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Public Health Students Attend HCA Summit

Public Health Students Attend HCA Summit

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Official: Facilities face major challenges

By MONICA SPEES The Daily News 783-3246 | Posted 2 months ago

The president of the American Health Care Association said Tuesday that long-term care facilities’ focus on quality has evolved over the years into an issue of reimbursement.

Long-term care associates from across the state gathered at the Sloan Convention Center to hear AHCA President Mark Parkinson give his thoughts on where long-term care is headed.

Parkinson, a former Kansas governor, gave the opening remarks for the two-day Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities 2014 Quality Summit. His presentation, “How We Win,” focused on how long-term care facilities can operate and succeed in a changing health care environment.

Parkinson said “times are tough” because of the Medicaid rate, as well as payments for Medicare.

One issue that Parkinson said he has noticed specifically in Kentucky is tort exposure, or the increased costs of legal proceedings.

“I view it as just a really horrible problem,” Parkinson told the crowd of roughly 300.

Though long-term care facilities face challenges, Parkinson had a lot for the attendees to be excited about. Federal budget reductions dropping to the low billions and an aging population are a couple of things that will work in long-term care facilities’ favor, he said.

Parkinson said the method long-term care facilities can follow to “win” is threefold: offering cost and quality solutions, being a political/lobbying powerhouse and having a united and proactive voice.

Quality, the obvious and paramount issue at the summit, has changed as times have changed, Parkinson said.

“In the past, quality was something we did because it was the right thing to do. ... (Now) quality is a reimbursement issue,” he said.

If the government incentivizes certain behavior from long-term care facilities, such as having a low percentage of patients continually put back in the hospital, better quality will become more attainable. Because quality is what matters most to facility residents and their families, facilities should be doing everything they can to ensure they offer the best care they can.

“Your survival in the post-acute world will be to hit the metrics that the payers in your market believe are important,” Parkinson said.

AHCA has created a quality department and launched the Quality Initiative and National Quality Award program to focus more attention on the issue throughout the country, Parkinson said.

Parkinson emphasized that long-term care should have a strong political presence to accomplish its goals.

“We have to do this together,” he said. “Just being right on the issues should be enough, but it isn’t. ... If we focus on quality, if we focus on being politically strong and united, we can win this thing.”

Parkinson ended his presentation with a quote from Winston Churchill about writing one’s own history.

“I think the best news I can give you is that I believe we control our own destiny,” Parkinson said. “When we do all three of these things, our future will be written by us.”

Jonathan McGuire, administrator of Greenwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, said he thought Parkinson’s speech was a great discussion and was glad that the AHCA president mentioned issues with tort.

“That’s an area that really needs to be addressed,” McGuire said.

In his speech, Parkinson praised Kentucky for reducing anti-psychotic medication in long-term care facilities, and McGuire said that is something the state should be proud of. Working with physicians, residents and their families is a crucial part of providing satisfactory long-term care, McGuire said.

“There’s a great future ahead of us, especially if we stay focused on quality,” McGuire said.

Western Kentucky University students Jayme Pharis of Leitchfield and Dominique Collins of Louisville attended the quality summit as part of the university’s long-term care administration program. Pharis, who wants to go into assisted living work, said she thought Parkinson’s three points were important to remember and that she hopes to be vocal in the community and her future workplace to make a difference for the residents.

“If the community knows about you, they’re more willing to help you,” Pharis said. 

Parkinson also mentioned in his presentation that his mother-in-law is in one of his own facilities, which made an impression on Pharis.

“I think that’s something we in Bowling Green should strive for,” she said. “You shouldn’t have to send your own family somewhere else.”

Collins said the fact that Parkinson traveled to Kentucky to speak to the long-term care workers was what most impressed him.

“I feel that’s leading by example to take time and come here,” Collins said. “I think that’s the type of leader you want to model in this field.”

After Parkinson’s presentation, it was announced that KAHCF President Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky will retire June 30. Betsy Johnson of Lexington will replace her.

— Follow business reporter Monica Spees on Twitter at or visit

AHCA President Mark Parkinson

AHCA President Mark Parkinson

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