PruittHealth, a major nursing home operator across the Southeast, took a $137.2 million revenue hit during the COVID-plagued year of 2020 — but saw a significant increase in demand for home health services.
That income loss includes the operator’s skilled nursing, therapy, pharmacy, and hospice business lines, according to a new report released this week, and comes alongside estimated Medicaid underfunding of $62.5 million.
Citing an independent audit conducted by accounting and advisory firm Mauldin & Jenkins, PruittHealth pointed to Medicaid shortfalls of $27 million in the operator’s home state of Georgia and $24.8 million in neighboring South Carolina, among others.
A little more than 1,900 PruittHealth employees, or 15% of the total workforce, were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus over the course of 2020, while 5,174 residents tested positive.
The operator’s skilled nursing census dropped from 9,286 before the COVID-19 pandemic to 7,567 at the end of 2020, a year that also saw PruittHealth shed 1,800 employees to finish the year with a staff of about 13,000.
At the same time, the provider logged a 22% boost in home health care census, providing yet more evidence of a significant shift away from institutional post-acute and long-term care during the pandemic.
“In many ways, the pandemic accelerated the next evolutionary stage of our profession that was, albeit at a much slower pace, already underway thanks to a shift in health care consumers’ preferences and expectations,” PruittHealth observed in the report, adding that it anticipates further growth in demand for its PruittHealth @ Home services moving forward.
The operator touted a total of $23.3 million in COVID-related clinical investments during the pandemic, including air ionization technology, personal protective equipment (PPE), and the hiring of 60 dedicated infection preventionists in 2020 — with 40 more set to be hired this year. PruittHealth also raised the minimum wage for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to $12 per hour, according to the company.
CEO Neil Pruitt Jr. struck an upbeat note in summarizing the impact of COVID-19 on the company’s operations.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 changed the long-term care profession forever, but I believe it did so in a way that only reinforced our mission, reminding us all that our PruittHealth family is your family and together, we are one family,” Pruitt wrote in an introductory letter.
Pruitt served on a White House commission, convened last summer, tasked with identifying the top areas of reform for nursing home operations, reimbursement, and regulation; the CEO in particular focused on payment reforms that will encourage the creation of single-occupancy rooms at nursing facilities.
“I think we need to look at the capital structure of reimbursement systems to incent providers to create private rooms,” Pruitt told SNN last year.