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Originally published: 2013-10-11 11:01:43
Last modified: 2013-10-11 12:24:35

Gentiva buys home health programs from ARHS

by Anna Oakes

Gentiva Health Services Inc., a publicly traded company based in Atlanta, recently purchased the Home Health and CAP/Avery Home Care service lines from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, a Boone-based nonprofit health care organization.

Gentiva -- which is "the nation's largest provider of home health and hospice services based on revenue," according to its website -- assumed control of the services Oct. 1.

"Gentiva always looks to add the best home health care companies with the highest standards of clinical excellence to our family of companies," said Tony Strange, Gentiva CEO and president, in a statement. "So we're very happy to have ARHS's home health and community care associates join with us in the High Country to make a difference in people's lives by providing the best possible care in the comfort of their own homes." 

Under ARHS, the Home Health program offered skilled nursing care; medical social services; nutritional consulting; physical, speech and occupational therapy; and home health aide services in a home setting to persons recovering from an injury or illness.

The CAP and Avery Home Care Services provided personal care services in Avery, Burke, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties.

"We are pleased that our home health and home care services will continue to be delivered with the highest quality by a national leader in home health care," said Richard Sparks, ARHS president and CEO, in the statement. "Gentiva's reputation rests on the compassion, commitment and careful training of highly respected clinicians and aides."

ARHS announced it would offer the programs for sale in February, noting that several home health and home care agencies had entered the High Country marketplace in recent years.

"In the past, those agencies were not in our marketplace," said Gillian Baker, ARHS spokeswoman, at the time.

Recently, there have been state and federal changes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements -- two sources of revenue for home care and home health services.

North Carolina this year increased the eligibility requirements for those receiving Medicaid reimbursement for personal care services, meaning many people no longer qualify. And under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare reimbursements to providers are reduced.

Speaking in February, Baker said those changes "did not necessarily have a bearing on everything in that service line," adding, "it wasn't any one thing" that led to the decision to sell the services.

Baker said the programs generally served between 230 and 250 clients, and the division had about 110 employees.

A document distributed to employees and obtained by the Watauga Democrat indicated that Gentiva would not continue health insurance and other benefits offered by ARHS as of Sept. 30. Employees were eligible to obtain COBRA continuation coverage through Dec. 31, 2013.

Speaking through a public relations firm representative, Gentiva declined to answer questions about employee retention or changes to employee benefits and hours.

Last month, Reuters reported that Gentiva purchased the home health, hospice and community care businesses of privately held Harden Healthcare Services for about $409 million.

The combined company is expected to record revenue of $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion in 2014, the article stated.