When PruittHealth – a major nursing home operator – realized last year that its qualified nursing homes (SNSFs) were feeling the effects of the COVID-19 emergency, the company was able to recover immediately by putting its emphasis on home health care.

Based in Norcross, Georgia, PruittHealth is a post-acute and long-term care company with over 180 locations in Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. In addition to qualified nursing and assisted living properties, the company offers home health and hospice care and at the same time maintains robust business areas for pharmacies.

Since last spring, the public health emergency has put a considerable strain on the SNSFs and other long-term care facilities.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, around 170,000 nursing home residents have died as a result of the COVID-19 virus. This includes nursing homes and other facility-based long-term care facilities.

With COVID-19 cases widespread across all facilities, operators saw flat occupancy.

According to a data analysis by the professional service company CliftonLarsonAllen, none of the SNSF occupancy trends in 48 states showed a rate of more than 80% in 2020. New York had the highest occupancy at 79%. Texas had the lowest SNSF occupancy rate at 56%.

Like most of his peers, PruittHealth was not immune to the industry-wide problems.

During the pandemic, PruittHealth saw SNSF approvals drop by 18.5% and, according to the company, recorded a drop in sales of USD 137.2 million. The loss in sales included the company’s qualified nursing, therapy, pharmacy and hospice divisions.

In addition, around 1,900 PruittHealth employees and 5,174 residents were diagnosed with COVID-19 last year.

In response to these challenges, the company chose to aggressively lean into its PruittHealth at Home business, Neil Pruitt, Jr., CEO of PruittHealth, told Home Health Care News.

“We knew this pandemic was affecting our service lines and that we had to be creative and how to take care of them,” said Pruitt. “We knew that even if for some reason we couldn’t admit patients to our qualified care facility – if we didn’t have the staff, if there was an outbreak in the facility, etc. – we had to meet the requirements of those needs Patient. “

“Active pursuit of the option at home”

PruittHealth continues to focus on the home as COVID-19 numbers in nursing homes are falling rapidly, largely due to vaccination disorders. The weekly COVID-19 cases at SNSFs have decreased by 96% from around 34,000 per week to less than 1,500 per week since the vaccinations began.

Weekly COVID cases in skilled care facilities have decreased by 96% since vaccinations began.

From 34,000 to 1,474 per week.

We continue.

– Andy Slavitt (@ aslavitt46) March 10, 2021

To bring the linchpin home, PruittHealth enlisted global consulting firm Accenture to partner with its home healthcare line. The company’s goal was to broaden the breadth and service of this part of the business and ensure that it was able to meet the growing demands.

As a result, PruittHealth decided to convert the 800 parking lot at the company’s headquarters into a state-of-the-art medical facility as most of the company’s workforce was now remote.

This gave PruittHealth the ability to send medical care directly to a patient’s home. The company also used its pharmacy capabilities to ship patients’ drugs to their homes to ensure compliance.

“Whether someone wanted to bypass the SNSF completely or whether they wanted to compress their stay, we had the opportunity to continue to take care of ourselves at home,” said Pruitt. “We have actively pursued the option at home and see success and great satisfaction in our patients.”

In fact, PruittHealth has seen the home health census increase by 22%.

“We have long been advocates of serving people in their home when it is appropriate,” said Pruitt. “It’s kind of ironic because people think of us as a nursing home company, but in our largest state, Georgia, we serve more people in the community than in our facility.”

In Georgia, the company was able to do so through Georgia SOURCE, a Medicaid waiver program that manages care for nursing home patients in their home.

Pruitt believes there will always be a demand for SNSFs, but stressed the importance of adapting to patient needs.

“We always send about 60% to 70% of our patients home,” he said. “And so we’re only extending these services to you and the community.”

Another senior care company, United Church Homes (UCH), is also working to expand its care product delivery model and expand its range of home care services.

UCH is a non-profit, independent, serviced residential operator based in Marion, Ohio. The company has 75 parishes in 14 states.

In recent years, UCH has reported that “only a fraction of the number” of referrals from hospitals have been recorded.

“It’s cheaper [provide] home care, rehabilitation and health services for residents [in their homes], ”Senior Vice President of Finance and Strategy John Renner recently told Senior Housing News.

In 2020, UCH saw a total of $ 7 million in revenue. As a result, the company began looking into what services it could provide in the home environment.

“At this time, [UCH] is essentially continuing its long-term care and nursing home programs, ”Renner told SHN. “Our future, however, lies in the so-called older residential communities for adults and in care planning outside the walls of a community structure. Have been [implementing this in] Two fronts: We are expanding our independent residential or residential programs for seniors. We are also expanding programs to meet their personal and health needs while they are still at home and aging on the spot. “

One lesson that providers should take from the current time is the importance of “location-independent supply,” says Pruitt. Vendors who can quickly adjust between settings will see the greatest success going forward, he said.

“Not many companies can do what we do,” said Pruitt. “Not many companies can say, ‘If you need qualified care facility services, we can help you. We can keep this stay as short as possible and then release them into the house. ‘I think this will be the trend of the future and companies will try to put it together. “