Benchmark Launches Coronavirus Advisory Council with Panel of Public Health Experts

WALTHAM, Mass. — Benchmark Senior Living, a Waltham-based provider of senior living services in the Northeast, has expanded its team of consulting medical and scientific experts with the creation of the Benchmark Coronavirus Advisory Council. The council will guide the company’s long-term strategy and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council’s esteemed members include a former U.S. surgeon general, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a nationally known geriatric psychiatrist, a leading infection control preventionist and other experts.

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve relied on leading experts to help guide our response,” says Tom Grape, Benchmark’s founder, chairman and CEO. “Now, by formalizing additional relationships with a larger group of experts that includes some of the nation’s top public health minds, we can ensure that our infectious disease prevention and containment protocols are consistent with leading-edge thinking on COVID-19.”

The Benchmark Coronavirus Advisory Council consists of physicians and nurses with expertise in infectious disease mitigation, geriatrics and physical and mental health. Many are affiliated with some of the nation’s leading medical, research and academic institutions. They will use an evidence-based approach to try to stay ahead of COVID-19 developments and address residents’ holistic health needs at Benchmark’s 63 independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities throughout the Northeast.

The Benchmark Coronavirus Advisory Council members include:

  • Alice Bonner, who previously served as Massachusetts secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and was the director of health care quality for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She is the director of strategic partnerships for the Center for Innovative Care in Aging, a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
  • Richard Carmona, who served as the 17th surgeon general of the United States. He is a distinguished professor of public health, health promotion sciences and community, environment and policy for University of Arizona’s College of Public Health. He is also chief of health innovation for Canyon Ranch.
  • Brent P. Forester is chief of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry for McLean Hospital; medical director, behavioral health integration, quality and patient experience for Mass General Brigham; and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
  • Michael R. Jaff is chief medical officer and vice president of clinical affairs, innovation and technology at a major international medical device manufacturer and former CEO of Newton-Wellesley Hospital.
  • Timothy Johnson is former chief of emergency services at Union Hospital in Lynn, Massachusetts, and medical editor for ABC News. He served as a fellow at Harvard Medical School and was founding editor of the school’s Health Letter. He and his wife are members of Benchmark’s The Commons in Lincoln community in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
  • Roger Schutt has been a geriatrician for more than 34 years and executive lead for post-acute care at Beth Israel Lahey Health.
  • Steve Schweon is a board-certified infection preventionist with more than 25 years of experience in acute, long-term care and behavioral health settings.
  • Dr. David Shulkin served as the ninth secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; president and CEO of Mount Sinai Beth Israel; and vice dean, chief of medicine and chief quality officer for Drexel University School of Medicine.
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