Issue 15 | January 2021
LeadingAge Ohio is pleased to share with you our legislative newsletter - The Aging Advocate. This monthly publication is designed to communicate what's going on in the world of aging and give you a peek at LeadingAge Ohio's 400+ members around the state. 

Please continue to support frontline healthcare workers during this time as they work to keep everyone safe.
What's Inside?
  • Supporting affordable housing & adult day
  • McColley & Ginter honored
  • Dr. Weigand earns spotlight award
  • Bereavement campaign underway
  • And more!
Aging Happenings
Support of senior affordable housing by Governor DeWine commendable, adult day centers a continuing priority
Beginning in early February, vaccinations will begin in Ohio's senior affordable housing communities. This announcement by Governor DeWine earlier this week recognizes the frailty of many of the aging elders who reside in these settings, even while the state continues its efforts to encourage nursing home staff and residents in group 1A to opt in. LeadingAge Ohio commends Governor DeWine for his tireless work alongside providers to encourage residents and staff to opt in for the vaccine, and his continuing efforts to get the vaccine to those who need it most. 

LeadingAge Ohio has advocated heavily for the state to offer the vaccine to residents of senior affordable housing. A COVID case in one of these individuals can very quickly become life threatening to others in the community, similar to the spread of COVID in a nursing home or assisted living. Many of these individuals would be in a nursing home or other care setting if it weren’t for wavier programs such as PASSPORT and other home care options.  

While the support of affordable housing is commendable, it is also crucial that adult day centers have access to the vaccine and continuing support with testing. Adult day is a “last line defense” in many cases to individuals that otherwise would require a higher and more expensive level of care. The pandemic has had a profoundly negative effect on adult day providers, who struggle with burdensome regulations and serve a high-risk population in need of care. LeadingAge Ohio continues to work with the state to ensure that every option is explored to help these providers open their doors and serve.  
McColley and Ginter are 2020 LeadingAge Ohio Public Service Award honorees
The LeadingAge Ohio Public Service Award is bestowed as deserved to those legislators that emerge as leaders in the aging sector and show a commitment to taking on the issues most important to older adults and aging services providers in Ohio. The 2020 Public Service Awards were presented to Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem). 

A trusted voice on Capitol Square and a leader among his peers in the Ohio Senate, Senator McColley has drawn attention to the regulatory burden placed on health care providers, having undertaken efforts to streamline government functions. LeadingAge Ohio also recognizes Senator McColley’s willingness to work with Ohio long-term care providers to address workforce challenges and ensure access to crucial equipment and support, as well as his passion and concern for the caregivers and elders residing in his district and around the state.  

As former Chair of the House Aging and Long Term Care Committee and a leader among his peers at the Ohio House of Representatives, Representative Ginter has drawn attention to the needs of older Ohioans and the aging services providers who care for them. Representative Ginter’s vociferous efforts to advocate for elders, caregivers, families, and aging services providers are commendable, as are his understanding and compassion for the workforce challenges faced by Ohio long-term care providers.  
Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon)
Representative Tim Ginter (R-Salem)
Efforts of Dr. John Weigand earn Spotlight Award
In addition to Senator McColley and Representative Ginter, LeadingAge Ohio also honored John M. Weigand, President of Central Ohio Geriatrics and Chief Medical Officer at National Church Residences, who led a coalition that spearheaded testing efforts in long-term care throughout the pandemic. Dr. Weigand was the recipient of the 2020 LeadingAge Ohio Spotlight Award, which recognizes an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution through an innovative program or service that has positively impacted aging services.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Weigand emerged as a strong voice for the sector and quickly noted a need for a fast response to outbreaks in long-term care settings. Dr. Weigand gathered a team of organizations and volunteers to assist long-term care facilities in central Ohio who required testing. The result was the creation of the Post-Acute Regional Rapid Testing program (PARRT), which brought critical testing directly to affected nursing facilities and assisted living communities during the early months of the pandemic when testing capacity was unable to keep up with the need in long-term care. PARRT also filled an urgent need for expert consultation, guiding providers through steps to take when an outbreak was detected.

To date, PARRT has helped test over 48,000 residents and staff of Ohio long-term care and assisted living facilities. Dr. Weigand now helps lead the Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program (R3AP), the state's continuing testing and nursing home support program.
Campaign underway to connect struggling Ohioans to bereavement services
This winter, LeadingAge Ohio launched a new campaign to connect grieving Ohioans, including health care workers, to bereavement resources offered through its membership. The “It’s Ok to Grieve'' initiative will feature digital and social media messaging around the state highlighting resources for Ohioans who may be struggling with losses from COVID or other grief. 

Bereavement and grief counseling services can be an important support for any Ohioan who has experienced loss, hardship, or trauma, such as a front-line health care worker at a nursing home or hospital, or a small business owner forced to close their doors and face financial hardship and stress.

“COVID-19 has taken a tremendous toll on everyone this year, from health care workers on the front lines, to individuals who have lost loved ones or their livelihood,” said Kathryn Brod, President/CEO of LeadingAge Ohio. “The goal of this initiative is to connect Ohioans with bereavement services, to come alongside those who are struggling and offer meaningful support.”

Health care workers are especially at risk in dealing with stress and grief. According to a recent survey, 93% of health care workers were experiencing stress and 39% expressed not having enough adequate social support. Nearly 49% of workers have cried at work in the past year. LeadingAge Ohio’s member organizations have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic by hiring additional employees to help manage increased work demands and strived to create a safe workplace for their front-line employees battling the disease among this high-risk population. 

For more information or to connect with grief professionals, visit www.leadingageohio.org/bereavement.

Newsroom
About LeadingAge Ohio
Founded in 1937, LeadingAge Ohio is a nonprofit trade association that represents over 400 long-term care organizations and hospices, as well as those providing ancillary health care and housing services, in more than 150 Ohio towns and cities. The continuum of care reflected by the member organizations serve an estimated 400,000 elderly Ohioans daily and employ more than 35,000 persons statewide.

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