Execs: Private equity views resident care as a priority

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Skilled nursing leaders defended their care practices in the wake of a New York Times story blasting private equity firms that have recently bought facilities.

"I want people to know we are concerned about the quality of care," Larry Deans, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Golden Living, told McKnight's. The nation's fourth-largest chain, Golden Living was formerly known as Beverly Enterprises Inc.

The Times article criticized private equity companies, such as Beverly buyer Fillmore Capital Partners, because of their emphasis on profits, apparently at the expense of care. The article reported that these firms cut nurse levels, contributing to a rise in deficiencies at the facilities. Ron Silva, president of Fillmore, and Arnold Whitman, president of Formation Capital, which recently purchased Genesis HealthCare Corp., justified private equity's place in the long-term care market.

Deans said that Golden Living is planning to invest millions of dollars hiring directors of operations, nurses and other personnel. Being privately held, there no longer is pressure to meet Wall Street's expectations, he explained. As a result, the company can focus more on quality.

"With a private company, you have access to capital, but you can take a longer view," he explained. "It's like running a marathon, not a sprint. We will get value by delivering the best care."

Alan Rosenbloom, president of the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, said the analysis represented less than 10% of U.S. facilities, and the problems mentioned in the story are linked to only 5%.