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Good for the Goose…

Imagine if Emeritus CEO, Granger Cobb, would have said, “I am 100% confident in the training, care and services that we provide.  That is precisely why my own mother lives in this community.”

  • A follow-up commentary on the PBS Expose of Emeritus and Assisted Living

Last week, officials at the IRS proposed changes that would exempt themselves from the new Affordable Care Act; the very law that they are now empowered to enact and enforce.  Make sense?  The law is apparently good enough for the goose, but the gander want no part of it.  In fact, in testimony to Congress last week, acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel, said exactly that.  Quoting, “…I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”    Uh huh.  Builds your confidence, doesn’t it?

Let’s go into an alternate universe for a moment.  What if Mr. Werfel pledged to be the first person, and his family – the first – to be subjected to the rules and provisions of the Affordable Care Act?  Furthermore, that each employee of the agency, charged with its implementation, would be subject to the Act before any other citizen.  Hmmm…OK, then.  Better.

The analogy is sound, isn’t it?  If every CEO of every senior living and healthcare company would have the confidence and certainty in his or her company’s training, systems, policies and staff so as to have their own family members living in the communities over which they have charge; how much more confidence would the public have in their communities?  How much stronger would Emeritus’ position have been in the recent PBS expose, if each of their corporate team would have said the same?  Hmmm…OK then.  Better.  Much better.

I know, I know…how naïve of me.  How silly a concept:  to have the leaders of companies, industry and government, be willingly subjected to the very policies, rules and services from which they make their living.  Well, that would require earnest belief in what was being sold.  That would require truth, integrity, and the courage of one’s convictions.  It would require the knowledge – the surety – that those very convictions and beliefs were being lived out at every level of one’s company, or agency.

Last week, PBS aired an expose on several disturbing incidents at Emeritus communities.  Like many of you, I watched, waited and desperately wanted for that moment when I could say, “Ah ha! See there?!  ‘That’ counters your biased claims!  ‘That’ speaks volumes of truth that drown out the accusations and insinuations!”  But “that” moment never came.  I don’t know where Mr. Cobb’s family resides.  Nor where most of our industry captains’ families reside.  That is absolutely a private and very personal choice.  We absolutely have no right to that information.  But I do know that Bill Gates uses Windows.  I know that Richard Branson flies on Virgin Atlantic.  So do their employees and their customers.  That knowledge speaks volumes about their belief in their product.  That gives testimony to the conviction of their services.

“Hello, my name is Naïve, and I was just wondering…where does your family live?”

  1. Ann CatlinAnn Catlin08-05-2013

    Hello Mr. Naïve,
    I have worked in a couple of SNF where the administrator’s parent was a resident. These were not facilities mired in corporate influence. At least not a huge corporation like Emeritus. I once attended a powerful presentation by a gentleman– I don’t recall his name– who had been an administrator of a SNF. He had a terrible car accident where his wife died and he and his teenage son were seriously injured. He and the son came to his own facility to receive rehab. and care. He spoke of what it was like making that decision. It would have been easier for him to go where nobody knew him but he realized what kind of message that would give his staff. He decided to believe in the skill and heart of his very own care team and, literally, put himself in their hands. I have never forgotten this man and his example.

  2. Fay TaylorFay Taylor08-05-2013

    If Mr. Cobb had shared that a family member lived in an Emeritus community chances are it would have been edited out. Emeritus did offer to have the producers speak with families, other than the ones with the tragic experiences. They were not interested. This is a no-win situation. One side believes that everything Frontline presented was the truth and the other side feels betrayed that such an biased story was presented. Let’s all move on and work to improve this wonderful industry.

    • Ann CatlinAnn Catlin08-06-2013

      We all must remember that anything produced for TV is made to sell their product. I haven’t seen the Frontline episode and likely won’t. So many things produced for public view on TV is designed to get a rise out of people. Sounds like they succeeded. I say let’s focus on the real issue at hand- how to do as right by our elders as possible.

  3. Charles MoralesCharles Morales08-05-2013

    With all respect,
    Lately all I hear is let’s move on. I guess I am hopelessly and seemingly never going to fit in this corporate world. I think I must be way too radical too expect change and drastic change. When I hear lets all just move on and work together I get weary. I have a suggestion for some. Why not admit that what we are doing just isn’t working. You see, I am all about foundation and if you don’t fix the foundation you will forever be looking over your shoulder as you know crumble is about to happen. What does your foundation look like. Is it solid so that it can withstand even the toughest storms. Storms will come but are you ready. You see the crack in your foundation but it only gets patched. Patches aren’t going to work anymore.
    If I were a CEO I would sit everyone down and inspect the foundation. I would analyze the team to see if they are great builders. I would ensure that everyone involved had the same commitment. Commitment. That’s an interesting word. Commitment to the mission goals and values. Commitment to the culture you are trying to establish. Commitment to culture being everyone’s DNA. Oh well, I guess that type of action would stress the organization a little too much. Don’t worry about the foundation. It’ll be okay. A little patch here and there and we can move on.

  4. Carolyn JacksonCarolyn Jackson08-12-2013

    Naïve- You and I are in the same boat. I believe if we say we care about senior, then we should own up to this conviction. It should not be lip services. According to few friends that still work for Emeritus, Granger Cobb was not given the chance to respond to the all allegations after the story was published. We don’t know how the story was, or if it was spliced-together. I know it looks bad for Emeritus- and I truly believe that was the point in the story. It almost looks as though it was an inside job. Someone pissed off (excuse this graphic language for a Granny) the wrong person, and this person happened to have a friend at PBS. I once worked for the Emeritus company and I don’t share the opinion of the employees I the PBS story, again my difference with Emeritus is philosophical. Frontline did a disservice to Assisted Living and Emeritus. I hope something good comes out of this tragic situation, for the families and the industry.

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