A rebound in skilled nursing occupancy will likely come, but only after patient volumes in hospitals return back to normal, according to CareTrust REIT executives. 

CareTrust President and COO Dave Sedgwick noted that while many industry stakeholders are eyeing the robust return of elective surgeries to provide a big boost to occupancy, it will actually be the number of hospital patients that drive the measure. 

“The elective surgeries are a little bit of a misconception since the vast majority of the nursing home patients that are admitted from the hospital actually started their journey through the emergency department, not necessarily conveniently scheduled, elective surgery,” he explained during a first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday. 

“The individual markets are still in some form of lockdown, wearing masks, not going out and living life as normal. There’s going to be a little bit of a constraint on people going out and living their lives again — which leads to that hospital volume,” he added. 

Sedgwick stressed that this, along with the removal of COVID restrictions, will be key “lead indicators” for the company going forward in regard to occupancy. 

“People will get back to their normal lives. [It’s] hard to imagine that our occupancy fully recovers before that happens,” he added. 

Overall, CareTrust reported that it collected 100% of contractual rents during the first quarter. Executives also reported it realized a net income of $20.5 million for the quarter — a 5% increase over the prior year’s.

For more coverage of the earnings call, see our sister media brand McKnight’s Senior Living.