Alumna Working to Protect Nursing Home Residents from COVID-19 Impacts
As America deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the hardest hit populations has been nursing home residents. According to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services there have been more than 300,000 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases and more than 48,000 deaths in nursing homes nationwide.
One talented alumna is making a difference to reduce these numbers and save lives. Beverley Laubert, ‘84, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at the Ohio Department of Aging, was appointed to a nationwide Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in nursing homes.
Beverley has been an ombudsman for Ohio for 32 years and State Long-Term Care Ombudsman for 25 years. She has dedicated herself and her career to improving the lives of others. She advocates for consumers of long-term services by influencing sound public policy for older adults and those with disabilities.
Beverley was selected from over 800 applicants to serve on this 25-member commission.
“I was overwhelmed to have been chosen from hundreds of people who I’m sure are very qualified. I stay attuned to developments in long-term care and when I heard that there would be a federal commission to advise the government about protecting residents, it was something that I very much wanted to help,” Beverley said. “We have learned a great deal in Ohio and as advocates it’s crucial to include the voices of families and residents in the work. I am proud to be a messenger in the effort.”
As part of the commission, Beverley is responsible for recommending best practices in infection control and care delivery and identifying opportunities to leverage new sources of data to improve infection control policies.
“Nursing home residents have multiple risk factors – advanced age and conditions including heart disease, respiratory illness, diabetes and kidney disease,” Beverley said. “Those factors, coupled with exposure from other residents and staff, highlight the need for meticulous infection prevention and control.”
The commission has met several times throughout the summer focusing on three key areas – ensuring protection of residents and maximizing quality of life, strengthening rapid identification and mitigation of infection and enhancing strategies to improve infection control compliance.
In Ohio’s response to the pandemic, Beverley has participated in the work of the state’s emergency operations center and facilitated long-term care strike teams to listen to and suggest resources to nursing homes with outbreaks. For example, an early problem was the lack of personal protective equipment available in nursing homes and partnerships were developed to enhance the supply chains of this equipment.
Her commitment to helping older adults stems back to her Kent State education. Her participation in a psychology of aging class prior to coming to Kent State ignited a new passion of helping older adults and she discovered the gerontology major at Kent State, which was a perfect fit for her.
Some of her fondest memories at Kent State are from the gerontology program. “I remember working with other students, preparing and serving a St. Patrick’s Day lunch for older adults in Kent,” Beverley said. “It was also a pleasure to work with Dr. Dorothy Fruit to start the Alpha Gamma chapter of Sigma Phi Omega, an academic honor and professional society in gerontology.”
After completing a practicum with the Ohio Department of Aging during her senior year, Beverley was hired as a community social worker upon graduating and later was employed in a social service position at a nursing home before becoming an ombudsman.
“My Kent State education in gerontology launched a rewarding career for me,” Beverley said. “The curriculum included science courses that helped me understand healthcare needs and nutrition, social science and recreation that taught me how to connect with older adults based on their own interests. I also learned how to create educational products for and about older adults as well as economics and finance that taught me about post-employment and public financing of services.”
Beverley still has strong ties to the university as a board member for the Central Ohio Alumni Chapter. She helps plan events, such as Alumni Day of Service, in the Columbus area to bring together Kent State alumni. She and her husband, Mike truly embody the motto, “Flashes Take Care of Flashes.” They established the Delaware County Student Assistance scholarship to help students from the Columbus area.
“It’s just our small way to help students have the great experience that I did. Since my Kent State education led to a wonderful career, we want to contribute to a fulfilling future for others,” Beverley said.
Her daughter, Elizabeth graduated from Kent State in 2020 with a degree in English and minors in history and public relations. Beverley and Mike always enjoyed visiting her and getting back to campus.
“Thank you for the opportunity to show how Kent State University affected my heart,” Beverley said. “I believe that each of us has a responsibility to make an impact, whether through our vocation, volunteer endeavors or other contributions. We need a support system to do that and I have the best in my husband Mike and our children Elizabeth and Jeffrey. And, of course, Go Flashes!”