling, making the transfer difficult, out of an abundance of caution the nursing assistant was terminated.  The community immediately reported the incident to the appropriate government agency.  The agency responded that they were not going to investigate further.  

Six months later during an inspection, the inspectors reviewed the incident and fined the community approximately $100,000 for abuse.  Their rationale was that they have a zero tolerance for abuse, so any abuse must be penalized.  Lutheran Services Carolinas and every other health care organization had a zero tolerance for abuse before the government did. The person was immediately terminated and reported.  Events will happen, but how health care providers address an event is the test.  What more can an honest provider do?  The broken federal system is running good communities and good people away; do we want to leave our elders in the hands of who’s left?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Nursing Home Clarification

WCNC published a story about seven Charlotte area nursing homes on 2-11-20. Unwittingly, WCNC shared just part of the story.

The federal government system for inspecting and reporting on nursing homes is flawed,inaccurate, and antequated. The government recently added a stop sign to its system, which purports to warn people about nursing homes where abuse occurs. And the government definition and guidance on abuse is byzantine.

While the nursing homes noted may have had problems, they could also be among the best. If a rogue employee neglected or verbally abused a resident and the nursing home immediately fired the employee, the nursing home would still be cited for the abuse, and would have received a "red stop light." In all fairness, it is possible that a nursing home did not take appropriate action and should be punished.

There is no substitute for being actively involved in your community nursing home. If your friends are there, if you visit there regularly, you'll know where you and your family will want to go if and when the need arises. And the need will arise. Go visit your local nursing home this week!

One cannot reduce a person to a sheet of paper, and one cannot reduce a nursing home, a health care community, to a piece of paper. The old saying is "seeing is believing," not "reading is believing." Please don't believe everything you read.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Orpha Shuford. Well done, good and faithful servant.

We lost Orpha Shuford this week. Mrs. Shuford worked at Trinity Village, the Lutheran Home in Hickory, NC, for most of her 50-year nursing career. Mrs. Shuford was a saint! Wife of a Lutheran minister, Mrs. Shuford's ministry was seniors. She ministered to the people who called Trinity Village home. She was professional, quiet, kind, and always at work! Mrs. Shuford died with week at the age of 96, living where she served so diligently, at Trinity Village. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Nursing Home Over-Regulation and Solution

Complaining is a job, problem solving is a vocation. I have always appreciated people who don’t just complain, but come with a plan to fix the problem. That gets harder the bigger the issue, the less control we have. Our current politics and societal changes come to mind.

Recently, I found myself once again railing at the overwhelming issues health care professionals face due in large part to over-regulation. Our national nursing home regulatory process costs millions and doesn’t work. We are regulating nursing homes as we have since the 1970s and just continue to pile on more regulations and more penalties and more paper, but we are not getting the return in quality and cost efficiency our parents, our nation’s senior’s, deserve.

I’d like to offer a solution, not just a complaint. In this age of technology, our federal government is spending millions of dollars a year to drive 4-5 or more inspectors to every nursing home in the United States for 3-5 days every year, or more often. Think of the salaries, the mileage, the hotels and meals. Then add the administrative costs, the teams that inspect the inspectors, and the people who go out and inspect when a complaint is lodged. The government is spending millions of all of our tax dollars, health care professionals aren’t providing care because they are responding to inspectors, and quality is not much affected.

This failed system is not the inspectors’ fault. By and large I have found inspectors to be dedicated public servants, they are just working in a broken system.

There’s a better, simpler, cheaper way than the current broken system. Nursing homes can be monitored through technology, inspections of high performing nursing homes could be curtailed so more time could be spent with true under-performers who need it, all nursing homes can be routinely monitored through current technology, the complaint process could be improved, inspectors can become collaborative consultants, not just inspectors. Quality could go up, and cost go down. How many times do taxpayers get an opportunity like that? Instead, our country continues to live by the quote from Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Refugee Defined

Language matters. As we discuss refugee and immigration issues with people on both ends of the political spectrum, it is clear that language divides. We have not done a good enough job educating people on the simple definitions of a refugee, immigrant, and asylees.

A refugee is a person who has had to flee her/his country of origin out of fear of persecution or death. I have started to use the term legal refugee. Legal refugees are people who have been extreme-vetted, generally wait years in a refugee camp in a third country, and then are invited by the United States government to come live in the United States. Non-legal refugees could slip into the US, but that doesn’t happen often as it’s too difficult to get to the United States. A good example of non-legal refugees would be the boat-loads of Syrian refugees making their way uninvited across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. I would still categorize non-legal refugees as illegal immigrants.

An immigrant is someone who has chosen to leave her/his country of origin for economic and other reasons. Legal immigrants are those who have applied to the United States and been granted permission to enter the country. An illegal immigrant is someone who has entered the U.S. without that permission, or who overstayed their time if here on a time-limited status. A 2017 study estimates that 42% of the illegal immigrants, 4.5 million people, are here because they have overstayed their expired visa!

Asylees are people who have entered the U.S. or arrived at a port of entry and requested asylum to escape persecution or death in their country of origin. Chinese people account for the most asylees in the U.S., followed by El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, Mexico, India, Nepal….

When Lutheran Services Carolinas talks about serving legal refugees, and advocating for legal immigrants to fill jobs when there are no Americans to fill them, I have heard no opposition save the most extreme. Language matters.