The pandemic caught everyone by surprise—especially when it came to nursing homes and other eldercare facilities. Sadly, thousands of our loved ones have succumbed to COVID-19.
During this unfolding tragedy, MassNAELA has continued to work tirelessly in its advocacy work.
For example, the Resident’s Rights Work Group (Rebecca Benson, Liane Zeitz, and Kathleen Lynch Moncata)—alongside other nursing home rights groups—successfully lobbied Governor Baker to reverse course on moving nursing home residents to other locations to make way for COVID-19 acute-care expansion in their facilities. These efforts allowed nursing home residents to shelter-in-place, rather than being forced to move. Governor Baker’s course correction ultimately led to fewer nursing home deaths in Massachusetts in comparison to states that displaced residents.
MassNAELA members also persisted on other fronts. Karen Johnson and our lobbyist Nomita Ganguly successfully spearheaded legislative efforts to pass an emergency remote notary bill. The new law—which allows notary publics to conduct business via video and audio conferencing during the pandemic instead of in-person—applies to all sorts of critical documents and transactions, including wills, power of attorney, caregiver authorization affidavits, real estate title transfers, mortgages, and other legal matters.
We have also seen Medicare waive its three-day admission and 100-day reset rules to ensure appropriate care for the elderly and disabled during the pandemic. As well, MassHealth wisely chose to refrain from terminating any of its benefits for our most vulnerable citizens.
When I wrote my first president’s message back in January, I certainly didn’t imagine I’d be writing my next message during a worldwide pandemic. Nor did I imagine that staff would be working remotely, client meetings would be held via Zoom or FaceTime, and signings would be conducted outdoors with masks and gloves with either drive-through or virtual notarization.
While life has surely changed, I am buoyed by MassNAELA’s incredible resiliency and flexibility coupled with its members’ ability to quickly pivot and address changes during this profound and tragic time.
I’m honored to be a part of our team and proud to continue to contribute to the work of our organization.
Be safe and thank you all for your support.
Paula K. Almgren, Esq.