On this episode, we welcome Ron Nunziato, Senior Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at the Health Care Council of Illinois, a non-profit advocacy group that represents more than 300 licensed Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) in Illinois.

Topics discussed include:

– How he started as a provider and operator for 29 years before moving to his current position.

– The lessons he learned in his time as a CEO.

– The importance of leading by example in a management role.

– How the Health Care Council of Illinois provides a singular voice for its members when dealing with governmental agencies.

– Lessons for government agencies to be more collaborative.

– The workforce development issues in today’s healthcare industry.

Rapid fire Q/A

What did you learn in your time as a CEO?

The biggest lesson that I learned as a CEO, is that the CEO needs to be present. They need to show support for their staff. It’s almost like a cheerleading-type job with a whole lot of other responsibilities at the back end. But at the front end of working with staff and the facilities that you operate, people need to feel like leadership is listening to them.

How did you develop your leadership skills?

I’ve had some great mentors, supervisors and managers. They encouraged and involved staff in the decision-making process. And explaining how decisions were made, or sometimes why decisions were made.

What is the Health Care Council of Illinois?

More than 50% of the nursing homes in Illinois are members of our association. We are the largest association. We work with the State Department of public health or the Department of HFS. We mostly work on advocating for fair regulations or fair reimbursements.

Can you tell us about your unique experience at the beginning of Covid?

We had the first outbreak in the state of Illinois. It brought forward a lot of different people from CMS and CDC and the Department of Public Health, all descending upon the facility to figure out how we process this. There was an incredible learning curve for all of us in that process.

Can you talk about the staffing challenges your members are facing?

In Illinois, nursing homes are short about 191,000 employees, mostly nurses and CNAs. We need to make sure that our stakeholders, whether they’re state people, legislators, or even the smaller governments and local governments, understand that workforce development for health care has to be a priority in 2023.

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