Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Viking and Crescent nursing homes ‘given away’

Published in the Current and the American Journal

Facing low patient numbers, delays in state reimbursement and heavy competition from nearby nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, the Viking and the Crescent House in Cape Elizabeth have been given to Haven Healthcare Management of Cromwell, Conn.

In late November 2002, Viking and Crescent House co-owner and Administrator Duane Rancourt recognized he needed some help. Rancourt had suffered a heart attack in August, and shortly after a resident of the Viking’s Alzheimer’s unit, Shirley Sayre, wandered off the grounds and died.

At that time, state reimbursements for Medicare were several weeks behind schedule for most healthcare providers, he said. The company went into debt and faced the tough choice of paying creditors or meeting payroll.

The market was also very competitive, Rancourt said. Piper Shores and Chancellor Gardens were attracting more residents, and the Viking and Crescent House were hurt by the publicity about Sayre’s death.

Rancourt went looking for someone to come in as a consultant to improve programs and patient numbers, and eventually take over both operations. “It was a business decision,” Rancourt said.

Rancourt approached Ray Termini, president and CEO of Haven Healthcare, who visited Cape Elizabeth Dec. 26. Rancourt visited several of Haven’s locations in Connecticut New Year’s Eve, and liked what he saw: a “resident-centered operator.”

Termini was interested in acquiring the facility, and the two signed a consulting agreement Jan. 15, which took effect immediately.

Pending state approval of a certificate of need application, Rancourt will stay on as administrator and run things, with Termini acting as a consultant.

Based on electronic records from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Haven facilities in Connecticut and Vermont since 2000 have been repeatedly cited for causing “actual harm” or “immediate jeopardy” to residents, the same category of problems the Viking was cited for in August 2002, after Sayre’s death. Rancourt said he asked about those issues before making the deal. “They may have been attributed to Haven Healthcare, but they didn’t happen under Haven Healthcare’s watch,” he said, explaining that the ones he knew about occurred before Haven took over the facilities.

Changes begin
The name change has already happened in Cape, with a new sign installed in front of the facility last week. Operational changes will happen over the next weeks and months, Rancourt said.

When Termini and Haven Healthcare complete the certificate of need process in three to six months, “we will allow him to acquire us,” Rancourt said.

Haven will assume all debts and liabilities of the Viking and Crescent House.

The transfer is not a purchase, Rancourt said. “Nobody is going to buy it. There’s nobody out there buying nursing homes today.”

Rancourt said he hopes to leave his job in November and will be available as a consultant. “I hope to be able to retire,” he said.

He said he has not yet been served with a lawsuit resulting from Sayre’s death, but is aware that both his insurance company and lawyers for Sayre’s family are investigating the incident.

The Viking was not permitted any new Medicare admissions for three weeks following the incident, but is no longer under any government sanctions and has not been since September.

“All of that negative stuff is behind us,” Rancourt said.

Haven spokesperson, Marissa Hamzy, said the company has nearly 30 facilities throughout New England. Haven Health Center of Cape Elizabeth (the former Viking) and Haven Manor Assisted Living (the former Crescent House) will be the first in Maine.

She said Haven expects to renovate both buildings. The company will add rehabilitation services and a full-service dining room to the nursing home, which may require an addition.

Hamzy said the company does well in the tough nursing-home sector because it is large enough that economies of scale apply.

“We have the ability to have a larger volume,” Hamzy said.

She described Termini as a strong leader and a “visionary” who is “always thinking one step ahead” of developments in the industry.