NORFOLK - Heritage of Bel-Air in Norfolk was awarded Wednesday, receiving plaudits for pushing through COVID-19 challenges.

"He said 'you guys are weird,' I said 'why are we weird,' he said 'because not every facility - not every organization - is as passionate as you are,'" President of Vetter Health Services Glenn Van Ekeren told a crowd at the facility about what makes Heritage of Bel-Air unique, citing an anecdote from the organization's nominator. 

At the party, Vetter Senior Living awarded one of its 30 Midwest senior care facilities in Norfolk, Heritage of Bel-Air, with a third consecutive World-Class Standards Trophy. 

"The average inside of a world-class company is 38 to 40%," Ekeren said. Heritage met 71% of the eleven standards for the award, though. 

Of course, challenges remain in the industry.

"I think the biggest problem is to get past COVID, mentally and emotionally. Frankly, it's time to fire COVID and let it go," Ekeren said. 

Ekeren and CEO Jack Vetter tell NCN that senior care facilities are still facing staffing shortages. Nationally, nursing facilities have lost an average of 15% of their workforce since the pandemic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"We never know quite what the future holds, but hopefully we're getting there," said Vetter. "I want people to like what they do because you only go around life once."

The award and discussion come on the heels of an announcement Tuesday from the Biden Administration that they want to push higher staffing requirements. Industry leaders had called on the administration to meet with them to discuss concerns and ideas for the future.