By the time you read this article, we’ll be nearing the midway point of the 2018 legislative session. FHCA hit the ground running in 2018. A January session always means an accelerated start to our legislative advocacy, although if you’ve been following our issues you probably feel like activity with our state and federal legislators, along with the administration and our regulatory agencies, never really comes to a stop.
The past year was extremely busy with all of us dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, generator rules, federal regulations and the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). I can honestly say I can’t remember a time in all the years I’ve been a member of FHCA that I’ve seen so many issues surface at once. Year after year you hear many of us on the Board preach about the importance of being engaged and involved. This year is no different. In fact, your involvement is even more critical, because if you read Emmett Reed’s column you know that we’re not only working our legislative agenda, we’re also fighting back against proposed Constitutional amendments. One such proposal – Proposal 88 – claims to be about resident quality care; yet, it’s merely a ploy by trial lawyers looking to profit from increased lawsuits against our centers. The Constitution Revision Commission only meets every 20 years, so decisions this body makes could have a significant impact on our future resources and the way long term care is delivered.
We’ve all become accustomed to FHCA’s Lobby Wednesdays and making our annual trek to Tallahassee to meet with our legislators. I’m always impressed by the more than 500 members who have made a commitment to this cause every year. But this year there is so much more we can do – more boots on the ground, if you will.
In February, the Constitution Revision Commission will hit the road and hold meetings in five cities to gather public input about the proposals they’re considering. This is our chance, your chance, to have your voice heard. The CRC will meet in Ft. Lauderdale, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Pensacola and St. Petersburg, and if you’re in the area, I encourage you to make a point to be there.
Unfortunately, Proposal 88 brings people out of the woodwork who have nothing positive to say about our profession or the caregivers who work hard to deliver exceptional care and services every day. They’re painting nursing homes with a broad brush of poor quality, ignoring the quality improvement data, awards and achievements and staff and resident testimonials that has been put before them.
We must remain vigilant in spreading the message about quality, what it means for our residents and what it has meant for this profession. Over the past 20 years, Florida’s nursing centers have made significant strides. Sadly, that does not get reported in the press, so we need a grassroots approach to share our stories. Please make plans to attend these public meetings and share your stories about quality care; they will go far to emphasize why a punitive, expanded lawsuit approach is not the answer to keeping our residents safe. Rather, the answer comes from the higher standards we have and continue to place on ourselves, from the improved training we give our staff and the better dialogue we have with our residents, our families and the entire interdisciplinary team to ensure the care we deliver is resident-focused. Caregivers have and will continue to make the difference in the lives of our residents, and we don’t need a Constitutional amendment to tell us that.
FHCA Pulse goes digital
This year, FHCA is also taking a new approach in how we deliver those messages of quality. Your Pulse newsletter is going digital, giving you the same great articles in a format that you can read on the go or share with your friends if you’re active on Facebook or other social networks. While I am a self-described old school administrator (you may recall my previous articles about my administrator’s manual), I’m excited for the online journey that the Association is embarking on.
If you visit FHCA’s Facebook page, you can see the videos, pictures and graphics the Association posts to highlight the quality in our member centers. A digital Pulse will be another great way for us to share information and positive stories beyond our members and existing long term care stakeholders. We can use these articles and stories to connect with potential employees, customers and business partners. We can show our knowledge and expertise and highlight quality to a much broader audience…and that’s important in a time when the traditional media seems to be so focused on the negative.
Being engaged with Florida Health Care Association these days involves so much more than attending a meeting. It means grassroots on the frontline, outreach to your friends and followers and standing up for each other in the face of adversity. We’re full speed at FHCA, and we need you to hop on the train. With much to do to protect and promote our profession these days, there’s no time to sit back and rest.