2021 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes Ceremony Honors All Long-Term Care Facilities Staff

There is no better time to announce the recent award ceremony for the 2021 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes than during International Infection Prevention Week, a week that shines a light on the importance of infection prevention. The McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes was established by the Evelyn and Thomas McKnight Family Fund for Patient Safety and the CDC Foundation, with the purpose of encouraging and rewarding those who serve and protect patients from harm related to healthcare outbreaks.

On Monday, October 11, Evelyn and Tom McKnight stood on stage in front of hundreds of people at the American Health Care Association (AHCA/NCAL) Annual Convention & Expo and presented the 2021 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes. They announced the winner of the prize: all long-term care facilities staff. This year, the McKnight Prize Committee chose to recognize the incredible efforts of this workforce as a whole.

By awarding the McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes to the entire nation’s long-term care facilities workforce, the McKnight Prize Committee wanted to convey tremendous gratitude for the heroism and bravery exercised during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a part of the Prize this year, the Committee created a virtual Thank-You page where people have expressed their admiration and appreciation for this special workforce. The Award was envisioned to provide some much-deserved recognition to this workforce, noting that it is long-term care staff that has daily interactions like reading a letter from a loved one, assisting at mealtimes, ensuring the correct medication is taken, listening to stories, brushing hair, and the many other seemingly simple gestures that too often go unnoticed but are meaningful and significantly enrich the quality of life for their residents.

During the ceremony, the McKnights expressed their thanks to long-term care facilities staff, saying, “The McKnight Prize for Healthcare Heroes is intended for an individual, but the COVID-19 response has shown us that we are all in this together. The heroism of all the long-term care facilities staff that showed up and kept showing up day after day truly captures the spirit of the award. These individuals are vital to creating a safe and dignified environment for residents. What they all have in common is a commitment to provide skilled and compassionate care for our nation’s most vulnerable elders and others. We could not think of a more deserving group of heroes to receive this award.” It was an especially moving ceremony, with the McKnights closing with the request that everyone in the audience please stand and accept the award collectively in honor of all long-term care staff.

While the award, a gorgeous one-of-a-kind glass sculpture, is intended to be a part of a permanent COVID-19 museum exhibit, the monetary portion of the award went to the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, further honoring frontline long-term care facilities staff. The Schwartz Center’s mission is to put compassion at the heart of healthcare and the McKnight Prize Committee was pleased to support the Center’s important work, delivered through programs, education and advocacy.

Nominations for the 2022 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes will begin in November and will be accepted through January 31, 2022. If you would like to nominate someone you believe is a worthy recipient of the McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes, please return to the Evelyn And Thomas McKnight Family Fund For Patient Safety webpage in November and fill out the 2022 nomination form.

Headshot for Susanne Salehi
Susanne Salehi is an advancement associate for the CDC Foundation.