Local News

Company seeks to buy five Vermont nursing homes

Genesis Healthcare, Inc., currently owns two nursing facilities in Rutland: Mountain View and Rutland Center

By Erin Mansfield, VTDigger.org

A publicly traded holding company from Pennsylvania is seeking approval from state regulators to buy up five nursing homes in Bennington, Berlin, Burlington, Springfield, and St. Johnsbury.

Genesis Healthcare, Inc., which runs 500 nursing homes across the country, including 100 in New England, wants regulators at the Green Mountain Care Board to approve a permit, called a certificate of need, to buy the properties from Revera, Inc., another for-profit company, as part of a $240 million deal to buy nursing homes in nine states.

The company is traded as $GEN on the New York Stock Exchange. The value of its buildings was $4.3 billion in 2015, and cash flow in 2015 was $552 million.

Dick Blinn, the president of the Northeast division of Genesis, told regulators at a hearing Thursday, June 9, that the company has senior leadership located right in Vermont, where it already owns four nursing homes.

“It’s a good geographic and cultural fit for us,” Blinn said. “Having a regional team located in New England and in the state of Vermont makes it kind of a natural fit to grow in the state of Vermont for us.”

Genesis owns four facilities in three cities in Vermont: Bel Aire Center in Newport, Mountain View and Rutland Center in Rutland, and a nursing home in St. Albans. All are owned and operated through a string of limited liability companies, and the company is proposing to use the same model at the new properties.

Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living endorsed Genesis in the certificate of need case, calling the company “a capable owner and operator” as well as “an active partner with the state, with the current Vermont accountable care organizations, and with the nursing home trade organization.”

The five new nursing homes have 579 beds among them, according to the application, and almost all of them are in semi-private rooms with more than one bed. The company is planning to eliminate 52 beds among the five new nursing homes and convert some rooms to private care.

If approved, Genesis would own approximately one-third of the nursing home beds in Vermont.

The hearing became heated when Con Hogan, a board member and former human services administrator,   questioned quality measures at certain Genesis nursing homes, where he said patients were less healthy than the state average. He pressed the company to provide information to justify the patients’ health problems.

Linda Cohen, the lawyer representing Genesis, told Hogan that the company “is working diligently at improving quality” at the regional level. She asked the board not to impose quality measures as part of the certificate of need because the company is already regulated through other entities.

Hogan said Mountain View in Rutland has a high rate of depressive symptoms among patients, and that the Rutland Center has a high level of ulcers and depressive symptoms.

“This is serious stuff,” Hogan said. The hearing ended shortly after the exchange. Public comments on the permit were accepted until June 13. A decision is expected two weeks later, according to board chairman Al Gobeille.

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