Restoring reputations: Crisis management for skilled nursing facilities

Restoring reputations: Crisis management for skilled nursing facilities

Restoring reputations: Crisis management for skilled nursing facilities

The Challenge
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading skilled nursing network became swept up in a swirl of intense media interest and regulatory scrutiny after one of its facilities suffered a cluster of fatalities, which at the time was the most COVID-19 nursing home deaths in Illinois.

The company’s slow, uneven responses to requests for comment was creating a vacuum being filled by speculation from patients and family, newsrooms and public officials, all of whom were eager to point fingers at the company.

Our Approach
To get ahead of the crisis operationally and clinically, Culloton +Bauer Luce brought in a noted infectious disease control expert and a renowned gerontologist to lead a system-wide task force and to communicate to media, elected officials, staff, patients and families that the company was in control.

We instituted a crisis communications war room, with twice-daily crisis team calls to assess the company’s operational response to emerging issues and to ensure responsiveness to the intense media interest from local and national media.

After announcing the task force formation, CBL quickly coordinated a virtual media tour for the task force co-chair to explain the company’s plan and to appeal for more government resources for nursing homes.

CBL also increased communications with elected officials, patients and families. We drafted a letter on behalf of the company CEO to the Illinois Governor and other elected officials, detailing a timeline of the company’s pandemic response while highlighting the challenges faced by nursing homes because of the lack of a clear national strategy. The company also began issuing regular email and text communications to families, and the infectious disease expert posted frequent video updates about the task force’s work.

We continued to issue operational updates over the spring and summer, including a “hot spot” testing squad to infiltrate facilities where outbreaks were suspected, further reinforcing the company’s proactive approach to managing the pandemic, and we fended off inquiries about a potential strike by Certified Nursing Assistants.

By mid-summer, we announced patient recoveries, including a critical milestone that the facility that originally had experienced the highest nursing home COVID-19 fatality rate in Illinois had recovered with no patients testing positive for COVID-19.

Impactful Results
With CBL’s intervention, the narrative changed from a company in free-falling crisis to a company meeting the pandemic head-on. As a result:

  • Patient referrals increased 44.9%
  • Newsweek named two of the company’s facilities in its “Best Nursing Homes of 2021” rankings.
  • A leading pharmaceutical manufacturer asked the company to enlist in a national study of a potentially life-saving COVID-19 treatment designed for nursing home patients. Not only had the company turned around its own crisis, it was now being positioned to help save lives across the country.

 

Client Testimonial

Having faced as many challenges as we have over the last few months, knowing that you guys have our back makes those moments conquerable. I feel blessed everyday to have you part of our team.

Clients in the News – 1/12/2016

Clients in the News – 1/12/2016

Franciscan St. James Health: 

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Franciscan St. James Health is expanding its outpatient care center in Chicago Heights, and relocating its inpatient care to Olympia Fields to match patients’ needs: 

“Franciscan CEO Arnie Kimmel plans to move inpatient care to the Olympia Fields campus about 5 miles away and expand that facility. Franciscan also plans to expand its outpatient center in Chicago Heights, less than 2 miles from the hospital in that community.”

Read Complete Article: 

Crain’s Chicago Business, “Franciscan St. James asks state to close Chicago Heights hospital,” January 14, 2015 

 

Clients in the News – 1/10/2016

Franciscan St. James Health:  

The Chicago Tribune reports that Franciscan St. James is investing $137 million into the Southland with plans to shift ER to near-by Olympia Fields location:

“Hospital CEO, Arnie Kimmel, said there are plans to reinvest in the Chicago Heights campus with medical offices offering expanded primary care as well as new community services and development. An urgent care facility at 211 Dixie Highway in the city would be expanded to include 24/7 care, and there would be improved access to primary care physicians and shorter wait times for treatment. 

Meanwhile, Olympia Fields campus upgrades will include expanding the emergency department, the development of obstetrics and physical rehabilitation programs, and expansion of bed capacity, with all of the rooms being private rooms. Overall, it’s a $137 million investment in the Southland, according to Kimmel.”

Read Complete Article: 

Chicago Tribune, “Hospital’s plans to shift ER,” January 10, 2016