Nursing home giant Genesis HealthCare is selling five of its Vermont nursing homes.
The financially troubled Pennsylvania-based company told the state in a letter Aug. 21 that it would offload St. Johnsbury Health & Rehab, Berlin Health & Rehab, Bennington Health & Rehab, and Springfield Health & Rehab.
Genesis, which has been the subject of past state investigations for patient neglect, owns nine facilities in Vermont. One of them, Burlington Health & Rehab, was ravaged by the coronavirus this spring.
Genesis spokesperson Lori Mayer confirmed that the company planned to sell a fifth nursing home as well, but she declined to identify the last facility, citing ongoing negotiations. She also refused to identify the buyer, whose name was not included in information provided to the state.
“A definitive agreement has not yet been reached,” Mayer said in an emailed statement. Genesis had already notified patients, residents and staff, she added.
The new buyer would take over temporary management of the facilities on Oct. 1, according to the letter, which was sent to the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. The company has already submitted new names for the facilities with the Vermont Secretary of State.
The buyer has yet to submit a full application to start the process to receive regulatory approval from the Agency of Human Services, according to Monica White, Director of Operations at DAIL. She said she didn’t have a timeline for when the application would be filed or how long the process would take.
White didn’t know the identity of the potential buyer, she said.
Genesis, a publicly traded company, manages a total of 361 elder care homes nationwide. It has come under scrutiny for its patient care in Vermont and across the country. Attorney General TJ Donovan sued the company after four incidents of neglect. In one case, a resident died after choking on a grape after a nurse delivered an incorrect food tray. Genesis ultimately settled the case and agreed to pay $740,000.
After a Justice Department investigation in 2017, the company settled six federal lawsuits and violations for $53 million.
The company’s facilities were hit hard by Covid. Genesis reported in its Aug. 10 second-quarter earnings report that 241 of its 361 facilities had at least one case of Covid-19.
Among them was Burlington Health & Rehab, which faced one of the largest outbreaks in the state. During March and April, 39 residents tested positive. Eleven of those died. By late June, just 55 people lived there, though the nursing home has beds for 126.
Some families of those who died criticized facility administrators for their handling of the crisis, though the Vermont Department of Health said Burlington Health & Rehab had not violated any safety protocol.
The company has been financially crippled by the pandemic.
Genesis estimated that it lost $213 million in foregone revenue and extra expense due to the pandemic in the second quarter. Without more government aid, “it is unlikely that the Company will be able to generate sufficient cash flows” to pay off its debt and cover rent and other expenses, according to the earnings report. “The existence of these conditions raises substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue” to stay afloat for the next 12 months.
The New York Times reported that the company received more than $300 million in government grants and loans from the government’s relief funds.
The proposed Vermont sales are part of a larger effort to sell off its nursing homes. During the second quarter, Genesis sold or closed 19 of its facilities nationwide.
Genesis originally bought five of its Vermont facilities, most of which are for sale, in 2016 from a Revera, a Canadian company.
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