Hackensack Meridian acquires three northern NJ nursing homes


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Hackensack Meridian Health, the 17-hospital system in New Jersey, said Tuesday that it has added three nearby nursing homes to its network as it looks to better coordinate hospital and post-acute care.

The nursing homes are the 210-bed Prospect Heights Care Center in Hackensack, the 180-bed Regent Care Center in Hackensack and the 180-bed West Caldwell Care Center in West Caldwell. Prospect Heights is exclusively a subacute-care facility that provides rehab services after people leave the hospital. The facilities have a combined 750 employees.

Hackensack Meridian acquired 100% of Regent Care and 51% each of Prospect Heights and West Caldwell in a deal valued around $65 million, including cash and the assumption of debt. Tandem Management Co. owned all three facilities and will continue as a joint partner in Prospect Heights and West Caldwell.

With the deal, Hackensack Meridian now operates 13 post-acute-care facilities and has rebranded the new additions under the system’s name.

“Patients are staying fewer and fewer days in acute-care facilities,” said Robert Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Changes in technology are allowing patients to go home quicker even after receiving pretty intense care and receiving complicated procedures. The best way to ensure that there is a good hand-off is if we own and operate these post-acute-care facilities.”

Hospitals can benefit from having a strong relationship with the nursing homes they refer people to by avoiding federal readmission penalties.

Garrett said the deal will make it easier to find a nursing home bed for patients ready to be discharged and free up beds for patients waiting in the hospital’s emergency department. Hackensack Meridian Medical Center is about a mile away from two of the nursing homes.

The system did not commit a defined amount to capital improvements but plans to make significant investments in the facilities’ IT systems so they can share electronic medical records with its hospitals, said Stephen Baker, Hackensack Meridian’s president of post-acute care.

Baker said Hackensack Meridian’s staffing model is different from other nursing homes in that its facilities use mostly registered nurses; other nursing homes use mostly licensed practical nurses. Its patients tend to be more complex, which allows the system’s facilities to receive higher payments from Medicare. Some of its facilities earn 50% to 60% from Medicaid, which typically pays lower rates.

“We’re able to subsidize lower rates with higher rates from subacute care and favorable rates from managed care organizations,” Baker said. —Jonathan LaMantia





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