Troubled Skyline Highlights Problems with Under-the-Radar Skilled Nursing Operators
The Philadelphia Inquirer took a deep dive into Skyline’s takeover of more than 100 nursing home sites across multiple states — and the general lack of information about the company, whose facilities in Kansas and Nebraska were placed in receivership by state regulators last month.
“I’m kind of surprised that it’s not happening anywhere else,” Steve Monroe, managing editor of the trade journal SeniorCare Investor, told the Inquirer.
Joseph Schwartz, who is listed as the manager of Skyline in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing from 2016, took over seven Golden Living nursing homes in February 2017.
Reporters found that Skyline’s headquarters consist of an office above a Wood Ridge, N.J. pizza shop that appears far too small to support a chain of more than 100 health care facilities.
In four of those facilities, nursing assistants are represented by SEIU Healthcare of Pennsylvania, and the union told the Inquirer that it has run into problems with Skyline. The company never paid into the workers’ training and education fund and owed workers’ dues to the union, even though it was supposed to make an initial dues payment on Feb. 15. The union has not yet received the payment, the Inquirer reported.
“Our paychecks, they are never accurate,” Maria Alvarez, an SEIU member who has worked as nursing assistant at Reading, Pa.’s Exeter Greens nursing home for almost seven years, told the paper. “We can’t see our vacation time. There are deductions being taken out that we don’t understand why they’re being deducted.”
The fact that Schwartz was able to take over so many operations shows laxity in the nursing home operator licensing process, William Murray III, a trial lawyer with Wilkes & McHugh P.A. in Tampa, Fla., told the Inquirer. Schwartz has a track record of being unable to successfully operate a facility, shown by lawsuits over unpaid bills, Murray added.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health told the Inquirer it is aware of the reports from Nebraska and Kansas about Skyline.
“Skyline Healthcare has a responsibility that their nursing homes provide a safe environment to residents,” a spokesman said. “If the facilities are not meeting that responsibility, the department will take action.”
In e-mailed statements to the Inquirer, Skyline blamed the Nebraska and Kansas failures on “external factors” and declined to comment on court cases involving patent disputes with vendors.
Written by Maggie Flynn