The long-running Skyline Healthcare saga came to a close in Kansas last week after Mission Health Communities formally took control of 15 properties that it had operated throughout a more than 18-month receivership process.
The Tampa, Fla.-based Mission officially became the new operators last Friday, according to an announcement from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS).
“I am incredibly proud that Mission Health has been chosen to continue to follow these communities from receivership to ownership,” Mission president and CEO Stuart Lindeman said in the statement. “We look forward to growing with these local businesses to deliver consistent care and services for patients, families, and staff while focusing on an outstanding Mission experience for everyone involved.”
Kansas officials installed Mission as temporary operators in March 2018 after the New Jersey-based Skyline failed make payroll or compensate its vendors, throwing the facilities’ ongoing viability into question. The Kansas story was just one of many troubling headlines for the now-defunct Skyline, whose slow-motion implosion brought financial distress and state takeovers of facilities in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Massachusetts, and Arkansas.
The receivership process typically aims to keep struggling properties afloat long enough for a new operator to officially take over, though that isn’t always the case: Properties in Massachusetts and Arkansas, for instance, shut their doors after the receivers determined that they simply could not be saved financially.
In Kansas, however, all 15 Skyline properties survived the receivership process, a feat that KDADS secretary Laura Howard touted in a statement.
“We know that other states dealing with the issues surrounding Skyline have had to make the unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable decision to close facilities and force residents to find a new place to live,” she said. “In our case, KDADS was determined that wasn’t going to happen, and our staff worked very hard to find an alternative to displacing these seniors from their home.”
The process wasn’t without hiccups, however; speaking to SNN last spring, Lindeman described walking into a complicated morass of vendors with ownership that overlapped with Skyline’s.
“There were just weird things that just didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “What we ended up doing was saying, ‘Look, if this is a related company or related ancillary business, we need to separate ourselves from that.’ So I spent a lot of time making sure that we brought in providers that we knew.”
Despite their former owner’s dramatic collapse, the buildings themselves remained solid SNFs with dedicated staffs, Mission vice president and chief clinical officer Karen McDonald told SNN this past summer.
“They have great employees; they were good sites and they just needed a home for a period of time, and that’s been us,” McDonald said. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Skyline buildings.”
Though the transaction closed the book on Skyline’s time in Kansas, its influence will live on in the form of a new, more restrictive nursing home ownership transfer law that requires prospective buyers to provide a detailed history of their ownership experience in the skilled nursing space — while also instituting stricter rules for license revocations and suspensions.