Gail Matillo, President and CEO of the Florida Senior Living Association, joins Bridge the Gap to discuss the 2022 Engage Conference, regulatory efforts, and positive progression in Florida.
Recorded at Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) Conference.
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LucasWelcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas. We are here at FSLA conference in Orlando, and we have the one and only Gail Matillo. You’re thePpresident and CEO of Florida Senior Living Association. Welcome to the show.Gail MatilloWelcome. Thank you guys so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.Lucas Oh, we are so honored to have you on the show. You’re a longtime friend of ours and we have been so eager to partner with you and your team. And this has been a wildly successful conference, both in attendance, content, networking, the keynote speaker. I mean, we have been blown away. You and your team have done an incredible job. We know how hard this is to pull off and you guys have done an awesome job.Gail MatilloWell, thank you very much. We really appreciate it.Lucas 01:42It’s been an incredible year already this year as we’re kind of rounding the corner halfway through 2022, there’s a lot of challenges that face the industry, but tremendous opportunity. Talk to us about some of those challenges and opportunities that you and your board members, you and the pack or anybody, any kind of like groups that you’re associating with that you guys are continually working toward?Gail Matillo 02:10You know, we learned a lot in 2020. We really did not being federally federally regulated. You know, we were trying to figure out the rules and the laws as they came along, because a lot of things that nursing homes were doing didn’t really apply to us. So we had to kind of make up things on the sly. And I tell you what our communities did the best. They kept their residents safe, and they did a tremendous job. You just can’t say enough about all the work that they did.Josh 02:39Well. Gail, some talk to us about some initiatives that the board has ahead of them. I know you guys help your membership so much on the legislative side. So one of your board members was talking about tort reform. There was several things, but from your vantage point at the kind of the macro level, what are some things that you’re really leading this association towards and providing value back to the members?Gail Matillo 03:04Well,two years ago we passed some legislation that would save communities from being sued from COVID liability. And that was very important because we just didn’t know what the market was going to be like. We didn’t know what that time how long COVID was gonna last even. So then last year, what they did was the legislature passed that bill for one year, thinking that COVID was going to be over. Well, COVID, wasn’t over. And it kept coming back. And I know last year, right before our conference, we had a big, big, you know, impact with COVID coming back. So what we did was we went back to the legislature this year and said, “we need this bill for one more year.” So they passed it for us, which was great. So now our communities have protection for one more year, which I think it’ll be good. So we’re really excited about that.Josh 03:50Well and we talked to the listeners a lot. We were talking on some of the other episodes talking with some of the folks here that are in attendance at the conference, the value of being part of a large network with a large voice. You’ve been at this for a long time. And so you guys have built some really strong relationships at the local levels in these communities, at the state level with the legislature. How far does that go now? Are you seeing that when you guys show up that they’re really listening these legislators to what you guys have to say? Gail Matillo 04:26It’s a constant education because there’s term limits in Florida. So constant reelections every couple of years. So we really strive to get to know those legislators and let them know what we’re doing. Because everybody might need us sooner or later. We do great work and I’m just real passionate about our business and what our members do. So it’s just easy to talk about it.Josh 04:51I am amazed every time I come to Florida got a couple projects I’m working on down here, but it is literally like one of the epicenters of senior living and senior housing. And it seems like not only do we have the large operators, these companies that have been around for a long time, but it seems like there’s so many new operators coming in and there’s so many people moving, looking for housing and services for aging, for those that may not be connected already to your association, the Florida senior living association, tell them specifically, our listeners, what types of membership categories you’re covering and what part of the continuum are members here? Gail MatilloFor us, we are really focused on assisted living, independent living and memory care communities. We have branched out more with our independent living and some of our members are now getting involved in active adult living. So the industry’s changing, and it’s very exciting to see after COVID that they see the need and they’re going after it. So we are just so excited about what’s going to happen in the next five years.Josh 06:02So this event that we are at is huge. I actually, I don’t know how this compares to the previous years, but this is a big event. We’re at the Ritz Carlton, a lot of energy, a lot of people, a lot of excitement, which is really fun to see. This is your big annual event. Are there other events that you guys host all throughout the year that our listeners need to know about, if they want to know what’s going on in Florida?Gail Matillo 06:27Well, this is our big event. We do monthly webinars. We do all kinds of different workshops during the year. We also partner with the other associations on lots of training and, and that sort of stuff, especially with the hurricane season coming up, we have our joint training and our emergency management training that we do, which is fairly popular.Josh 06:43Lucas. You’ve been involved here. Former, you’ve been raised here in Orlando, known Gail for a long time. And you’ve moved to Texas. This is gotta be like a homecoming for you huh?Lucas 06:54It is, it is. I love coming back and getting to see old friends and making new ones and to see really how much growth the organization has. And just so much improvements. And I’m just really blown away having the context of being a part of the very early years of the association. So I’m really proud of what you guys are doing and very interested in continuing to help support this organization throughout the years. Florida is an incredible place, and this is an incredible organization doing great things and really a lot, thanks to leadership of you, Gail. Gail Matillo 07:33Well, Lucas, you’re like family, You’ve been around since the beginning. And so thank you for all your kind comments. We’re kind of moving more into trying to have our communities do training for their staff inside their communities. Long gone are the days that folks can hire somebody and put them right to work. So we are really pushing a lot of grants. We have two grants that’s going on right now, a third grant that we just received. So let me just back up a second. Last year, we received a grant to do infection control, training, free training in all ALS. And it has just been very popular. Then we also received a home health aid grant to train home health aids in the communities through an apprenticeship program. And that is going really well as well. This past year for the legislature, we received a half a million dollars to start conducting CNA training. So what’s really cool about that is they can become CNAs in their community. We’re also applying for another grant to become LPNs and they can have this career path without even leaving the community. And they can make such a great salary and move on up, which is such a wonderful opportunity for folks.Josh 08:45Well, so many challenges that lie ahead, but so many opportunities. And you guys at the Florida senior living association providing valuable resources. Thank you. [Thank you.] For allowing Bridge the Gap to be part of this amazing event as your media partner and allowing Lucas to get back in. We weren’t sure. So thank you for welcoming us. Thanks for putting on this amazing event. We’re going to make sure our listeners are connected to you. There’s so many people moving to Florida. They need a valuable resource. Those developer owner-operators to partner with. We know that you have that here for them. Gail MatilloAnything they need, they can just reach out to us at www.FloridaSeniorLiving.orgLucasAnd there you have it. We’ll make sure that we tag all of that. In our show notes, you can get to BTG voice.com and listen to more information about this episode, hit all the links, make sure you connect with Gail and her team here in Florida. And thanks to all of our listeners for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.