From left: Forrest Peterson, president of Bandera Healthcare; Tim Fields, CEO of Ignite Medical Resorts; Norman Rokeach, founder and president of Marquis Limited; and Cory Christensen, CEO of Plum Healthcare Group.

A tough operating environment for some skilled nursing operators will likely lead a portion to close their doors in 2021, but misfortune for some should result in growth opportunities for investors, the head of one large SNF network told an executive retreat Tuesday.

“This year is going to be a tough year in the SNF industry, and we’re not likely going to get the same level of help that we got last year,” said Cory Christensen, CEO of California-based Plum Healthcare Group. “We’ll still have expenses that were very similar to what they were last year.” 

That could cause “a lot of smaller operators to struggle to the point of going under,” he said.

“I think there are going to start to be again good acquisition opportunities, particularly good ones,” Chrtsensen added. “Given how tight the resources are and what we can do, we always have to be smarter about how we buy than maybe hospitals or others in this spectrum of care.” 

Christensen’s comments came Tuesday during a panel at the Synergy Summit in Utah. The same panel featured insights on a variety of topics from Tim Fields, CEO of Ignite Medical Resorts; Forrest Peterson, president of Bandera Healthcare; and Norman Rokeach, founder and president of Marquis Limited.

On what occupancy success looks like

Any upward trend in long-term care’s occupancy numbers will be a welcomed sight, according to Peterson. 

“From this point on, we want to see where we stood last year at this point. We want to see it trending up. Most of our skilled has stayed pretty similar, [while] our long-term care has dropped pretty significantly,” Peterson said. “We’re hoping that we see a steady climb in long-term care [occupancy] because that really is 50% of our patient mixes … seeing that climb — evening if it’s slow and steady — we’re okay with that.” 

Rokeach added that an increase in census will depend on providers’ creativity. That means, first and foremost, reassuring families that their facilities are a safe environment. Providers must also differentiate their long-term care models from competitors’. 

“It’s really thinking out of the box,” he said.

On improving workers’ experience

Fields stressed that providers must work on culture every day to understand staff experiences and provide the proper tools and resources they need to be successful. 

“If you don’t know the difference between one building versus the other, the employees will tell you that management can’t come in a room and pretend to know what the employees want,” Fields said. “You’ve got to go ask them.”

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