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2018 AADNS Annual Conference Takeaways from a DON in Rural Michigan

Attending the annual conference for the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services in National Harbor, MD was nothing but a dream. As a director of nursing in a small rural town like Menominee, MI (pronounced Men-ah-many), I never imagined having the opportunity to be shoulder-to-shoulder with so many experienced, intelligent, and resilient leaders.

Conference for me started off with a three-and-a-half-hour plane ride from a one-gate airport in Escanaba, MI. You can see the ticketing counter, security, loading gate, and baggage claim all from the front entrance. I landed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport at gate A77, quickly found a taxi, and made my way to the MGM Grand at National Harbor. The pure beauty and elegance of the MGM Grand set the tone for the experience I was about to have.

Joy Baldridge was an amazing opening keynote speaker. Her humorous yet engaging discussion on being flexible and adaptable (yes, I am still doing her dance every time I say that) was world-class and so relatable. I took more notes than I will ever know what to do with. The biggest thing I took back to my little hometown from Joy is this – Zig Ziglar said FEAR is an acronym that can mean one of two things: Fear Everything and Run! Or, Face Everything and Rise! I left this conference feeling that I could rise, that I could be a resilient leader just like so many of the men and women I met during my few days in National Harbor.

Janet Feldkamp presented on the latest Survey, Enforcement, Legal and Regulatory Updates. Janet shared the unfortunate truth about many facilities, big corporations and small, that are having great financial difficulty. With Phase III changes just around the corner, being able to feel competent and supported by industry leaders is key to providing safe, quality care in our facilities. The new survey statistics were mentioned and still in first place for most citations is Infection Control, F880. This tag has been cited over 5,000 times since the start of the new survey process. The need for more structured and well-managed infection control programs in our facilities is absolutely necessary.

“Volume to Value Under New Payment Systems: What the DNS Needs to Know” was a phenomenal presentation provided by Judi Kulus. The new payment landscape is a proposed rule set to begin in October 2019. Under the new rule, 12 quality measures and skin integrity changes are coming. This would also include a 2% penalty for incomplete data on the MDS. Judi stressed the importance of monitoring your own data for accuracy and the new proposed PPS payment system.

While there were many speakers that I did not get the opportunity to hear, I was truly blessed to have the opportunity to not only listen to Evan Shulman, Deputy Director, Division of Nursing Homes for CMS, but to also sit in a focus group with him to discuss daily challenges we face as directors of nursing. Many topics were brought to his attention and some very positive feedback was received. Evan gave all attendees the opportunity to feel that their concerns and daily struggles were heard. The major takeaway I had from Evan’s presentation was the immediate need for our attention to Infection Control programs. The infection control tag, as previously mentioned, remains the top citation.

For anyone who did not get to attend conference this year, I strongly encourage you to attend next year in Pittsburg, PA.


Christy Steward, RN, DNS-CT
is the director of nursing of a 54-bed skilled nursing facility, Atrium Post Acute Care of Menominee. She is responsible for the daily operations of the nursing department, including training staff, directing resident care, working closely with budgets, care plans, MDS, and implementing new, innovative programs. Christy was recently awarded the Founder’s Professional Development Grant at the 2018 AADNS Annual Conference in National Harbor, MD.