Rick Matros
Sabra CEO Rick Matros

The COVID-19 delta variant has stunted occupancy growth within the skilled nursing/transitional care portfolio for Sabra Health Care REIT, executives reported Monday. 

The California-based real estate investment trust reported in a new business update that average occupancy growth for SNFs has been “slowed” despite infection rates remaining low and vaccine uptake being high among patients and residents in its skilled nursing/transitional care portfolio.

Its top eight operators, which comprise 71% of the REIT’s skilled nursing rent, saw average occupancy rise 554 basis points between December, when it hit a low, and the end of August. Even with the increase, the figure is still 47 basis points below November levels, according to the company. 

Sabra also reported its skilled mix census is 178 basis points higher as of August when compared to pre-pandemic levels from February 2020. 

But the improvements have been limited due to an “extremely tight” labor market, which has forced buildings to limit the number of admissions due to imbalanced staff levels.

The company added that elective surgeries have also been substantially curtailed in many markets as hospitals planned for increases in COVID-19 cases. 

“Some states have increased restrictions on admissions when either a resident or employee test positive, and in some cases visitation restrictions have been put back in place,” Sabra reported.