Out-of-town investors have snapped up a third of the 47 nursing homes in the Western New York towns of Erie and Niagara since 2007, and a Sunday report from The Buffalo News questions whether care in the region has suffered as a result.
Eight out of the 10 local nursing homes in Erie and Niagara rated “much below average” — or a one-star rating in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Five-Star Quality Rating System — have out-of-town, for-profit owners, according to the News.
“Many of the facilities owned by out-of-towners have a high rate of complaints that led to citations,” the paper reported. “Most have low scores for the amount of time nurses spend with residents. As a group, they have received a disproportionate share of state and federal fines in the last decade.”
Poor ratings for out-of-town-owned SNFs
Though at least half of the 16 nursing homes had poor rankings before out-of-towners bought them, the ratings of six of the 16 fell after they were sold, according to an analysis by the paper.
The article zeroed in on Benjamin and Judy Landa, a husband-and-wife team that invests in nursing homes. Benjamin Landa runs SentosaCare, New York’s largest for-profit nursing home chain, and has ownership interest in more than 120 nursing homes across the U.S.
Judy Landa is a passive investor in four Erie County, N.Y., nursing homes, according to the report.
Mark Weiss, a spokesman for Benjamin Landa, told the Buffalo News that Landa is not involved in running the Erie County homes in which his wife has an ownership interest.
In July 2012, a company of Benjamin Landa’s was appointed to be the receiver of two Buffalo facilities that had been losing money under the ownership of the nonprofit Presbyterian Senior Care of Western New York Inc. That company ran the two homes — renamed Emerald South Rehabilitation and Care Center and Emerald North Rehabilitation and Care Center — for about a year as a receiver.
A company owned by Judy Landa and a New York City area partner purchased the operations of the two nursing homes 17 months later, from Presbyterian Senior Care for $2.6 million, according to the Buffalo News. Another Benjamin Landa company purchased the real estate separately for $1.6 million, the publication said, citing Erie County property records.
The Landas and other business partners formed companies that bought two other nursing homes: Sheridan Manor in the town of Tonawanda and Ridgeview Manor in Buffalo. They were renamed Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns and Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns, the Buffalo News noted. The facilities have come under fire for staffing cuts, the publication added.
Facilities linked to Sapphire Care Group
The street addresses of Emerald South Rehabilitation and Care Center, Emerald North Rehabilitation and Care Center, Safire Rehabilitation of Northtowns and Safire Rehabilitation of Southtowns are listed as being part of Sapphire Care Group, according to the company’s LinkedIn page. Sapphire was approved in July to take over 21 skilled nursing facilities formerly owned by Preferred Care, Inc., by Judge Mark Mullin of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas.
It’s not clear, however, that the transfer ever occurred. A document filed to the Northern District of Texas — Fort Worth Division indicates that Sapphire was unable to close on August 1.
Exhibit B in that document refers to a September 1 transfer, but multiple calls and messages by Skilled Nursing News to Sapphire asking about the status of the transfer have not been returned.
Written by Maggie Flynn