Nursing home co. expands rehab business amid Medicare cuts

by | Aug 15, 2012

Genesis Healthcare, a nursing-home giant based in Kennett Square, is expanding its short-term rehabilitation business with a $30 million facility under construction in Voorhees.

Genesis is also converting three of its traditional nursing homes in Southeastern Pennsylvania to this new rehabilitation model – called PowerBack – for patients who have had joint replacements or heart problems and are not ready to go straight home.

The moves are happening amid the financial pressure of Medicare’s 11 percent funding cuts for nursing homes last year and perpetually insufficient payments for Medicaid patients, which account for most of the nursing home industry’s business.All four Philadelphia-area PowerBack sites are expected to open this year, company officials said. They did not identify the Pennsylvania facilities because they have not yet notified residents and employees. Genesis expects to break ground on a PowerBack site in Moorestown this fall.

The Voorhees facility, under construction near Virtua Health’s $463 million hospital that opened in May 2011, is aiming at a higher level of care and amenities than is typical for the industry, said Paul Bach, a Genesis executive vice president and central-area president for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

A key goal of the PowerBack model is do better than the rest of the industry at preventing patients from needing to be rehospitalized. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare in October will start penalizing hospitals for what it deems unnecessary readmissions.

“We know the government has an interest in providing care in the most efficient setting possible,” Bach said.

The 124-bed PowerBack facility, with all private rooms, will have doctors on staff and offer therapy 12 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The new center will include a water-therapy pool with a floor that goes up and down, eliminating the need for a patient lift. Cooked-to-order meals will be available whenever patients like.

“The day of the steam table is gone,” Genesis chef Jeff Moyer said.

Industry observers praised the PowerBack concept.

“It feels more like an assisted-living or retirement facility” than a traditional rehabilitation facility, said David Baiada, practice leader for home-health services at Bayada Home Health Care, a Moorestown firm that gets some patients from Genesis.

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