Ensign Picks Up Two Former Good Sam Buildings in AZ in Latest Sale for Non-Profit

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society has sold a pair of skilled nursing facilities to for-profit industry leader The Ensign Group (Nasdaq: ENSG), Skilled Nursing News has learned, marking the latest in a series of recent dispositions by the non-profit provider.

The two properties in Mesa and Peoria, Ariz., branded as Good Shepherd, will be transferred to the Mission Viejo, Calif.-based Ensign as of May 1, according to an internal e-mail obtained by SNN.

“This transfer of ownership allows for the continuation of high-quality senior care and services in the community, provided by another experienced operator,” Good Sam wrote in a message to its employees. “We are thankful for the many ways our mission has been lived out through the support and service of our dedicated employees, family members and community members who have been involved with Good Samaritan Society — Mesa Good Shepherd and Good Samaritan Society — Peoria Good Shepherd.”

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Both facilities have senior living units in addition to rehabilitation and skilled nursing services, with the Mesa facility also featuring assisted living units.

“We also appreciate The Ensign Group for their continuing commitment to providing quality health care and services to seniors in these communities,” Good Sam told its employees.

The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Good Sam, one of the largest non-profit senior living and care providers in the United States, has been on something of a disposition streak of late, selling a three-SNF portfolio in Wisconsin earlier this month, along with a pair of New Mexico facilities back in January — all to for-profit buyers.

The sales also come in the immediate wake of the non-profit’s major merger with non-profit hospital system Sanford Health, also based in Sioux Falls. Approved in the summer of 2018 and formally consummated on January 1, the combination created a system of acute- and post-acute providers with more than 50,000 employees across 26 states.

At the time, Sanford executives touted the potential for creating an entire in-house continuum of care that could oversee patients at multiple points along a single health episode.

“We each recognize the importance of vertical and horizontal integration across the health care delivery system,” Good Sam CFO Grant Tribble told SNN in June 2018. “If you think about Sanford now … really they never had a very specific approach to long-term care (LTC). The two organizations coming together could offer a lot more synergy and expertise and ability to deliver a broader range of care.”

But Good Sam had also been in the process of pruning skilled nursing assets before the merger, Ziegler director of senior living research and development Lisa McCracken told SNN last summer.

“That’s consistent with others, and that’s not unique to them,” McCracken said. “But will they continue to trim that sort of portfolio to align with where they’re going? Obviously they’re committed to skilled nursing care and post-acute care, but it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in the future.”

A spokesman for Good Samaritan said the company had no comment for this story, but a source familiar with Good Sam’s recent transactions told SNN that all the deals had been in the works since before the merger was completed — and that the deals had nothing to do with the combination.

Because the ink hasn’t quite dried on the formal merger agreement, the source said, the parties still haven’t worked out their long-term vision for skilled nursing under the combined umbrella. But the current slate of sales have all been part of the operator’s existing plans.

“Thus far, every transition that Good Sam has done has been very well thought out, and very well executed,” the source told SNN.

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