MedBest Speaks With Well-Known Interim NHA on How Covid Has Changed Senior Living
Recently, our Interim Talent Solutions Team had the opportunity to ask Dennis D.,
Interim Nursing Home Administrator with MedBest, his thoughts on how COVID
has changed the Senior Living Industry.
How has COVID affected your job as an Interim NHA?
Serving in a leadership capacity within Senior Living for 34 years, I thought I saw it all. Then, the pandemic hit. It’s nothing that we’ve ever seen or experienced before. Our job is to protect our residents at all costs; however, we just didn’t know much about the virus at first. Overnight, I had to become an Infection Preventionist in addition to my Interim Administrator job. I also saw a number of firsts…we had to shut down our building to visitors, we had new regulations coming in every day in droves, we had to wear PPE every day, and witnessed cases rise rapidly. In one building, cases went from 50 to 60 cases within 3 weeks. It was unnerving to see 10 to 12 ambulances lined up outside to take our residents to the hospital.
At the same time, I had a number of staff members leave due to the fear of working in our COVID unit. It was a very difficult time. That’s where cross-training came into play. I asked the remaining staff to learn other jobs quickly and they did a great job of covering all the bases.
I also want to add that in the last 9 months, we’ve learned so much about this virus and how to prevent it. Today, I don’t fear COVID, but respect it.
What technologies have been most helpful to you during COVID?
FaceTime and Zoom have been invaluable to us. We embraced this technology like never before. I established conference calls with families twice per week in order to provide updates on their loved ones and updates on new procedures and policies for our building. In addition, Telehealth proved to be an extremely helpful tool! Telehealth platforms help our residents to speak with physicians in real-time, which I believe, improves patient care and certainly reduces the number of unnecessary transports to the hospital. In addition, it’s cost-effective and has a positive impact on the morale of our staff, residents and their families.
What trends do you see in Senior Living due to COVID?
I think that the point of care, such as testing, will continue even after there’s a vaccine. Taking temperatures will probably become routine. I envision cross-training becoming an essential part of working in senior living. I see the industry and our facility using Zoom and FaceTime on a regular basis instead of face-to-face meetings and of course, to keep the families of residents updated. I also predict that telehealth will expand and continue being a vital tool to prevent unnecessary transports of residents to hospitals or physician appointments. Due to all these technologies, I think we’ll see a difference in time management. We’ll be able to do more in less time.
What do you believe are the qualities and traits of a successful Leader especially during this crisis?
-Keeping calm and in control
-Anticipate what could happen next
-Adapt to emerging situations
-Engage in open and honest communication
-Let those around you know you’re in it for the long haul. You will see them through the crisis
-Be willing to create partnerships even with your competitors to get through the worst
-Share “Best Practices” with your networks and associations and competitors. In my case, I especially found the Florida Health Care Association and other senior living organizations to be great resources for up-to-date information on how to handle the situation
What’s your best advice on how to retain top performers?
When we think of staff retention, many assume it comes down to pay. However, from my perspective as an Interim Nursing Home Administrator, it’s not about the money. Let me say that when I enter a new building, I see a lot of young people who are inexperienced and while there’s no shortcut to experience, we should provide mentoring and training.
Also, usually what employees want and look for in a job comes down to the culture and kindness in a building. Employees want to feel valued and have the ability to provide input and receive honest feedback. They like leaders who have an open-door policy and who lower the stress level in the workplace and create a positive environment.
Why do you like working with MedBest?
First, I like the quality of MedBest’s clients. Next, MedBest gives me the ability to select an assignment with regards to location, client, and expected length. Plus, I really like the support I receive from the interim team all the way up to Julie, the President. Also, can’t say enough about MedBest’s reputation in the industry!
MedBest is a national Executive Search Firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry established in 2001. We recruit and acquire exceptional senior care talent, permanent and interim executives, for all types of Senior Living Organizations and Communities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing Facilities.
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